Pricing & Plans
Their bundled offering of one year’s VPN + To Do Checklist (more on this further down) for $9 more than the simple VPN package isn’t bad, but the real value (and commitment!) can be found in the Premium VPN + To Do Checklist, which essentially adds the checklist in for free. Considering all the free add-ons offered, Pricing is fair compared to what else is on the market.
VPN Unlimited offer servers in 39+ countries (with data centers in 50+ regions), including Australia, which many VPN providers tend to neglect (also, Kazakhstan!). Five servers are specifically allotted for torrenting: USA California 1, Romania, Luxembourg, Quebec Canada, and France. The rest of the servers are not allowed for P2P file-sharing usage, as denoted by “TORRENTS” while clicking on a particular server.
VPN Unlimited runs on L2TP/IPsec and PPTP encryption protocols on Mac and iOS, using the stronger OpenVPN on Windows, Linux, and Android. My colleagues and I strongly recommend using OpenVPN if possible, since it is the most secure. Unfortunately, Apple device owners will have to settle for the less appealing security wise (though theoretically faster performing) protocols, but not to fret.
Impressively enough, VPN Unlimited said they added my suggestion of allowing users to switch between protocols at will, depending on device, in order to modulate security vs. performance as needed to their user-based “wishlist” for development and implementation. Needless to say, I was impressed by the staffs' openness to critique and the seeming desire to improve rather than resting on success, as some competitors are guilty of.
*Editors Note: the above updates are in effect. iOS users should turn on “download profile manually” or turn off iOS8 mode in the settings. Android and Windows users should activate on 'stealth mode'.
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Security & Privacy
VPN Unlimited are based in New York registered as a subsidiary of KeepSolid Inc., in the United States and are therefore well within the NSA’s jurisdiction, as if that particular agency was worried about the whole power abuse sort of thing as much as you or I. It’s lucky or reassuring (depending on your vantage point) that to this date, KeepSolid haven’t gotten served with any court orders, meaning they’ve also not divulged any user information to authorities. Stick with me here, because things get a tad murky.
“We do not keep the logs of the websites our customers visit, we only store the data related to the amount of traffic downloaded by the user. This information is available to be viewed in his account only. Also, it is crucial to point out that every time a customer logs into VPN Unlimited, the system assigns dynamic IP-addresses. They are not static and there is no way that we can log the exact IP addresses or particular time stamps of VPN Unlimited customers.”
VPN Unlimited say they don’t keep connection or data logs, which is excellent as an ideal, however, a bit untrue on their end, evidenced by the above response. Any data storage on a provider’s part can serve to basically invalidate privacy and anonymity, which form the backbone reasoning behind using a VPN in the first place. VPN Unlimited’s posited idea that US consumer protection laws can actually serve to protect users when trying to escape these invasive laws (against multitudinous threats likely better equipped with resources than you or I could hope to ever be) which made VPN technology go mainstream to begin with is frankly laughable.
Update 11 July 2016: It seems that VPN Unlimited has changed its logging policy, and now explicitly keeps connection logs for 7 days. Our thanks to reader Guy Haiar for pointing this out to us.
“KeepSolid Inc. will maintain a binary file of your data on company servers, provided that you are a paid-subscriber of the synchronization services. The binary is created when you synchronize or back-up your data (either DataRecords or tasks) and is kept to restore your data in case of a local system crash, damage, loss or hack attempt that results in the self-destruction of your data.”
Well, what happens if KeepSolid gets hacked? In no way is that an explicit indictment of their security team, more so an acknowledgment that in this digital epoch, no one’s data is safe. Would you rather have the peace of mind a remote backup provides while running the risk of possible provider misconduct, even cyber-attack, or not?
It is worth noting that the binary data retention in KeepSolid's policy refers to their other products, but not VPN Unlimited. They say that your data is encrypted and that they don't store clear-text versions of the information.
On the encryption protocol front, VPN Unlimited uses IPSec for iOS devices, at AES-128.
Meanwhile, Windows and Linux devices make use of OpenVPN using UDP ports (with a recommended ‘stealth mode’ for higher security offered in account ->network settings, using TCP 443), at AES-256, with SHA-1 authentication. Handshaking is handled using RSA-1024, though it would also be good to see an upgrade to RSA-2048, as the former is considered to be vulnerable to NSA and other governmental agency intrusions.
KeepSolid have also introduced a Warrant Canary for transparency purposes. It's a welcome touch to show how committed they are as a company to keeping their customers secure.
I found the VPN Unlimited website aesthetically pleasing and logically laid out. The homepage has a handy server location infographic, displaying which countries and cities they operate in, in line with VPN Unlimited’s slight brag about hosting servers on all inhabited continents. Their claim technically false, as Antarctica does have year-round residents, albeit primarily in a research capacity. Nevertheless, no harm done, as they do host servers on most continents.
Meanwhile, the masthead banner has info about VPN Unlimited’s services, pricing, a link to FAQ’s, and client login area. I was especially impressed to find a native translation button, which can be toggled between Russian or English. A bit random yes, but language support shows how much a company learns from it’s targeted markets while effectively adapting.
Live Chat support is clearly visible in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and you don’t need to be subscribed to ask questions (I tried). The user account area is neat, easy to browse and quite useful. Links are relevant and well-detailed.
Of special note, is the timely, courteous, and thoroughly professional support I received from both the Sales and PR teams – in both Live Chat and Email support formats. The folks on the other end were always ready with detailed responses, and (unlike some competitors) a clear hierarchy of how to deal with requests for information, as opposed to disjointed bouncing from department to department.
Support is readily available from either the homepage or the user account area at any time. Moreover, the Live Chat capability with a VPN Unlimited support tech is open 24/7. Again, I must mention how polite, timely, and proficient support was. There is also the option to engage in email discussion, should you need more in-depth assistance. I found either option superb.
Useful guidelines can be found in the User Office account area, with additional information also found in the Knowledge Base. I particularly found the illustrated setup guides (per platform, in the downloads section) to be useful without unnecessary fluff, making them easy to follow without being excessive. It’s quite convenient to have them placed within the individual download pages, so as not to have to toggle between tabs through the duration of the setup process. A user forum would be a good addition, but most providers don’t currently offer one, so no foul.
You can download VPN Unlimited’s bespoke client from their website, which links to Amazon, Google Play, Apple Store, or Windows Store, depending on OS (Windows users can also directly download from their website).
Registration, requires your email, and a password. You may use fake details (I did) and Bitcoins to pay, thus avoiding purposeless disclosure. This would be the best option to preserve anonymity more fully. Keep Solid accept all major credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoins, though anyone worried about privacy should use Bitcoins. VPN Unlimited will send you confirmation and startup emails, once you’ve subscribed.
The VPN Unlimited Windows Client
VPN Unlimited offer one of the sexiest bespoke VPN clients I’ve come across thus far. Everything from the layout and color scheme, to the spacing between text lends itself to easy navigation. It’s neat to have server workload information front and center, so you can decide which to connect to without resorting to trial-and-error time wastage. Remember, servers that are ok for P2P usage don’t have a strikethrough torrents (torrents), with the very first server in the list dedicated to only for streaming (San Francisco). It’s also useful to see your real IP and virtual IP both listed in the top right-hand corner of the app. On those strengths alone, I’d wholeheartedly recommend their service to novice users, or those concerned with simplicity over top-shelf security.
It’s quite excellent to see built-in DNS leak protection to keep your IP address hidden. Should the VPN connection drop though, your IP will be visible, as there is no ‘killswitch’ in place, especially important while torrenting, but applicable in general, too. Great to hear their response, then – that a killswitch feature will be included in the next update, as per my correspondence with support.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, IPv6 Tests)
Tests were run using the VPN Unlimited bespoke client for Windows, using TCP Stealth Mode through port 443, on a 30 MBPS connection.
Connection times were pretty speedy, no more than a minute to connect, and the same to disconnect. The server workload percentage stats come into play here, as it more or less ensured I picked a low-traffic server, with consequently better performance.
Every connection I tested (including some informally) was stable. The French server was especially speedy, at an average of 17 Mbps. Even US servers, which are further away geographically were no slower than 10 Mbps, plenty fast for streaming and downloading needs. It's always good to see a provider deliver.
Unlike some rival companies, most of whom have extensive issues with IpV6 DNS leakage, VPN Unlimited showed no IPV6 address. Use test-ipv6.com to check.
Kudos to VPN Unlimited, DNS leak protection worked as mostly as advertised, there was no simple DNS leakage. However, the WebRTC bug has not been properly addressed yet, and will have to be manually disabled (not too hard to accomplish, read our write-up on how to do so). To check DNS or WebRTC– as you should periodically – this website will run an automatic test on both here.
Windows 10 users should also beware DNS leakage inherent to the default settings. Open VPN and most bespoke clients should be patched as of this month, but always check to be sure.
The bespoke client is offered for Windows, Windows Phone, Mac OS, and Linux, in addition to Android and iOS for the mobile sphere. It’s great to see VPN Unlimited working to simplify the VPN user process in every area possible, as opposed to leaving you with lots of extra legwork.
Other/ Free Services
Keep Solid have several other offerings other than VPN Unlimited, though these are mainly iOS specific at the moment.
Photo Transfer WiFi
Their WiFi photo sharing app is only for iOS devices, but can transfer photos, videos, or entire albums to any other device, including PC. HD videos are said to transfer with no compression loss. DropBox support is included, and the app is free. Piggybacking off this is a cloud storage syncing service.
To Do Checklist
This is Keep Solid’s analog to the ‘task’ or calendar functions on most devices. Tasks can be shared with friends and have geo-location tags – something a bit curious from a privacy and security company.
This offering encrypts call and SMS messages on your phone, using VoIP technology, similarly to Whatsapp and Skype. A 7 day free trial is available to start, including a unique personal phone number, and call funds.
Once you've downloaded the trial or subscribed, KeepSolid Phones service lets you alter your phone number in any given worldwide area, or your hometown - allowing you to operate several lines for business or personal use (redirecting your spam calls isn't a half bad idea to begin with).
WiFi Hotspot Protector
A paid app that functions like a VPN on your iPhone, more easily and cheaply. It's primary usage base is for customers on-the-go, who tend to use unsecured or worse connections at hotels, cafes, and airports. The ten-day free trial lends itself to trying before buying, and a ten-day vacation package is only $1.99 while three months come in at $5.99. What's more, WiFi Hotspot protector uses the same security options as VPN Unlimited for iOS – built-in IPSec client with AES-CBC-128 encryption.
The service doesn't come with regional choices, like VPN Unlimited, users are automatically connected to the 'optimal' server closest to their location. All things considered, this would be a good choice for temporary travelers, and especially so for those that travel frequently.
Similar to the Hotspot Protector (though free), KeepSolid’s Private Browser acts as a proxy, encrypting traffic through the browser, consistent with their VPN Unlimited iOS security standards. It seems to be modeled on Google Chrome, as Google is the default search engine provided.
Sadly, I was not able to review these free or paid apps – as I don’t own an iPhone or other Apple device for that matter – however, they do look good, and I’m quite interested to see how they progress from their current embryonic stage. The Tap & Edit app, in particular, looks to have considerable promise.
VPN Unlimited Review Conclusion
Using VPN Unlimited was an overall treat. The KeepSolid team definitely do their job as far as serving customers with a high-performance, easy to use VPN. Furthermore, their attention to colors, styles, and user interface at large is exceptional, and should be commended as such. Not to be outshined, the bespoke VPN app for Windows does a pretty darn good job at keeping you hidden at a high-speed, WebRTC issues notwithstanding. With tech support of the utmost decorum and copious freebies (mainly iOS), today could be the time to try VPN Unlimited.
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