Free peer-to-peer VPN
Hola Free VPN is a free online privacy service developed by Hola Networks Ltd. As the name suggests, it is a virtual private network, allowing you to browse the internet without restrictions. With this, you can access any website, regardless of country restrictions.
Hola Free VPN does not work as your basic VPN. Unlike the competition, it does not rely on a fixed network of managed servers. It is more of a peer-to-peer network, where browser traffic is routed through its users. However, while this makes it difficult to detect your identity, this only protects your browser traffic.
How Hola Free VPN works
Hola Free VPN takes an unconventional approach to protect your online privacy. As mentioned, unlike your usual VPN, it does not rely on server networks to keep your identity hidden. Instead, it is a P2P network that routes traffic through its users. In using the app, your traffic passes through the computers of other users who have installed the service. With this, some of their traffic might pass through your device.
This approach offers some advantages to its users. For one, it has no fixed routes or destination servers. If you are accessing a geo-restricted website, the app can rotate between proxy servers to find one that allows you to access it. Not only that, but it will make it more difficult for sites to detect that you are using a VPN. Moreover, it keeps the cost down for you since there are no servers or bandwidth bills.
However, users must note that the app only works for protecting browsers. The service is only great for unblocking websites and not other VPN features, such as torrenting. Additionally, unlike a typical VPN, it uses some of your system and network resources. Moreover, it stores users' residential IPs and uses their bandwidth to power its network. This gives users the chance to use other users as an exit server. If they are sending anything dubious, your IP address can be associated with the action.
How the app performs
Despite the app working differently than its competition, users will note its good performance. It is not at par with big names, such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but it does add a significant speed to your browsing. Playbacks run smoothly at all times, without any buffering, quality, or other issues. Additionally, even though it is free, the app can bypass restrictions for streaming sites, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. Although, it only allows one hour per day.
However, users should note that the app does not only use your real IP address. It also keeps logs of your activities. It collects your name, email addresses, payment and billing information, and screen name. It can even access your profile and friends' list when you open your social media account. With plenty of logging possibilities, the app does not do much in terms of anonymity.
Overall, Hola Free VPN is an excellent tool for unblocking websites. The app allows you to route your traffic. With this, you can avoid detection while you access sites restricted in your area. Even better, it can unblock streaming sites—even for an hour. However, it does not protect your traffic nor offer the privacy or anonymity that conventional VPN services provide. There are also logging concerns. It could be a helpful tool for browsing, but not for anything serious.