Based in Israel, Hola VPN Networks Ltd. began providing their very own VPN service during the latter part of 2012. What started as a small startup soon became a household name with over 180 million users worldwide. So what makes Hola VPN different from all the other VPN brands in the market?
Well, two things. First, Hola VPN is unlike any other traditional VPN software. It advertises itself as “the world’s first peer-to-peer proxy service”. Secondly, unlike most VPN company that operates on a paid model and then offering a trial period almost as an afterthought, HolaVPN does the exact opposite. It is primarily a free service that also offers a paid subscription.
Currently, Hola VPN has more than a million reviews averaging 4.4 stars in Google Play, App Store, and others. But you might be wondering, how is Hola VPN free? Well, it’s essentially community-powered. This means it has no expensive server network to maintain and instead utilizes the idle resources of its users to route traffic. Simply put, everyone helps each other to “open up the internet”.
Privacy / Anonymity
Hola’s peer-to-peer model works by sending its signals through your bandwidth instead of using their very own servers. In other words, when you’re connecting via Hola, you’re basically using someone else’s IP address.
If you’re wary of this setup and don’t mind paying for some semblance of privacy and security, you can always upgrade to a paid plan that provides SSL encryption and Smart DNS (Ultra plan only). Hola VPN also offers IKEv2/IPSec and PPTP/L2TP protocols as well as DES3, AES128, AES192, and the default AES256 encryption. Again, take note that these security features are only available for premium plans.
Additionally, Hola VPN offers a handy ad blocker for a seamless surfing experience. This means you won’t have to deal with annoying pop-ups while minimizing the risks of malware infection and tracking. Hola also does not bombard its users with ads as it earns revenue from its business platform called Luminati.
Speed and Reliability
One of the main drawbacks of using a VPN is that it slows down your connection. However, you won’t have this problem with Hola because it’s technically not a real VPN. For a free service, it’s actually quite fast.
We started with a base upload speed of 70 Mbps and suffered a speed loss of just 1% after connecting to an available IP in the UK. This is pretty impressive considering that connection speed usually drops by as much as 60% when using a VPN. Our US connection similarly gave a decent performance with a download speed of 38.60 Mbps - a drop of 45% which is still within the industry average.
Platforms and Devices
Hola VPN works on just about any platform including iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. It also offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera and also provides instruction for use with consoles, Xbox, Playstation, routers, and more. You can install it on a single device using the free version of Hola VPN. On the other hand, the Premium package offers up to 10 simultaneous connections while the Ultra plan allows up to 20.
Hola VPN is a peer-to-peer proxy service so they don’t have a network of servers, unlike conventional VPNs. The lack of a server network actually works in the users’ favor as there’s virtually no limit to the number of locations available to you. This means you can access locations that are not normally served by most VPNs like Turkey, Russia, and even China.
There is a Knowledge Base section with contents on troubleshooting, billing, and payments, as well as general information. However, there’s no dedicated live chat or ticketing system. They do have a phone number and email address listed on their contact page and when we sent them an email, we were pleased to get a response within the same day.
Other than the free option, you can upgrade to a paid version for a month, 1-year, or 3-years. The month-to-month plan is pretty steep at $14.99 for Hola Premium and $29.99 for Hola Ultra. As can be expected with subscription models, you save more by opting for the 3-year plan at $2.99 for the Hola Premium and $7.99 for Ultra. Hola offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and you can also cancel at any time.