Hola VPN’s “Free Unlimited VPN” is NOT a real VPN. Hola’s peer-to-peer model may be popular, but you put yourself at risk if you use it because all your personal data is exposed and your IP address can be used by other people. Since we don’t consider Hola’s free service an actual VPN, we’ve reviewed Hola’s paid Premium VPN service. However, we always recommend a reputable, trustworthy VPN like ExpressVPN instead
because it puts your online safety and privacy first — whereas we don’t believe Hola VPN does.
Hola VPN has a free version that’s known for being unsafe to use. It’s a community-based P2P network instead of a secure server network, which means you share your IP with other users. It also lacks encryption and collects plenty of user data. I wondered if the same could be said for Hola VPN Premium, the paid service.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
Hola VPN Features — Updated in January 2023
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
FAQ knowledge base
Streaming — Can Unblock Sites (But Only in Low Quality)
Hola VPN Premium unblocked all the platforms I tested — but was too slow to watch in UHD.
I tested several servers worldwide, and could only watch in HD. Moreover, that’s only because I have fast internet to begin with. If my base connection was 20 Mbps or slower, I wouldn’t have been able to stream at all. So, while Hola did unblock every streaming platform I tested, I can’t call it reliable.
Unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer
I began my streaming tests with Netflix’s US library, as it’s the most popular. Hola’s US server gave me instant access to watch exclusive shows like Gimme Shelter without any issues. I tested Netflix servers in the UK, France, Australia, Japan, and Canada, and managed to access their libraries easily too.
That being said, I did experience buffering
Next, I tested a couple of US servers with Hulu which worked fine. It took about 20 seconds to connect, but I soon logged in and watched Love Island.
I just had to wait a while for the server to connect
HBO Max worked too — I watched Raised by Wolves, but the load times were a little slow.
There was a bit of buffering at the start, but the quality got better after a couple of seconds
Then I tested Amazon Prime Video on servers in the US, UK, and Australia. The platform took around 15 seconds to load, but I managed to watch shows without disconnects.
Hola VPN did get around Amazon Prime Video’s geoblocks, but the stream froze a couple of times
I also unblocked Disney+ and began watching The Mandalorian in less than 20 seconds. Unfortunately, the quality was very inconsistent with a lot of lag.
Unfortunately, I experienced lag here too
The last site I tested was BBC iPlayer, which can only be accessed in the UK. Hola VPN let me watch Killing Eve. Once again, it took some time to load.
Though I had to wait for the show to load
While Hola VPN did unblock all the platforms I tested, I wasn't pleased with the quality. Take a look at these streaming VPNs that will offer superfast speeds and great unblocking capabilities.
Speeds — Big Drops in Speed on All Servers
Unsurprisingly, Hola VPN Premium performed poorly during my speed tests.
Here are the 3 factors I looked at:
- Download speed — How quickly you can receive data, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). This determines how fast you can load videos and websites.
- Upload speed — How fast you can send data, e.g. uploading videos, sending emails, and sharing files. Also measured in Mbps.
- Ping — An indicator of latency that measures the time it takes for your data to travel from your device to the VPN’s server and back. It’s measured in ms and very important for gaming.
I started by recording my base speed in Auckland, New Zealand (I had a download speed of 289.37 Mbps). Then I tested the servers that were closest to me.
My speeds on nearby servers (Auckland, Sydney, and Tokyo) dropped by around 50% or more. This is unacceptable for a VPN — a drop of maximum 20% is acceptable for short-distance connections, so 50% is terrible.
The long-distance servers slowed my connection by more than 75%. Slower speeds on faraway servers are expected since your data has to travel a further distance, but a drop this big is too much. My base connection was fast enough to take the hit, but if you have slow internet connections you probably wouldn’t be able to stream, game, or torrent.
The drop was significant on both short-distance and long-distance servers
Overall, I can't recommend Hola Premium VPN for its speeds. While I expect to see a slight drop when connected to faraway servers, I experienced dramatic decreases with it. There are plenty of other VPNs that will give you faster and more reliable speeds.
Are Hola VPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Depends
Short-distance servers were fast enough for gaming, but the long-distance servers struggled.
Your ping rate is the most important factor for gaming since it measures how responsive your connection is to commands. An acceptable ping rate for gaming is anything below 100 ms. When I tested Hola VPN, the ping on faraway servers is just too high for lag-free play.
I tested the VPN by playing Call of Duty on its New Zealand and Australia servers, which gave me an average ping rate of 38 ms. This was around a 46% increase from my non-VPN ping rate, but it didn’t affect my gameplay. On the US and UK servers, ping averaged 274 ms, which was way too high. After a few minutes, I had to exit the game because it was taking forever to load.
But this could be because my base speed was already so high
Keep in mind that a minimum download speed of 50 Mbps is recommended for online gaming. Considering its poor speed results, you’d need a base connection of at least 40 Mbps to be able to game on Hola Premium’s local servers. Take a look at these gaming VPNs that will give you fast speeds and low ping rates so you can play your favorite multiplayer games without lag.
Server Network — Shady, With No Exact Locations Disclosed
Hola VPN uses a community-powered peer-to-peer network. Every time you connect, you’re using someone else’s IP while a stranger uses yours (if you use the free plan).
That means Hola’s free version isn’t hiding your IP at all, but each user shares their IP and bandwidth with the others. Someone could be using your IP to do something illegal and that activity will be associated with you. This is extremely unsafe — it’s also not how a VPN works. It looks more like a cheap alternative that will only benefit the company, not its users.
Hola’s website says that you can opt for the Premium version if you don’t want to share your device’s resources with someone else. However, you’ll still use Hola’s P2P network, even if you subscribe. The only difference is that you don’t contribute to it.
Hola doesn’t disclose it’s locations because you’re randomly assigned an IP address from the P2P network
There are 190 countries available, but the cities aren’t disclosed either on the website or its apps. That’s because it doesn’t have a dedicated server network for paid users.
However, Hola VPN doesn’t let you choose a specific city
If you click on a country, you connect to any random server from that nation. There’s no Quick Connect feature to automatically choose the best server available. Plus, connecting to a server took me around 10–15 seconds each time, which is pretty slow.
Security — Basic Security Features
Hola VPN’s paid version has some basic security features, but uses outdated protocols. This is a little disappointing, especially considering its price tag. For even less money, other VPNs (like CyberGhost) offer top-of-the-line protocols that give you much better online safety.
Encryption and Protocols
Hola Premium VPN uses military-grade encryption standards (AES 128, 192, and 256-bit) and basic protocols like IKEv2/IPSec and PPTP/L2TP. I was a little surprised to also find DES3 encryption listed on the website. This type of encryption is obsolete and easy to hack.
The IKEv2/IPSec protocol provides a good balance of security and speeds, even though it’s slightly outdated. Both PPTP and L2TP are even more outdated and shouldn’t be used. Since they aren’t as secure as more advanced protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard, I can’t recommend Hola VPN Premium for security.
You can change encryption standards on the Windows app but not on macOS, which was slightly disappointing. It’s common for a VPN to let you customize your security features, regardless of your operating system.
Before installing the Windows app, I wanted to check whether it has any viruses. I conducted this test on VirusTotal.com and it was all clear — there was no malware, which means downloading Hola won’t harm your device.
The VirusTotal test confirmed that the Windows app was safe to use
IP and DNS Leak Tests
When I tested Hola VPN’s US servers, no DNS/IP leaks were detected. This means its security features prevented the accidental exposure of my data.
I connected to 5 servers for the IPLeak.net tests and they all passed
Also, Hola VPN’s macOS and iOS apps don’t have a kill switch, which cuts off your internet connection if your VPN disconnects suddenly. This is a standard security feature that most VPNs have, so the lack of it on the macOS app was disappointing.
I can't recommend Hola Premium VPN at all, so I suggest you try one of these VPNs with impressive security features instead.
Privacy — Intrusive Logging Policy
If you register through a social service like Gmail or Facebook, then the VPN has access to all your data on that account, such as your full name, birth date, friends list, etc. It also collects details of the apps that are installed on your device (and doesn’t specify what those details are).
Worse, Hola claims to hold onto your data for as long as it deems necessary. It’s odd and extremely intrusive for a VPN to collect and store data from all the apps that are installed on your device. Those apps have nothing to do with Hola VPN, so this is a big red flag.
I don’t think it’s necessary for a VPN service to collect all of this user data
The VPN is also based in Israel, which isn’t a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance, but collaborates with it. This Alliance is a select group of countries that openly collect and share data about their residents. Since Hola VPN is located in a partnered jurisdiction of the Alliance, any data it collects on you could be handed over and shared to any one of these governments.
Therefore, it’s clear that Hola VPN is a terrible VPN for privacy because it collects information about you and is based in an unsafe jurisdiction. If you intend to use a VPN to protect yourself online, there are plenty of other VPN options that take your privacy way more seriously.
Torrenting — Not Supported
Hola VPN does not support torrenting and blocks torrenting traffic on its network, including the BitTorrent protocol. This means you can’t use torrent clients like uTorrent or P2P software like Popcorn Time. I wouldn’t torrent with such an unsafe VPN anyway.
It wouldn’t be safe, even if it was supported
Does Hola VPN Work in China? No
Hola VPN can’t bypass the Great Firewall of China, it lacks crucial features like DPI filtering and Stealth mode (or obfuscation). These make your VPN connection look like a regular one, so you can be caught out by VPN blocks.
There are plenty of better VPNs that work in China, so, I recommend you check them out instead.
You’ll need another VPN for the Great Firewall
Simultaneous Device Connections — Up to 10
Hola VPN Premium allows up to 10 simultaneous connections. I connected 2 laptops and an iPhone at the same time and started streaming videos. There weren’t any noticeable differences in speeds when I was connected to 1 device in comparison to being connected to 3. If you want to use the VPN on multiple devices, it won’t affect performance.
Device Compatibility — Plenty of Options
Hola VPN has native apps for most operating systems, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Fire TV, and LG TV — and browser extensions for Edge and Opera. You can also use Hola VPN on devices that don’t support native VPN apps, like PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV, and other smart TVs if you install it on a router.
Google has removed the Chrome extension and Android app, claiming they contain malware. As expected, Hola denies this in its FAQ section. Nevertheless, considering the security risks involved with the service, I’d call this another red flag.
While the Windows and macOS apps look similar, they differ in their security settings. The macOS version only has one setting called “Extra Logs”, which lets developers collect data to help improve performance. It’s turned off by default, and I don’t recommend turning it on because it means more data is collected.
In contrast, the Windows version has an auto-connect feature, a kill switch, and advanced security settings. The auto-connect feature automatically connects you to a server in a location of your choice upon startup, while the kill switch cuts off your internet connection if your VPN suddenly disconnects. Under the advanced security settings, you can fine-tune your encryption standards.
The browser extensions work the same way as the desktop apps, except they let you choose the website you want to unblock. In the settings tab, you can opt out of pop ups in your browser, and you can do the same for data logging. Additionally, you can only use the extension if you download the desktop app.
You can install Hola on your router to use it with devices that don’t support VPNs (like Apple TV and gaming consoles). This method provides an unlimited number of simultaneous device connections and protects every device connected to it.
Another option for smart TVs and gaming consoles is to install Hola VPN as a Smart DNS service called Ultra DNS Proxy. However, I don’t recommend this option since it lacks security features like military-grade encryption.
Setup & Installation — Takes Less Than a Minute
Downloading and installing Hola on my MacBook Pro took me a little under 1 minute. The browser extension took less than 30 seconds.
Installing the VPN on my home router was more time-consuming. I followed the guides on Hola VPN’s website and it took me about 20 minutes to get it up and running.