Why is Hola VPN so Bad? – Or Why We Never Recommend a Free VPN

Updated on: 7 February 2019
Updated on: 7 February 2019

If you have already read a few articles of ours then almost every single time you will read that we strongly never recommend using a free VPN. This is not because we want you to go and buy a paid VPN for some reason, but because free VPNs are simply not safe and secure.

Please below why Hola VPN is definitely not secure and why using it could wreck havoc on your computer or mobile device.

1. What is Hola VPN?

Hola VPN is a free VPN and unblocker that offers users the possibility to connect to the internet using other people’s IP addresses and computers acting a a web-server. This way you can create a level of privacy between you and the website you are visiting.

The reason why literally millions of people (in my opinion foolishly) use Hola VPN is because it’s for free. Most other (but proper) VPN services only come in paid versions and a lot of people from across the globe believe that they should not be paying for a service such “simple as a VPN”.

But this is a huge mistake. Below you will find the reasons why.

2. How does Hola VPN work?

Unlike most premium VPN providers. Hola VPN does not have proprietary servers. Every person who becomes a user of Hola and by the usage of the Hola application both for computers and phones, allows other people to have access to their computers and internet connections.

Hola is a peer-to-peer VPN, meaning that if you connect to Hola you will use another user’s device and internet connection to connect to the internet. Similarly, other people will be able to use your internet connection to connect to the internet and do a variety of things including illegal stuff.

3. Does Hola log my information?

Yes, Hola logs quite a huge number of personal information and data. More so that pretty much any other VPN on the internet. Most people use a VPN precisely in order to avoid having their internet activity tracked; instead, Hola records and keeps logs of pretty much every single thing you do over the internet, such as the websites you have visited, the messages posted and received on the internet as well as your real location.

The information about the VPN’s logging policy is deeply buried in it’s privacy policy where it states that:

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

Please keep in mind that it states may include, which usually means it’s much more than what is enumerated in the above list. You can safely assume that they are recoding absolutely everything what you are doing online.

But it gets even worse. Next they tell what they also collect personal information such as personal email address, IP address, your full billing details, name and location.

They then go on to state that they can and will share your personal information with third party entities and even the government “in order to improve services”.

So, there you have it. They will log all your internet activity and share it with third party entities.

If you ever wondered how this free VPN (or any other free VPN) makes money then you can easily figure it out based on the above.

4. Where is Hola located?

Hola is located in Israel, which is not a privacy friendly jurisdiction. Israel also has data sharing agreements with the US and most European countries. In the above segment we have already revealed that Hola will log all your internet data meaning that if the government of one of these countries requests this information they will be more than happy to give it all over.

5. Hola does not offer any encryption

If you were not already off-put by this VPN after you have read the segment about data logging and sharing, then you’ll have to understand that Hola does not have any encryption whatsoever.

One of the major points of using a VPN is to connect to the internet while having all your incoming and outgoing data fully encrypted so that no entity from private companies like your ISP or even the government should be able to actually see what you are doing online.

Hola VPN simple does not have any encryption at all!!!

I can’t stress how ridiculous this is. Absolutely everyone from your ISP, to Hola, to the government and to the individual person whose connection you are using will be able to see 100% everything of what you are doing online.

What is even more ridiculous is that Hola claims that it’s peer-to-peer network is even more secure that “military grade encryption”. They actually have the audacity to make a statement like this. It’s incredible how blatantly these people can lie.

When you are using Hola you will literally use the personal connection of another random Hola user. There’s 0% chance that that person’s connection is encrypted. That person will be able to record 100% of your internet data and see everything exactly as it is, including even the passwords you type into your browser!

It’s ridiculous.

What’s worse, all the internet traffic you send or receive will not be sent through a classic VPN protocol but instead a proxy, meaning 0 encryption meaning anyone who has access to that data (Hola, the government, your ISP, the random guy whose connection you are using) is able to see 100% everything you are doing on the web.

6. Random people will have access to your data

I would just like to reiterate this point because it’s very important. Hola unblocker is a peer-to-peer VPN meaning that it does not have its own servers. You, and millions of other people all over the internet are the “servers”. When you connect to a Hola servers, you will actually connect to another person and his/her personal computer just like yours. And vice versa!

We have already established in the previous segment that Hola has no encryption at all. This means that every time you connect to a Hola “servers” – as in, to a random person’s device – that random person will have full and unrestricted access to your networks with just a few ridiculously easy network “hacks”.

Yes, you read that right. A completely random stranger over the internet will have full unrestricted access to all your web traffic data including your passwords!

But it can be worse than that. Your device will also act as a “server” for all kinds of different people from all over the web. This means that other people can use your connection for illegal means.

With Hola someone can actually your computer and your network connection and IP address to order drugs, discuss terrorist activities or perform fraud and credit card theft.

And since everything is unencrypted, law enforcement agencies will extremely easily able to find you and assume that it was you who did all of that. And the excuse that it was someone else over Hola will not hold because you can’t actually prove any of that. The authorities can however prove that the illegal activities were committed with your IP address and from your computer. It will be a clear-cut case.

If you use Hola you can actually even go to jail!

7. Hola does not work with Netflix

If all of the above was not already bad enough, then you will soon realise that Hola does not even work with anything that matters. It for example does not work with Netflix. It seems that all of the available “servers” Hola offers give the Netflix proxy error.

So why even use this so-called VPN at all if you can’t even get anything done with it?!

What’s worse is that if you use Hola you can end up with your regular home IP address being banned by Netflix. That’s because since you’ll be the “server” for someone else on the internet, that person may use your IP to access Netflix and Netflix may classify it as a proxy or VPN IP and ban it for good. You then won’t be able to watch Netflix unless you have a dynamic IP from your ISP or ask your ISP to give you a new IP (which usually costs money).

8. You can’t torrent with Hola

Hola simply does not work with torrenting. There is no text in its terms and conditions that forbids torrenting but it appears that it just simply does not work for this task.

The potential reason for this could be that since you are using someone else’s IP address, that person may be located in a country where torrenting apps and sites are blocked.

9. Hola VPN does not have a customer support

It just doesn’t. If you need to contact the company for any reason then you can forget that. It’s just simply not possible to do so no matter what your issue is.

Someone from over Hola has hacked your computer and stolen all your data? Too bad. They will not help you.

10. Hola costs and pricing

The basic Hola unblocker is free of charge and as I explained above it’s absolutely terrible. It does however have a premium plan which costs $5 per month and if you opt for this plan then Hola claims that your device will not act as server for other Hola users.

However anything else what was described above still remains valid: Hola will record every single thing you do over the internet; Hola will give away your data to third parties and to the government; Hola will NOT encrypt your data.

In the below segment you will see that even with such pricing this is absolutely ridiculous.

11. Hola vs. a real VPN

So lets take everything that Hola has to offer and compare it with a top-of-the-line VPN like NordVPN.

Hola real servers: No.
NordVPN real servers: Yes.

Hola encryption: No.
NordVPN encryption: AES-256 military grade

Hola logging policy: Logs and records everything.
NordVPN logging policy: Zero-logs policy; records absolutely nothing

Hola government data sharing: Yes.
NordVPN government data sharing: Never.

Does Hola work with Netflix: No.
Does NordVPN work with Netflix: Yes.

Hola premium pricing: $5 per month.
NordVPN premium pricing: $2.75 per month.

So, there you have it. There are actually VPNs out there that have every feature Hola does not have, are 100% secure and safe and actually cost half the money Hola costs.

12. Hola is why I never recommend any “free” VPN

Honestly, Hola is not the only one that does all of the things described in this article. This is pretty much how all “free” VPNs operate. They lure people in with a “free” option only to record all their internet activities and give them away to third parties.

I mean, they have to make money somehow, right? Why would anyone want to offer and maintain a free service to millions of users? That incurs large costs and no one would do it without expecting some profits either. But since they are free they have to make money some other way.

And this is how free VPNs like Hola make money. They give your data to third parties and allow others to use their network for malicious reasons.

Best part is they will never get into legal troubles even if someone uses their network for illegal things because they are peer-to-peer networks and don’t actually own and run the servers. It’s YOU who act as severs, so if someone does something illegal with your connection it’s YOU who gets into trouble.

And this is why I always and only recommend real premium VPNs such as NordVPN. These VPNs actually own their servers meaning no one else has access to them, they fully encrypt your traffic and are located in privacy friendly jurisdictions.

Just stick to these VPNs and you will never experience any issues such as you would if you would be using a free VPN like Hola.

Written by: Elizabeth March

Advanced ITSEC Specialist Based in Cambridge, England, Elizabeth has held notable positions for a range of high-profile vendors and clients in the European IT Security and Communications Sector. As a former IT Trainer, Technical Specialist, and Product Manager; she transitioned into the role of an expert IT Copywriter in 2015. Since then, her works have been published globally, and she continues to help people easily decipher complex technical challenges and make informed decisions about their digital lives.

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