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Is this underdog VPN service really as powerful as NordVPN for half the price? We put it to the test, and here’s our take.
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The writing is on the wall. Cyber threats are here to stay and they’re getting more sophisticated by the month1, so it’s no mystery that most of us can’t guard against them by ourselves.
If you’re thinking a VPN is the simple answer to eliminating those threats, it can be. But only if you choose wisely. Not all VPNs are created equal.
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is moving in on hallowed VPN turf with its powerful bundled services that cover everything from personal servers to a premium password manager. But can it really compete against the best of the best? Here’s what I think after a solid week testing everything KeepSolid VPN had to offer.
Pro Tip: One speed stat you may not be looking for in a VPN is how fast it reconnects if your connection fails. KeepSolid VPN scores big points here. Changing connections was just about seamless with hardly any downtime, which meant no streaming or downloading interruptions.
Getting started with KeepSolid VPN Unlimited was relatively painless. I handed over an email address and paid by card (crypto was an option, by the way). Then I set my password and KeepSolid led me to a download screen with two options for my Mac OS: a stand-alone app and an app store app. (Just FYI, if you are on a Mac, the stand-alone app didn’t work. The Apple Store app opened without a hitch.) Once I gave KeepSolid system permissions, I was in.
There are one or two basic security preferences I always like to be on top of before I connect with any new VPN. I recommend you do the same.
In KeepSolid VPN’s case, I toggled on the DNS Firewall. This feature is a lot like the awesome DNS filter I found while testing Windscribe, a quality VPN in the same price range.
KeepSolid VPN’s DNS Firewall lets you filter out potentially suspicious content by category, like gambling, fake news, or even file-hosting (i.e., torrents). The underlying concept here is that these are the sites and connections that tend to harbor malware, so blocking them from your devices removes that threat. I toggled on “suspicious domains” and “malware” right off the bat.
Did You Know: If your VPN offers you a DNS filter, use it. DNS filtering won’t just stop you from seeing pop-up gambling sites. It will keep the highly contagious malware on those sites far from your devices.
Other than that filter (and a generous selection of protocols), KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is pretty bare bones. This isn’t necessarily something to complain about. In fact, sometimes simple can be great. In my hands-on VyprVPN review, for example, I found the effortless, stripped-down dashboard was a definite advantage. It kept all the complicated stuff under wraps, while managing to deliver airtight privacy.
One thing KeepSolid VPN did give me was a map view of their 500 or so locations. Love those blues and grays, but the map didn’t actually do much. I couldn’t zoom in to see server locations within countries, for instance, and the pins were tiny. That said, the KeepSolid VPN desktop client does have a few nice touches I did appreciate.
First and foremost, if all I wanted to do was connect to my VPN (and let KeepSolid VPN do its thing), I just hit that Big Ben-sized connection button. It flipped from blue to green and I was anonymous without any break in my connection. Too simple? For many of us who just want private, turbulence-free internet connections, I don’t really think so.
FYI: I tested KeepSolid VPN’s desktop client on a Mac. If you’re on a Windows machine, you’ll probably notice some small differences. And some pretty big ones, like a kill switch. Read on for more about that.
KeepSolid VPN did let me choose my own connection, but it also found the best one for me. The optimal connection showed up automatically in my favorites list. Generally, it doesn’t hurt to use pre-selected VPN connections — they’re supposed to be the fastest — but if your speeds are ailing, don’t be afraid to experiment with protocols and locations either.
Another nice touch? Instead of latency, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited shows you “workload,” or how busy their servers are. The only problem I found here is that it’s a collective load, so you really have no idea how busy the particular server you’re connecting to is. On balance, though, I thought it was a pretty handy way of steering users to less crowded locations.
Pro Tip: Want detailed information about your KeepSolid VPN Unlimited virtual connection? Just click on the green box with the geo pin and KeepSolid VPN will show you the protocol you’re using, along with your region, actual server location, and your IP.
KeepSolid VPN has some spiffy dedicated streaming servers. Sure, it would be nice to see peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing servers and obfuscated servers (for masking my VPN) on that list, but this was a good start. KeepSolid VPN even had specific servers for unblocking streaming services like Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now, which is something I’ve never seen before. If this is important to you, see our best VPN providers for streaming.
If speciality servers is something you’re looking for in a VPN, check out my CyberGhost VPN review for a full discussion.
It’s not all privacy roses with KeepSolid VPN Unlimited. Two major, and quite frankly, basic features I’d like to see on all KeepSolid apps soon? A kill switch that cuts my internet connection in case my VPN fails — and alerts me to the fact. (On my Mac, I only got a kill switch if I connected over IKEv2. According to a KeepSolid rep, they’re working on fixing this.) An auto-reconnect feature wouldn’t be bad to have either, so I don’t have to connect again manually if my connection does go down.
FYI: In 2018, researchers at Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI) exposed security vulnerabilities2 in the popular VPN protocol IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2). Their advice? If you’re using IKEv2 to encrypt your password logins, use strong passwords.
There’s virtually no difference between KeepSolid VPN’s desktop and mobile apps, so moving back and forth between the two was seamless. On my Android phone, I did have the auto-connect feature I was missing on my desktop app, so that was nice. But guess what? Still no kill switch! (Anyone running Android Nougat will have the same problem. KeepSolid VPN’s kill switch only works with Oreo.)
Another nifty extra I was happy to see on my mobile app was split tunneling. KeepSolid VPN calls it App Exceptions, but the idea is the same. Any apps you don’t want going through your VPN tunnel, you can add to this list. I call this an “extra,” but split tunneling is convenient bordering on necessary. Real-life examples? You might want to use a printer on your network without disconnecting from your VPN, or browse locally while streaming from another country. You can’t do either without splitting your VPN tunnel.
Did You Know: You can actually whitelist whole trusted networks with most VPNs, including KeepSolid VPN Unlimited. Why would you need to do this? For two reasons: to speed up your connection or to access other devices on your local area network (LAN) that don’t recognize your virtual IP.
Speed isn’t a VPN’s only selling point. Then again, while 25 Mbps is all you really need to stream HD, if you want to download “Captain Phillips” (and I’m not saying you should or would), a fast VPN that delivers extra power will come in handy.
KeepSolid VPN came through lightning quick for me, pulling nearly 300 Mbps on my unwired 500 Mbps line. That kind of speed earns KeepSolid entrance to the high-performance VPN club. (Other illustrious members include HotSpot Shield, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN.) In fact, when I tested Hotspot Shield and its legendary Catapult Hydra protocol, I didn’t report noticeably faster speeds. But let me flesh out my experience a bit.
If you want, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited will choose your protocol, or VPN connection instructions, for you. (I always give a VPN the benefit of the doubt and let it choose for me, at least the first time around.) KeepSolid chose WireGuard for me. I was pretty happy about that. WireGuard is a super-fast, cutting-edge protocol that can usually run circles around OpenVPN and IKEv2. Hence the speeds I’m about to show you.
Those were my speeds. But that doesn’t mean you’ll see the same, even with a 500 Mbps line. There are a bunch of factors to consider, but mainly server workload (KeepSolid VPN’s New York servers were at 30 percent when I connected during the day; at night that load would likely go up.)
My advice? If your KeepSolid VPN connection isn’t working like magic, check out the workload first. If that’s not an issue, consider tweaking the protocol. Especially if you’re on a Mac and opted for IKEv2 just to have a kill switch. (Incidentally, you can find your protocol by clicking on the green destination IP box on your dashboard.)
Did You Know: OpenVPN, the 20-year-old godfather of VPN protocols, weighs in at over 100,000 lines of code. WireGuard, the blazing fast new kid on the block, is a sleek 6,000.
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited has a straightforward zero-logs policy. For instance, they didn’t hide the fact that they logged my IP, connection and browser type, and operating system; however, they assured me it was all erased when my sessions ended, so my online activity was essentially anonymous. KeepSolid’s encryption is industry-standard AES-256. And they had me covered against malware with their DNS Firewall. All the leak tests I threw at KeepSolid bore this out.
A few things that would have made me feel even safer? The kind of diskless, privately owned servers I uncovered in my ExpressVPN analysis, one of our top VPN services this year. A system-wide independent security audit, like the one that TunnelBear runs every year, would have had me breathing easier, too — to name just two security promises that mean a lot to me. (If you’re really into VPN security, by the way, read all about TunnelBear’s unique privacy vision in my top-to-bottom TunnelBear review)
And while I’m willing to take the folks at KeepSolid VPN at their word about their zero-logs policy, the fact that they collect my device ID3 to monitor my device use feels just a little icky. (This is the same info advertisers use to track us on the open web.)
Did You Know: Device IDs are unique fingerprints (made of numbers and letters) that can be used to identify any device in the world. Manufacturers attach device IDs to most hardware, including mobile phones, tablets, network adapters, graphics and audio cards, and even CPUs.
Bottom line? I felt pretty confident that my data was safe while I had KeepSolid VPN running in the background. But moving forward, I’d like to see them take some of the game-changing security steps that competitors like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and TunnelBear have already taken to back up their promises.
In a sense, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is a straightforward, mid-range VPN service. Their $3.99 per month yearly plan (hot off the press) is just pennies less than WindscribeVPN’s cheapest plan and ProtonVPN’s basic plan. So, while we’re not talking rock-bottom cheap like VyprVPN (VyprVPN costs $1.63 per month for three years, FYI), KeepSolid is nowhere near the $8-plus price tag you’ll find on the pricier all-around VPN services like ExpressVPN or NordVPN. (If you are looking for a VPN with a little more firepower, ExpressVPN’s options are definitely worth checking out.)
That said, KeepSolid VPN did have a few surprises in store — like its $159 Lifetime plan. Pretty amazing value, sure, but I’d still recommend using KeepSolid VPN for a month before investing. And you can, with a seven-day, money-back guarantee.
The other deal KeepSolid VPN offers is a bundle that includes their premium VPN service and their password manager, Passwarden, for $4.66 per month yearly. Considering that password managers are getting to be as common as Netflix subscriptions, that’s a deal worth considering. Learn more about KeepSolid VPN costs here.
Did You Know: Over 28 percent of Americans claimed to have abandoned their carts mid-purchase in 2020 because they couldn’t remember their passwords.4
You know those endless support chats where the customer service rep is diving off screen to dig up canned responses that only halfway answers your questions? KeepSolid VPN Unlimited’s chat support wasn’t like that at all. Alex jumped right on and answered my question (about the missing Mac kill switch) succinctly and knowledgeably. Granted this wasn’t a 10-million-dollar tech question, but I still felt I was in good hands.
But I also like to hunt around on websites when I’ve run into a brick wall. KeepSolid VPN’s online documentation scored OK here. They’ve got a bunch of installation manuals and a reasonably well-stocked FAQ, yes, but the language is spotty. (Don’t expect to find anything using the search bar either, by the way.)
KeepSolid VPN’s blog could use a little sprucing up and expanding, too. It’s nowhere near the level of NordVPN, say, or ExpressVPN’s content (check out those great VPN explainer videos!). And I really did have to hunt to find it because it’s hidden in the footer.
Overall, though, solid chat support is what you want when you’re troubleshooting, and KeepSolid VPN came through there.
Did You Know: In 2007, a small American video production company called CommonCraft realized that with a new tool called YouTube they could explain complicated ideas (and disseminate those explanations) much easier with short videos. They shot a short video on how RSS feeds work and the explainer video was born.
KeepSolid VPN hasn’t staked its reputation on privacy. It doesn’t brag too much about speed or offer much in the way of customization, not even a kill switch for Macs running anything but IKEv2.
Basically, on paper, KeepSolid VPN is underwhelming. But in practice it gave me one of the smoothest, fastest connections I’ve ever seen, with simple apps that made sense and security that just worked. Couple that with a $4.66 monthly price tag that includes a premium password manager and I’m thinking this is one underdog VPN that deserves a second glance.
If you want to learn more about VPNs and what features to look out for, check out our in-depth VPN Informational Buyer’s Guide to get the scoop.
KeepSolid VPN is very easy to use on the day to day, but getting started with the desktop client was a bit of a hassle.
At $3.99 per month on a yearly plan, KeepSolid VPN is a mid-range VPN.
KeepSolid VPN has specialized servers exclusively for streaming, including dedicated servers for Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, and more.
KeepSolid VPN hasn’t been audited yet and doesn’t use RAM servers, but it does have a DNS filtering Firewall to keep malware off your devices and a pretty solid zero-logs policy.
KeepSolid VPN has fast, live, helpful chat support around the clock. However, their knowledgebase needs some work.
McAfee. (2021, April). MCAFEE LABS THREATS REPORT.
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. (2018, August 15). Security gaps identified in internet protocol IPsec.
Adjust. (2021). The Adjust Mobile Measurement Glossary.
FICO. (2020, May 13). FICO Survey Reveals U.S. Consumers Need to Better Protect Themselves When Banking Online.