If you are looking for a Hola VPN review to decide whether you want to test out this service, read on.
Hola VPN is more than just a typical Virtual Private Network. It works on a peer to peer basis. If none of this makes sense to you yet, don’t worry, we will explain more below in our Hola VPN review.
What Is Hola VPN and How Does It Work?
Hola VPN is a Virtual Private Network service that uses peer-to-peer technology to work. If you already know what these things are, you can skip this section and go to the next. Otherwise, read on!
What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
A Virtual Private Network (or VPN for short) is a way to connect to the Internet privately where your IP address cannot be tracked.
Your IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique number separated by periods that identifies your computer, smartphone, or home network. It is assigned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or smartphone company.
Every time you visit any website, and that really means any website in the world, your IP address is “seen” by the web server. It is typically logged in the web server logs. These logs will include every page you access while visiting the website.
If you post a comment to a website, even anonymously, it is likely that your IP address is recorded along with the comment. This is typical with content management systems such as WordPress.
Websites can actually ban you from visiting their website or commenting based upon your IP address. This can be extremely frustrating, especially if the ban was unwarranted due to a persnickety, angry moderator!
This is just one reason while some people opt to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network. Sometimes, they want to get past a ban on their particular IP address. And, of course, people want their privacy protection.
IP-based bans also affect the content you can access based on the country you live in. For example, you may not be able to access an online streaming service like Hulu, even if you are a paying customer, if you happen to be traveling to certain countries. It is common practice to use VPNs to get around these geo restrictions.
Virtual Private Networks can also be used to bypass countrywide censorship, such as that which is used by the Communist Chinese government to stop their citizens from accessing the greater Internet.
Now, while individual websites will not be able to find out your personal name or home address just from your IP address, your Internet Service Provider will have that information. So, you could conceivably be tracked if you post an online comment somewhere and someone decides to sue you over it.
Of course, we are not suggesting that you go and post inflammatory comments everywhere, but there are many reasons why a VPN is desirable for many people.
Now, let us take a look at peer-to-peer technology. Peer-to-peer means that a technology is being routed from one individual computer or device to another, without there being a centralized mainframe or even a main server being used. These computers are often computers owned by individual users, not computer experts or companies.
Peer to peer, sometimes shortened to P2P, is most famous for the torrent protocol, which people use for file sharing. This is where individual computers across the network may have bits and pieces of a large file that are transferred to other computers. The software keeps track of these pieces and recompiles them for people who download the files.
Hola VPN uses peer to peer technology instead of using centralized servers like most Virtual Private Network services.
We will get into more about how that works below.
What Makes Hola VPN Unique
In any Hola VPN review, it would be important to highlight the peer-to-peer aspect of this Virtual Private Network service.
In a typical VPN, you would log in via some software on your computer or mobile device. You would then choose your server, which could be located in another country such as the United Kingdom.
Then, every time you access the Internet, your computer would first connect to that server in the United Kingdom, and then that server would connect outwards to the greater Internet to bring you the content you were looking for.
This VPN tunnel is the typical way to provide privacy for people who want that type of security.
How Hola VPN is Different
The Hola VPN simply is not secure in that way. You do not choose a server to connect to. The Hola VPN is designed to route traffic through various “peers” – aka computers like your own.
While Hola VPN promises that you will still get security and privacy with their peer-to-peer technology, you may decide you do not want other people’s traffic routed through your computer.
For these folks, they offer a premium VPN service, where your computer is not used for the peer to peer sharing, but you can still access the Virtual Private Network.
The desktop software is available for both Windows and Mac computers.
Hola VPN Browser Extension and Apps
Hola VPN also offers a free browser extension, which is available for Chrome, Firefox, or Opera on Windows and Mac PCs. Hola VPN also has apps for both Android and iOS devices, but these are not free and only available with a subscription.
The browser extension is designed to give you Virtual Private Network access with the click of a button. It will not protect all of your computer traffic, just the traffic that is being routed through the browser and the Hola VPN browser extension.
The browser extension makes it much easier for non-technical people to use a VPN to access a blocked website without going through all the hassle of setting up desktop VPN software.
The Hola VPN and browser extension is 100 percent free. In exchange for the free service, you become a peer-to-peer client. You are allowing your WiFi or 4G network access to be used in small spurts to route other users’ traffic,
If you do not want to be a peer-to-peer client, then you can get a Hola premium subscription.
The cost for a premium subscription is $5 per month, or you can pay a year in advance to get the equivalent of $3.75 per month.
Note, these prices may have changed by the time you read this!
Public Perception (Other Hola VPN Reviews)
The Hola VPN browser extension gets primarily great reviews (almost five stars on average) at the Chome extension store. Most happy people say it works just fine, although the most recent version may need some work.
However, the Hola VPN Chrome extension does get its fair share of bad reviews, such as this one from one-star review user “frenn fren”:
“Terrible app, doesn't work on the websites that I need to access, also it asks you to pay money to access certain websites, while there are free VPN services out there. Get proton VPN instead it's way better than this sorry excuse of an extension.”
How It Compares
Hola VPN is a good idea in theory. In practice, while Hola VPN is not a bad service, there are better options.
For example, rather than downloading the Hola VPN browser extension, you can just use the Opera web browser. While it is not turned on by default, a free VPN service is available in the Opera web browser. You can access it through the Privacy & Security section of the Opera browser settings.
You can even set Opera’s VPN to exclude your default search engine, in case you want to still be able to see local search results.
Now, if you want full Virtual Private Network functionality to protect your entire computer and all its online traffic, you can get desktop VPN software by many companies. Usually, the better services will not be free, but this is sometimes a case of “you get what you pay for.”
A VPN service such as AirVPN may cost around $8 to $10 per month (though you can find many for $2 to $4 per month). However, if the Virtual Private Network is reliable and offers you more choices as to countries and locations, that can be worth it.
Ultimately, the free Hola VPN service, particularly the browser extension, might be a good option for the casual user who is not trying to lock down their entire computer for privacy reasons.
What We Think
In our software test for this Hola VPN review, we were not able to get the Hola VPN desktop tunnel application to work on Windows 10. Installing the application added a Hola VPN icon to the Windows taskbar. There just did not seem to be a working option to turn the VPN on. Clicking on the flame icon will open up the Hola VPN browser app.
It does not turn on a VPN tunnel otherwise.
If you right-click on the Hola VPN icon, the following options come up:
- Hola VPN Proxy
- Check for Updates
Clicking on “Free” does not seem to do anything. Checking the computer IP address in the browser gets the same IP address without a VPN.
Clicking on “Hola VPN Proxy” brings up the Hola VPN browser.
It could be that the Free service is conflicting with another Virtual Private Network installed on the computer, however, that was not running (even in the background) at the time of the test.
Hola VPN Browser
The Hola VPN browser, built on Chromium, worked, but it was a bit confusing at first. It may just be that the browser extension is a bit inconsistent.
The Hola “app” or browser is basically a Chrome-type web browser that has the Hola Chrome extension installed. Thus, the VPN contained within the Hola browser does not work any differently than the regular Chrome extension.
So, here is the problem with the Hola VPN browser extension – it isn’t clear how it works and when it does work, it works inconsistently.
You activate the browser extension by clicking on the Hola VPN logo on the upper-right hand corner where your browser extensions are listed. Like the Windows taskbar icon, it looks like a little flame with a smiling face.
In our tests, if you open up a new tab, and click on the flame, then it will show you a list of the “top sites in the United States.” This is not VPN access, however.
However, if you open up a site in a browser tab, and then click on the flame icon, it will say “Select a Country” – and then you have the option of clicking on an American flag, British Union Jack flag, or select another country.
This seems to work, but it is temporary.
With this technology being inconsistent at best, we do not recommend Hola VPN for any serious privacy protection. If you want to use it once in a while to access a blocked website, it will probably work OK for that.
Coupons and Deals
Since the basic service is free, you obviously do not need a coupon for that. To get a discount on the premium service, pay a year upfront (which would be $45). This will save you approximately $15 per year.
Because the Hola VPN service is so reasonably priced (and you can’t beat free), it is worth a try. The VPN may work better on your computer. And you may find the free Hola VPN browser extension a great way to access some of your favorite blocked websites.