Atlas VPN Review

Atlas VPN review
Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN logo

Product Name: Atlas VPN

Brand: Atlas VPN

Offer price: 2.19

Currency: $

Availability: OnlineOnly

Overall
3.8









  • Speed









  • Apps









  • Service









  • Policy









  • Price









Summary

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Pros

  • Free service available
  • Unlimited concurrent connections
  • 256-bit encryption
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Supports Wireguard

Cons

  • Registered in the US
  • Unaudited no log policy
  • Small range of apps


Atlas VPN is a virtual private network founded in 2019. Still, its clever blend of premium features alongside a more limited free version has already delivered it more than 6 million users.

It hit the headlines recently after being bought out by Nord Security, the parent company of NordVPN. But Atlas VPN will remain a stand-alone VPN service.

So, what exactly have Nord Security got for the unspecified amount of money they have purchased the Atlas VPN app for?

We've been putting this VPN through its paces and here is a detailed Atlas VPN review that will show you what it has to offer.

1. Service

Speeds

Download speed

After using Atlas VPN for a number of weeks we found their speeds to be extremely usable.

Everything from regular daily internet tasks to gaming and streaming generally worked without any issues.

To test things to an even greater extent we ran speed tests from a regular UK residential internet connection. The same as you would be using in your own home.

Using a Windows system and the Atlas VPN app with the Wireguard protocol we downloaded a number of test files and recorded the speed. Our base speed without VPN was: 59.3 Mbps.

Below are a selection of results from across the service's server range.

  • UK – 56.8 Mbps
  • Netherlands – 57.0 Mbps
  • Switzerland – 55.4 Mbps
  • Sweden – 55.6 Mbps
  • France – 57.1 Mbps
  • New York, US – 54.1 Mbps
  • Australia – 33.7 Mbps

As the results show, speeds are generally very good both with nearer servers and even those at distance. While they're not the highest speeds we've seen, they are still very respectable.

Note

Speed tests are not 100% reliable. They are merely a glimpse of performance at a certain period. Your results may differ depending on your location, time of usage, services accessed, device used and many other factors.

Logging

Atlas VPN's privacy policy offers a solid no user logs guarantee across both its premium and free version VPN service.

Given how young this VPN provider is, it will come as no surprise to learn that this no logs guarantee has not yet been independently verified.

However, under the terms of the purchase deal with Nord Security, one of the few details that was provided said that Atlas VPN would be subject to third-party audits.

We can therefore expect an independent audit of their no logs policy at some point in the not so distant future and that it will confirm that the internet traffic of the free and premium versions is protected.

On the basis of what information is in the public domain, there is no reason to doubt their no user logs guarantee at the moment. But obviously, a third party audit will increase user confidence.

Simultaneous Connections

Atlas VPN is one of a growing number of VPN providers that offer unlimited simultaneous connections with every subscription.

This means that once you have signed up, you can connect all of your devices to their service, and even those of your family, at the same time.

Even more impressive is that this unlimited simultaneous connections offer also extends to Atlas VPN's free VPN service too. Although do note that there are other restrictions and limitations to that service.

Jurisdiction

Atlas VPN is headquartered in the state of Delaware in the USA.

The USA is not a privacy friendly country and it is also a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network. However, at the time of writing this review, there are no specific laws in the US that require VPN services headquartered there to keep user logs.

Atlas VPN is far from the only premium VPN to be based there and so far, there has been no reason to think that any of them have compromised user privacy as a result of the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which they are based.

The jurisdiction of Atlas VPN is muddied somewhat by the recent buy-out by Nord Security. NordVPN is headquartered in Panama, an offshore location with rock-solid privacy protections, so Atlas VPN privacy should be at a satisfying level.

It is possible that in time, Atlas VPN might shift over to this jurisdiction formally too. For now, it remains a US entry but there is still no reason for users to be unduly concerned.

Customer Support

Customer support is very much an area of Atlas VPN that is still under construction. You can access customer support through their apps, but this simply redirects you to what is frankly a very basic page on their website.

It offers a very limited FAQ section, broken down into four categories; Get Started, General Info, Billing and Account, and Troubleshoot Issues. There is also a search facility which works well, mostly because there isn't much content for it to pick through.

If you need to ask for further customer support, there is unfortunately no live chat facility available. The only option is for you to email the support team and then wait for them to reply.

In fairness, when we put this service through its paces, we got answers reasonably swiftly, but nowhere near as fast as the customer support available through live chat service would offer.

This is definitely an area of Atlas VPN's service which needs improving significantly. Let's hope it is one of the first things that Nord Security gets to grips with now it has taken Atlas VPN over.

2. Server Locations

Server locations

Atlas VPN currently offers 750+ premium servers which, given that it was only founded in 2019 is a reasonably impressive number.

However, this currently only covers 31 countries, which doesn't sound a lot. When you consider that 23 of these locations are in Europe, the service seems even more limited.

But, to be fair to Atlas VPN, it does have a good server selection in all the places where service demand is highest, and the need for local IP addresses is the greatest. There are seven different Atlas VPN server locations for protecting your internet connection within the USA, five different Asian locations, and even VPN servers in Australia.

For the vast majority of users, this will be more than enough locations for their needs.

One small note of concern is how this limited server network will cope with a user base of 6 million and growing. We found the download speed to be mixed at best and this may well be a factor.

In Atlas VPN's defence, it is expanding its server network all the time and we do have to remember that this VPN only began two years ago.

But we would like to see the server network expanding significantly in the coming few years if Atlas VPN is going to keep pace with its competitors.

No, not at the time of writing.

This is a fairly advanced feature and it comes as no surprise to us that a VPN provider as young as Atlas VPN does not offer this service yet. It is something that may be added further down the line.

No. This is another fairly advanced feature that protects against data leaks and tying content to your real IP address that we wouldn't expect a VPN as young as Atlas VPN to offer at this stage in its development.

Other VPN services often do have it, and while Atlas VPN added some popular features, it does not yet have this.

However, it is a popular feature of its stablemate, NordVPN, along with TOR over VPN servers. So, we will be keeping a keen eye to see whether it is something that AtlasVPN does add in the future.

When we asked Atlas VPN's support team whether their service worked in China, their answer was noncommittal.

In our experience, this is a PR-friendly way of saying no, it doesn't. If it could secure you a private internet connection in China, we have no doubt that Atlas VPN would be shouting from the rooftops.

However, in our tests we found some of their servers, particularly their Japanese one worked.

Atlas VPN China

Atlas VPN in China.

While it wasn't the fastest, it is useable. We did encounter some odd issues though, such as images not loading on Twitter and the free version often worked better than the paid service, although not consistently.

There is certainly no obfuscation features that we have come across that would suggest it will work behind the Chinese Communist Party's Great Firewall, so it's a bonus that it does work.

There are plenty of VPNs that users can turn to for private internet access that will work in China, including Atlas VPNs new stablemate NordVPN, although even these aren't the best option.

It is possible that Nord Security will look to enhance this feature on Atlas VPN in time, but for now, it does work in China, it's just far from perfect.

Alternative

Looking for a service that works better in China? Check out our Best VPN for China guide.

3. Security and Safety

Protocols and Encryption

Protocols and encryption

Atlas VPN encrypts your traffic with the ‘military grade' AES 256-bit encryption which is the minimum that we would expect of any premium VPN provider in the day and age.

Tunneling protocols are surprising and apps like their Windows edition already support Wireguard, which is a huge bonus. It doesn't, however, offer OpenVPN, which is quite odd.

Other apps instead work solely with the IPSec/IKEv2 VPN protocol. This is likely to be a hangover from Atlas VPNs early days when it was a mobile-only VPN service.

The IPSec/IKEv2 VPN protocol is secure and it can protect your personal data, but it is not as secure as more modern tunneling protocols and it is also far less user-friendly as a protocol, so we would like to see these expanded across their entire range.

This is definitely an area where Atlas VPN has room for improvement.

To their credit, Atlas VPN has already undertaken an independent security audit of their apps. This looked at their iOS app and identified no serious vulnerabilities, only two mid-level issues, and a further three minor issues.

It is refreshing to see such a young VPN go down this path already and the results were very encouraging.

Following the buyout by Nord Security, one of the details that was stressed in the public announcement was that Atlas VPN will continue to be subjected to such external scrutiny moving forward. That is certainly to the benefit of their users and is something we would welcome.

Is Atlas VPN safe for torrenting?

Torrenting is not something that Atlas VPN is especially vocal about, unlike some of its competitors.

It does not offer P2P optimised premium servers or any other features that are specifically aimed at people downloading torrents.

But crucially, torrenting does work on Atlas VPN, even if you use a premium version.

We tested it on several servers and while the download speed varied a little, all were respectable and torrenting worked on all servers. The IP addresses were replaced properly, and the user's identity was hidden.

Best of all, you have unlimited data, so you don't have to worry about spending it all.

We also gave it a quick try on their free VPN service. While Atlas VPN's speeds here were a little slower, as we would expect, torrenting also worked.

But this is likely something that Atlas VPN doesn't want shouted from the rooftops. Even so, yes, Atlas VPN does seem to be one of the best free VPN companies for torrenting, surprisingly.

4. Apps

Apps

Mobile Apps

Atlas VPN premium version offers apps for both iOS and Android devices.

There is very little difference between the two. They look identical and have the same features.

It was the iOS app that we put through its paces mainly but we did give the Android app a thorough testing too.

Downloading and installing the app was fairly straightforward. We did it from the Atlas VPN's website and found we didn't need an account to do this.

We had a few teething problems when we initially opened the app but these seemed to fix themselves after a reboot of our device and there were no further problems after that.

The layout of the app is sleek, modern, and very user-friendly. You can also switch between light and dark modes if you want to.

Atlas VPN Android app

Atlas VPN's Android app.

The all-important quick connect button is there, along with easy-to-access menu options and an Atlas VPN server list if you want to switch locations.

There is a kill switch on the premium version which should sever your internet access if your VPN connection starts to break. That makes the kill switch a very valuable tool.

However, a few other reviewers seem to have had problems with getting the kill switch to work. On the other hand, the kill switch worked fine for us. So, when it comes to the kill switch, Atlas VPN might be a hit or miss.

A couple of options that the iOS app of Atlas VPN offers that aren't found on an Android app include their SafeBrowse Plus feature, which blocks ads and monitors your web browsing.

You can also check if your email addresses have appeared in any data breaches thanks to their data hack detection feature, or data breach monitor feature, as it is also called.

Overall, we found the premium version Atlas VPN mobile apps perfectly sufficient for most people's needs. They are not weighed down with features like some VPN apps are. But we have to remember that this is still a very young VPN and, of course, a lot of people prefer to keep things clean and simple.

Desktop apps

Atlas VPN began its life as a mobile VPN provider and has branched into the desktop market a lot more recently. This was apparent in our tests, especially with the Windows app.

Let's talk about the macOS app first, which is strikingly similar to their iOS mobile app. It has the same design, all the same features that we have talked about above. Atlas VPN's performance as we would expect a premium version VPN app.

The Windows app is a slightly different story though. This has the appearance of an older version of the Atlas VPNs mobile apps making it both less visually appealing and less user-friendly.

The menu is very basic and this app lacks SafeBrowse Plus and other features found on the macOS and mobile apps.

Atlas VPN Windows app

Atlas VPN Windows app.

More concerning is the number of connection issues we encountered. Connection error messages were a far more regular occurrence than we would like to see and there was little explanation given.

We also found the Windows app froze at times, again for no obviously discernible reason. This was frustrating for us while testing but would be even more annoying if you were trying to stream a film or on an important business call.

It is fairly apparent to us that the Atlas VPN offers a Windows app that has been rushed to market before it is really ready. Doubtless patches will come and hopefully the hook-up with Nord Security will allow Atlas VPN to borrow some of the expertise from NordVPN's superb Windows app.

For now, if you are using a VPN primarily on a Windows laptop or PC, the app isn't bad, but it isn't great either.

Other apps

If you want to use the free version of AtlasVPN on any device other than an Android, iOS, macOS, or Windows device, for the time being at least you are out of luck.

The free version of Atlas VPN support does not cover Linux devices, Amazon devices, Smart TVs, VPN-enabled routers or anything else at the moment.

This is a shame but again, we have to note that this is a very young VPN and expanding apps is perhaps somewhere that Nord Security might be able to have a positive input.

However, to make an offer of unlimited simultaneous connections worthwhile, you need to offer enough apps to allow everyone to protect all of their devices with your VPN.

The free version of Atlas VPN doesn't do that at the moment, nor does the premium edition, which makes one of their flagship features ring just a little bit hollow.

No. There are no Atlas VPN browser extensions available at the moment.

While this might change in time, we would prefer to see Atlas VPN focus on expanding their range of apps first.

The macOS, iOS, and Android Atlas VPN apps are fine and hold their own against most of the mid-market rivals. They are well designed, easy on the eye, and while functions are basic, they do what they are supposed to.

It is another story with the Windows app at the moment from our testing Atlas VPN, but if you are using any of the other three devices, Atlas VPN premium apps certainly stand up to scrutiny.

Atlas VPN does have a slightly bizarre login method on all of their apps. After entering your email address, you're emailed a code to login. There are no passwords required.

While this is secure on one hand, it can feel slightly cumbersome on another. If you like or dislike this will depend on personal taste.

5. Streaming

Streaming

Does Atlas VPN work with Netflix?

Yes. As long as you are a premium subscriber, Atlas VPN can unblock Netflix. The free version, on the other hand, will not work, which is usually the case with free VPNs.

We tested Atlas VPN with several different Netflix libraries, including US Netflix and the UK library too and both worked, which is surprising given many providers are struggling right now.

Connection speeds were sufficient to enjoy viewing Netflix content too, which is important, as without good VPN speeds, buffering and interruptions of your video will be a common occurrence.

They weren't however the fastest and it did take up to 30 seconds or more for some content to start playing, which was a minor annoyance.

Atlas VPN Netflix

Atlas VPN plays Netflix reasonably well.

However, if you are using the Atlas VPN free version, it is a slightly different story. While Atlas VPN is able to load the Netflix platform without incident, none of the three Atlas VPN free servers in the free version were able to switch the location of Netflix to a different library.

So, if you want free VPNs to watch US Netflix or other libraries from overseas, you can't do it with free servers – only with a server location available to premium users of Atlas VPN.

In other words, you will need to sign up to them in order to be able to, as the free version will not be able to help you.

Again, this is not surprising when it comes to free VPNs, which are all typically blocked by such services, and very few free VPNs can bypass any major service's defences.

Does Atlas VPN work with BBC iPlayer?

There have been some mixed reports about how effective Atlas VPN is at unblocking the BBC iPlayer streaming service but in our tests, BBC iPlayer seemed to work fine.

The service was unblocked without a problem and it streamed content fine with no buffering or other major issues encountered.

Does Atlas VPN work with Disney+?

We had no trouble unblocking various Disney+ libraries using Atlas VPN. It worked seamlessly and there was no interruption to our viewing.

Does Atlas VPN work with Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime Video has always been one of the more challenging streaming services to unblock and it is one that Atlas VPN seems to have some issues with as well.

We tried out Amazon Prime Video on several different servers but were unable to get it working. We are therefore forced to conclude that this is one service that doesn't work with Atlas VPN.

Other services

Given its youth, we were pretty impressed with how Atlas VPN performed at unblocked streaming services overall.

We had difficulty with a few premium services, such as DAZN and HBO Max (although others have reported having joy with this one.)

But for most other streaming services, Atlas VPN seemed to do the job for us. It was fine with Hulu and others such as ITV Hub and Sky Go. A decent effort for a VPN that has only been around for a couple of years.

6. Prices and Plans

Prices and Plans

Atlas VPN offers a standard range of packages with discounts for those users willing to sign up for longer. Interestingly, they have opted to go with a monthly, annual, and 3 year package rather than the more conventional two year offering.

Current prices on the Atlas VPN site at the time of writing are:

  • 1-month – $9.99 p/m (£7.23)
  • 1 year – $3.98 p/m (£2.88)
  • 3 year – $2.18 p/m (~£1.58)

The monthly fee is fairly expensive, as seem to be the way with most VPN providers these days. However, it is a dollar or two cheaper than many.

The annual and three-year packages are much more competitive, although given how young Atlas VPN is, we might encourage users to stick with the one year deal for now to err on the side of caution.

All packages come with a full 30-day money back guarantee, as well as basic features, such as the kill switch.

A 30-day money-back guarantee means you have 30 days since the moment of subscribing to ask for a refund. This is plenty of time to put Atlas VPN through its paces to make sure it works for you. If it doesn't, the money-back guarantee will get you your money back.

There are a number of different payments options available, including all the usual credit and debit cards, Google Pay, and PayPal.

Apple Pay is not offered at the moment and there is also no option to pay using any form of crypto-currency. This is a blow for the uber privacy conscious users out there and it means there is no way to sign up to Atlas VPN completely anonymously at the moment.

It is worth noting, especially if you choose the monthly plan, that Atlas VPN will automatically renew your subscription for a further year at the end of your initial subscription period.

If we were to look at the monthly subscription price in isolation, Atlas VPN is a fairly expensive provider. But the annual and 3-year packages are priced much more competitively.

We wouldn't categorise Atlas VPN as a cost-effective VPN because a growing number of other providers are hitting these price points and still delivering a highly competitive service.

But Atlas VPN is certainly in the mix and for the level of service this VPN offers, the prices available are highly competitive.

7. Verdict

Verdict

Throughout this Atlas VPN review, we have made references to the fact that Atlas VPN is a very young VPN. This bears repeating one final time here.

For a VPN that only launched in 2019 and then as a mobile-only service, Atlas VPN has made hugely impressive strides in a remarkably short space of time.

They deserve credit for that.

But we are acutely aware that most users are far more interested in the level of service that a VPN can offer here and now as opposed to the progress they are making. And while Atlas VPN's premium service has some very positive features, there are some areas where significant improvement is needed.

Let's take a look at the positive points first.

Unlimited simultaneous connections are great, but we did also note that the limited range of apps undermines this offer a little.

The logging policy is good as is the level of encryption offered (AES 256-bit encryption). However, we would like to see the encryption and tunneling protocols Atlas VPN enhanced as a priority.

Atlas VPN server network has decent speeds and a pretty good IP address count, and it works well with torrenting and in unblocking quite a few streaming services too.

Prices are competitive if you sign up for a year or more and there is a 30-day money back guarantee available too. As for the kill switch, Atlas VPN has worked fine for us, while others reported that the kill switch might be problematic.

On the flip side, there are some significant negatives. Being based in the USA is not ideal, we have already talked about VPN protocols, and there are also a limited number of additional security features available.

Apps at Atlas VPN perform decently, but are an area in which urgent improvement is needed.

The Windows app is not up to scratch and the lack of apps for additional devices away from the big four operating systems is an issue. We also note that Atlas VPN does not offer any of the obfuscation technologies needed to work in Communist China and other such countries.

So, Atlas VPN is very much a mixed bag at the moment. There is no doubt that Nord Security has made its investment on the back of the potential it has to be a major player in the VPN market in the years ahead.

As much as we would love to recommend Atlas VPN, if you are looking for a VPN to use right now, our Atlas VPN review led us to conclude that there are better options out there for the same money at the moment.

Author: David Spencer

Cyber-security & Technology Reporter, David, monitors everything going on in the privacy world. Fighting for a less restricted internet as a member of the VPNCompare team for over 5 years.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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