Hola Review 2020 - DON'T BUY IT BEFORE YOU READ THIS

What do we look at?

Hola Overview September 2020

Hola VPN is a widely-used “VPN-like” product (as it relies on a P2P network), but it’s notorious for its past privacy breaches and mismanagement of user data. With this in mind, I wanted to test it out for myself and see if it was really as bad as I’d heard.

Since Hola’s free plan has a poor reputation, I was intrigued to see whether the Plus service avoided the same pitfalls and was overall worth the money. There are a range of premium VPNs on the market that offer high quality at an affordable price, so it’s not wise to settle for less at a higher cost. For example, Surfshark is the most affordable VPN, and it offers unlimited device connections (and much more).

To find out if Hola is worth using, I researched its streaming ability, security and infrastructure, privacy and past allegations, speed, and more. I was extremely impressed with one of these features (streaming) but disappointed with most other features — from security to privacy. Scroll down to find out why I currently can’t recommend you use Hola VPN (hint: it’s insecure and slow).

If you want to check out Hola’s features and see how it performs for yourself, you can try Hola VPN’s premium plan for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.

Try Hola VPN now!

Don’t Have Time? Here’s a Short Summary (1-Minute Read)

  • Unblocks Netflix and several other streaming services. I was able to unblock Netflix, Prime, Hulu, HBO, BBC iPlayer, and more with Hola VPN — even with the free version! Find out which streaming sites I unblocked.
  • Fast speeds from local servers. I had the fastest speeds with servers closest to me (UK and Germany), while distant servers in the US and Australia were significantly slower. Jump to the speed test results.
  • Lacking security and privacy features. The P2P server infrastructure, lack of encryption, and subpar no logs policy are all worrying signs of weak security. Learn how secure Hola VPN is.
  • Support for multiple devices and 10 simultaneous connections. I connected 6 different devices at once and was pleasantly surprised by the stable connectivity. Check out which devices are supported.
  • Offers a free and a paid service. The free version operates as a global peer-to-peer (P2P) VPN, sharing your computer’s resources with other users when it’s not in use. You can upgrade to Hola VPN Plus to avoid sharing your resources. See all pricing options.

Try Hola VPN today!

Hola VPN Unblocks 10+ Streaming Platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and More)

Hola VPN impressed me with the number of streaming services it unblocks, even with its free version. While testing, I was able to access Netflix (US, Canada, Japan, UK, and more), Amazon Prime Video (US and UK), Disney+ (all countries), HBO Max, HBO NOW, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and UKTV.

Other review sites claimed that Hola’s free version only allows up to 1-hour for streaming per day, but I found a way to work around this. After I watched Netflix for 30 minutes, I closed the window. I waited 5 seconds before going back onto Netflix, then I was able to restart the timer completely!

Netflix: Unblocked

I was pleasantly surprised that both Hola VPN’s free and paid versions can unblock Netflix libraries without any proxy errors. The only difference was in speed — the free version was roughly 50% slower.

Screenshot of Hola VPN unblocking The Martian on Netflix US.
I streamed The Martian on Netflix UK with Hola VPN’s free and paid services

Buffering times only took an average of 3 seconds before a stream started with every server I tested. This worked impressively well even with servers far from me, such as the US and Australia.

While I couldn’t check every available Netflix library, Hola VPN consistently unblocked each of these countries’ respective libraries:

  • US
  • UK
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Japan
  • Australia

Unfortunately, the regions far from me (US, Canada, Australia, and Japan) took up to a minute for stream quality to become full HD. Your own experience will differ based on which servers are the closest to you — in my case, the closest servers had the best performance.

Watch Netflix with Hola VPN

Amazon Prime: Unblocked

Since my Amazon account is linked to the UK, I get full access to the UK Prime Video library from anywhere in the EU (where I’m living). While I couldn’t simulate being outside the EU, I would’ve received an error message if Prime noticed I was connected to a VPN. I was able to unblock the UK catalog from Poland, which worked perfectly with fast, high-quality streams, and no errors — meaning that Hola did its job.

Screenshot of Hola VPN unblocking HANNA on Amazon Prime Video.
Hola VPN easily unblocked Amazon Prime and I was able to watch HANNA in high definition

Watch Amazon Prime with Hola VPN

Hulu: Unblocked

Hola VPN’s US servers (in particular US #1102 and #1237) gave me access to all content on Hulu within seconds. I watched Ford v Ferrari with zero error messages or issues. It took only 2 seconds to load the stream and quality increased to full HD in just 10 seconds! (Note that the image says HBO: Hulu adds the logo of where the content was originally produced.)

Screenshot of Hola VPN unblocking Ford v Ferrari on Hulu.
I had a great experience watching Hulu with Hola VPN’s US servers

Watch Hulu with Hola VPN

Disney+: Unblocked

When I connected to Disney+ US, UK, Australia, and Germany, all servers were able to unblock the service. I streamed Hamilton, which took only 2 seconds to load! Although the US and Australian streams took up to a minute to increase in quality to full HD, all streams were stable once they started.

Screenshot of Hola VPN unblocking Hamilton on Disney+.
I was able to watch Hamilton in full HD on Disney+ with Hola VPN

Watch Disney+ with Hola VPN

HBO Max + NOW: Unblocked

When I tested Hola VPN with both HBO Max and HBO NOW, both worked perfectly. I tried the services with multiple US servers (#1102, #1577, #640) and they were all able to unblock HBO’s streaming platforms. I watched Doom Patrol on HBO Max and Perry Mason on HBO NOW with roughly 15 seconds of buffering time for each stream. All streams played in full HD within 10 seconds with no interruption during the 3 episodes I watched.

Screenshot of Hola VPN unblocking Doom Patrol on HBO Max.
I unblocked both HBO Max and HBO NOW with Hola VPN’s US servers

Watch HBO with Hola VPN

BBC iPlayer: Unblocked

Many VPNs I test can’t unblock BBC iPlayer since the BBC has stepped up its geoblocking technology. I was extremely surprised that I was able to use both Hola Free and Plus to access the streaming service and watch high-quality streams of Killing Eve and The Nest.

I primarily used Hola VPN’s auto-connect feature so it picked the fastest UK servers for me. When I chose manual servers, I had good results with UK #1767, #84, and #1602. All of them took just 2 seconds to load before streaming in full HD.

Screenshot of Hola VPN unblocking Killing Eve on the BBC iPlayer.
You can unblock BBC iPlayer even with Hola VPN Free

Watch BBC iPlayer with Hola VPN

Important to know

Israel
2012
No
1
30 days guaranteed

Contact Details

[email protected]

Speed7.0

I was surprised by Hola VPN’s mixed speed results. With my 300Mbps connection in Poland, I generally reach an average speed of 100Mbps while connected to premium VPNs. Considering I ran these tests with Hola’s paid Plus service, I was underwhelmed. While it’s reasonable to expect distant servers to have lower speeds, those I got from the US and Australia (under 8Mbps) are the slowest I’ve ever gotten for these regions.

Screenshot of Hola VPN speed tests from the UK (47 Mbps), Germany (56 Mbps), US (7 Mbps), and Australia (5 Mbps).
Hola VPN’s speeds are slower than its other premium VPN competitors

These speeds are enough for streaming in full HD and browsing normally (which only requires 5Mbps) — they should only affect you if you plan to stream in 4K (requiring at least 25Mbps). If your priority in a VPN is getting the highest possible speeds, I recommend that you avoid Hola VPN and take a look at Surfshark instead. It’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market and Surfshark had some of the fastest speeds during my tests.

Is Hola VPN Fast Enough for Gaming? (Yes)

Using a VPN can sometimes cause slowdowns, so I was very happy with Hola VPN’s performance. I had fast speeds when I tested Hola VPN with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Rocket League. I had low latency (server delay), which is very important for speeds while gaming.

My average latency in Call of Duty without a VPN connection was 43ms (the lower the amount in milliseconds, the better). When connected to Hola VPN, it increased to an average of 58ms (34% increase). In Rocket League, my latency without a VPN was 34ms, which increased to 62ms when connected to Hola (82% increase). This may look like a lot for a percentage increase, but anything under 70ms is still fast enough for high-speed games. Keep in mind that I used servers closer to me during the tests — if you attempt this with more distant servers, you may have a significantly worse experience.

Try lag-free gaming with Hola VPN

Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN Speeds

Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.

Servers8.0

Server Network — A Unique P2P Server Infrastructure

Hola is known as a “VPN-like” service, as it relies on a global peer-to-peer network shared between users instead of a dedicated server infrastructure. This means you have access to servers in almost every country around the world, but also that your device’s resources may be used by others. If you don’t want to be used as a peer, you can upgrade to the Plus version. You’ll also gain access to Hola VPN’s hybrid network of peers and a dedicated VPN server infrastructure for more stable connections and higher speeds.

Hola took around 10-15 seconds to connect to each of the servers I tested. While this is a longer wait than most other VPNs I’ve tested, it’s still a reasonably short time to wait. Disappointingly, its manual servers don’t show you their location, so you can’t immediately choose the closest one to you — which will potentially further increase your wait times.

Security — A Worrying Lack of Encryption and Past Concerns

As previously mentioned, Hola VPN’s peer-to-peer server infrastructure isn’t immune to security concerns. Since Hola markets itself as a VPN, it’s likely that many users of the free version aren’t aware that their traffic isn’t encrypted. This would already be worrying, but it’s worsened by the P2P infrastructure it’s built on.

When you connect to Hola and browse a website that you think you’re browsing anonymously, you’re actually sending this unencrypted data through someone else’s device. This means your data could either be intercepted or that others could be using your IP address (when you’re being used as a peer) to access illegal content. You can get in serious trouble if illicit online activity is linked back to your device, even if you didn’t access it yourself.

I ran a few DNS tests and was happy that Hola passed with no issues. However, I’m disappointed by the lack of proper security features in the desktop app. The only real feature is the app kill switch which terminates specific applications if the VPN connection fails. I’d prefer a general internet-wide kill switch instead — an app-specific kill switch doesn’t offer the same level of security.

Screenshot of Hola VPN passing DNS leak tests.
Hola VPN Plus will keep your real IP and DNS addresses hidden

The service is also known to have operated as part of a botnet (a network of computers used for criminal activity without their owners knowing) in 2015. Hola users’ bandwidth was sold as part of the sister company Luminati, which then overwhelmed a target with traffic (known as a DDoS attack). Although this was a few years ago, Hola VPN never added any security improvements since the attack.

For a safer VPN with proven security features, Surfshark is a better option. It offers fully encrypted connections, a kill switch, an ad and malware blocker, and can bypass tough government restrictions even in China. You can try Surfshark for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.

Protect your device today with Surfshark

Privacy — Subpar No Logs Policy and Heavy Data Retention

I took a look through Hola’s Privacy Policy to learn more about its stance on user privacy.

“Log Data: Log data may include the following information- browser type, web pages you visit, time spent on those pages, access times and dates.”

This is one of the most crucial points for me when analyzing a VPN service. Unfortunately, Hola VPN is already making me question if there’s a point in using it at all. If it tracks everything you’re doing while connected, there’s no benefit to using Hola VPN beyond unblocking streaming content.

I even checked through the settings and was surprised to see that even in my paid Plus account, the setting for “No Logs” was switched off by default.

Screenshot of Hola VPN's no logs setting.
Having no logs set to “off” by default is discouraging to see in a VPN

Besides these logs, Hola VPN retains the following information:

“The Personal Information we may collect and retain includes your IP address, your name and email address, screen name, payment and billing information…”

It can keep track of all your online activity, payment information, original IP address, and name (whether real or fake). If you signed up through a social network such as Facebook or Google, you’re also giving access to the basic information available on that account.

I strongly advise against using Hola VPN if you plan to use it for anything that you’d like to remain anonymous while doing, such as torrenting or watching adult content. Hola VPN might put you in more danger in various situations like when bypassing government restrictions or remaining anonymous as an activist. If you’d like to learn more about how a VPN can help you stay safe, take a look at the beginner’s guide to VPNs.

By labeling themselves as a VPN but not offering basic privacy features, Hola VPN is putting user information at serious risk.

Torrenting — Unsupported (But for the Best)

Hola VPN blocks Bittorrent protocol traffic on its network, meaning you can’t download content from any torrent site or use software like Popcorn Time. This is likely for the best due to Hola’s lack of logging protections, user privacy, and encryption on its free plan.

I recommend ExpressVPN for torrenting, as it’s welcoming of P2P activity, has high speeds, and overall high security for anonymous downloading.

Try ExpressVPN for 30 days for free!

Does Hola VPN Work in China? (No — But There’s a Better Alternative)

Unlike some premium VPNs, Hola VPN doesn’t offer the right tools to bypass Chinese internet restrictions. With the addition of the missing encryption in its free version, you’re better off using ExpressVPN for unrestricted internet access in China.

You can read more about the best VPNs for China if you’re researching all your options for an upcoming trip.

Bypass China’s online censorship with ExpressVPN

Server Locations

Hola

User Experience7.1

Simultaneous Device Connections — Up to 10 Devices at Once

You can connect up to 10 devices at once with Hola VPN Plus. I tried connecting a Windows desktop and laptop, a MacBook Air, an Android phone, an iPhone, and a PS4. There was no difference in streaming, browsing stability, or speeds. None of the connections dropped during the hour I was connected.

Device Compatibility — Many Devices to Choose From

You can use Hola VPN on the following devices:

  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS
  • PS4
  • Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and Internet Explorer

I successfully tested Hola on all of these devices. However, if you have an older macOS, you might not be able to use Hola VPN. During testing, I wasn’t able to connect my macOS (as my MacBook Air uses a macOS version under 10.11, which doesn’t support IKEv2 encryption).

Screenshot of Hola's Windows, Android, and iOS apps, as well as their Chrome browser extension for Windows and MacOS.
You can use Hola VPN on multiple different devices at once

All of the browser extensions work well, allowing you to only unblock services through your browser instead of affecting all of your device’s internet connectivity.

If you’re specifically looking for a Windows VPN, you’ll likely find a good choice in the guide to the best VPNs for Windows.

Hola VPN Browser Extensions — Useful For Browser-Specific Unblocking

Hola VPN offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge. I tested it with Chrome and Firefox and had no issues. Connectivity was fast and allowed me to unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Chrome, as well as protect my browser. Keep in mind that if you’re using Hola VPN Plus, encryption within the browser extension isn’t on by default (and Free has no encryption at all).

Screenshot of Hola VPN's Chrome and Firefox browser extensions.
You can use Hola’s extensions for browser-specific unblocking and protection

The browser extension is extra convenient if you don’t want to open the full VPN every time you connect. It’s fast and easy to switch servers and you can even connect to servers specifically for certain streaming services.

Easy Set-Up & Installation — Get Started in Under 5 Minutes

  1. Go to hola.org/download and download the right version for your device.
    Screenshot of Hola VPN's download page.
  2. Open the file (named Hola-Setup.exe on Windows) and go through the installation process. Choose either a Free or Plus account.
    Screenshots of the Hola VPN installation process.
  3. Launch Hola, choose a country, and click it to connect!
    Screenshots showing how to connect to a specific country's server in Hola VPN.

Uninstall Hola in Seconds

You can uninstall Hola VPN by going to “Programs and Features” in the Windows control panel and removing it there. If you’re on Mac, drag the Hola VPN app from Applications to Trash and reboot your device.

On mobile, you can just long-hold the app and click the X or drag it to “Uninstall” to remove.

Support6.4

You can get support from Hola VPN in 2 ways:

  • Email support
  • FAQ/knowledgebase

While Hola VPN doesn’t offer live chat, it does have email support. I asked Hola’s support how I could increase my speeds and was impressed to receive a reply within 1 hour.

Screenshot of an email from Hola VPN tech support explaining how to speed up the VPN.
I received an answer from support within just 1 hour of contacting them

The FAQ section has lots of information on setting up, troubleshooting, billing, and other issues you might encounter. While I didn’t require it for technical help, I read through many of the guides and found them well-written and informative.

Try Hola VPN today

How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care

We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.

Pricing7.4

Apart from its free option, Hola VPN offers 3 pricing plans for a Plus subscription: 3 years at $2.99/month, 1 year at $7.69/month, or 1 month at $14.99. As usual with VPN subscription models, the longest subscription will save you the most money (on a monthly basis).

With the multitude of VPNs on the market that offer much more at similar prices, I don’t believe Hola is worth the price admission. You can check our VPN coupon page to find the best deals on some of the best VPNs out there.

Pricing Options

You can pay for Hola VPN Plus with the following methods:

  • Debit or credit card
  • PayPal
  • Google Pay
  • Skrill
  • Some local payment options depending on your country

Try Hola VPN for Free With Its 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Hola VPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you plenty of time to check the service. If you decide you don’t want to continue your subscription, you can email support or fill out the refund form on the website to request your money back within 30 days.

I tested this guarantee myself to find out whether it really works. I signed up for a 1-month plan to test the VPN for a few days. Then I submitted a refund request through the premium support form. Even though I submitted the request at 10pm on a Sunday, the refund was already confirmed the next morning at 7:30am. I was pleasantly surprised that Hola VPN didn’t ask any questions about why I wanted to leave and simply processed the refund. As I’d made the initial payment through PayPal, I also immediately had the money back in my account.

Screenshot of an email from Hola VPN confirming a refund within 10 hours of the original request.
You can quickly get a refund with no questions asked through Hola’s customer support form

If you’re interested in Hola VPN’s free version, you should check out this in-depth guide to free VPNs. While free services normally come with drawbacks, some of them offer a more advanced and secure service than Hola VPN.

Try Hola VPN for free for 30 days!

Hola offers the following plans

Final Verdict

I had mixed feelings about the best and worst of Hola VPN’s features. It solves one of the primary problems that VPNs are used for — accessing blocked content. However, it falls very short when it comes to user privacy, security, and speed. Combined with a price that matches or even exceeds some better VPN choices, Hola VPN’s Plus service is hard to recommend.

If you need access to Netflix or some other streaming services, Hola’s free version gets the job done. If you need a VPN to do anything more than stream, you should avoid Hola VPN. I’m personally sticking with a tried-and-tested premium VPN like Surfshark or ExpressVPN, as they’re fantastic at unblocking content and are still super secure!

Hola VPN FAQs

🤑 Does Hola VPN offer a free version?

Yes, Hola VPN offers a free version — but you should be aware of the following risks while using it:

  • Your device’s resources can be used by others in the P2P network
  • No online traffic encryption means all your data can be intercepted
  • A 1-hour streaming limit leads to annoying interruptions while watching
  • Bandwidth limits hinder unlimited downloading and streaming
  • Slower and fewer servers result in longer wait times and unreliable connectivity
  • No priority customer support so you may have trouble resolving technical issues

It’s completely legal to use Hola VPN in most countries. There are only a handful of countries where using a VPN is illegal (including North Korea and Iran), while some other governments ban or limit access to them. Remember to avoid engaging in illicit activities while using a VPN or you can get in serious trouble.

🙃 Is Hola VPN worth getting?

Unfortunately no, I don’t recommend it given its current price point and feature set. Hola VPN reliably unblocks several streaming services with both its free and paid services. However, there are better VPNs available for a similar or lower price that offer higher speeds, better security, comprehensive privacy policies, torrent support, and many other features.

For instance, Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market but offers unlimited device connections, high speeds, strong security features, and torrenting support. You can try it out for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.

Try Surfshark now

🤓 Will Hola VPN keep me safe online?

No, Hola won’t keep you safe online. Free users don’t get encryption with Hola VPN. There’s an aggressive logging policy and the service has had dubious security issues in the past. I wouldn’t use Hola VPN with the intention of staying safe online, at least until it has been independently audited and improved.

😎 Does Hola VPN hide my IP address?

Hola VPN hides your IP address if you use the Plus version and activate the “Protect” option. If you use the free version, it doesn’t hide your IP address or encrypt your traffic. This means that your online activity is not protected, just as if you weren’t using a VPN at all.

Test Hola VPN for yourself today!

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