Hola VPN: A review
[Presented by BestCloudBest.com]
If you are trying to browse the Internet while protecting your privacy and security, then you need a “Virtual Private Network” (VPN). You might find it hard to choose a VPN though since there are many VPN providers. Hola is an Israel-based VPN. It primarily claims to offer a free VPN, although it has a paid product as well.
VPNs claim to offer privacy, security, access to geo-restricted websites, speed, and secure access to P2P/torrenting services. Many VPNs claim to bypass Internet censorship. Several VPNs also claim to offer great customer support, moreover, they claim to offer all of these for a competitive price. Some VPNs don’t quite deliver what they promise though.
Can Hola deliver what it promises? We have evaluated this VPN against the above-mentioned criteria. Read on as we explain what Hola delivers and whether you should buy it.
What features do you get with Hola VPN?
Let’s evaluate the features of Hola, however, let’s explain how Hola operates first.
The free VPN product of Hola is a peer-to-peer VPN. The company calls it a “community-powered VPN”. If you use it, then you are actually using other users’ IP addresses. Yet another Hola user could use your IP address too. The Hola Free VPN uses idle computing resources of its users, and it masks the IP address of one user by using the IP address of another user. The Hola Free VPN only masks IP addresses.
If you don’t want to contribute your idle computing resources to this community, then you can’t use the free VPN. You need to upgrade to “Hola VPN Plus”. That way, you will connect to a server operated by Hola, and not use the IP address of another user. No other user of the Hola free VPN will use your IP address either. Hola claims to offer security features in Hola VPN Plus, moreover, it claims to offer more privacy features.
The way Hola operates has a significant bearing on its products, services, and features.
Your privacy at Hola VPN
You want a VPN that masks your IP address, encrypts your data and refrains from logging your online activities.
The Hola Free VPN masks your IP address by using other users’ IP addresses. Its paid VPN uses own servers and IP addresses to do that. The free VPN by Hola doesn’t encrypt your data, however, the paid VPN does that.
Hola collects and retains personal information like IP address, name, email address, screen name, payment information. This VPN collects much more personal information from you than other leading VPNs. The company states that it doesn’t sell or rent your information, and it collects this information to provide services to you. We see that Hola collects more personal information than what is reasonably required to provide VPN products and services.
Hola allows you to connect using your social media accounts like Google and Facebook. The company collects various information from these accounts. It collects your full name, home address, email address, date of birth, profile picture, the list of friends, profile description, etc. We find that Hola collects too much information if you use a social media account to access its services.
When you use the Hola free VPN, someone else can use your IP address. If this individual commits crimes online, then your IP address can be tied to those activities. Since Hola keeps logs, you expose yourself to risks even if you are browsing the Internet in a perfectly legal manner.
We don’t recommend you use Hola. It keeps logs of your activities and collects too much personal information. You also expose yourself to risks since someone else might use your IP address and commit crimes online.
Security and encryption protocols at Hola VPN
VPNs have become prominent since they promise to secure the information of their users when the users are browsing the Internet. The free VPN from Hola doesn’t provide any security mechanisms. That makes it a proxy rather than a VPN. We don’t recommend you use this free VPN.
The company states in its FAQ that the free version only unblocks sites. Hola recommends you to use its paid version to access the security features.
The paid version of Hola uses IKEv2/IPSec and L2TP protocols, which are secure VPN protocols. Hola VPN Plus also uses the PPTP protocol, however, it has security vulnerabilities. Hola doesn’t support OpenVPN, which is the most secure VPN protocol. We don’t recommend you to use any VPN that doesn’t support OpenVPN. This protocol doesn’t have any known security vulnerabilities, moreover, it offers plenty of flexibility. We don’t recommend you use the paid product from Hola.
The paid VPN from Hola offers the following encryption options:
It uses AES256 as the default and we are satisfied with that. The Hola VPN Plus product uses SHA1, SHA256, etc. for authentication. It uses the Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
Hola can’t prevent IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks when users access the Internet using the Hola VPN Plus. The company doesn’t offer a “kill switch” in its paid product, therefore, you expose yourself to risks if the VPN connection drops suddenly. A “kill switch” blocks the Internet connection if the VPN connection terminates unexpectedly, and it’s a basic feature.
The free VPN from Hola is essentially a proxy and not a VPN. Hola VPN Plus doesn’t support the OpenVPN protocol, moreover, it doesn’t offer basic security features. We don’t recommend you use Hola.
Where are the servers of Hola VPN located?
The free VPN from Hola uses the IP addresses of its users and not their own servers. The company doesn’t provide any information about its server locations for the paid product. It only states that it has 200 server locations. We didn’t receive a response to our email to its customer support team.
The Hola Free VPN is a proxy service and not a VPN. Therefore, you won’t see an issue with the speed. It’s different for the Hola paid VPN though. VPNs that have a sufficient number of servers in all key geographies can offer good speed. Hola doesn’t maintain any transparency here, therefore, we recommend you to explore other leading VPNs.
You can use Hola VPN on the following platforms
Hola supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS and the company provides custom apps for these platforms. You can install Hola browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera on Windows and Mac desktops. Hola doesn’t support Linux.
You can use its set-up guides to install Hola on several Smart TV platforms like Sony, LG, Panasonic, etc. Hola provides configuration guides for gaming consoles like PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. You can configure this VPN on Netgear and D-Link routers using its guides. The Hola VPN Plus plan supports 10 simultaneous connections.
While Hola supports several key platforms, it doesn’t support Linux. If you want a VPN that supports all key platforms and offer custom apps for them, explore other market-leading VPNs.
Unblocking streaming services using Hola VPN
Hola claims to block all geo-restricted content. Geo-restricted streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu aggressively identify and block VPNs, therefore, many VPNs can’t unblock them.
The paid VPN from Hola can sometimes unblock BBC iPlayer and ITV, however, it can’t unblock Netflix. If you want a VPN that can consistently unblock geo-restricted streaming services, then explore other leading VPNs.
Does Hola VPN allow for torrenting?
Hola doesn’t allow P2P/torrenting. We wouldn’t recommend you use this VPN for P2P/torrenting even if it allowed that!
P2P/torrenting activities have many challenges associated with them. Some countries don’t allow it, moreover, you are at risk of violating copyright laws even in countries that allow it. We recommend our readers to check applicable laws before accessing P2P/torrenting services.
Even if you access these services legally, you could face security risks due to cyber-attackers monitoring the users of these services. You should only use secure VPNs to access P2P/torrenting services. Hola isn’t a secure VPN. Look for market-leading VPNs if you want to access P2P/torrenting services securely.
How much does Hola VPN cost?
Hola offers 5 pricing plans for its paid VPN, which are as follows:
· Monthly: You pay $11.95 per month;
· 6-months: You pay once in 6-months, and your average monthly cost is $9;
· Yearly: You pay once a year, and your monthly average cost is $6.99;
· 2-years: Hola charges you once in 2 years, and your monthly average cost is $3.99;
· 3-years: You pay once in 3 years, and your monthly average cost is $2.99.
You can pay for a Hola VPN Plus subscription using popular credit cards, PayPal, Alipay, GiroPay, SOFORT, and iDEAL. The company provides secure payment methods. Hola doesn’t offer any free trial for its paid VPN, however, the company has a 30-days refund policy.
For the products and services that Hola offers, its pricing plans are very expensive. You can get far better VPN products and services from leading VPNs at much cheaper prices.
The pros and cons of Hola VPN
Hola offers a few advantages, which are as follows:
· Its paid VPN supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, moreover, the company offers easy-to-use custom apps for these platforms. It supports routers, gaming consoles, and smart TVs and provides configuration guides for them.
· Hola uses AES256 encryption in its paid VPN.
· This VPN uses secure protocols like IKEv2 and L2TP in its paid VPN.
· Hola allows 10 simultaneous connections.
· This VPN has a 30-days money-back guarantee.
· Hola offers an informative FAQ page on its website.
Hola has quite a few disadvantages, which are as follows:
· It keeps logs of your online activities.
· Its free VPN is a peer-to-peer proxy service. This exposes you to severe risks since someone else can use your IP to commit crimes online.
· The free VPN from Hola doesn’t offer any security features.
· The paid VPN from Hola doesn’t support OpenVPN, which is the most secure VPN protocol.
· The paid VPN doesn’t prevent IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, moreover, it doesn’t offer a kill switch.
· The jurisdiction of Hola is Israel, which isn’t ideal for a VPN.
· Hola can’t unblock geo-restricted streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer consistently.
· This VPN doesn’t offer any transparency about the server network of its paid VPN.
· Hola doesn’t support Linux.
· Hola doesn’t allow P2P/torrenting.
· Hola doesn’t offer live chat support, and its customer support team isn’t responsive.
· Hola is expensive.
· Hola has far too many disadvantages.
A few quick facts about Hola VPN
We summarize a few quick facts about Hola, which are as follows:
· Hola is an Israel-based company.
· This provider offers a peer-to-peer proxy service for free and calls it a VPN. You can expose yourself to serious risks by using it since someone else can use IP address and commit online crimes.
· Hola keeps logs of the online activities of its users.
· It supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, however, it doesn’t support Linux.
· Hola can’t unblock geo-restricted streaming services like Netflix consistently.
· Hola doesn’t allow P2P/torrenting.
· While Hola provides configuration guides and FAQs, it doesn’t offer live chat support. Its customer support team doesn’t respond to emails promptly.
· This VPN is expensive, however, it has a 30-days money-back guarantee.
Is Hola VPN easy to use?
The Hola website is reasonably easy to navigate. It advertises its free product considerably, and you can easily locate the “Call To Action” button to install that. The website states that Hola supports Linux, however, the company doesn’t support this platform.
You have to navigate through the Hola Plus page to find the configuration guides. The company provides easy-to-use configuration guides. You can buy a Hola Plus subscription in a few intuitive steps. The browser extensions and custom apps from Hola are easy to install and use.
About the customer service at Hola VPN
Many VPN users aren’t tech-savvy, therefore, they look for robust customer support before buying a VPN subscription. Hola provides set-up guides for all platforms it supports.
Hola offers a detailed FAQ on its website. The FAQ covers multiple topics like billing, troubleshooting, etc. It’s a searchable FAQ.
You can email its customer support team or use the contact form on its support page. We emailed its customer support team with a set of straightforward questions. We haven’t received a response even after 2 days.
Hola doesn’t offer live chat support. The company doesn’t have a responsive customer support team, and we aren’t satisfied with its customer support capabilities. If you are looking for good customer support, then explore other leading VPNs.
Where is Hola VPN based?
The jurisdiction of Hola is Israel. This country isn’t a part of the “14 Eyes” coalition of countries that conduct mass surveillance. However, Israel has intelligence-sharing agreements with several countries in this coalition. Israel isn’t the ideal jurisdiction for a VPN.
Does Hola VPN keep any logs?
Hola keeps logs of your Internet activities. It tracks the websites you visit, the time you spent on those websites, and the date/time when you access these websites. Hola also tracks your browser type.
If you use its free peer-to-peer VPN, then someone else could use your IP address. You expose yourself to risks if other users commit illegal activities when using your IP address. Since Hola keeps logs, your IP can be tied to illegal online activities done by others. We don’t recommend you use Hola since it keeps logs and the associated risks.
Technical security of Hola VPN
The Hola Free VPN doesn’t offer any security measures. It’s a peer-to-peer proxy and not a VPN. Other Internet users can use your IP address, which brings several security risks. We don’t recommend you use it.
The paid VPN from Hola supports IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP protocols. While IKEv2 and L2TP are secure protocols, PPTP has several security vulnerabilities. Hola doesn’t support OpenVPN, which is the most secure VPN protocol.
Hola offers strong encryption in its paid product. This includes the AES256 encryption and Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Hola also uses SHA1, SHA256, etc. for authentication. We are happy with the encryption solution in the paid VPN from Hola.
However, Hola doesn’t prevent IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. It also doesn’t provide a “kill switch”. These are basic security features, and we can’t recommend a VPN that doesn’t provide them.
We don’t recommend you use the Hola free VPN. Its paid product offers very limited security features, therefore, we don’t recommend you use that either. For robust security features, look for other leading VPNs.
Our short conclusion regarding Hola VPN
Hola promises a lot, however, the reality differs significantly. Its free VPN is a peer-to-peer proxy service. We don’t recommend you use it since someone else can use your IP address and commit online fraud. Since Hola keeps logs, you can expose yourself to serious risks. Even if are to use its paid VPN, Hola will keep logs of your online activities.
Hola doesn’t offer some of the basic security features like a “kill switch”. It can’t unblock geo-restricted streaming services like Netflix consistently. Hola doesn’t allow P2P/torrenting activities. While it supports Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS, this VPN doesn’t support Linux. Hola supports 10 simultaneous connections though.
While this VPN offers useful guides and an informative FAQ page, it doesn’t offer live chat support. Its customer support team doesn’t respond to emails promptly. For the products and services that it offers, Hola is very expensive. We don’t recommend you use its free or paid product. You can find market-leading VPNs with well-rounded products and services at a cheaper price.