Atlas VPN Review 2021: A decent new entrant
Looking for a decent and affordable VPN? This Atlas VPN review explores one of the newest entrants in the market. The review is based on first-hand tests and extensive research, and it will tell you everything you need to know about the VPN.
Pros & Cons
- Decent speeds
- No logs
- Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more
- Blocks malicious websites
- Built-in breach tracker
- Allows torrenting
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Small server network
- Lacks advanced features
- No protocol options
- Based in the US
Atlas VPN is a relatively new VPN that was launched in January 2020. The VPN has already gained lots of attention as it provides a great free VPN service that doesn’t have any bandwidth limits. On top of that, there’s a premium plan that gives you access to 500+ servers spread across 17 countries and 20 locations.
Here’s a quick highlight of the VPN:
- An unlimited free plan
- Access to multiple Netflix regions
- Blocks malicious websites
- Great security
To give you a good understanding of this new VPN service, we conducted an in-depth Atlas VPN review. In the review, we’ll look at the VPN’s privacy and security, features, capabilities, pricing, speed, and much more. We’ll also compare it with established options such as ExpressVPN to help you make an informed decision.
Table of Contents
Atlas VPN doesn’t boast as many functionalities as some of the market leaders, but it still offers decent service.
Streaming: Does Atlas VPN work with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services?
Streaming is arguably the highlight of Atlas VPN. The VPN’s entire server network is optimized for streaming, and so you can access multiple streaming services.
We were able to unblock up to 8 Netflix libraries during our tests. These include the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, France, and Australia. This was quite impressive as most VPN services only unblock American Netflix.
Atlas VPN was also able to unblock BBC iPlayer when we connected to the UK servers.
You can also enjoy other services such as Disney+, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max, among others.
However, as you would expect, the free VPN servers aren’t optimized for streaming. You will need a premium account to access streaming services.
Does Atlas VPN support torrenting?
Yes, Atlas VPN supports P2P and torrents. The VPN does not impose any restrictions on its servers, and this makes it a great VPN for torrenting. You'll also be able to torrent on the free version of Atlas VPN.
However, the VPN doesn’t support SOCKS5 proxy or port forwarding, and so it doesn’t make it to our list of the best VPNs for torrenting. But still, it does well to offer anonymous torrenting in 17 countries.
Does Atlas VPN work in China?
No, Atlas VPN doesn’t work in China or other highly censored countries. This is because the VPN doesn’t have any obfuscation features. You can check out our recommendations for the best VPN for China.
Yes, Atlas VPN is secure.
Atlas VPN is owned by Peakstar Technologies Inc., a company based in the United States. The VPN's location choice is not ideal for such services as the US is a privacy-averse country. The US government is known for mass surveillance, and it often subpoenas VPN services looking for data. And in most cases, these VPNs are served with gag orders to prevent users from knowing.
Nevertheless, some VPNs still manage to offer good privacy by keeping zero connection and usage logs. So how does Atlas VPN do in that regard?
This is good to see as it means that the VPN doesn’t have any usage data to share with the authorities in the case of a subpoena.
However, the VPN collects other data, including the device type, model, brand name (e.g., Samsung, Apple), OS version, device ID, language, time zone, and coarse location (city scale).
To test Atlas VPN’s privacy levels, we conducted several tests using both the free and paid versions of Atlas VPN.
We were disappointed to find that Atlas VPN leaks DNS addresses. This means that even if your traffic goes through the VPN tunnel and your IP address is changed, your DNS requests can sometimes go to your ISP.
However, we noticed that the leaks were only happening when we were using a particular DNS provider. After testing with five other public DNS servers, we didn’t notice any leaks. Atlas VPN uses a unique server-level DNS blocking technology that doesn’t display the DNS servers you are using when connected, and this may be the reason behind it.
As for security, Atlas VPN doesn’t give detailed information about the configurations that the VPN uses. They however state that all data is encrypted using AES 256-bit encryption. This is combined with IPSec/IKEv2 on various devices.
Overall, the encryption standard used by Atlas VPN is the industry standard, and it can't be breached. However, security enthusiasts would be glad to know the standards that the VPN uses for the control channels.
As for the protocols, OpenVPN is significantly missing. This is the most used protocol in the VPN industry as it provides a great balance of speed and security. We’d be glad to see this and other protocols such as WireGuard integrated as Atlas VPN grows.
A kill switch is a crucial privacy feature as it prevents exposure whenever your VPN accidentally (or even intentionally in some cases) disconnects. It does this by discontinuing all other internet connections.
Atlas VPN has an inbuilt kill switch on both desktop and mobile apps. The Atlas VPN kill switch is meant to always work if you have disconnected from a server. However, during our tests, it only worked a few times.
Safebrowse is an Atlas VPN security feature that blocks malicious websites. This feature works by using the VPN’s DNS to block sites that have already been identified as containing malware. On iOS and macOS, the feature is known as Safebrowse Plus for premium users. It has additional functionality of blocking ads.
Data Hack Detection
Atlas VPN provides a premium feature that can be used to check whether your email address has been involved in a data breach. The feature is found within both the Android and iOS apps. When you enter your email address, this tool checks for breaches using the haveibeenpwned database.
Although users can still check for breaches outside the app for free, it is still a convenience feature that improves security awareness among users.
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Atlas VPN is quite generous as it doesn’t impose any restrictions on the number of devices you can connect simultaneously. This is good to see as most VPNs allow up to 5 simultaneous connections.
Atlas VPN has a server network that consists of 500+ servers spread across 20 locations in 17 countries. This network is quite small, especially when you compare it with the likes of NordVPN, but it still sufficient for a new VPN.
The Atlas VPN free plan provides access to three locations: Netherlands, Los Angeles, and New York. The premium plan gives access to the rest of the server network, with a new set of servers for the three locations. All servers in the premium plan are optimized for streaming.
In terms of distribution, Atlas VPN doesn’t do well as most of the servers are found in Europe. There are no servers in both South America and Africa. All the countries represented only have a single location except for the US, which has three: New York, Los Angeles, Miami.
All Atlas VPN servers offer unlimited bandwidth and server switches.
Atlas VPN’s outstanding feature is its free plan that allows users to connect to three locations. The plan has made the VPN gain lots of attention as it doesn’t impose any bandwidth or speed limits. It doesn’t come with adverts either, and this makes Atlas VPN one of the best free VPNs.
As for the premium service, Atlas VPN offers three plans:
- 1-month plan: Costs $9.99 a month, billed every 30 days.
- 1-year plan: Costs $2.49 a month, billed $29.88 every 12 months.
- 3-year plan: Costs $1.39 a month, billed $50.04 every 36 months.
Overall, Atlas VPN’s 1-month plan is priced on the higher end of mid-range VPNs. However, the 1-year and 3-year plans are among the cheapest VPNs, and they offer huge discounts.
Supported payment methods
Atlas VPN accepts payments through Credit Cards, PayPal, and Google Pay. These methods are sufficient, although the VPN doesn’t support Bitcoin payment. This is usually a great alternative as it allows users to pay anonymously.
Does Atlas VPN have a free trial?
No, Atlas VPN doesn’t have a free trial. This is because the VPN provides a free plan that you can use to try out the service. Since the free plan doesn’t have many limitations, it can give you a good idea of the type of service you’ll be getting.
Does Atlas VPN have a money-back guarantee?
Yes, Atlas VPN provides a 30-day money-back guarantee. To get a refund, you can send an email to [email protected]. You’ll need to state the reason for requesting the refund, the email address used, and your user ID. If you paid via Google Play Store, you’ll also need the order number and the Google Play email address.
The Atlas VPN team will first try to assist you if you are experiencing technical challenges, but you will still be entitled to a refund if you want it. There are no bandwidth usage limits for refund qualification.
The Atlas VPN website is well designed, and it presents content simply and clearly. However, the website doesn't provide much detail about the VPN service. This makes it hard to know what you are getting, right from the security level to the features and functionalities.
Apart from that, the website is super easy to use and navigate. You can create an account by clicking "Get Atlas VPN" on the main page. You will be redirected to the checkout page. There, you will be required to select a plan, enter an email address, and provide a payment method. Once the payment is complete, you’ll then receive a confirmation email for your premium account.
If you want to check out the VPN using the free plan, you will only need to download the app. Atlas VPN doesn’t ask for an account as you are automatically assigned a unique ID that identifies your account.
Which devices & platforms does Atlas VPN support?
Atlas VPN isn’t the most compatible VPN as it only provides four apps:
The website indicates that a Chrome extension is coming soon.
Unfortunately, you can’t configure Atlas VPN manually as the VPN doesn’t support OpenVPN. This means that you also can’t set up the VPN on your router to protect your entire network. Fortunately, Atlas VPN doesn’t limit the number of devices you can use your account on, so you can set it up on any compatible device.
Ease of use
While doing this Atlas VPN review, we set up the VPN on multiple devices to assess the VPN’s performance and ease of use.
Windows Desktop App
You can download the Windows app from the Atlas VPN download page on the main website. The app is not the lightest as it’s around 75 MBs, but it still installs within a few minutes.
Once you launch it, you can sign in with your premium account to access all the servers. The app's design looks simple, with a server list on one side and a graphic with a connection button on the other side.
The connection button automatically connects you to the fastest server depending on your location. However, it may not necessarily be the nearest or fastest. To select a specific server, you can scroll down to see all the locations. Simply clicking on one will start the connection process. You can also quickly switch a server by clicking another server when you are already connected.
To customize your connection, click the settings button on the left side menu. Unfortunately, the only available options are enabling the switch, turning on analytics data sharing, and allowing the app to start at launch.
Overall, the Atlas VPN Windows App is well designed and easy to use. However, it lacks any advanced features, and you can't even choose a protocol. We also didn't like the fact that the app takes too long to connect to a server. But apart from that, it is a decent app, and it's very stable.
The Atlas VPN Android and iOS apps take a similar approach to the desktop app in that they still have the graphic taking the better part of the home screen. However, that doesn’t mean that the apps aren’t easy to use. Both the iOS and the Android app look identical and work the same way.
You can easily connect to a server by clicking the connection button, and the app will connect you to the optimal server. You can pull up the server list or tap it to select servers. The app will then display the entire server network.
Both apps feature a kill switch, a safebrowse feature, and the data hack detection feature. The only difference is that safebrowse can block ads in iOS (safebrowse plus), and the kill switch is also activated by default (and can't be switched off).
You can download the Atlas VPN Android app from the Google Play Store. It has already been downloaded by 1M+ users, and it has an impressive rating of 4.5 from 35k users. Its iOS counterpart has an admirable rating of 4.8 from 2.6k users.
To give you an idea of how fast Atlas VPN is, we carried out several speed tests using multiple random servers. We tested the VPN using nearby servers (same country & neighboring countries) and distant servers (different continents). We also tested the VPN when connected to the free servers. Our base connection was 50 Mbps.
When connected to nearby servers, we averaged 40 Mbps to 44 Mbps. These are good speeds as there was only a minimal drop.
Distant servers averaged between 29 Mbps and 38 Mbps. Although these are not the best speeds we’ve seen, Atlas VPN is quite fast despite its small server network.
When we conducted our speed tests using the free servers, we were glad to see that the servers aren’t capped in any way. However, the speeds you get ultimately depend on the number of users at a particular time. The New York server was mostly half the speed of its premium counterpart, but we could also get similar speeds at other times.
Overall, Atlas VPN performs quite well. You can comfortably torrent and stream in 4K.
Unfortunately, Atlas VPN doesn’t offer live chat support, which is the gold standard in the VPN industry. However, this may be understandable as the VPN is still quite young.
To reach out to the team, you can send them an email via [email protected]. The VPN doesn’t promise 24/7 assistance, and we only got a response after 6 hours.
Atlas VPN doesn’t have a forum, but they have a discord channel where you can interact with other VPN users. There are also agents who can assist you with any technical issues you may be facing. After checking out the channel, we noticed that they usually give out a 1-day access code on Tuesday. Quite an incentive if you are on the free plan.
Apart from that, you can also check out the website’s FAQ section as it provides some essential information.
Is Atlas VPN safe?
Yes, Atlas VPN is one of the safest free VPNs. The VPN doesn't have any adware, and it uses AES 256-bit encryption. It also doesn't collect any user activities.
Is Atlas VPN free?
Yes, Atlas VPN has a free version. The free plan is however limited in the number of servers. You can upgrade to premium and access faster streaming servers.
Is Atlas VPN any good?
Atlas VPN is one of the best free VPNs. The VPN is fast, doesn't limit bandwidth, has no speed caps, and doesn't display any ads. It is also private and secure.
How to download Atlas VPN apk?
The Atlas VPN apk file is not available on the official website. If you can't get it from Play Store for whatever reason, you can request a direct link via email or the discord channel. Be careful where you download the file.
Atlas VPN is still a young VPN, and as it gains more users, we expect it to grow its server network and features. Currently, the VPN lacks advanced features, which may not be appealing to power users.
However, Atlas VPN’s free version is outstanding, and the premium version is very affordable, especially if you go for longer-term plans. The VPN can be a great option for users looking for a simple and secure way of streaming and torrenting.