I recently acquired a lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited for about $39 dollars through the website stacksocial.com. So far the service has been enjoyable, the support has been quick and responsive. However at first look figuring out who is actually behind VPN Unlimited is rather confusing and hazy.
When I started using the service on April 28th 2015 the company appeared to be owned by the entity Simplex Solutions Inc. However it was undergoing a rebranding to become Keep Solid Inc. This is important to keep in mind because it could explain one of the most glaring issues I have found with the service thus far. That is, the user login area, to find out information about your account such as how much time you have left, or which devices are taking up your five slots for connected devices is practically invisible.
In fact, it is so invisible that the only indicator on their site that it exists is within the help section which points you to the login for activating more time on your account. Now this could just be a by-product of their rebranding which they claim to be complete (going to simplexsolutionsinc.com gives a message that the process is finished) however it seems like a significant flaw from a web interface point of view.
Thus far I have only used their product on three devices that I have access to so this article will cover those devices and be updated over time as I try it out on various devices. The first device I used it on was my Nexus 5 and then my Nvidia Shield Tablet. Both are android devices so experience wise they were pretty much the same.
The android app is pretty simple once you are used to it, however the design is fairly intuitive even if it does feel a bit slow at times. When you pull up the app you see a loading screen that shows the VPN Unlimited logo and seems to take 10-20 seconds to load into the app. Once there you have a simple map of the world that shows the external IP that the app detects and then gives you a list of VPNs which you can stroll through while indicating where on the map the VPN is located. This is also where they conveniently point out how much time you have left with their service a useful feature if you are buying in smaller quantities like their 10 day plan.
Once you have decided the place you want to connect to it is a simple matter of clicking the locations icon and then toggling the switch. This is where the user interface becomes less intuitive and starts to get a little confusing. The android back button takes you out of the app but leaves your VPN connection intact, although what appears a built-in back button in the app is actually the logout button. If you wanted to return to the VPN list you have to click the right facing arrow to the right of the on/off toggle.
The reason for this might be because the VPN selection screen is all done within that first screen which does create a quicker experience after you have loaded into the app. You can still see the time left and account you are on and access the buy more time (by clicking the time left) or app settings (clicking the account).
The android app however does have a more significant flaw in my opinion at the moment, this being the lack of some sort of “always-on” option that sees to it that all your information is always secure. However they have mentioned they are planning to work on it.
So the app is not the greatest, but it does however get the job done. The connection on the android devices is an OpenVPN connection between your device and their servers. It offers an interface that allows you to easily switch between VPN servers if you need to, and the settings even offer “stealth” connections which tries to use TCP port 443 to better hide your connection as SSL traffic.
The other device that I have used VPN Unlimited on is a Chromebook. Keep in mind that as of writing this, there is no “official” support for a Chromebook such as an app or a plugin to make setup easy.
The first thing I had to do was email support requesting OpenVPN credentials for their servers. This is something they were happy to do and they sent the required information back. They sent all the required information even including .ovpn files required to connect on typical devices that would accept them.
Unfortunately this was not the case with the Chromebook. The Chromebook will only accept certificates that happen to be in a PKCS #12 format. While I had all the required information it took a bit of work to convert it into the necessary format using a Debian server I happened to have available. Once I had the right certificates added into certificate storage I then had to set up a ovpn.onc (template here: ovpn) file which was uploaded via chrome://net-internals#
Since the connection is handled by Chrome-OS as opposed to an app like android has, the fancy VPN lists are missing. However when support provides the information required for VPN login they include a list so you can manually edit your server if need be. However a benefit of having Chrome-OS handle the connection is that you can set it to connect automatically. This means that your connection will always be secure.
I have informed the Keep Solid support team of my experiences setting up a Chromebook to use their service and have provided them with necessary information to improve the experience for others users trying to do the same thing. Hopefully they take this information tweak it as necessary for best support and will give it to users who ask for it.
Overall the experience I’ve had with VPN Unlimited has been a good one. Once everything is set up I have found it to be reliable and the issues I have run into have been easily fixed or are outside the reach of the Keep Solid support team to fix. The service can be improved and the company behind the service does seem to be eager to create a better experience overall.
It is hard to say if this is worth the typical prices of $3.99 a month, $24.99 for a year and $59.99 for 3 years. However I would have to say that I am happy with the service thus far, and that it was definitely worth buying the lifetime subscription from Stack Social.