The Snowden revelations of 2013 revealed that the NSA and governments around the world were tied up in the act of mass surveillance. The shocking nature of the catch-all eavesdropping created a huge spike in VPN interest.
There is now an almost overwhelming amount of options, and it can be hard to know which services live up to its claims. US-based KeepSolid makes a great case for its VPN Unlimited offering, which promises security and performance for a reasonable price. We put it to the test to see if it makes a worthy choice.
Why Should You Trust Us?
With over a decade of experience covering apps, gadgets, and online services, we take pride in recommending the best tools for you. We recognize that not everyone has the same priorities and needs. This is why we take the time to cover a wide range of different VPN services. Our roundup of the Best VPNs is evidence of our versatile approach.
Our writers are based all around the world and together we represent a diverse range of views and priorities. It helps us recognize that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. We highlight the pros and cons of any tool to help you make the best choice for your needs.
KeepSolid has all bases covered with VPN Unlimited, offering clients for Linux, macOS, and Windows. Mobile apps lend on the go support to Android and iOS as well. There are even clients available for relatively niche platforms like Windows Phone and Apple TV.
If a native app isn’t your game, you can always use its browser extensions for either Chrome or Firefox. There are many options, which displays a level of commitment and investment that is absent with many other VPN providers.
The setup process is short and sweet. There are very few options, and no technical jargon to decipher. It is as simple as selecting a server location and hitting the web. You can choose from servers in more than 70 locations. The percentage load is listed under the location to help you choose the least congested server for best performance.
VPN Unlimited uses the open-source OpenVPN software by default on Windows and Android. macOS and iOS users will need to download a third-party OpenVPN app to connect on Apple devices.
VPN Unlimited comes bundled with the KeepSolid DNS Firewall, allowing for four different levels of protection. Your VPN traffic is encrypted by default, but turning the Firewall on to the lowest setting enables anti-malware protection.
On the other end of the spectrum is high protection, securing you with VPN encryption, anti-malware, tracking protection, and an ad blocker. KeepSolid maintains its own black and white lists, but you are able to create your own for customized performance and so the sites you enjoy reading can show ads to you.
VPN Unlimited offers many payment tiers with the highlights being monthly, annually, or a one off lifetime payment. If you subscribe to the service on the annual payment plan, it equates to just $3.33 per month. The plan includes unlimited VPN usage for up to five devices, meaning that you can protect your desktop, laptop, and mobile devices without additional charges.
If you want to augment your subscription, KeepSolid offers two additional services; a personal IP address, and personal VPN server. Some websites have begun to block access if your IP is from a recognized VPN provider. Keeping your own static IP address means that you should be able to sidestep this, whilst still keeping the protection of a VPN for an additional $12.50 per month.
A personal VPN server bundles in your own static IP, along with a dedicated server that only handles your traffic. KeepSolid offers personal servers in the US, Canada, UK, India, and lots of other locations
Starting at $18.33 per month, you’ll get a dedicated server offers you speeds up to 1GBPS, and 512MB of RAM. You get higher bandwidth as the server isn’t shared with other users, and it allows you to set the VPN connection on your router to cover all your devices.
Speed and Performance
Poor performance and connection speed will ensure that people will not use a VPN regularly. Luckily, performance issues aren’t something VPN Unlimited suffers from. Throughout testing, there were no timeouts or connection drops.
During regular web browsing, there was no noticeable impact on loading speeds. This is notable as your traffic has to be sent to an additional server, before being passed onto its destination.
Performing a speed test with VPN Unlimited running gave a result of 70.65Mbps, while a VPN-free connection gave 78.18Mbps. You would expect to see a drop in speed due to the previously mentioned additional distance traveled, and that was the case here. However, the slight reduction in speed was not noticeable during regular internet use.
With the proliferation of streaming services, many have turned to VPNs in order to unlock geo-blocked content. Testing VPN Unlimited with a US server, I was able to access previously unavailable services. The one exception was Netflix, which has recently been cracking down on VPNs (although there are some that still work with the streaming giant).
Remotely locating yourself in a different geographical location can also be instrumental in sidestepping censorship and oppressive government restrictions.
Privacy, Security, and Logs
VPNs first entered the public consciousness as a means to remotely connect to your office’s network. However, in light of recent decisions made by Congress, they are increasingly used to protect security and privacy. VPN Unlimited pitches its service at the privacy-conscious, but beneath the marketing how do its commitments hold up?
VPN Unlimited is one of a number of apps developed by US-based KeepSolid. Since the Snowden leaks demonstrated that the US government and the NSA were involved in mass surveillance, this is concerning. As KeepSolid is under the jurisdiction of the US, it does mean that it may be compelled to hand over user data.
The company goes on to state that “KeepSolid Inc. does NOT collect and log any user activities while using any of their VPN services”. This would seem like a clear statement that it does not collect usage logs.
However, in their Terms and Conditions, it is made clear that it is prohibited to use the service for illegal activity. In cases where users are suspected of illegal activities then it “may log information, which is necessary to prove the user’s innocence and protect [its] service”.
VPN Unlimited performs much better on the security front. All traffic is 256-bit encrypted before leaving your network. This prevents prying eyes from eavesdropping. This is important to protect you from snooping ISPs and when on public Wi-Fi networks.
Public networks present a huge security risk as it is easy for someone to intercept the traffic. By encrypting your data, it will be scrambled and the attacker won’t be able to glean anything from it.
Along with blocking VPN IP addresses, some websites have also begun blocking traffic that looks like it originates from behind a VPN. This can often be detected as it is encrypted and looks different to “regular” internet traffic. To try and minimize this issue, the KeepSolid Wise feature makes your VPN data look more like HTTPs traffic. This is useful in countries like China and Turkey where internet usage is highly monitored and restricted.
What About Torrenting?
Despite declining popularity, thanks to the rise of streaming services, torrenting and P2P software still account for significant bandwidth usage around the world. Many VPNs disallow the use of P2P software while connected to their services to ensure they provide a stable service. Others, like VPN Unlimited, do allow P2P services — but only on designated servers.
While this may seem like an endorsement of P2P file sharing and torrenting — it isn’t. KeepSolid’s Terms and Conditions make it explicit that the use of its service to violate “any local or foreign laws” or download and transmit “any material that infringes the intellectual property rights…of third parties” is prohibited.
While we would never condone the use of P2P to illegally download content, piracy and torrenting are commonly viewed as one and the same, but there are plenty of legal uses for torrents, and VPN Unlimited has access.
What About DNS Leak?
When you want to visit a website, you enter a URL, like www.makeuseof.com. The URL is like a speed dial for an IP address, making it easier to navigate the web. A Domain Name Server (DNS) acts like a telephone directory of websites. When you request www.makeuseof.com, the DNS converts this to the sites IP address (in this case 184.108.40.206). The way that some VPNs handle the connection to a DNS can mean that your true IP address is presented to the server.
This is known as DNS leak and can undermine some of the protections that using a VPN is supposed to provide. Unfortunately, testing VPN Unlimited at dnsleak.com and dnsleaktest.com shows that it does suffer from them.
The privacy-conscious VPN user may find it particularly problematic as the server is provided by Google, who many see as a privacy nightmare.
VPN Unlimited offers a fast, reliable service at an incredibly reasonable price — this is especially true if you choose the lifetime subscription. The setup-and-then-forget simplicity of the service makes it a great choice for an always-on VPN for budget conscious users.
However, it does lack some options that other more expensive services offer. There is no killswitch to disable the network connection if the VPN drops (though the company is working on adding this feature down the road). It also lacks a DNS Leak option, which means that your real IP address is visible to the DNS provider.
Where VPN Unlimited excels is in providing fast and secure connections. By encrypting your traffic, it keeps your data away from the prying eyes of criminals. While its stance on privacy is a stumbling point, if you want a VPN that can unlock geo-blocked content and increase your security, then VPN Unlimited is a worthy selection, especially with how affordable it is.
Do you currently use a VPN, or have done in the past? Would you consider using KeepSolid’s VPN Unlimited? Have you tried it and got thoughts on the service? Let us know in the comments below!