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Atlas VPN Review

Atlas VPN entered the crowded VPN scene in 2019 and was bought by Nord Security in 2021. In this comprehensive Atlas VPN review, we’ll dissect the new service to reveal its strengths and weaknesses.

Samson Max
By Samson Max (Writer, Linking Editor)
— Last Updated: 2022-11-17T15:46:18+00:00 Facts checked by Eugenie Tiu

Atlas VPN — a self-proclaimed “fastest free VPN” — is another new VPN service that is throwing its hats into this already crowded field. In this comprehensive Atlas VPN review, we put the virtual private network through a series of tests to evaluate its speed, security, features, pricing and more.

Key Takeaways:

  • Atlas VPN isn’t the fastest free VPN (as the vendor claims) but is certainly one of the faster free VPNs.
  • We found DNS leaks in our testing, which means your online security is not guaranteed.
  • Atlas VPN is part of the Nord Security group, but it continues to operate as an independent product.

We liked various aspects of Atlas VPN, such as its affordable pricing, unlimited simultaneous connections and support for the WireGuard protocol. Despite the positives, a spot on our best VPN providers list is a long shot for Atlas VPN, at least for now. The VPN is still a work in progress that has to revamp its security, privacy and app design.  

Read on to find out the nitty-gritty details about Atlas VPN’s reliability, features, quality and performance. We’ll compare the VPN to other paid and free VPN providers to give you a clear picture of where it stands. 

If you’re looking for a quick answer, we cannot recommend Atlas VPN due to its porous security (read on for more details). However, if you’re on a budget, we suggest you check out our best free VPN article or best cheap VPN article for quality suggestions.

  • No, Atlas VPN isn’t safe. In our testing, we experienced DNS leaks that could tip off your ISP (or others) about your digital footprint.

  • Yes, Atlas VPN is free. Additionally, the vendor offers a premium version that lets you enjoy uncapped data and extra tools like SafeSwap servers.

  • Yes, like all other VPN services out there, Atlas VPN slows down your internet connection. However, Atlas VPN’s impact is small as it reaches 90% and 86% of unprotected download and upload speeds, respectively.

  • No, although Atlas VPN has shown potential, it’s still far behind Windscribe in areas such as security.

Atlas VPN Review: Alternatives

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Atlas VPN: Strengths & Weaknesses

Pros:

  • Generous free version
  • Affordable premium version
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • IP-rotating SafeSwap servers 

Cons:

  • DNS leaks
  • Split tunneling Android only
  • Clunky app design
  • Only 3 servers on free plan

Features

80 % – Good

Atlas VPN offers all the basic features you’d expect of a VPN, plus a commendable suite of select advanced tools. However, it pales in comparison to top VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review) or NordVPN (read our NordVPN review). 

atlas vpn kill switch
Atlas VPN comes with a kill switch and auto-connect options. 

You get a network kill switch that cuts all internet traffic when the VPN connection drops to prevent accidental data leaks. 

With the split tunneling function, you can set some apps to use the VPN tunnel, while letting others access the internet directly. Sadly, split tunneling is currently available only for Android, sidelining Windows, Mac and iOS users.

Like Surfshark VPN, Atlas VPN lets you connect unlimited devices at once (read our Surfshark review). However, the privacy policy clearly states that you can’t share the service with others. Add to it that you can’t install Atlas VPN on a router to protect a household or business, well, the unlimited connections start to look pretty restricted indeed.

Atlas VPN Free Plan Features

All free VPNs come with limitations, and that’s true for Atlas VPN, as well. As with other free VPN services, Atlas VPN’s free version imposes usage limits. You do get the basic VPN features, but you can only connect to servers in two countries — the United States and the Netherlands. In the U.S., you have the location options of Los Angeles or New York. 

atlas vpn free version
Free users have access to only three free servers: New York, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. 

In terms of data allowance, the VPN favors mobile use. Android and iOS users get 2GB per day for free, whereas desktop users get 10GB per month. That’s on par with Windscribe’s free plan, but compared to ProtonVPN’s unlimited free data, Atlas VPN’s data allowance looks dismal. Read our Windscribe review and ProtonVPN review to learn more. 

Thankfully, Atlas VPN doesn’t impose a bandwidth limit on the free plan. As a result, your connection speed won’t drop regardless of the number of devices connected to your account. 

Atlas VPN Premium Features

The premium plan removes the data cap, letting you enjoy unlimited data. In addition, you get a tracker blocker that blocks malicious websites, third-party cookies and ads. The tool also displays the number of trackers the app detects and blocks. 

data monitoring system
Atlas VPN premium users have access to extra features such as a tracker blocker, data monitoring system and specialty servers. 

Moreover, there’s a data breach monitoring tool that scours the web to see whether your email addresses have been compromised. It sends instant security alerts when your personal data appears in a new data breach, prompting you to change your account credentials to thwart a potential compromise.

Atlas VPN OS and Router Support

As for the platform support, Atlas VPN coverage isn’t as wide as top-tier VPN services. The provider currently covers major operating systems Windows, Mac, Android and iOS (no Linux support, sadly). Beyond that, there are apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV, but you can’t install it on your router.

atlas vpns apps
Atlas VPN is compatible with all major desktop and mobile operating systems except Linux. 

Atlas VPN Features Overview

General
Payment methodsPayPal, Credit card, Cryptocurrencies
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections Unlimited
Supports split tunnelingAndroid only
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
Worldwide server amount750+ servers in 36 countries
Desktop OSesWindows, MacOS
Mobile OSesAndroid, iOS
Browser extensions
Can be installed on routers
Streaming
Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video
Security
Encryption types256-AES, ChaCha20
VPN protocols availableIPSec, WireGuard, IKEv2
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included
Support
Live Chat24/7
Email support
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

95 % – Excellent

Besides the free plan, there are three Atlas VPN subscription options: monthly, one-year and three-year plans. The monthly plan costs $10.99, which is still in the high range for VPNs (though not as bad as VyprVPN — read our VyprVPN review). However, prices drop significantly with the one-year and three-year plans.

The one-year plan costs $3.29 per month, which is about on-par with Private Internet Access’ monthly annual plan (read our PIA review). 

The three-year plan costs $1.99, which is slightly cheaper than the three-year plans offered by Private Internet Access and CyberGhost (read our CyberGhost review). 

You can pay via credit card, Google Pay and PayPal. The good news for the privacy-conscious folks is that Atlas VPN also accepts cryptocurrency payments. 

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee 

When it comes to the money-back guarantee, Atlas VPN chooses to play by the standard industry rule. It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you ample time to tinker with the VPN and decide whether or not to stick with the provider. 

Ease of Use

70 % – Decent

A quality VPN service comes packed with the essential features and sports a design that makes it easy to use these features. Atlas VPN meets these requirements, but its passwordless login isn’t user-friendly (we’ll get to that in a bit). 

Atlas VPN Windows App

Atlas VPN UI
The Atlas VPN connect button is a simple toggle button which displays three villains when the VPN isn’t connected. 

When you first open the app, you’ll see a fairly well-designed user interface (UI). The home tab is clutter-free, with a connection toggle that shows three spikey-headed villains when the VPN isn’t connected. When you connect, the toggle turns green and the Atlas VPN hero mascot replaces the trio of villains. 

atlas vpn app
The Atlas VPN Windows client has a no-frills user interface.

Atlas VPN’s server list is broken down by region and server type, but the vital server search tool is missing — which means you’ll need to scroll to find your preferred server location. Hopefully, Atlas VPN will add a search function, as that goes a long way toward simplifying server search by country name.   

Passwordless Login

Additionally, Atlas VPN’s passwordless login system can be a usability nightmare. Instead of using a password, you have to confirm each login via email. This means that if you want to share the VPN with someone, you would have to share your email login with them, too.

However, the VPN’s decision to have this system seems planned and not just a poorly thought-out design, as the privacy policy says that “account sharing (e.g. allowing others to use your account information to access the services) is not permitted.”

windows client signin
Atlas VPN uses a passwordless login system. 

Atlas VPN Mobile App

The mobile app is the mirror image of the desktop app in terms of design and ease of use. You still have to go through the password-less login process, but in this case, you use a verification code instead. 

atlas android app
Atlas VPN’s Android app has all the features of a desktop client, as well as split tunneling. 

Besides having all the desktop features, the Android app also comes with a split tunneling tool (it’s absent from the iOS version, though).

Speed

70 % – Decent

Atlas VPN claims to be the fastest free VPN. Our speed test results debunked that claim, but that’s not to imply the VPN is sluggish. On the contrary: Atlas VPN speed is serviceable. 

Atlas VPN Speed Test Using Automatic Protocol

LocationPing
ms
Download
Mbps
Upload
Mbps
Unprotected153.092.95
United Kingdom
317.5
2.84
2.57
United States
534.5
2.53
2.55
Australia
703.5
2.78
2.69
Brazil
747
2.77
2.5
Netherlands
345
2.76
2.49
Germany
328
2.9
2.8
Singapore
405.5
2.9
2.12
Average
483
2.78
2.53

Using the automatic protocol, Atlas VPN reaches 90% of the unprotected download speed, and 86% of unprotected upload speed, which is great by VPN standards. ExpressVPN, our fastest VPN, reaches 95% for downloads and 98% for downloads.

One thing we noted is that Atlas VPN has pretty terrible latency, so it won’t make a good VPN for gaming

Overall, Atlas VPN isn’t the fastest VPN there is, neither is it the fastest free VPN, but it does perform admirably well for a service that’s only getting started. 

Atlas VPN Speed Test Using MultiHop+ Servers

Location:Latency (ms)Download SpeedUpload Speed
Unprotected153.092.95
North America4902.632.62
Europe354.52.672.02
Average:422 (28 times)2.69 (-13%)2.32 (-21%)

We also did another batch of speed tests using Atlas VPN’s multihop servers. As expected, the multihop servers had slower speeds than the regular servers.

How We Ran Our Atlas VPN Speed Tests 

We first tested our unprotected connection to get our benchmark results. To see how Atlas VPN affected our connection, we selected seven servers from different continents. 

We left it to the default “automatic” protocol to simulate what most users do. With this option, Atlas VPN picks the ideal protocol between the WireGuard and IPsec/IKEv2 protocols. We recommend using WireGuard, which is more secure than IPsec/IKEv2. 

Security

55 % – Fair

Every VPN has an Achilles’ heel; for Atlas VPN, that’s security. That’s dreadful because a VPN’s principal purpose is to protect your digital security and privacy. Even though Atlas VPN has the ideal security features — the VPN protocol and encryption standard — it certainly doesn’t achieve the intended results. 

As far as the VPN protocol goes, Atlas VPN supports the trusted and reliable WireGuard and IPsec/IKEv2 protocols. When it comes to the encryption standards, Atlas VPN uses AES-256 with IPsec/IKEv2 and ChaCha20-Poly1305 with WireGuard, which is standard with quality VPNs and should offer excellent protection, at least on paper.  

atlas vpn protocols
Atlas VPN supports the modern WireGuard protocol, but OpenVPN isn’t an option. 

To test the effectiveness of the Atlas VPN protocol-encryption combination, we did a batch of IP and DNS leak tests. The good news is that all our tests returned zero IP address leaks, meaning you shouldn’t worry about your real location getting exposed when using Atlas VPN.

However, most of the servers had DNS leaks, and that’s a serious problem. The DNS leaks mean that your internet service provider can see the websites and services you’re visiting (though not what you did on those sites). We hope Atlas VPN will patch up those vulnerabilities to guarantee total anonymity. 

Privacy

70 % – Decent

Atlas VPN claims to adhere to its strict no-logs privacy policy. As per the privacy policy, the vendor doesn’t collect, store or share your IP address or details about what you do online. 

When we combed through the privacy policy for the fine print, our attention was drawn to the data disclosure section. The provider asserts that it complies with the laws of the United States, although it later claims it has “very little data” to share. 

atlas privacy policy
Atlas VPN claims to collect only minimal information to help it run the service. 

We want to add a note about the “random identifier” mentioned in the privacy policy. When you create an Atlas VPN account, the vendor assigns you a unique user ID — you can check your random ID in the settings tab. A representative told us that Atlas VPN uses the ID to differentiate between premium and free users to apply each account’s benefits accordingly. 

Besides that, Atlas VPN saves a signed token on your device to facilitate the passwordless sign-in process. When you click “sign in” using the app, the system generates a confirmation token, which is sent via email. It cross-checks this token against the one saved in your devices to sign you in. 

Audit Threats

Atlas VPN underwent the first independent auditing of its iOS app in May 2021. The audit found two medium-level threats and three low-level threats. As per the auditing firm VerSprite, those threats don’t pose serious risks to Atlas VPN service and users.

Site Cookies

Atlas VPN’s website — not the VPN itself — uses different types of cookies to improve users’ browsing experience, show targeted ads and improve the user experience on its website. 

atlas vpn cookies
Atlas VPN’s website uses cookies “and other technologies.” 

All sites use cookies of some kind to improve user experience and analyze traffic, but we dislike the fact that the VPN helps facilitate personalized content and targeted ads, as it contradicts a VPN service’s fundamental duty of protecting your privacy and security. You’d need to be using Atlas VPN’s ad blocker feature just while using the VPN’s website.

Who Owns Atlas VPN? 

Atlas VPN is a product of Peakstar Technologies Inc. — a company incorporated under the legal jurisdiction of the United States with a physical office in Lithuania. The VPN service was launched in 2019 as a freemium VPN, and in October 2021, Nord Security — the makers of NordVPN — acquired it. 

Nord Security is now under the Cyberspace umbrella, which also owns Surfshark. This means Cyberspace owns Altas VPN via Nord Security.

However, an Atlas VPN representative told us that the service is still an independent product and the acquisition by Nord Security hasn’t changed the way it operates. Given its poor security performance, we hope the security-focused Nord will take a more hands-on approach to improving Atlas VPN.  

Streaming Performance

85 % – Very Good

A VPN for streaming should help you get around geoblocking, and do so without impacting your connection speed so that you enjoy a smooth streaming experience. We used the streaming-optimized and the regular servers to test Atlas VPN’s streaming capability.

atlas vpn for streaming
Atlas VPN’s speed can facilitate an interruption-free streaming experience. 

The VPN got us into Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney Plus and BBC iPlayer on the first attempt. Netflix U.S. blocked our attempt at first, but after several tries we were able to access the U.S. library of movies and TV shows.

Even though Atlas VPN isn’t the best VPN for streaming, it delivers solid streams. Videos load quickly and streaming is interruption-free: no buffering or annoying video lags. Given the good download speeds, we’re not surprised Atlas VPN delivered such an excellent streaming experience.

Server Locations

75 % – Good

The provider has more than 750 servers spread across 36 countries and 42 locations. The vendor heavily covers Europe, but it also covers regions such as Asia, the Americas and Oceania. Unfortunately, it overlooks underserved regions like Africa. 

Region:Number of Countries
Europe23
Asia6
North America3
South America2
Australia2

Compared to Surfshark VPN — another new service with over 3,000 servers — that count is low. Besides, the server count is a tenth of CyberGhosts’ number of servers. Hopefully, Atlas VPN will expand its server infrastructure in the future. 

The silver lining is that all Atlas VPN servers are physical. Read our physical vs virtual servers guide to learn more.

atlas specialty servers
Atlas VPN offers the pro-privacy servers, namely MultiHop+ and SafeSwap servers. 

Atlas VPN does, however, offer specialty servers, including multi-hop servers, streaming optimized servers and “SafeSwap” servers.

Atlas VPN offers streaming-optimized servers in the United States, Singapore, Germany, Japan, India and Poland. They helped us access popular streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer and Netflix.

The multi-hop servers route your internet traffic through two VPN servers, adding an extra layer of encryption for better privacy and security. Atlas offers two multi-hop server regions: North America and Europe. You can pick the region where you connect, but the exit server is chosen randomly and rotated as you browse.

SafeSwap Servers

Having SafeSwap servers is an interesting choice for this VPN. These servers change (or rotate) your IP address dynamically as you roam the web. The SafeSwap server assigns you a unique IP address at each endpoint or website you reach. There are three locations for SafeSwap: Amsterdam, Singapore and Los Angeles.

Why use a rotating IP address? Primarily, it will bolster your anonymity online, making it harder to track what you’re doing online. (HideMyAss also offers an IP shuffle feature — read our HideMyAss review.) It also allows services to pool resources and use fewer IP addresses overall.

Additionally, this feature is also common with proxies and business data scraping. If you need to scrape data from a site that normally blocks data scrapers (IPs that it detects are sending a lot of requests at once), changing your IP every minute helps to bypass that. 

However, it’s really important to use the kill switch while accessing the SafeSwap servers. That’s because when using rotating IP addresses, each time your IP changes, you’re briefly disconnected from the VPN. This means your real IP address might become exposed unless the kill switch is enabled.

Customer Service

75 % – Good

When you hit a snag using Atlas VPN, you can find help via the FAQ or knowledgebase that address the most common concerns about the service. Beyond that, you can contact Atlas VPN support agents through email or the speedy live chat — however, this is only available for premium users and isn’t on the free plan. 

atlas live chat
Even though Atlas VPN doesn’t offer phone support, it has reliable options such as live chat and email support. 

We contacted Atlas VPN via live chat throughout our testing and the support agents responded within a minute. Most importantly, the agents were well versed on Atlas VPN issues and always responded with quality answers. 

The Verdict 

Atlas VPN has work to do. It needs to patch up the DNS leaks, build a better server infrastructure, and make split tunneling available to all users. Not to mention, it has to add social credibility to its brand and that means initiating a regular independent security audit process. 

With all that in mind, we can’t give Atlas VPN our recommendation, as there are better VPNs out there for not much more money — and there are also better free VPNs too.

Have you used Atlas VPN before? What did you like about the VPN? What is the most alarming weakness of Atlas VPN? We’d like to hear about it in the comment section. 

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One thought on “Atlas VPN”

  1. Leak test seems suspicious, you don’t provide what you used for testing and how you tested exactly ;D

    Reply
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