Hola VPN has been around since 2012. Their peer-to-peer approach to VPN services is interesting and the free price tag is sure to please. But how does it stand up to the competition? And is it really completely free?
Hola VPN offers a free plan for non-commercial use as well as premium home and business plans. Their premium plans are priced similar to other VPN options on the market with significant discounts if you sign up for a year or more at a time.
Hola VPN offers apps and extensions for nearly any device you might use to get online. Options include Mac and Windows clients, Android and iOS apps, extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and even an app for smart TVs.
Ease of Use
Using the service is simple. Just
click the extension in your browser or load up the app on your phone or computer and choose a location.
After a few seconds, it connects and you’re good to go.
Hola VPN ties your account to a
single platform. So you’ll need an account or subscription for each type of device you plan to use.
Hola VPN is more like a proxy than a
VPN. This means you can use it to access sites using another IP, but there are none of the encryption or
security benefits you might find with other services.
In essence, Hola VPN allows you to
bypass websites that might be censored in your region or access services that are only available in other
regions -- such as BBC iPlayer. However, many reviewers noted trouble accessing Netflix.
Privacy and Logging
Privacy and logging are where things
really start to look questionable for Hola VPN.
If you’re using the free service, you
become a part of their VPN network. This means that anyone else using the service can route their traffic
through your home connection.
If you’re on a metered connection,
this means that you might run out of data quickly as other people stream movies, upload media, or use P2P
using your connection.
More to the point, should anything
routed through your connection raise suspicions with your ISP or government, you will have a lot of
explaining to do and might be held liable.
Hola VPN tries to explain that no one
would abuse their network but in doing so highlight another concern, saying, “... architecture
modifications allow Hola to see the origin of each request, thus if a cybercriminal were to use the
Hola network, the cyber's criminal information may be passed on to the authorities.”
But this also means they can track
anything you might be doing online using their service as well.
And it doesn’t help that they log
nearly everything about your web activity, including your browser type, sites you visit, the time you spend
on various sites, and when you visit them.
To make matters worse, Hola VPN notes
that they “may also transfer or disclose personal information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies.”
TheBestVPN sums up privacy opinions
well, saying, “Logging is usually the most terrifying thing a VPN company can do. When it comes to this
product though, it’s the least of my concerns.”
Most reviewers found their
connections were speedy when using Hola VPN. However, a few noticed that speeds might slow down when first
connecting to a region.
Some reviewers also noted issues with
upload speeds. But unless you frequently upload large files, this is less of a concern than slow download
Should you run into a question, email
is the only support option available. Worse still, many reviewers had trouble getting any response at all
from support when sending questions about account features or what they were allowed to do using Hola
While Hola VPN might not cost
anything in terms of money, you are trading access to tons of information about your browsing and opening
up your network for use by others. Put simply, that seems like a bad deal to us.
The Best VPN agrees, saying, “If
you’re doing anything that involves even a shred of privacy, look elsewhere. Avoid Hola VPN at all
costs. It’s not secure enough for public Wi-Fi nor your data protection.”
Cloudwards takes a similar stance,
saying, “If you’re worried about your privacy and are looking to set up a VPN to protect yourself,
please do not sign up for Hola as you have no idea what could happen once you’re signed up: you may end
up finding out that free is far more expensive than signing up for a bonafide service…”