Atlas VPN is quick, unlocking, and offers affordable rates and a generous complimentary plan. There is still work to be done on the finer points of its apps, features, and customer service, but Atlas is now a competent VPN, and we expect it to continue to improve.
- Unblocks US Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney Plus, plus fast download speeds from WireGuard.
- Unlimited connections at the same time
- A lot of free plans
- Small server network,
- Some trouble with the kill switch
Atlas VPN is a good VPN service that offers a good all-around service for some of the lowest prices on the market.
For example, it works with the fast WireGuard protocol. There are apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, as well as a kill switch to protect you if the VPN connection drops, and you can connect to the service as many times as you want at the same time.
SafeSwap makes sure you stay as anonymous as possible by changing your IP address often while you’re connected to the same server.
Bonus features include blocking ads, trackers, and malware. If any of your personal information is found on the dark web, data breach monitoring will let you know.
Atlas VPN has a smaller network than some others. It has 750 servers in 40 locations in 27 countries. Most users won’t need more, though, and P2P is supported everywhere.
In October 2021, Nord Security, the company behind NordVPN, announced that it had bought Atlas VPN. This was the most interesting news in this case. That alone tells you that Atlas isn’t just another generic VPN service. There’s something here that’s worth buying. Atlas VPN will still be a separate company, but it will surely benefit in the future from Nord Security resources and experience.
Atlas VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android (Image credit: Atlas VPN)
Pricing & Plans
(Image Credit : Atlas VPN)
Atlas VPN has a free plan that doesn’t require you to sign up, which makes it easy to try out the service.
The Mac app lets you use 2GB of data per day, which is a lot. The free Windows plan now only lets you use 10GB of data per month, up from 400MB per day. That’s a little less overall (12GB vs. 10GB), but it gives you a lot more freedom because you can now browse or stream for much longer if you want to.
Only Amsterdam, New York, and Los Angeles can be used with the free plan. That’s not bad, and in some ways it’s better than the free competition.
For example, Avira’s Phantom VPN only lets you use up to 500MB per month. The VPN from Avast One lets you use 5GB of data per week, but you can’t change where you are. The best choice is still ProtonVPN’s free plan, which has unlimited data and 12 locations.
If you pay for a plan, you can use more data and go more places. Prices start at an average of $9.99 a month (opens in a new tab) and go up to $10.99 when you renew. You can pay with a credit card, PayPal, or Google Pay. If you sign up for an annual plan, the price drops to $3.29 a month, and if you sign up for a three-year plan, it’s only $1.99 a month. (Yes, it changes to the annual plan and $3.29 a month when it’s time to renew, but we still think that’s a good deal.)
Sounds too good to be true. We’ll look into that later, but if you sign up and aren’t happy, you have 30 days to get your money back.
Be careful, though, because when you sign up, your plan will automatically renew, and you can’t change this or cancel your account from the control panel. You need to send an email to support asking for help.
With its support for WireGuard, AES-256 encryption, kill switch, and private DNS system, Atlas VPN takes care of the most important privacy features.
Extra privacy protection comes from things like changing IP addresses and blocking ads and trackers.
The policies of Atlas VPN aren’t as good. For example, if you go to its website for the first time, its cookie disclaimer only has a “Accept” button. If you give a company your email address, you will get marketing emails from them unless you tell them not to. And the Blacklight Privacy Inspector found that the site used tracking technologies from Google Analytics, Facebook, and other places.
(Don’t take our or Blacklight’s word for it—Atlas VPN’s anti-tracker technology decided it was best to block three trackers on its own website.)
Atlas VPN has gone through what it calls an independent security audit, but this is about as limited as we’ve seen.
For example, the exercise was only about the iOS app. It was a black box review, which means that the auditors tested how the app worked but didn’t look at the source code. Even though Atlas VPN mentioned some of the results in a blog post, it hasn’t released the full report, so we can’t judge it for ourselves.
Okay, this is just barely better than nothing, but it can’t compete with the best of the rest. TunnelBear, for example, checks its apps, servers, and backend infrastructure once a year and makes the results public so that everyone can see them.
(Image Credit : Atlas VPN)
Atlas VPN says it has a “solid no-logs policy” and that it doesn’t keep track of what its users do, their DNS queries, or other information that could be used to find them.
It also talks about using “attribution analytics to track install source and traffic source” and “advertising IDs to measure how well our campaigns are doing.”
Putting it all together, there’s nothing to suggest that Atlas VPN is keeping track of what you do online. It does, however, have enough information to be able to make user profiles. These profiles can include information about user devices, when they connect, and how much data they use. And since Atlas VPN’s claims that it doesn’t keep logs haven’t been checked, there’s no way to know if the company is keeping its word.
Atlas VPN App for Windows
(Image Credit : Atlas VPN)
The Windows app for Atlas VPN is easy to use and covers the VPN basics. To get started, just pick a city or country and click the Connect button. There are a few settings, such as “Start on launch,” a “On/Off” switch for the kill switch, and the option to use either the WireGuard or IKEv2 protocols.
There are some problems with how it works. The app doesn’t have a system for “Favorites” or “Recently Used,” so you have to scroll to get to where you want to go. And that’s not as easy as it sounds, because even though countries are grouped by continent, they’re not in a way that makes sense. (“France, Norway, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Finland” is part of the order; do you see a pattern?)
Atlas VPN Protocols
Either WireGuard or IKEv2 protocols can be used. Some of our attempts to connect to the free Atlas servers failed, which could mean that they are too busy. But once we upgraded, this was no longer a problem, and WireGuard’s connection times were great, taking only a few seconds.
There is an option to block ads and trackers. This does add an extra layer of privacy protection, but it’s not very flexible, and installing the free uBlock Origin gave us much better results.
A Data Breach Monitor is something new since our last review. It sends an alert if your email address is found in a data breach. This does what it says it does, and it’s nice that you can search for as many email addresses as you want (sometimes you can only search for one). But you can do almost the same thing for free at haveibeenpwned.com by entering your email addresses. If you want to really keep an eye on what’s going on in the dark web, you’re still better off with a security suite like Norton 360.
SafeSwap and MultiHop VPN
SafeSwap is a more interesting idea. You can choose from three locations: Singapore, the Netherlands, or the United States. The company says you can “access the internet from several IP addresses at the same time, which further increases your online anonymity.”
This is a bit of a misleading description, since your IP doesn’t change all the time and you don’t use multiple IPs at once, but we tried it and it works as promised. Most people won’t need it, and the fact that you can only use it in three places is a problem, but if you want the most privacy, SafeSwap can help a little.
Atlas VPN also works with a simple version of MultiHop VPN. This sends your traffic through more than one server before it gets to where it needs to go. This makes it even harder for anyone to link you to what you do online.
You don’t have much say over how this works with the app. Other services that offer this feature, like NordVPN, Surfshark, Hide.me, Windscribe, and ProtonVPN, let you choose both the entry and exit servers. For example, you could connect to a server in the UK and be sent to a server in Germany. Atlas VPN, on the other hand, only lets you choose between two locations, Europe and North America. It handles everything else on its own.
This isn’t as good as we’d like, but it could still be useful if you want to stay anonymous.
The first thing we did to test the kill switch was to fake a dropped VPN. The good news is that the kill switch shut off our internet right away, making sure we couldn’t use the unprotected connection. But there were also a few problems.
The kill switch doesn’t just turn on when something goes wrong, like when the VPN connection drops. It blocks all access to the internet unless the VPN is on. If you don’t want to always be connected to the VPN, you have to turn off the kill switch when you’re done with one session and turn it back on when you start a new one. This isn’t very convenient.
If a connection fails, it doesn’t automatically reconnect; you have to switch to the app and click Connect again. Even though that only takes a second, it’s still inconvenient, and most apps do this on their own.
Still, compared to the problems we saw in our last review, this is a big step forward. Overall, the kill switch did what it was supposed to do, which was to block our internet so we wouldn’t lose our VPN connection.
Atlas VPN App for Mac
Apple users get a lot of free data when they use the Mac app, which is pretty good. The Atlas VPN Mac app looks and feels a lot like the Windows version, but there are a few small visual improvements (the Mac location list is sorted alphabetically, for instance).
When you install the app, you get 2GB of data every day, which is a lot more than the 10GB you get elsewhere in a month.
There are almost as many features as we saw in Windows. The app has a kill switch, the SafeSwap system, WireGuard and IKEv2 support, and Safebrowse Plus, which blocks ads and malware. Atlas VPN’s MultiHop feature and its data breach monitor were the only things we missed.
Some of the most common features are also missing from the Mac app, which is a shame. There’s no Favorites list or Recently Used list, and there’s no “auto-connect on Wi-Fi access.”
Still, this isn’t the best Mac app we’ve seen, but it’s a little better than average, and the 2GB of free data per day might be enough to make you overlook its few flaws.
Atlas VPN Mobile Apps
(Image Credit : Atlas VPN)
In some ways, the Android app for Atlas VPN is better than the Windows software. Most of the time, desktop VPN apps have more features than their Android VPN cousins, but not this time. In several ways, Atlas VPN’s Android app is better than its Windows app.
Support for split tunneling is probably the most important of these. This is a handy feature that lets you choose apps that won’t use the VPN even when you’re connected.
Optional haptic feedback, in which your device vibrates when the VPN connects and disconnects, is a smaller benefit. And it’s nice to see a list of places in alphabetical order.
A kill switch, WireGuard, and support for SafeSwap, MultiHop VPN, the tracker blocker, and the data breach monitor are other features that are similar to Windows.
The iOS app for Atlas VPN is also surprisingly good, especially since it now has WireGuard since our last review. We found one small problem with the list of locations, which is again sorted at random (and in a different order to the Windows app, bizarrely). But we hope that will be fixed soon. Other than that, it has almost the same features as Android.
When it comes to the Mac, that’s not all good news. Yes, they are always the same, but that also means they don’t have the Favorites system or the “auto-connect on Wi-Fi access” feature that we often see on other devices. Still, these are good mobile apps with a lot of features, and the large amount of free data lets you try them out without risk.
Support for Atlas VPN
(Image Credit : Atlas VPN)
Atlas VPN’s support website has added a lot of new information. It now tries to cover basic installation, usage, and troubleshooting issues. But it is still a long way behind the best of the competition.
If you choose the Windows Installation article, for example, you’ll see instructions on how to install its Windows app, which you probably already know how to do. Atlas VPN can’t even come close to competing, and the difference is even more clear in the other areas of support.
But if you can’t find what you need, Atlas now offers live chat support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This gave us very general advice for our “can’t connect” test question: uninstall the app and download and install the latest version. However, we can’t complain about how quickly we got a response: an agent replied to our message within seconds of us sending it.
Atlas for Streaming Platform
Atlas VPN was able to get Netflix to work, as well as everything else. The apps for Atlas VPN have a separate list of places that are good for streaming. If you’re connected to a regular location, you might have to disconnect, switch to the streaming list, and choose a new location before you can unblock a streaming site, which is a little inconvenient. But if you know the streaming servers will always work, you’ll save time in the long run (you won’t have to try every city until you find one that works, like with some other services).
Atlas VPN got us into BBC iPlayer, which was a great way to start getting around blocks.
Last time, the service couldn’t get us into US Netflix, but that seems to have been fixed, and we had no trouble streaming US-only Netflix content.
Amazon Prime Video can be hard to use with a VPN, but not here. We were able to stream US content right away thanks to Atlas. We moved on to Disney Plus, and we were also able to get into that site.
That’s a great result, but we’ve seen the same top-notch performance from a few other VPNs as well. In recent tests, CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, NordVPN, ProtonVPN, Surfshark, and others unblocked all of our test platforms.
We test VPN performance by using SpeedTest’s website and command line app, SpeedOf.me, and nPerf from a UK data center and a US home. We run each benchmark five times using WireGuard and OpenVPN (where available) and then again a few hours later, for a total of at least 120 tests. We then look at the data to figure out what’s going on.
Atlas VPN doesn’t work with OpenVPN, but its IKEv2 speeds in the UK were between 200 and 225Mbps, which was a good range.
Switching to WireGuard, on the other hand, made a big difference, with speeds reaching 770Mbps in the UK and 730–780Mbps in the US.
That’s not as fast as CyberGhost (850Mbps), IPVanish (890Mbps), or TorGuard (950Mbps), but it’s still faster than NordVPN (760Mbps), ProtonVPN (670Mbps), and TunnelBear (380Mbps).
Atlas VPN might not have the best network, apps, or support site. For those, you’d have to go with a more established provider like ExpressVPN. But it’s already better than many VPNs because it’s cheap, fast, and does a great job of unblocking sites. We think there’s a lot more to come.