Last update: 04.04.2019
This may be one of the most dangerous VPN services out there. Read our Hola VPN review now to redeem your privacy and freedom – by avoiding this VPN at all costs!
Let us introduce you to the virtual manifestation of parasitism. It’ll be very difficult to come up with anything positive due to the very nature of this dodgy service. But, as always, we’ll do our best to be impartial and objective.
Hola VPN is the first community-powered virtual private network (VPN). Users create and contribute to the whole web of peers by becoming a node. They sacrifice their bandwidth and internet connection in exchange for using other people’s.
There’s only one gigantic problem with this scheme:
This is exactly how botnets are created and used to scam and spy on unsuspecting users.
If you don’t want to become a peer and share your bandwidth and IP with strangers, you can choose to subscribe for the business version called Luminati.
Just to learn from other users’ mistake and see what kinds of risks such a network may hold, we advise you to read our full review.
Security and privacy
This VPN service doesn’t have any well-protected and safe-to-use servers, in addition to a complete lack of any meaningful security features:
- It uses P2P Proxy Tunneling without encryption
- There’s no kill switch
- No WebRTC leak protection
- No DNS leak protection
In other words, your traffic is not encoded.
You are simply not protected at all if you use this VPN for free.
And then it gets worse.
Let’s start this section with some interesting news. In 2015, Hola was accused of a series of DDoS attacks using its free users’ hardware capacity.
In the summer of 2018, MyEtherWallet (MEW), a popular cryptocurrency service, was under attack via hacked Hola VPN extensions. Cyber criminals hacked and used the Hola VPN browser extensions as a gateway to steal cryptocurrency for as long as 5 hours.
In other words, if you were using an Hola VPN browser extension while accessing your MyEtherWallet account during this attack, your cryptocurrency could have been stolen. Please read our full report on the MyEtherWallet attack here.
Joining this parasitic P2P network means that other free and premium users can use your (idle) bandwidth and use your IP address as an exit node too. Let’s rephrase this last bit for a more dramatic effect: anyone can pose as you online.
Does Hola VPN log your data?
This is one of the rare VPNs that don’t claim to have a no-logs policy.
We may disclose Personal Information to other trusted third party service providers or partners for the purposes of providing you with the Services, storage, and analytics. We may also transfer or disclose Personal Information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies.
This company also collects and retains personal information like your IP address, your name and email address, payment and billing information, and so on. Before we forget, this provider is also ready to disclose all this information when forced by law.
Now, if you have read everything we’ve written above in this Hola VPN review, do you think that it’s safe to use it?
Speed and performance
In general, you can experience unexpectedly good speeds thanks to Hola’s giant network. However:
A possible botnet scam isn’t a group we would suggest joining.
Before testing the Hola VPN speeds, we measured these baseline speeds on our test laptop:
- Base download: 276 Mbps
- Base upload: 294 Mbps
Then, as usual, we tried to connect to different locations around the world:
- Download: 160 Mbps (58% of base speed)
- Upload: 72 Mbps (24% of base speed)
- Download: 278 Mbps (100% of base speed)
- Upload: 267 Mbps (90% of base speed)
- Download: 160 Mbps (22% of base speed)
- Upload: 3 Mbps (1% of base speed)
If we believe Hola VPN that these results come through remote servers, we must admit they are impressive. Of course, there’s no encryption and protection whatsoever.
However, even if this performance is seemingly way better than that of other competitors, there’s no consistency in connections. Due to constant drops, your experience can be ruined in no time.
On the whole, we don’t recommend this VPN for even free use. Unless, of course, you want to help out the company to get filthy rich by renting your bandwidth to paying users.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
Hola is a strange and rather controversial service, which isn’t even a real VPN. It supports all major platforms for free users:
If you check out the website, though, you’ll find the following impressive range of clients:
However, when you click, for example, the router or PlayStation links, you’ll redirect to the Hola VPN Plus purchase page.
Initially, it may strike you as an easy-to-use VPN app.
However, this is not even real VPN software. More like a proxy extension. So when you install the desktop version, what you get is a Chromium browser with the Hola VPN, Hola Video Accelerator, and Hola Ad blocker extensions installed.
Normally, you’d click on the little VPN icon on the browser toolbar to display the app window, and switch it on or choose a location. Well, Hola VPN is the odd one out.
Instead of presenting you with an optimal location or the list of servers, you find thumbnails of most popular websites at your location. Better yet, these sites are selected by a third party and not Hola.
At the bottom, you see a few other promoted apps by Hola. Basically, this whole app is a big promotion for the paid Plus version.
You can only use this service if you directly browse via the extension or its own Chromium browser.
If you click the 3-bar icon in the top left corner of the app window, a menu appears with these options:
These are all obvious options. However, we found the Settings menu rather weird. In fact, clicking this option will open an Hola page in your browser. This page has two tabs: VPN and About. On the VPN tab, there are no customizing options or anything – but a single list of Recently visited sites.
These sites have a flag assigned to them. This is the flag of the location you chose last time to access the individual websites. Here, you can either switch off the location for a website or remove it from the list. If you do so, the Hola VPN app won’t change your location automatically next time you visit a site.
In summary, we’ve concluded that this VPN service was one of the worst ones we’d seen, right alongside VPN Gate. With the constant connection drops and your having to access websites before the VPN can be turned on at all, well, there’s no privacy and security.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
It’s possible that you may get lucky and stream videos in decent quality from media centers like YouTube. But you can forget about using the free Hola VPN for Netflix.
Of course, it’s capable of faking your location through peers residing at your chosen location. However, when you’re using the free VPN and try to load the Netflix site, this is what you’ll find:
It’s not that your speed is that bad. It’s more about pushing you to buy the Hola VPN Plus version. The parasite strikes again and again. You simply won’t be able to load any decent streaming center without seeing the Plus promotion.
You should know from our Hola VPN review that this shady botnet-like service is the worst choice if online privacy is important to you. For the best level of anonymity, choose a decent VPN for Netflix.
P2P and torrenting
Well, if you want to pay a hefty fine for possible copyright infringement, go ahead, be our guest and install this risky VPN. But consider this first. What if another user connects to your IP and downloads pirated material posing as you? Let this thought sink in a bit.
If you’re just a tiny bit concerned about your online security and privacy, you know exactly how unsafe it is to use Hola VPN for torrenting. Or, for anything else, for that matter. Period.
Let us show you our list of the best VPN for torrenting to make your decision easier.
Hola VPN offers the following support options:
- Help desk
- FAQ page
- No live chat support
Free users can forget about getting any help, live or email alike.
Imagine a support team for serving over 175 million users globally. It’s most likely that only paying users get any kind of support.
It’s basically almost impossible to get a response for your email, and there isn’t any other way for you to contact the help desk. So, good luck with that. Naturally, you can also use the FAQ, which is available on the site.
We’ve found this support to be one of the worst we’ve encountered.
Hola used to be primarily a free VPN service. But now, it seems more like a platform to exploit and promote the paid service.
To use this VPN service for free, you have to agree to become a peer. This means you’ll be an integral part of the P2P network of the Hola VPN global empire.
If you don’t like this idea, you can always choose the Luminati service. We have no clue yet why the Hola VPN Plus version would be any better than the free. Nevertheless, here are their pricing plans:
You can pay by credit card, such as Visa, Amex, Maestro, and MasterCard, plus PayPal.
If you want to become a business user, you have to visit the Luminati website. This other service possibly uses the networking capacity of the 175 million Hola users. And, it makes lots of money out of it too.
If you want to know our objective opinion, we wouldn’t support such business conduct, let alone the zero level privacy Hola VPN offers.
First, we need to admit that we haven’t yet seen, tested, and reviewed all 1,000+ VPN services on the market. Still, we consider Hola VPN the gold medalist in the competition for the most dangerous VPN in the world – so far.
This award is mainly due to its potentials to be used by cybercriminals to build botnets and misuse unsuspecting users’ IP address and internet connection for criminal activities. But, you also can’t use it safely since it leaks DNS as well as your true IP address, for example, via WebRTC leaks.
From a cybersecurity standpoint, we can state that this service is possibly the worst choice for you. Hola VPN logs all kinds of personally identifiable information and may share it with third parties, including the authorities. Period.
How about learning from other VPN users?
Do you have any related questions or tips? Have you ever tried to use Hola VPN or any other VPN apps before? Maybe you have written your own Hola VPN review? What are your impressions?
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