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Lucas Novac



Published: January 7, 2024

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star 6.2/10
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Hola VPN Review – Is It Safe in 2024

Generally, there are two main reasons why VPN services are in demand by users: getting restricted content and ensuring strong privacy protection. Sometimes these motives go hand in hand. Also, there are countries (China, North Korea, and more) bounded by governments with stringent limitations regarding free world-wide-web usage; only VPN services can make them accessible to the outer digital world.

Do you always feel safe filling in your credit card’s details, name, and other sensitive data while purchasing something online? You can be sure that with a qualified VPN provider, your personal data will be protected. But, vice versa, if the VPN’s security mechanism is set up without necessary attention, then you are at risk.

Our mission is to provide users with knowledge about the specificities of various free VPN providers. We know how to explain in simple words the processes that are going on under the hood. The review contains all the essential data to comprehend the possibilities of the current vendor and whether it suits your needs. We hope that our work will facilitate you to make the right decision.

  • Easy to install
  • Easy to launch
  • Browsers extensions has more than 200 locations
  • Windows app has flexible security settings
  • Live support does not answer
  • MacOS does not have real setting in the menu
  • Sharing data to third parties
  • Collecting private data
  • Collecting IPs and browsing data
  • Short time limits for free version
  • Long time pauses between free sessions
  • Extensions have a poor settings page
  • Very low connection speed of desktop applications for the USA location
  • Any information about accessibility for countries with high restrictions on the web usage
  • iOS app does not have settings

Hola VPN features

This review is devoted to the VPN provider that positions itself as a highly effective service. It should be compatible with three popular browsers, Windows, macOS, different mobile devices, and additional platforms, which are in day-to-day consumer exploitation.

Look yourself.

List of platforms compatible with Hola VPN
Provider issued products for various platforms

“With thousands of servers and millions of IPs; in over 190 countries,”  this quote is from their website.

Promo text from the website about the Hola's VPN network
They affirm to have a very decent network

These are very compelling indexes for a company that is not on the list of top-notch providers; they should be proud of such results.

FAQ section in the footer of the website is rich enough; there is a bunch of important points and queries gathered there. It is a positive point that adds competence to Hola VPN.

Now let us see the real state of affairs after our thorough examination. 

Privacy and Logging

From the first glance of the Hola Privacy Policy, it is clear that they collect data, and it’s not an advantage.

Informationform the privacy policy that Hola VPN may collect personal data
Gathering and storing of sensitive personal data

The main reason why people appeal to VPN services is to obtain a higher level of security. Will you feel confident in your safeguard after knowing that the service of your choice collects and retains:

  • your IP address;
  • your name;
  • email address;
  • payment and billing information;
  • or other information they may ask for from time to time.

The expression ‘other information’ is too vague, especially when the talk is about privacy and security, where the least detail could have consequences.

This service requires signing up via social networks or a Google account. Hola utilizes this process to collect the data mentioned in the list above and a profile picture too. They explain that they need this data to communicate with us.

Information from the privacy policy about personal data collecting by Hola VPN
Next piece of data that they collect

Why is the profile picture necessary to communicate with somebody online in 2023? It sounds weird and does not inspire trust.

One more negative point for the privacy policy of Hola is the logging of such data:

  • IP address; 
  • Operating system; 
  • Browser type; 
  • Web pages you visit;
  • Time spent on those pages, access times, and dates.
Very precise and identifying data collected by Hola VPN
And more details they collect about you

It feels so confusing when the service that should protect privacy information from public access collects this information on its own. Would you trust a financial establishment that wants to know the password to your credit card? The answer is obvious, and the same is true regarding VPN.

As well, an unpleasant aspect of data sharing with third parties.

Hola VPN contributes with third parties and may share private data
Users private data can be shared to unknown third-parties

Extraordinary occasions may happen, and it involves a specific decision to find a suitable solution. But not personal data sharing with outside participants. They promote it as a “trusted third-party service,” as noticed in the screenshot above; trusted third-party for whom? It is unlikely that a common customer who wants to watch Netflix is tightly familiar with Hola’s partners and ready to share with them personal data.

In every region of the world, an attitude toward digital security is so distinctive. For some areas, VPNs are used only with a demand to get to restricted content, or the content is bounded by geo. But in locations where a community truly worries about web protection, a VPN service should be absolutely safe. And what exactly may be unsafe interestingly to know? More details about this point will be good to receive from Hola’s team.  

Transferring of private data in case of ownership changing
Be careful, your data can be transferred somewhere else

Many questions arise. Where are they going to transfer this data? The purpose of this action is also unclear. Who can guarantee that, in the future, this data will not fall into the wrong hands? The level of trust in them has fallen decently because of these suspicious conditions.

Speed tests – How Fast is Hola VPN

VPN may impact the connection speed, but they do it differently; shoddy services affect it a lot, and well-set-up providers have minor losses. Hola issued its products for a variety of platforms; therefore, we spent some time measuring the speed results on the most used of them:

  • Windows;
  • MacOS;
  • Google Chrome extension;

We divide the testing into three sections:

  • PC tests;
  • Browsers’ extensions tests;
  • Mobile tests.

PC Tests

Measuring the speed was conducted on the desktop applications produced by Hola VPN for Windows and macOS. The main purpose of the investigation is to study the distinction between the initial internet service provider’s (ISP further) speed and Hola’s VPN speed. For each test, we took two locations: the USA and randomly selected European countries.

Windows Test
The first test screenshot represents the test made on Windows. Here you can see the comparison between the initial ISP speed and Hola VPN speed for the USA and Finland locations.

Speed test of Hola VPN on Windows connected to the US and Finland servers
Speed test for the Finland and US servers

The vertical image of the screenshot displays the pure ISP speed. The indexes are:

  • download speed is 87.9 mbps;
  • upload speed is 87.58 mbps;
  • ping time is 2 ms.

The top horizontal image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the US server. The indexes are:

  • download speed is 13.78 mbps;
  • upload speed is 22.33 mbps;
  • ping time is 135 ms.

The bottom horizontal image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the Finland server.

The indexes are:

  • download speed is 67.89 mbps;
  • upload speed is 54.91 mbps;
  • ping time is 44 ms.

The US location demonstrates much worse markers – the download speed is 85% lower, the upload speed is 75% lower, and the ping time has increased from 2 ms to 135 ms. Such serious  losses may translate ordinary web usage into a displeasing experience.  

Significantly improved results were produced by the Finland server: download speed is only 23% lower, and upload speed is downgraded by 38%. Ping time has increased from 2 ms to 44 ms.

MacOS Test
The next image illustrates the speed results on macOS. At first, we determined the origin speed of the ISP, then the VPN’s speed for the USA and Austria locations.

Hola VPN speed test on Windows connected to the US and Austrian servers
Speed test for the US and Austrian servers

The vertical image of the screenshot displays the pure ISP speed.

The indexes are:

  • download speed is 73.9 mbps;
  • upload speed is 70.9 mbps;
  • ping time is 3 ms.

The top horizontal image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the US server. The indexes are:

  • download speed is 16.1 mbps;
  • upload speed is 36.1 mbps;
  • ping time is 136 ms.

The bottom horizontal image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the Austrian server. The indexes are:

  • download speed is 63.2 mbps;
  • upload speed is 63 mbps;
  • ping time is 51 ms.

The US server again shows decent losses: the download speed is 79% lower, the upload speed is 52% lower, and the ping time has increased from 3 ms to 136 ms.

The Austrian server reflects moderate losses: the download speed is 15% lower, the upload speed is 15% lower, and the ping time has been raised from 3 ms to 51 ms.

Browsers’ Extensions Test

VPN software is developed not only for the PC but also for internet browsers, and they are called ‘extensions’. The Hola provider produced extensions for three very widespread browsers: Google Chrome, Opera, and Microsoft Edge.

We have processed the speed check on the Chrome browser, seeing that it is the most popular. The main purpose of the investigation is to compare the performance between an initial ISP speed and an extension’s speed for two locations: the first is the USA, and the second is an arbitrarily selected European country.

Hola VPN speed test on Chrome connected to the US and Hungarian servers
Google Chrome speed test

The top image of the screenshot displays the pure ISP speed.

The indexes are:

  • download speed is 88.5 mbps;
  • upload speed is 80.14 mbps;
  • ping time is 4 ms.

The central image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the US server.
The indexes are:

  • download speed is 59.32 mbps;
  • upload speed is 65.05 mbps;
  • ping time is 115 ms.

The bottom horizontal image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the Finland server.
The indexes are:

  • download speed is 67.67 mbps;
  • upload speed is 79.58 mbps;
  • ping time is 23 ms.

In contrast to Hola’s desktop apps, the extension has performed better. The USA location showed light losses: the download speed is 33% lower, the upload speed is 27% lower, and the ping time increased from 4 ms to 115 ms.

The Hungarians server’s connection speed is not very distinctive from the original ISP speed: the download speed is 24% lower, the upload speed is 11% lower, and the ping time has increased from 4 ms to 23 ms.

Mobile Test

Hola provided its apps for three mobile platforms: iOS, Huawei AppGalery, and Galaxy Store. We did the speed test on the iOS base to see the behavior of the mobile app. For testing, we have selected the USA location and one random European country, as well as all previous tests.

Hola VPN speed test on iOS connected to the US and Swiss servers
Speed test on Iphone the US and Swiss servers

The vertical image of the screenshot displays the pure ISP speed. The indexes are:

  • download speed is 28.5 mbps;
  • upload speed is 31.6 mbps;
  • ping time is 4 ms.

The top-right image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the US server. The indexes are:

  • download speed is 12.5 mbps;
  • upload speed is 24.6 mbps;
  • ping time is 139 ms. 

The bottom-right image displays the VPN’s speed connected to the Finland server. The indexes are:

  • download speed is 32.6 mbps;
  • upload speed is 30.8 mbps;
  • ping time is 41 ms.

The USA geo has not an amazing result: the download speed is about 46% below the initial ISP speed, the upload speed is nearly 22% lower the ISP indicator, and the ping time has increased from 4 ms to 139 ms.

The Swiss location confirms the stability of the European region: the download speed is approximately 14 % faster than the ISP speed, the upload speed is just about 3 % lower, and the ping time has increased from 4 ms to 41ms.

Bottom Line
The facts tell us that the desktop apps, both for Windows and macOS, that turn on the US location influence the connection speed too much. As for European countries, the servers are fast enough, and the speed loss is not significant.

Google Chrome extension demonstrated no extreme losses for the USA location, unlike the  desktop apps. The Hungarian locations had a minor impact and showed high results.

The iOS app behaves as the desktop apps: the US location has very low rates, and the European location satisfies with  results.

About Safety – How Secure is Hola VPN?

Hola’s free plan uses a P2P network to provide its service; except for browser extensions for Google Chrome, Opera, and Microsoft Edge, they are not part of Hola’s peer-to-peer system. In short, peer-to-peer (P2P) means no central server; the participants (peers) share their device’s resources to fit the network. Using this VPN on your PC or mobile device, you will become a peer on this network.

This approach is convenient for torrenting, for example, because each node (peer) can simultaneously be a downloader and uploader. But it also comes with a threat: a P2P network implies IP swapping. Each member shares his IP address so that other peers can utilize it. Anyone who uses Hola is able to know your IP.

Screenshot from the website about IP addresses swapping
Your IP is a commodity of the network, not your own

It’s difficult to secure the whole network when each device is independent.

On Hola’s website, we found that they include in their apps additional encryption and security checks:

  • IKEv2/IPsec, PPTP/L2TP (default: IKEv2/IPSec);
  • Encryption: DES3, AES128, AES192, AES256 (default: AES256);
  • Integrity check: MD5, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384 (default: SHA1);
  • Diffie-Hellman group: MODP1024, MODP2048, MODP2048_256 (default: MODP2048).

This data is copied from their website. Let us say a few words about this list.

IKEv2/IPsec, PPTP/L2TP (default: IKEv2/IPSec)
IKEv2/IPsec combination is commonly used by VPNs, and there is no nou-hau. IKEv2 sets up the secure connection, and IPsec encrypts secure data transmission. It is a strong and reliable guard nowadays.

PPTP/L2TP are also widespread among VPNs but have considerable drawbacks. They are outdated. PPTP is one of the oldest VPN protocols. Your sensitive data will not be solidly protected by this technology. L2TP obtains better security parameters, but it does not supply encryption. We do not recommend using this stack.

Encryption: DES3, AES128, AES192, AES256 (default: AES256)
The default AES256 is the top-notch encryption on the list. The bigger the number after ‘AES’, the higher the security level. DES3 is better than the absence of a barrier, but it is an old-fashioned method with slow speed indexes and gaps in the safeguard.

Integrity check: MD5, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384 (default: SHA1)
An integrity measure has been developed to assure that your data will not be forged or modified during transmission, storage, or another process.

The best security is provided by SHA256 and SHA384. MD5 gives some protection but is too simple for hacking. SHA1 is a bit stronger than MD5, however it has vulnerabilities and does not pretend to be a reliable measure.  

Diffie-Hellman group: MODP1024, MODP2048, MODP2048_256 (default: MODP2048)
Diffie-Hellman is a protocol that creates a shared secret key for communication in insecure channels. This key can further be utilized for the encryption.

MODP2048_256 is the best shielding option that includes an extra layer of guarding combined with good speed characteristics. MODP1024 is the least secure but relatively efficient in terms of computation time. MODP2048 is a more fortified protocol than MODP1024, but it is less effective in computing terms. 

Their website informs us that the Hola’s extension and Android apps involve a proxy split tunneling feature.

Also, they provide information about security fallbacks

Hola VPN security fallbacks to overcome block
Overcoming blocks with less secure protocols

The first point says that they allow the “http” protocol in some cases. We highly do not recommend using the HTTP protocol because it is without a security layer and all data shared by you is exposed to prying eyes.

The second point says that for free users, they allow PPTP/L2TPP instead of IKEv2/IPsec to overcome the block. Previously, a few paragraphs above, we considered that PPTP/L2TPP are insecure and old-fashioned protocols. It is barely an effective choice to sacrifice the safeguard in order to get the content.

A few words to resume. Hola has in its arsenal efficient and secured options; however, there are cases when they use deprecated technologies that may lead to data leakage.

Desktop apps

Desktop applications are available for macOS and Windows. We installed both and studied the distinctions. 

The app for Macbook has a friendly user interface and five interactive elements:

  • turn on/off button;
  • profile icon;
  • gear icon;
  • question mark icon;
  • field with location selection.
Main screen of the Hola VPN for macOS
Main screen of the application installed on Macbook

The installation process of the app is not difficult; it requires you to sign up for the service.

41 countries are available in a free version. The turn-on/off button launches the timer. The gear icon does not respond to its sense; instead of the configurations, it contains some general information about the app and a reference to the help center. The question mark icon does not work and is not clickable.

The bar with interactive icons works incorrectly. After clicking on any option within the gear icon, the whole bar disappears, and the only way to get it back is to relaunch the app.

The interface is the same as on the mac app:

  • turn on/off button;
  • profile icon;
  • gear icon;
  • question mark icon;
  • field with location selection.

The installation is simple and implies registration. The location list is the same size as in the macOS app: 41 locations. The app for the current system has been developed more meticulously; all icons respond to their meaning. The gear icon encompasses a real set of adjustable configurations that include a bunch of security options.

We faced a glitch while clicking on options inside the menu of the gear icon. Once you click on any option, the whole settings bar behaves weird. If you try to repeat any action inside the settings menu, it only blinks, and the cursor cannot capture the menu. Only relaunching helps to refresh the drawback.

Mobile Apps

Hola presented VPN applications for iOS and two Android stores:  “Huawei AppGalery” and “Galaxy Store”; Play Market store is missed in this list.

Our research has been conducted with an iOS app. The design is very similar to its digital siblings (desktop apps and browser extensions).

Visual interface of Hola VPN for iOS
Design presentation of the main screen

There are four interactive elements: 

  • turn-on/off button; 
  • fieldset with location selections; 
  • home icon; 
  • the profile icon.

Within the profile icon exists a supplementary menu, unfortunately without a settings tab.

Supplementary menu of Hola VPN for iOS
IOS app’s menu

The installation process is quite simple, you will need to register.

Browser Extensions

Our team has explored Hola’s solutions for three browsers: Google Chrome, Opera, and Microsoft Edge. Extensions differ from PC apps in an important detail: time limitations. We will show the nuances using the example of Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Extension
An interface is quite simple and consists of 4 interactive elements:

  • turn on/off geo button ;
  • burger menu icon;
  • field with location selection;
  • turn on/off extension button.
Design of Hola VPN for Chrome
Chrome extension main screen

An extension with a free plan includes more than 200 locations, which is a very compatible number. The burger menu consists of 9 tabs including settings. But the filing of the settings item is poor and not flexible. Only one option related to security appears there: the logs on/off switcher. No more settings to change the encryption type or the protocol.

The available free session is quite short; we turned on the extension for approximately 10 minutes and received the notification with the subscription plans.

After clicking on the “Load more time” button, we could use Hola again for approximately 10 minutes.

In general, the free version provides consumers with enough accessible time divided into small chunks, but the pop-ups of time limitations have a tricky design. It’s not obvious to an inexperienced user that more free time is available, and the paid plan is competently highlighted at the bottom of the notification.

Microsoft Edge and Opera
We do not feel the need to describe ads for these two browsers because all the parameters are identical to Chrome’s extension. We only want to add one more notification on Opera about the time limitation.

After free time had finished, we were compelled to wait half an hour for the opening of another unpaid session.


The speed tests of the extensions and desktop applications had very different results. PC utilities, both for macOS and Windows, processed at very low speed for the USA location. The first test on macOS has shown the downfall from 87.9 mbps to 13.78 mbps of the download speed and from 87.58 mbps to 22.33 mbps of the upload speed.

Windows’s test: downfall from 73.9 mbps to 16.1 mbps of the download speed; from 70.9 mbps to 36.1 mbps of the upload speed.

European servers did not lose much and demonstrated adequate indexes.

Browsers extensions function fast enough with the US servers; nonetheless, the speed is lower than with European regions. A tangible hindrance is the time limitation of the free plan. The pause time between sessions is half an hour.

IOS app does not perform even a moderate speed rating on the US location; nevertheless, the European region has stable achievements. 

Work in Highly Restricted Countries

Thoroughly checked the official website, we did not find the information if Hola provides service for countries with high restrictions:

  • Saudi Arabia; 
  • Turkey; 
  • Iran; 
  • China;
  • Turkey;
  • Russia; 
  • Tajikistan;
  • etc.

Server’s Locations

The promo information on the main page of the website brightly claims about the results.

Hola's network counts a significant number of servers and IPs
Provider propose a robust network

The browsers extensions confirm the volume; we have counted more than 200 locations. The desktop applications offer only 41 locations.

Hola VPN has quite a wide network of locations and may empower almost any consumer to get the desired content.

What Bonuses Does the Paid Version Offer, and How Much Does It Cost?

Very brief description exist on the website according the premium plan

Hola's premium plan
Replenished opportunities of the premium version

So the paid version implies a permanent connection with no gaps between sessions. This variant can solve a lot of inconveniences for customers who are ready to pay. The next very important point is that the premium version will exclude your IP address from the peer-to-peer network, so nobody can get your real data.

Subscription plans of Hola VPN with few payments variants

The paid version has some advantages over the free version and has three plans. They have monthly, yearly, and a 3-year pay subscriptions. The longer the term, the cheaper the subscription per month.

About Support

On the website, there is a robust and convenient page devoted to support. There, you can find a lot of prepared questions with given answers. But the live support service doesn’t work. We wrote them a message and did not receive an answer. Three days have passed since that moment.

Hola VPN Review: Final verdict

The free version of this VPN has some flaws. The available free time for the browsers extensions is too short, and the gap between these periods is too long. You enjoy 10 minutes and wait 30 minutes until another session. On the other hand, extensions include a rich list of available locations for the free version. The ability to get the desired content is quite high.

The USA location of desktop applications brought low results in terms of speed rates, but the browser’s extension made this location available with high speed stats. The iOS application could not show a fast connection for the US location but stood well with the European region.

This service can act as a reliable assistant for getting some restricted content. We can not recommend it as a strong shield that provides decent protection. Hola collects a lot of private information and shares it with third parties, even the subscription does not solve this problem.