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Hola VPN Review & Test (2022) - Free, but not worth the risks!

Author Image Kate Richards'
Kate Richards Managing Editor

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

Hola VPN Features — Updated in August 2022

5.5
💸 Price 2.99 USD/month
📆 Money Back Guarantee 30 Days
📝 Does VPN keep logs? No
🖥 Number of servers 1500+
💻 Number of devices per license 20
🛡 Kill switch No

Speeds — Decent Performance

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.

Security — Shady Practices

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.

If you’ve followed this review carefully, you can probably guess safety isn’t Hola’s top priority. The privacy policy is no exception.

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.

The privacy policy goes on to explain that gathered information can be shared with third parties, partners, and affiliates. Make no mistake – that’s the reason why it’s collected in the first place.

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.

Simultaneous Device Connections — Up To 10

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.

Installation & Apps

5.3

Hola is incredibly easy to download and install. The setup takes just a minute, and everything is automatically configured with minimal user input.

That said, Hola is a little weird on desktop – especially on Windows. Instead of a dedicated app, you operate the VPN through a browser window. Most users will find the best value in the Chrome and Firefox extensions.

With no real settings available, you can launch Hola straight away and forget about it. New users will appreciate the simplicity, but those looking for more depth will likely be disappointed.

There are two useful things on its website – the download links and the FAQ section. Everything else is just one giant ad for Hola’s free version. In fact, the word “free” appears 8 times on the landing page and an additional 23 times in the FAQ.

I get it, you have a free version.

Set-Up & Installation — Quick Installation

I tried out the Windows client first. After finding out it wasn’t an actual client, but just a separate browser window, I uninstalled it. Why bother with a misleading app, when I could just use a browser extension instead?

The drop-down menu was easy enough to navigate, although not very intuitive at first. You start off with a list of services it can access instead of a list of countries you can connect to.

I wanted to pick a specific connection on my own, so I resolved this issue by choosing a random service. After that, I could easily see the available countries.

I was impressed with the range of countries, including some relatively inaccessible locations. This is a benefit of peer-to-peer networks, but let’s be real – not that helpful for most users.

I’d talk about the settings menu, if it had actual settings. All it does is send you to yet another browser window, where you can see recent sites you’ve visited. That’s it.

The only real setting I found was the language selection. Hola is translated into over 30 different languages – I have to give credit for accessibility!

Lastly, I checked out the Help menu. I hoped it would do a better job at offering support compared to the website, but no such luck – I was simply redirected to the FAQ section.

Overall, I don’t expect Hola to be a challenge for anyone – even beginners can get around with ease. Whether you should actually use this service, is another question.

Pricing

1.3
3 Year
$ 2.99 / month per month
1 Year
$ 7.69 / month per month
1 Month
$ 14.99 / month per month

Hola is primarily advertised as a free service, but it also offers a paid Plus package.

You have five different options available – one month, six months, one year, two years, and three years. The monthly subscription is the most expensive, with an increasing discount for longer plans.

Overall, Hola offers flexible but costly pricing. Payment methods include credit cards and Paypal, as well as other platforms (Alipay, GiroPay, SOFORT, iDEAL).

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t supported.

Although Hola is primarily a free service, you can find good value in the paid Plus package — if you’re willing to look past Hola’s unethical practices.

First off, the only way Hola Plus protects your privacy is by removing you from the shared peer-to-peer network.

In other words, you’re paying to benefit from other users’ resources without giving away your own.

Moving on, you can already browse from pretty much any country without paying. When I tested the free version, I had over 90 different locations to choose from.

Worth it? Not at all. Hola Plus is in the same price range as some of the best VPNs around. But unlike Hola, providers such as IPVanish and ExpressVPN have robust security and guarantee your privacy.

Hola doesn’t offer a free trial for its Plus package.

Sure, you can use the free version to check out the interface and run some tests, but you’ll be sharing your connection with all other Hola users.

One of the perks of Hola Plus is the 30-day money-back guarantee.

It’s available for all five plans, but getting a refund can be a lengthy, tedious process due to Hola’s subpar customer support (more on that soon).

Reliability & Support

3.3

Between Hola’s numerous problems and risks, customer support should be the least of your worries.

That said, it’s another big letdown. Looking at the website, you’ll be lucky to find the support area on your first try. Here’s a hint – it’s tucked away on the bottom, probably hoping you don’t click it.

Honestly, you don’t even need to click anywhere, because an email is all you get. There’s no live chat or dedicated ticket system, and the listed phones don’t seem to be related to customer support.

Hola doesn’t seem interested in answering your emails, either. I expected that from a service without any real support channels – still, disappointing to see.

Compare Hola VPN With The Top Alternative VPNs

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict

Hola doesn’t add extra protection – on the contrary, it takes it away.

At best, it’s a hybrid VPN for accessing some websites and platforms. At worst, it’s a risky service with no security or privacy features and a history of misconduct.

Let’s put the many issues aside for a moment. Hola is fast and can access many websites and platforms — in theory, a peer-to-peer connection performes better.

But since you can’t pick your connection with precision, I can hardly call Hola a reliable tool for the job.

In short, you’ll be much better off with a VPN that offers servers in all major cities worldwide, in addition to real protection. All of the premium VPNs below offer reliable money-back guarantees, meaning you can use their services for free before committing to a long-term plan.

For the best value on the scene, check out ExpressVPN – its huge server network and proprietary features are excellent for any online needs.

Users on a budget should also look at CyberGhost. With plenty of premium features and access to 70+ websites and platforms at a budget price, this VPN is both cheap and powerful. Additionally, CyberGhost offers a 7-day free trial for its mobile apps.

I recommend IPVanish if you want blazing speeds, as well as strong encryption and spotless privacy.

  • Stable across all platforms it supports
  • Easy download and setup
  • User-friendly interface

Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Number of devices per license: 20
VPN Plans: hola.org
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