The following is my test report for KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, which is done independently. Tested on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS and others. If you have any questions, you can contact me and I will answer your questions.
With a virtual private network (or VPN), such as VPN Unlimited from KeepSolid, you can rest assured that your browsing is encrypted and your online privacy greatly improved. This service provides industry-standard security, and it makes it easy to keep streaming your favorite shows and music online. It’s a top VPN service, but has recently lost the flexible pricing that we felt made it unique. Our Editors’ Choice winners remain NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TunnelBear, all of which offer excellent value and less restrictive device policies.
What Is a VPN?
When you switch on your VPN, it creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server, one that can foil hackers on your network or even your ISP from eavesdropping on your activities. From the server, your web traffic travels off into the public internet unencrypted (unless you’re connecting via HTTPS), but your actual IP address remains hidden. Without your real IP address, data-hungry website advertisers will have a harder time discerning your geographical location, and figuring out who you are.
PCMag recommends using a VPN as often as you can, and especially when your PC is connected to a public Wi-Fi network. When you hop on an unsecured network at the airport or coffee shop, you have no way of knowing whether the network is what it claims to be, or who is actually running it. Instead of a convenience offered to thirsty customers and weary travelers, the network could have been created by a hacker looking to intercept your data.
VPNs can also disguise your actual location, which is why these services are used by journalists and political activists operating in countries with restrictive internet controls. This has a fringe benefit for the average user: You can use a VPN to unlock region-locked streaming media content, such as the latest TV shows from the BBC.
There’s a good chance that you may have never laid hands on a VPN before. If that’s the case, don’t worry! We’ve got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN.
Pricing and Features
VPN Unlimited offers six pricing plans, four of which last one year or longer. A month-long subscription costs $9.99 per month, and three-month plan costs $18.99. After that, the plans jump to much longer terms. A one-year plan costs $59.99, a three-year plan costs $99.99, and a five-year plan costs $119.40. Note that all prices are charged in full at the time of billing, and a seven-day money-back guarantee is included.
If you’re really happy with VPN Unlimited and want to hedge your bets about internet access in the afterlife, you can opt for the Infinity Plan, which is a 100-year subscription for $199.99. If you’re already a subscriber, it’s just $49.99 to upgrade to the Infinity plan. KeepSolid, the developer behind VPN Unlimited, kindly notes that the company will “gladly extend this period by your request.” You can buy these, or any of VPN Unlimited’s other plans, with PayPal, credit cards, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, and Payment Wall.
Longtime readers will notice that KeepSolid’s subscription offerings have changed a bit. Previously, the VPN Unlimited product had short-term subscriptions that lasted less than a month, some for one week and some for ten days. These have since been removed, to the service’s detriment. That kind of pricing flexibility was unique among VPN providers, and it made KeepSolid VPN Unlimited more than just another face in an increasingly crowded, well, crowd.
That said, the current $9.99 monthly plan is still below average for the industry. Looking just at the top 10 VPNs we have reviewed, the average listed monthly price stands at $10.28. Among those top VPNs I’ve reviewed, only Private Internet Access$2.91 at Private Internet Access costs less, at $6.95 per month. Note, however, that KeepSolid lists only the one-month, one-year, three-year, and Lifetime plans on its website. For the other pricing options, you’ll have to make changes to your account through the company’s client apps or after logging into the company’s website with your KeepSolid account.
Want to go cheaper? KeepSolid doesn’t offer a free version of VPN Unlimited, but numerous free VPNs are available. Of particular note is TunnelBear, which is extremely easy to set up and use. The free version is capped at 500MB of traffic per month, however. ProtonVPN, from the makers of the security-focused ProtonMail email service, also has a free tier. As with TunnelBear, you’re limited to just a few countries, and ProtonVPN limits your possible speeds.
VPN Unlimited lets you connect up to five devices simultaneously—as most leading VPN services do. You can add an additional device for 99 cents per month, five more devices for $2.99 per month, or 10 extra devices for $5.99 per month. If you’ve got a big family or a lot of devices, it’s a great option. Alternatively, you could set up your router to use KeepSolid’s VPN service, providing protection to every device on your network. If you’re not into that kind of a digital DIY project, TorGuard will sell you a router preconfigured to use with the VPN.
VPNs are a mature technology; as such, there is more than one way to create an encrypted tunnel. Of the VPN protocols in use today, I prefer OpenVPN. It’s known for its speed and reliability, but most important, it’s open source. This means the source code has been picked over for potential vulnerabilities by many volunteers.
In addition to the normal slate of protocols, the company offers something called KeepSolid Wise, which disguises VPN traffic as HTTPS traffic. This is designed for use in countries where access to the free internet isn’t available, and where the use of VPNs is blocked. TunnelBear$4.17 at TunnelBear – 2 Year Plan has a similar feature it calls GhostBear.
For Windows and Android, VPN Unlimited supports OpenVPN and KeepSolid Wise. IKEv2, OpenVPN, and KeepSolid Wise are available on iOS and macOS devices. That’s great, since Apple forces developers to jump through extra hoops to include OpenVPN in apps. Linux users are treated to OpenVPN and KeepSolid Wise, while Windows phone users (if any) are limited to the older and less secure L2TP/IPSec and PPTP.
Servers and Server Locations
VPN Unlimited sports 400 servers across 70 locations. These include many often-overlooked regions, such as Africa, the Isle of Man, Mexico, South America, and Turkey, to name a few. The number and variety of server locations is important since it means having more options to spoof your location. It also means that you’ll have an easier time finding a nearby server for better performance when you’re traveling abroad.
It’s a strong list, but I’d still like to see more servers in places such as Africa and South America. CyberGhost, for example, has an excellent collection of servers that also covers regions other services ignore.
VPN Unlimited’s collection of servers is fine, but it pales in comparison to the competition. Private Internet Access offers well over 3,200 servers in 28 countries, and NordVPN$2.99 at NordVPN – Limited Deal has a stunning 4,800 servers in 61 countries.
KeepSolid notably offers specialized servers for video streaming via BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Netflix. That’s great, because the ability to access streaming video services is one of the most concerning issues for VPN customers. NordVPN also offers a video streaming server, but it goes further with a VPN server that also connects to the Tor anonymization network, as well as a double-encrypted server.
Previously, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited also operated in Russia. It’s not too surprising to see Russia leave the list, as operating a VPN in many regions is becoming increasingly difficult. The company has also reduced the number of servers available from 1,200 to the aforementioned 400. The company still offers VPN servers in Hong Kong.
While most VPN server locations are actual, physical machines, that’s not always the case. Virtual servers behave just like physical servers, but can be configured to report that they are in one geographic location when they’re actually in another. That can be tricky if you’re concerned about where, exactly, your data is residing. KeepSolid declined to provide specifics about their use of virtual servers, only saying that “most” of their servers are physical hardware. That’s disappointing, as most other VPN companies have been very forthcoming about how they use virtual servers. In the future, I would like to see KeepSolid be more transparent about its use of virtual servers, perhaps even making it clear which are virtual from within the VPN Unlimited app.
Unlike TorGuard VPN, which is designed as a VPN for BitTorrent and P2P services, VPN Unlimited allows file sharing on only five servers (in California, France, Luxembourg, Ontario, and Romania).
Power users looking for a personal VPN server in the country of their choice or a static IP address that is (allegedly) not associated with proxy services will be pleased to know that VPN Unlimited offers these rare options. A static IP not known to be associated with VPN companies is handy, as IP addresses used by VPN companies are sometimes blocked.
KeepSolid offers personal IP addresses, available in Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. An IP address in any of these locations costs $14.99 per month. A Personal Server offers users improved speeds, since you won’t be sharing it with other VPN users. These cost $21.99 per month and have a bandwidth limit of 1TB to 3TB per month, depending on options. The advantage is that a “clean” IP address is less likely to be blocked by other services (such as Netflix). TorGuard also offers static IP addresses and includes other add-ons, such as access to a high-speed 10-gigabit network. So far, VPN Unlimited is the only service I’ve reviewed that offers server rental.
Your Privacy With KeepSolid VPN Unlimited
Although a VPN is intended to protect your privacy, using one requires that you trust the VPN company. That’s because the company can have the same level of insight as your ISP and could do all kinds of unpleasant things if it isn’t an ethical company. It’s also important that a VPN service retain as little information about you as possible. Otherwise, that information could be used to identify you online and defeat the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
The company explained to me that none of the information logged by KeepSolid would allow the company to match IP addresses or DNS requests to a customer’s online activities. It does note how many devices are connected for each user, and it keeps encrypted information about those devices. This last point can be a little disconcerting. Other services simply limit the number of simultaneous connections and don’t profile the exact devices being connected. I’d like to see KeepSolid move to an even more anonymous method for enforcing its policy on simultaneous connections.
Not long ago, some VPN companies chose to make some extra dough by injecting ads into users’ web traffic. A company representative confirmed to me that KeepSolid VPN Unlimited does not do this, nor does it profit from the sale of user data.
The company has offices in both the US and Ukraine, and operates under US legal jurisdiction. This means it is not subject to any specific data retention laws. However, the representative pointed out that KeepSolid’s zero logging policy means it would have precious little information to retain or hand over to law enforcement. I don’t believe that I can make a judgment on how safe a VPN company is based solely on its location, and I encourage you to simply go with the company you feel you can trust the most.
Recently, KeepSolid introduced the Censorship Test feature. This scans your internet connection and looks for services and websites that may be blocked in your particular geographic region. For example, my US-based scan looked at 45 websites and found them all available. You can opt to send KeepSolid an anonymized version of your scan, which the company says will be available in aggregate at http://www.censor-check.com. Sending your data will also earn you a free day of VPN access, but you can only submit one scan per week.
Hands-On With VPN Unlimited for Windows
In my testing, I used a Lenovo ThinkPad T460s laptop running Windows 10. I had no trouble installing VPN Unlimited, which uses a typical installer and setup tool. The only wrinkle is that it needed to reboot my machine.
Although you can manually configure a computer to use a VPN, most services offer an app to do the heavy lifting for you. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is no different.
The look and feel of the VPN Unlimited client hasn’t changed much in the past few years. The main screen shows a map of the world and available VPN servers. A toggle switch at the top lets you activate protection without any additional setup. A left rail has sections for a searchable list of servers (it connects to the “optimal” choice by default), account information, and a countdown until your next subscription renewal.
A recent update added a Trusted Networks option. When enabled, this should deactivate the VPN when you’re using a network on the trusted network list. I’ll explore this feature in greater depth in a future review.
One irritating aspect of KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is how the company handles simultaneous connections. Most other companies simply limit the number of devices that can use the VPN service simultaneously. KeepSolid, on the other hand, allots each user five slots that are assigned to specific devices. Even if all those devices are offline and you try to log in on a sixth, you’ll be rejected. You can delete devices from the list to free up slots via the KeepSolid VPN website, but you can only delete one device every week.
This is a transparent effort to herd users toward purchasing more device slots. One additonal device costs 99 cents per month, five devices costs $2.99 per month, and 10 devices costs $5.99 per month. That’s in addition to your monthly fee.
All that can be a bit overwhelming to a first-time user. If a kinder, friendlier VPN is what you’re looking for, definitely consider TunnelBear. That service uses a simple, mobile-like design with bright colors and friendly bears to aid you. NordVPN also follows cues from its mobile offering, and it has a graphical, inviting client for Windows.
While the VPN Unlimited client looks fine, others have iterated in smart and interesting ways. Newcomer ProtonVPN, for example, manages to pack a ton of information into its svelte app, projecting a sense of authority. When I look at the competition, it’s pretty clear that VPN Unlimited could stand a visual refresh.
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited and Netflix
As mentioned, Netflix and other streaming services are keen to block the use of VPNs. That’s because of geographically specific licenses for streaming content. For example: in the US, Star Trek: Discovery is only available on CBS All Access. But if you live anywhere else in the world, you can watch it on Netflix. In order to enforce that restriction, Netflix and others will try to prevent you from spoofing your location via VPN.
I had no trouble logging into Netflix and watching my favorite shows with KeepSolid VPN Unlimited. It’s one of the best VPNs to use while streaming Netflix. Of course, Netflix is very aggressive with its efforts to block VPNs, so your mileage may vary.
KeepSolid previously offered what it called DNS Firewall. This was a bundle of features aimed at preventing websites from tracking your movements, protecting you against malware, and blocking ads. However, the company has since decided to remove this suite of tools. When I asked why, a KeepSolid representative said that the DNS Firewall blocked only 80 percent of ads and was being redesigned to better protect users. If you already had this feature enabled, you’ll be able to continue using it for up to six months, but new customers won’t have access to it.
It’s great that KeepSolid has committed to returning these features to its product, but it’s important to understand their limitations. These tools complement your existing antivirus solution or privacy tools, rather than replacing them. I hope that the upcoming iterations of KeepSolid’s features will be an improvement over the old ones.
Other VPN services bundle malicious site protection, protection against malicious downloads, and even ad blocking in with their VPNs. NordVPN and Private Internet Access block ads, and TunnelBear notably offers separate browser apps for ad blocking and password management, the latter known whimsically as RememBear.
Regardless of the VPN service you use, you’re certain to see some kind of impact on your web browsing experience. Usually, you experience more latency and decreased upload and download speeds. This is especially true when connecting to a far-flung VPN server.
To get a sense of the impact using a particular VPN will have on internet speeds, I perform a series of tests with Ookla’s speed test tool. I run several tests, drop the highest and lowest results, average what remains, and then find a percent change between when the VPN is in use and when it is not.
I actually perform these tests twice. The first round is done while connected to a local VPN server, which puts an emphasis on speed and reliability. It’s also how most people will probably interact with their VPN service. For the second round of tests, I connect to an Ookla test server in Anchorage, Alaska, and a VPN server in Australia. The vast distances involved are a stress test on the VPN service and show how it will function when connecting to international locales.
What follows are results based on speed tests performed on March 8, 2018.
In the domestic latency test, I found that VPN Unlimited performed rather well, increasing ping time by 66.7 percent. Those results were flipped in the international testing, where VPN Unlimited had the worst score, increasing latency by 423.9 percent. TorGuard actually reduced latency by 6.7 percent in domestic testing, and TunnelBear was the top performer in the international testing by increasing the ping time by 270.3 percent.
In the domestic download testing, VPN Unlimited reduced speeds by 22.3 percent—one of the worst scores I’ve recorded so far. International testing was similarly lackluster, where VPN Unlimited reduced speeds by 80.8 percent. TorGuard had the best score in the domestic test, reducing speeds by only 3.7 percent. AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite had that honor for the international download test, where it reduced speeds by 39.9 percent.
Upload testing did little to redeem VPN Unlimited. In the domestic testing, it had the dubious honor of the worst score, reducing speeds by 71.3 percent. It also served up the worst international upload speed score, reducing speeds by 98.6 percent. IPVanish, on the other hand, reduced domestic upload speeds by only 2.9 percent. International upload testing results were more tightly clustered, with PureVPN taking the best score but still reducing speeds by 97.6 percent.
The chart below shows the speed test results from our top-rated VPNs as of May, 2018.
I try to discourage people from choosing a VPN based on speed test results alone. After all, different servers and network conditions can dramatically change the results. Based on my results, however, it’s fair to say that TorGuard VPN is the fastest VPN, as it had the best results in both latency and upload testing, and solid upload speed test results to boot.
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited on Android
When I last tested the VPN Unlimited Android app, I found that the design remained true to the Windows app. That’s great, and I prefer apps with a consistent design across all platforms. The Android app is built around a map view, with a hidden left-side tray. Like most VPN apps, VPN Unlimited lets you access some controls from a card in the Android pull-down notification tray. This means you always have control over your VPN, even if you have a different app in focus.
I’m happy to see that the Android VPN app also has all the useful features of the desktop versions. The specialized video streaming servers are clearly marked. You can see how crowded a particular server is from the server list, and which allow torrenting. That said, I’m not sure how many people will be using BitTorrent on their Android phone.
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited on macOS
The best way to install VPN Unlimited on your Mac is to download the client from the official Apple App Store. KeepSolid does offer a version on its website, but it requires that you install a new VPN profile every time you connect to a server. It also did very poorly in my speed tests, so stick with the App Store offering.
When I last tested the macOS client for VPN Unlimited, I found it nearly identical to the Windows version. That’s fine if you’re already familiar with it, but some more Apple-like flourishes would be welcome. I really appreciate that, unlike other clients, it takes very little time and effort to get online with the VPN Unlimited client. The app does a good job relaying important information about servers, such as whether BitTorrent is allowed or whether the server is already crowded with users. VPN Unlimited also clearly marks servers optimized for video streaming, which is very handy. Annoyingly, I discovered that I couldn’t click or zoom on the map view, which makes me wonder why it’s included in the Mac VPN client at all.
One unique feature of the VPN Unlimited macOS client is that it takes advantage of the Touch Bar on high-end MacBook Pro models. There’s an on/off toggle switch, as well as a scrollable selector for different VPN servers.
When I last tested the macOS app, I found that KeepSolid VPN Unlimited for Mac had middling speed test results. Its download speeds were especially disappointing. Again, I don’t recommend using speed as a primary consideration when choosing a VPN.
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited on iPhone
The last time I looked at the VPN Unlimited app, I found that KeepSolid uses the same familiar design for its VPN Unlimited iPhone client that it has on all other platforms. The map is still the center of attention, and you can easily tap locations to connect to the relevant servers. VPN Unlimited also recommends a list of alternative servers, if the one it believes is best is not to your liking. The app also shows the load currently experienced on its servers, making it easier to choose a speedy one.
Note that it’s rare to find an iPhone VPN client that uses OpenVPN, my preferred VPN protocol. VPN Unlimited is one such client, and it will even let you choose between OpenVPN, IPSec, and its proprietary KeepSolid Wise.
I am surprised to find that KeepSolid VPN Unlimited for iPhone earned solid speed test scores overall, just behind NordVPN. While its download scores, which I believe to be the most important, were not stunning, it did provide a remarkably low-latency connection.
If you’d rather not deal with a stand-alone client, KeepSolid also offers browser extensions for both Chrome and Firefox for the VPN Unlimited service. Just install, log in, and click to have all traffic to that browser secured. KeepSolid says that it secures your browser traffic with TLS encryption.
The browser extension offers all the features and servers of the desktop version, as well as the ability to turn off some WebRTC functions. Websites use WebRTC to communicate with your webcam or mic, but security-minded readers might know that WebRTC can potentially leak your IP address. In my testing, I used the official WebRTC troubleshooting test, which reported that most of the network capabilities were disabled.
Having VPN in your browser has some advantages over using a VPN machine-wide. For one thing, you get VPN protection in any computer on which you’ve logged into Chrome or Firefox. For another, you can minimize your impact on computer performance by encrypting only your web browser traffic. If you want to use a VPN while gaming, a browser VPN plug-in won’t affect your internet speeds. That said, the whole point of using a VPN is to secure all your web traffic, and the browser extension won’t do that. It secures just your web browser traffic.
When we test VPN services, we consider price, speed, and the balance between ease of use and advanced features. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited has typically done well in most of these categories, but that has changed. Since we first reviewed KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, the company has winnowed down its service in terms of features and pricing. It no longer offers the flexible pricing schemes that so impressed us in the past, and its draconian approach to limiting simultaneous connections isn’t a great experience. It also seems like less of a value, especially when comparing its the size of its server network to competitors.
There is much good in KeepSolid VPN unlimited. It provides a consistent user experience across all its supported platforms, has a series of specialized servers, and uses strong security technology to create VPN connections. For that, it earns three and a half out of five stars. NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TunnelBear continue to be our Editors’ Choice winners for their overall value, depth of features, and robust networks.