Hola is a free unblocker service that allows you circumvent geo blocks on websites outside your home country so that you can visit that site and view its content. People use it mostly to watch streaming sites from other countries.
Hola is similar to a VPN in that it uses a P2P IP exchange to give you access to sites around the world allowing you to appear as though you are in a different location than the site you are actually viewing. While Hola does share the unblocking capability of VPN, the similarities stop there.
- Free unblocking service
- Watch streaming content from most websites
- No security
- Free service uses P2P IP and bandwidth sharing
If you like free service and privacy or security are not a concern to you, then Hola’s unblocking service is just for you. If you want to unblock websites but value your security and privacy you might want to consider a different service.
Getting started using Hola couldn’t have been an easier experience. All I had to do was install the browser extension for my browser and I was off and running. Switching geo-locations to unblock websites is very simple. Visit the website you want to view, say BBC and click on the Hola fireball icon to choose the country you would like to view it from – in this case United Kingdom. If for some reason the site does not let you view the content, Hola has a little button to fix it after you click “This didn’t work.” I did have to do this once, but it worked the second time and I could view the content. Hola’s extension couldn’t be any easier to use.
Security and Privacy Concerns:
If something is too good to be true, it usually is. Hola, while free and easy to use, raises all sorts of major privacy concerns. First, it is not a VPN so it does not conceal your IP address while browsing sites online and it also offers no security protocols like a traditional VPN. Then there is the issue of how Hola shares your bandwidth with other users – The free Hola service works by giving users access to blocked websites through a P2P IP exchange system that makes each active Hola user an ‘exit node’ for other people using the service. What this means is that your internet connection is essentially hijacked for other people to use while you are not browsing the internet. Hola offers their unblocking service free because they make profits by turning around and selling your bandwidth to other users while you are not using the internet. This creates major problems if the person using your internet connection with your IP address decides to do something illegal, you would be on the hook since the activity can be traced back to your IP.
In light of the recent discovery that Hola has been sharing other people’s internet for profit, they now offer a premium plan for $5 per month where your bandwidth is not shared with other users. If you are going to use Hola, we would recommend you choose this plan instead of going the free route.