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Hola VPN Review

written by

Jack Foster

last updated

January 11, 2021

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Features

2/5

Speed & Performance

2.5/5

Ease of Use

4/5

Mobile App

3.5/5

Customer Support

3/5

Pricing

3/5
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hola! VPN Pros:

hola! VPN Cons:

We often get excited when we see something advertised for free, don’t we? After all, there’s nothing better than getting something for nothing! However, even if something is free, there is no point in using it if it is not any good, right?

With that in mind, let’s see whether it’s worth downloading hola! VPN, or whether it’s a waste of time.

Overview

A lot of people use hola! VPN. In fact, they say that it is used by more than 199 million people all over the world. Of course, I don’t know how many of those people actively use hola! VPN. They may have simply downloaded it because it was free and never touched it again.

I am always a bit anxious about using a free VPN. I believe you get what you pay for. Of course, if you only need a VPN for a basic service, a free VPN may be more than sufficient, yet you still need to make sure you choose a service with care. The last thing you want is for your personal data to be compromised.

So, let’s start by taking a look at the company. hola! VPN was founded by Derry Shribman and Ofer Vilenski in 2012 in Israel. It is filed under the company name Hola Networks Limited. 

hola! VPN made a big impact quickly. After being launched in 2012, the number of downloads shot up from 80 per day to 40,000 overnight in January of 2013. A number of top investors back the service, including Orange, Horizons Ventures, Magma, Trilogy, and DFJ. 

There is a paid VPN service available, known as Luminati, however, it is the free VPN that I am taking a look at here. One thing you do need to know, though, is that Luminati uses bandwidth from free users, which is charged per GB, and the free user is not reimbursed. This is something that a lot of professionals in the cybersecurity sector have been critical of. 

If you’re wondering why this matters or how it impacts you, it basically means that hola! VPN will throw their IP addresses into a big group of IP addresses where others can use them as they please. Your online traffic is going to be routed through other peers, yet it is not encrypted. 

This is one of a number of controversies that hola! VPN has been involved in since it was established, and so it is important to keep this in mind when using this service. Yes, it is free, but it could still come at a cost to you if your security is compromised.

What’s the server network like?

Because of the way that hola! VPN works, there are no fixed number of locations available for connection. When I say the way that the VPN works, I mean that it routes traffic via other peers on the network. So, it really depends on where the current users are situated. Nevertheless, all 195 countries are listed within the app.

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Speeds

The speed results for hola! VPN aren’t bad at all, especially considering this is a free VPN service. However, you do need to understand that this comes at somewhat of a risk. 

When you explore hola! VPN, you see that it is more like a proxy, rather than being a true VPN service. An unencrypted connection is used, and so while speed and performance do not really suffer, you are put at a huge risk in terms of data security

It is always a bit of a balancing act when choosing a VPN, but with hola! VPN, you’re really missing out on the security side of things, which is one of the main things people look for in a VPN and it is something that I personally think you should never compromise on.

Security

Security is pretty much non-existent when it comes to this VPN. You do not get any security features to keep your personal data safe. This means that there is no leak blocking features, nor is there a kill switch.

The VPN does not work in the same way as the other VPNs I have reviewed do. Normal VPNs will ensure that the user’s Internet traffic is encrypted and that traffic is routed device-wide, at OS level. This is not the case with hola! VPN. Traffic is not encrypted, and traffic is only routed within the client app or web browser.

Because of this, it means that complete strangers are utilising your IP address, doing as they please with it. This is very risky, and it could get you into a lot of trouble if people end up using your IP address for things they should not be. 

One positive, though, is that there is an ad blocker on the Windows version. Every cloud… 

Does hola! VPN keep logs?

Unfortunately, they do. This is one of the worst things about choosing this VPN. A lot of information is going to be stored about you when you use hola! VPN. This includes all of the following:

  • Your name
  • Your screen name
  • Billing and payment information
  • Your email address
  • Your browser type
  • Connection timestamps
  • Your true IP address
  • The sites you have visited
  • Time spent on those sites

I would have to say that this is one of the most intrusive logging policies I have come across in the industry to date, and so it is rather worrying, to say the least.

This logging policy is definitely enough to put me off, and I am sure a lot of people reading this will also be alarmed to see the large amount of data that is stored. 

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Ease of use

Ease of use is not a problem with hola! VPN. The app is very easy to install, and it can be operated with common sense, so I can’t be too harsh on hola! VPN in this department. 

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Torrenting

If there is one thing you should never use hola! VPN for, it is torrenting. Firstly, with the poor security of this VPN, I would never advise torrenting on it. There is no kill switch, no encryption, and the logs policy is frightening, to say the least!

Despite this, all BitTorrent traffic is blocked anyway, so even if you wanted to use hola! VPN, it’s not viable. Some of the best VPNs for torrenting, in my opinion, are ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Windscribe.

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Unblock streaming services

If you are looking for a VPN for streaming purposes, you may not be too surprised to learn that I do not recommend hola! VPN. You are going to struggle to unblock any of the main streaming services. I was not able to access Hulu, BBC iPlayer, or Netflix with the free version of hola! VPN.

You do have the option of opting to pay for a PLUS service. If you do this, you can access the streaming sites. This package gives you the ability to add up to 10 devices at any one given time. It will cost you $11.95 per month or $6.99 if you commit to monthly payments. This is the same price as a lot of the other VPNs on the market, so you’re better off going for one of them instead in my opinion. In fact, you can get premium VPNs for even cheaper when signing onto a yearly plan. Why not take a look at my NordVPN and Surfshark reviews instead?

Can you use hola! VPN in China?

I am sure you won’t be surprised to learn that hola! VPN cannot be used in China or any other countries that have high censorship in place. There are not any obfuscation tools that are going to bypass the stringent firewall measures China and other countries like this have put in place.

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Compatibility

There are free VPN apps for Android and Windows devices, yet they are unencrypted. They also do not operate in the same way as typical VPNs. They are more like proxy browsers. Rather than the device traffic being routed via a tunnel, they only route traffic in the app, which acts like a web browser. 

There is not a custom app for macOS. You simply have to utilise the browser add-ons for Opera, Firefox, or Chrome.

Games consoles and streaming devices

There are no custom apps available for games consoles or streaming devices. As I have already stressed in this review, the security really is poor with hola! VPN, and so I would not recommend it for streaming or gaming in any manner. 

Browser extensions

There are browser extensions available via hola! VPN for Opera, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome. These extensions will operate at browser level, which means for any traffic linked to apps exterior of your web browser, your IP address will not change. Encryption is not used either. 

Customer support

Another area where hola! VPN is lacking is with regard to the customer support that is available. 

hola! VPN has already come under scrutiny in the past for being deceptive, as the company did not make its relationship with Luminatio corporate service and the use of free users’ data public knowledge, so things have been a bit tense between hola! VPN and the rest of the security world.

On the site, you will find a FAQ section, yet the answers are more like a disclaimer, rather than being useful and genuine help. 

You probably won’t be shocked to discover that live chat is not a feature with this VPN. If you do want to get in touch with the company, you are going to need to use the email address provided. However, do prepared to send your email a number of times, as they have a habit of not replying from time-to-time!

Pricing

There is not much to talk about on the pricing front, as hola! VPN is free. As mentioned earlier, you do have the option of upgrading if you want to choose a VPN for streaming purposes. However, you can find cheaper VPNs with more comprehensive features, so I would not advise spending your money. 

Summary

So there you have it: an insight into hola! VPN. While it is always good to see free products on the market, especially for those who do not have the budget for a VPN at the moment, I really would not recommend using hola! VPN.

The logging policy and the lack of any security features really makes this VPN a concern. Plus, it is highly limited in terms of features and what you can do with the VPN. It cannot be used in high censorship countries, it costs to stream, and torrenting is not permitted or advised. I would suggest you take a look at my other reviews for a better understanding regarding some of the other VPNs out there.

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