Hola is one of the better-known names associated with VPNs. A product of the Israel-based Hola Networks Ltd., this service has amassed over 180 million users since its launch in 2012. It markets itself as the first peer-to-peer VPN on the market, but we don’t think it’s a good thing.
Rather than offering a paid service that’s subsidized by premium users, Hola compromises the safety of its users with several insecure practices.
For starters, Hola makes users share their bandwidth with one another. You won’t be hiding your IP address by connecting to a foreign server operated by Hola. You’ll be using someone else’s IP address, while another stranger will have connected to yours.
Hola is big on its peer-to-peer model. But does this bring any value to users, or is it just a cheap move that benefits the company while exposing you to serious risks?
Hola isn’t a traditional VPN by any means. It’s a freemium service, meaning you can use it without paying anything. That said, you can subscribe to the Plus package and benefit from some extra features.
The peer-to-peer model isn’t the only practice we dislike, however. Hola wasn’t reliable in our tests — it couldn’t access many websites and platforms.
We’ll discuss the other issues down below. So is there anything that Hola does well? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Speeds and server availability are just okay. I wasn’t unimpressed or impressed by the speeds, although all the servers I tested were fast enough for HD. Find out if I was able to reach UltraHD speeds.
- Up to 10 simultaneous connections. Keep all your devices protected with only one account. Check out how it performed during my tests.
- Strong security features. Hola VPN didn’t leak my IP address or DNS requests and it has advanced security features to keep your data and privacy safe. Discover more about security features.
- The app is well designed and easy to use. I was able to easily navigate the app, turn on features, and connect to servers quickly. Learn more here.
Hola VPN Features — Updated in January 20225.5
|📆 Money Back Guarantee||30|
|📝 Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|🖥 Number of servers||1500|
|💻 Number of devices per license||20|
|🛡 Kill switch||No|
Here’s the thing – Hola VPN isn’t an actual VPN. It’s a peer-to-peer proxy service.
Misleading advertising aside, this is good news if you’re mostly interested in speed.
I tested Hola on a 75 Mbps connection.The UK connection test delivered some great results. You won’t notice a 1.21% decrease in speeds. Even better, the UK connection managed to unclog my upload speeds a little! Off to a promising start, I expected a decent showing from the U.S. connection as well. The results I got were not bad at all, considering my test location is far away in Europe. Even though my speeds were cut in half, the U.S. connection was still good enough for hassle-free browsing.
Impressed with the results, I checked out an Australian connection. I was hoping for a pleasant surprise. The 83.76% decrease in download was expected due to the great distance between my test location and Australia. However, the upload speed dropped by 97.58%, becoming close to unusable.
That said, keep in mind these numbers will likely improve the closer you are to the connection source.
Overall, Hola was able to deliver great speeds. Not a surprise, considering it’s a proxy tunnel without any encryption to slow it down. If you’re looking for a real VPN service that can encrypt your data while maintaining or even increasing your connection speed, ExpressVPN would be your best option.
Hola doesn’t provide any encryption whatsoever.
If you were hoping for the industry-standard AES-256 encryption and native OpenVPN support for secure connections, we suggest taking a look at real VPN services that actually protect you online.
Here’s where we get to Hola’s biggest problem.
Simply using this service is a security risk – especially for free users.
Remember how Hola’s bread and butter is utilizing idle resources? Well, it includes yours, too.
You may not give it much thought while signing up for the free version, but you’re actually sharing your own bandwidth when using Hola.
Now think about this – someone launches Hola, gets your shared resources, and proceeds to do something illegal. Guess which connection will show up during the following investigation?
Yep. When using Hola, you can actually be complicit in all sorts of cybercrimes without even knowing it.
Actually, you don’t even need to imagine such a scenario, because it’s already happened.
Hola has a history of abusing its free users and sharing their bandwidth with the paid Luminati proxy service (also owned by Hola Networks). These users were essentially treated as a massive botnet, while Hola (the company) was selling them off to Luminati subscribers and making crazy money.
Hola got caught eventually, but not before a Luminati user took advantage and launched a botnet attack on 8chan, a popular online imageboard.
The worst part? Not much has changed since these events – Hola is still being used for easy botnets, DDoS attacks, and much more. And most users don’t suspect a thing.
Privacy — Strong No-Logs Policy
If you want to keep things private, you don’t want your VPN to collect any logs. Period.
For starters, the service logs pretty much everything related to connections and bandwidth.
IP addresses, connection timestamps, billing info – the list goes on. At this point, it’s better to ask what Hola doesn’t log.
Oh, and if you think this data will be safely kept and used only by Hola, you’re mistaken.
Another problem for the privacy-conscious is the jurisdiction Hola falls under.
While it’s true Israel isn’t part of the Fourteen Eyes surveillance alliance, the country has been known to cooperate with it in the past.
The Fourteen Eyes (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand) work together to share any espionage info they have with each other. With multiple other countries as their “partners,” it’s basically one big spy network.
In short, if the Israeli government is asked to hand over sensitive user data from Hola to the Fourteen Eyes, it will happen. And since Hola logs a whole lot of data, your privacy will take a big hit. In contrast, services like IPVanish or ExpressVPN keep strict no-logs policies.
Hola’s free version doesn’t have any license requirements. You can install it separately on as many devices as you want.
The Plus package comes with 10 simultaneous connections, so you aren’t limited to just your computer or phone.
Device Compatibility — Great Variety
Hola works on a variety of platforms. In addition to the major desktop and mobile systems, it also offers browser extensions and instructions for routers, consoles, and more.
However, these instructions seem to be the same for all “advanced” platforms and don’t have much depth to them.