Unblock Region-Locked Content with Hola
key review info
- Application: Hola! 1.2.329
- Reviewed on:
- Bypass Internet censorship
- (3 more, see all...)
The Internet does not fall short of solutions for reaching content restricted in your area and, if you’re not looking for anything fancy, there is no need to shell out any money, either.
Hola is a simple VPN service that can integrate in web browsers (Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox). The platforms supported include Windows (both 32 and 64-bit) and Android (2.3 if rooted, 4.0 and up).
It is also available for Linux and Mac systems as a browser extension for the aforementioned web navigators.
The developer provides two versions of the service. One is free of charge, displays advertisements, is limited to four hours per day usage, and offers support for over 100,000 websites and browsing acceleration. The premium edition is available for $2.99 / €2.19 per month, lifts time usage restrictions, and increases allocated bandwidth.
Installing the desktop application is a three-step job that also integrates the extension into Chrome and Firefox. You can choose not to add them, but we recommend that you do.
When the process completes, you will find the Hola icon in the system tray area. Just by moving the mouse over the icon the main options of the application are revealed: unblocking access to restricted websites and accelerating the connection for a better experience.
Although configuring Hola is not rocket science, there is a simple mode and an advanced one, for more seasoned users.
Keeping things simple means accessing a short list of options that enable the application to start with the operating system, mute any sounds, assign Wi-Fi management to either Hola or Windows, and turn on Internet acceleration for the supported web browsers.
It should also be able to accelerate the Internet when some other programs are running but, in our case, no options were provided.
The simple mode also pops up a web page that allows you to search for websites you want to unblock. A list with some of the most used ones is provided, and it includes services from Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Fox, CBS, and UK’s Channel 4.
Under the advanced mode, there are slightly more options present that inform of all the Internet connections available, together with connection-related details, and explain the Unblocker (the actual VPN service) and Accelerator functions.
Apart from this, you can access some statistics about the data used since the Hola service first started, data acceleration details (from nearby peers), and the amount of data that has been saved through the application.
Working with Hola during our testing showed that the application and the service could indeed provide access to restricted content. It worked right off the bat in most cases, but we also bumped into addresses that would not unlock for us.
As far as privacy concerns go, the developer assures that HTTP requests are handled just like HTTP web proxies, according to HTTP RFC standards and “in a similar way to how ISPs do it in the normal course of your browsing.”
Once the service is turned on, the necessary connections are automatically made for seamless access to restricted content. With the browser extension turned on, there is the possibility to select a new route for the connection.
There is a wide list of VPNs that covers plenty of regions, from the US, the UK, or Australia to Canada, Chile, Brazil, China, and European countries; in some cases, there are multiple choices to pick from.
From the settings panel of the extension you can launch specific websites through certain proxies in order to get to what you want. Some of them feature ratings (positive or negative) from the users, but the pool of data is still small at the moment and quirks are still likely to appear.
The browser extension does not include the Internet acceleration feature, which comes in quite handy if you do not want to re-download the data the next time you want to view it. Hola caches it on the device and re-serves it when necessary.
It is easy to install and the connection is automatically re-routed according to the websites you access. It caches the data to avoid re-downloading content for further requests (this is also helpful to protect the data plan).
Configuring the application does not require too much effort and can be carried out by beginner users as well. More than one connection is available for multiple countries.
Not all websites unlock their content when running the connection through Hola. The free edition limits unblocking for a total of four hours per day.
Antivirus solutions from ESET need to have Hola included on the whitelist for the application to function (the troubleshoot section also lists ZoneAlarm and AVG Antivirus).
Hola is an easy solution for getting access to content unavailable in your region. It is not a foolproof solution, but it can do a good job in most cases. False positive reports are triggered by the program with some antivirus solutions.