VPN shopping can feel like a horribly complicated process. There are lots of options to consider, and you’ll often find yourself scrolling through lengthy comparison tables to find a plan that works for you.
KeepSolid’s VPN Unlimited does things differently. The website doesn’t overwhelm you with features or technicalities, at least initially, instead focusing on the key benefits of speed and privacy.
Browse the site and you’ll find a few details, but they’re mostly focused on the key basics. The service offers 1000+ servers in 70+ locations across 45+ countries, for instance. It supports five simultaneous connections, and has software for a huge range of platforms. That means not just the usual Windows, Mac, iOS and Android: there’s also a Windows Phone app, a Linux client, and browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.
There’s torrent support on five servers only: Canada, France, Luxembourg, Romania, and a single location in the US.
The product structure is simple. There are three main plans with identical features, which only vary by how they’re billed. The Economy plan is $9.99 (£8) for a single month, the Professional plan is $4.17 (£3.35) per month over a year, and the Infinity plan gives you lifetime coverage for a one-off $149.99 (£120). (As we write that’s described as a ‘time limited offer’ with a regular price of $499.99, or £400.)
VPN Unlimited does have some optional extras. You can get a static IP or your own personal VPN server from $14.99 (£12) a month. If the five-connection limit is too restrictive, paying $0.99 (£0.80) a month gets you one extra device, and $5.99 (£4.80) adds 10 devices.
The Family plan gives access for up to five users and 25 devices from only $8.33 (£6.65) a month, an amazing deal if you’ve three or more people to cover. Keep in mind that while VPN providers typically allow up to five devices to be connected at one time, most of them specifically say these can only belong to the same person. The Family plan allows for covering individuals, each of whom gets their own account, login and device support.
Sounds tempting? Then, good news: KeepSolid provides a 7-day free trial to get you started, and also a 7-day money-back guarantee for a little extra security after you’ve subscribed.
There is some session logging, including the date of every connection session and the total bandwidth used. That’s not ideal, but it’s not unusual, either.
Recording basic stats on program operations is common. There’s a problem here with the inclusion of your ID, which means the data is no longer anonymous. The suggestion that the client “may ask” for permission indicates that you’ll have a chance to opt out, but this may not happen by default, so it’ll be important to check any settings.
While browsing the small print, we noticed a small plus point in KeepSolid’s fair usage policy. Most companies use these to scare you with vague warnings about not using the service “too much”, but KeepSolid actually puts a figure on what “too much” might be: 900GB a month. Even if you pass that limit, the worst that might happen is your speeds might be limited. That seems very fair to us, and even if you disagree, it’s good to have a company which spells out what its policies really mean.
KeepSolid supports a wide range of payment methods, including cards, Bitcoin, Amazon and more. Even better, if you opt for PayPal then you get a further 5% discount off the total, for example cutting the cost of the Professional plan to $3.96 (£3.15) a month.
We handed over our cash, and moments later an email arrived thanking us for the “early purchase” of the VPN, and saying that “as agreed” the company was extending our subscription by 10%. We hadn’t noticed any mention of a contract extension, but free stuff is always welcome and we weren’t about to complain.
KeepSolid’s website and welcome email doesn’t point you to any setup guides, but it’s not difficult to figure out the process for yourself. Click the Downloads link, choose a platform – iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, Windows Phone, Apple TV and a catch-all Chrome and Firefox extension – and follow the instructions.
It’s always interesting to see how clients are doing on their individual app stores. KeepSolid was performing generally very well when we checked, with three stars for the Mac app, but around four stars for everything else, and all clients have been updated within the last six months.
Whatever you choose, setup seems relatively easy. We grabbed a copy of the Windows client, downloading and installing it within a few seconds.
The interface is bulkier than most clients, and doesn’t make the best use of space. The opening screen displays your location on a world map, for instance, but you can’t pan around it, zoom in/out, or click a location to connect. It’s just a static image.
A separate Servers tab displays all available locations along with their workload, and includes a Search box to help you find a particular city. It’s easy enough to use, but again takes more space than most clients to give you fewer features. You can’t browse by continent, for instance, there’s no way to change the sort order, and there’s no Favorites scheme to highlight your most commonly-used servers.
A DNS Firewall option enables blocking some ads, trackers and known malicious sites. This is essentially based on simple blacklists and won’t help you very much – which is probably why the feature is turned off by default – but it’s available if you’d like to experiment.
Poke around the client for a while and you’ll notice a second group of settings, bizarrely tucked away in the Account section. Here you can change your protocol from OpenVPN to ‘KeepSold Wise TCP’ or ‘KeepSolid Wise UDP’, which appear to be enhanced versions of OpenVPN with extra security. We would have liked the ability to decide whether the regular OpenVPN selection used UDP (for speed) or TCP (for reliability), but that’s not an option here.
There are no other significant settings or features. You can’t control whether the client reconnects when it launches. There’s no kill switch to prevent your identity leaking if the connection drops. There’s no IPv6 leak protection, and no way to modify program behavior, for example, to display notifications or not.
We had some issues with connecting and switching between servers. If you click on any server in the list, ever, KeepSolid connects to it immediately without asking for confirmation. We found it easy to do this by accident, and it seems to us that the standard Windows behavior – single click to select an item, double click to perform an action on it – would be more intuitive. But if you’re happy with the single click approach then it’s certainly easy to use, and the lack of “do you really want to connect?” confirmation messages may be an advantage.
We didn’t have any concerns about KeepSolid’s performance, which our tests* showed was excellent everywhere. Local UK servers managed 36-44Mbps download speeds. Nearby European countries – France, Netherlands, Germany – regularly reached 40Mbps. Stockholm couldn’t quite match up with an average in the low 30Mbps, but it was never lower than 28Mbps.
Connecting to the US made surprisingly little difference, with the New York server averaging around 40Mbps. Even Australia delivered speeds of 5Mbps, enough for us to stream basic HD video without difficulty.
Unfortunately, despite the triumph of the speed tests, the review ended with a problem. Both ipleak.net and dnsleak.com showed a potential DNS leak. This may not apply on all systems and platforms, but if you trial the service we would recommend checking it out for yourself.
KeepSolid offers great performance for a low price, and clients that run on almost everything. The DNS leak and the lack of a kill switch are going to be a problem for many, but if your needs are simple – unblocking websites, say – it could still be a good choice.
*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.