Atlas VPN review
As the name suggests, Atlas VPN offers to put the whole world at your fingertips. This mobile-focused VPN service is great for beginners, has user-friendly apps, and a useful free version.
In this Atlas VPN review, I will try to find out what this VPN is good for. Read on to find out about its speeds, features, security, and apps.
|Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email|
|Current deal:||Get Atlas VPN, now 86% OFF!|
Atlas VPN pros and cons
- Strong encryption
- Kill switch
- Free version
- Unblocks most streaming platforms
- Web filters
- Built-in log in 2FA
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No live chat support
- IKEv2 is the only tunneling protocol
- Based in the US
- Small server fleet
- Not as good on desktop
- 10 GB of monthly bandwidth on a free plan
Speed and performance: is Atlas VPN fast?
While all VPNs will slow your connection down, some do a better job than others. To get the most accurate picture, I'm using the same test unit, measuring its baseline speeds and connecting to identical locations. Then, I calculate the drop-off percentages. Let's see just how fast Atlas VPN is.
|Location||Ping (ms)||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)|
- Baseline: 1 ms/300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
I'm just going ahead and say that speeds don't seem all that impressive. The average IKEv2 download speeds reduce your speed by around 42%, which is what you'd expect from this protocol. However, average upload speeds take a nosedive – the reduction is ~94%. Ping follows reasonable margins and increases proportionately based on your distance.
Overall, speeds aren't Atlas VPN strength, nor does the service bring a huge variety of tunneling protocols to the table. This is somewhat alarming considering that other providers with free versions like ProtonVPN, Hotspot Shield, and Hide.me VPN gets you more choices and better performance. Although, with all fairness to Atlas VPN, it's a much more recent product, so it still might take a while before it catches up.
Streaming: Does Atlas VPN work with Netflix?
Some VPNs get sold solely on their ability to unblock streaming services. So, for a VPN service, it's one of the most important things to get right. Spoiler alert: Atlas VPN has some pleasant surprises there.
I started the test on YouTube with a geographically restricted NBA highlights video, which is only available to US viewers. This and many other geographically restricted videos became watchable after connecting to Atlas VPN servers. I can conclude that if you want to unblock YouTube, it'll work without problems.
The next on the list was BBC iPlayer. Atlas VPN unblocked this service, as well. I didn't notice any stutters or buffering issues. If you need your UK media fix it, you won't be disappointed.
Netflix was the third test. Atlas VPN exceeded expectations and unblocked various libraries. So, if you run out of things to watch, you can install it and discover shows available in other countries.
The last service I tested was DAZN. Many services crumble at this step, as it's a notoriously difficult service to unblock. Sadly, Atlas VPN is no exception there. So, if you're interested in fighting sports, you'll have to turn to other broadcasters.
Does Atlas VPN allow torrenting?
Atlas VPN doesn't make a big fuss about its torrenting capabilities. They don't have dedicated P2P servers, nor are they advertising the functionality. However, despite this radio silence, I can confirm first-hand that torrenting does work.
The download speed I got was around 4-6MB/s (32-48mbps). So it took approximately 7 minutes to download a 2.7 GB file. Your results may vary, as the speeds will be affected by the same variables that make VPN speeds hard to pinpoint, plus the seeders/leechers, and other nuances. You'll have to test the service yourself to get an idea of how it performs realistically.
Atlas VPN doesn't advertise this, but torrenting works on their free version, as well. Though, don't expect the speeds to be as fast.
Features of Atlas VPN
You can find the SafeBrowse (or SafeBrowse Plus on macOs and iOS) toggle in the security options tab. It's an optional safety measure that you can enable to block malicious websites. Whenever you're browsing with a VPN on and stumble upon a website that's included in the blacklist, you'll be denied access.
If you've used Cyberghost or NordVPN, you have encountered other variants of the same feature. This is considered a premium feature, so if you want to take advantage of it, you'll have to subscribe.
Recently, Atlas VPN added the SafeSwap feature, which is one-of-a-kind in the VPN market. When you connect to a SafeSwap server, your IP address is being rotated while you're connected. With other VPN providers to achieve a similar effect, you'd have to disconnect and then connect to a different server. With SafeSwap switching is happening while you browse. So, if you open one page, it will use one IP address, but if you close it and open another one, the used address will be changed.
Each SafeSwap has not one but a multitude of IP addresses assigned to it. These are shared between users, making the IP rotations unpredictable. Unless you check manually, you won't notice that the IP addresses are changed. This doesn't increase speed drops.
There are three SafeSwap locations to choose from: The Netherlands, Singapore, and United States. I suspect that they're planning to increase the server numbers. Though I don't think this increase will be exponential, considering how many IP addresses the provider has to buy up to set up one SafeSwap server.
Currently, the feature is only available on Android, iOS, and Windows platforms. Though, the developers are also planning to release a macOS version in a short while.
Data hack detection
Although it sounds like some cutting-edge technology, this feature simply checks whether your data has appeared in data breaches. That's a premium feature, so free users won't have access to it.
If your data did end up in such a data breach, you'd get the bullet points with the kind of data that was revealed. So, you can quickly check whether only your email address leaked, or whether passwords were affected as well. This serves as a good tool for reference when you're trying to patch up security holes.
Is Atlas VPN secure?
In terms of security, Atlas VPN sits in the middle. It has the necessary basics that you'd want in your VPN service, like AES encryption and a working kill switch. However, the variety of tunneling protocols could use an upgrade, and we'd like more transparency from the company, especially considering their business location.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
When you connect to one of Atlas VPN's servers, your connection becomes encrypted, meaning no one can see what you're doing online.
Specifically, Atlas VPN uses the AES-256 cipher. This is the current standard for data protection, used by numerous governmental and financial institutions. It scrambles your data into 256-bit size chunks, and even with powerful computers, these could take an extremely long time to crack - no one has been able to do it yet.
As for tunneling protocols, there is only one option: IPSec/IKEv2. Although this isn't an insecure tunneling protocol, it currently is on its way to being phased out. OpenVPN or WireGuard would give the service quite a bit of versatility and speed.
Atlas VPN is based in United States, Delaware. The location matters because it determines how difficult (or easy) it is for law enforcement and intelligence agencies like the NSA to get user data. The United States is at the forefront of the Five Eyes alliance, and not a privacy-friendly jurisdiction in general, which is why this won't be one of Atlas VPN's selling points.
However, Atlas VPN does have a no-logs policy. The document says that they aren't storing any private information. While this isn't mentioned explicitly, the no-log policy seems to also apply to the free version.
I reached out to their customer support to ask whether they have a warrant canary and whether they were contacted by law enforcement. They responded that the page hadn't been set up yet, and they weren't contacted for any police investigation.
Their policy mentions that you can contact them to have your account permanently deleted. California users can even ask to get a copy of the data companies have on you. It's a step in the right direction.
Atlas VPN has added a safety feature that helps to prevent data leaks. It's called a kill switch and is designed to shut down your Internet traffic if a link to the VPN server is interrupted. We perform two tests to check how it works: by blocking the connection from a router and disabling background VPN processes.
In the first test, the kill switch worked well and killed the connection when access to the server was blocked. The only qualm that I have is that it doesn't notify that the kill switch is triggered. I liked that the Internet connection can be restored by disabling and enabling the kill switch.
The second test was more complicated than usual, as the service doesn't support OpenVPN. So, the VPN processes are tied to the client. So, I had to disable the client with the kill switch turned on. I found out that the kill switch works even in such circumstances.
Servers and locations
A large server fleet means good global coverage, wherever you are. It also means that it's easier to find a faster server as the user loads spread out across them evenly. So, this has performance repercussions.
Unfortunately, Atlas VPN doesn't cover too many locations. It only has 700 servers across 28 countries. Compared to VPN market veterans, these numbers seem low. Atlas VPN was a mobile-only VPN service for a while, so these numbers reflect the variety that's usually available on free apps on mobile app stores. Although the service did catch up by introducing desktop clients, their fleet size has room to grow.
Plans and pricing
The service adopts a common pricing structure among VPN service providers: the longer your subscription, the better the monthly savings. They have three options:
|1-year plan||$29.88 or $2.49/month|
|3-year plan||$50.04 or $1.39/month|
It's one of the cheapest yearly and 3-year plans that I have seen, making the service very competitive. If you're planning to use a VPN for a single goal (like unblocking Netflix), Atlas is a good option. I appreciate that the service is adequately priced according to the number of features you get, which can still create value for its users. There's also no limit to simultaneous connections.
Every plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try the paid options out and decide whether you like them enough to justify the purchase. Payment methods include credit cards, Google Pay, and PayPal.
Atlas VPN is one of the few services that have a free version, and it shouldn't be underestimated. However, it is important to note that there is a 10 GB data limit on this plan – so it won't be your best bet for downloading and streaming large media files.
Atlas VPN continues to be the value king in that regard. As a free user, you're getting access to three locations: Japan, Australia, and the US. While there are no daily data caps, the free version won't give you access to streaming-optimized servers, 24/7 support, unlimited simultaneous connections, and the SafeBrowse feature.
Interface and ease of use
The app itself borrows the design from the mobile apps (as they were introduced first). There are a lot of rounded corners to make it pleasant to the eye. The app is pretty easy to navigate and find what you need.
Having said that, not everything about this experience went smoothly. The app would occasionally freeze, display connection errors. I'm not sure what caused these issues, but it seems like something that will be patched out eventually.
Since there is only a small number of countries, there is no need for a server search function yet. You can scroll through the list, which isn't that big of a problem.
The login has built-in 2FA. Every time you're logging in from a new device, you must confirm the code sent to your email. Although it may seem frustrating, this adds an additional layer of security.
The experience was smoother on the macOS app. Image and text scaling could use some polish, but overall, the text was readable.
I also found that when you don't explicitly select the server to connect to, the app connects you to the nearest one. The difference is that it's not displayed at the top of the list, so you'll have to scroll through the list to check which location has a green icon next to it.
There's also a switch between light and dark mode, so there are some customization options.
Atlas VPN mobile apps
Their Android app has been around much longer than their desktop counterparts. This translates well into the user experience. The app has a much cleaner interface. It doesn't come off as cluttered or basic.
Feature-wise, the available toggles are SafeBrowse and a system-wide kill switch. You can also check if your emails appeared in any data breaches with Data hack detection.
Overall, it's a solid app that I'd consider using daily.
You'd have a hard time telling the Android and iOS apps apart. Both apps look and feel absolutely identical. Which is great and is something that companies should do more often.
The only difference between iOS and Android that I managed to find is the different name for the SafeBrowse feature. On iOS, it's called SafeBrowse Plus, while on Android, it's just SafeBrowse. Also, the sharing of usage statistics button is located elsewhere. Still, those aren't really things that would radically change your experience.
You can access customer support sections directly from the AtlasVPN app. When you click on the FAQ, you get transferred to the website, which looks like it's still under construction.
There are some general explanations and workarounds to solve technical issues. It's a bit annoying that the email for customer support was not displayed on the help page.
If you need to reach out to their customer support agents, email is the only option. They responded to the query after 8 hours of making a request, which is about what you expect with most services.
Is it worth getting Atlas VPN?
Whether Atlas VPN is worth getting depends entirely on your expectations. Is this the NordVPN or ExpressVPN caliber VPN service with a huge server fleet, numerous tunneling protocols, and exclusive features? Obviously, no.
Atlas VPN is a casual VPN for users who need a simple service to use. It has strong encryption and a good free version, unblocks Netflix and a few other streaming platforms, and supports torrenting. However, it offers only one tunneling protocol and its speeds aren’t that great.
Whether the service will have enough ambition to climb higher, we’ll see in the future.
More on VPN providers from CyberNews:
NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN: which VPN performs better?
Private Internet Access review: is PIA a good VPN to use?
PureVPN review: trustworthy or not worth it?
Is Atlas VPN free?
Yes. There are both free and premium versions. The free version also has no data caps, and you don't even need to create an account.
How good is Atlas VPN?
Atlas VPN is a lightweight and straightforward service. Although their premium version seems a bit lacking, their free version is one of the best.
Is Atlas VPN safe?
Atlas VPN uses strong AES-256 encryption, which should add adequate protection and privacy. Their kill switch is also working fine.
How do I use Atlas VPN?
If you're on mobile, you'll have to head to Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store, find the app, and install it. On desktop, you'll have to head to their website and download the app there. From there, it's as simple as clicking "Connect."