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Atlas VPN Review 2022 - Keep This in Mind Before Buying
Atlas VPN sells itself as the best free VPN, and while it may not be the best in that category, its premium service is suitably impressive. There are a few big snags, like a kill-switch that doesn’t work, but its speeds wildly exceeded my expectations.
I put the VPN through an assault course of testing to see how it compares with other premium services on speeds, security, privacy, streaming, and more. There’s both a free and premium version of Atlas VPN and multiplatform apps, so I tested them all to get an accurate picture.
It’s only just shy of competing against some of the bigger premium VPNs out there. Since Nord Security (the company behind NordVPN) bought it in October 2021, it’s certainly a strong contender despite some faults.
Security is reliable. Encryption is military-grade AES-256 bit, with no IP, DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks found during my tests.
Large server network. Atlas VPN has over 750 servers in useful locations, and they performed well in my tests after some initial kill switch troubleshooting. The free version only lets you use 3 servers.
Streaming — Premium Version Unblocked Major Platforms
The premium version of Atlas VPN successfully unblocked some of the most popular streaming platforms like Netflix. It couldn’t quite bust through the geoblocks on some of the more difficult ones, like DAZN. I found that its streaming-optimized servers worked incredibly well, but the 3 servers included in the free version didn’t unblock anything. In the case of Netflix, the free version loaded the platform but didn’t change the content according to the server location.
Unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, HBO Go, Disney+, and YouTube
I tested a selection of major streaming platforms using the premium version. I had instant access to Netflix US, evidenced by the “popular in the US” recommendations. As I had speeds of over 37 Mbps on a New York server, I could load the streams immediately and watch in HD or UHD.
I was impressed with how quickly Atlas VPN’s premium version unblocked streaming sites
Atlas VPN also bypassed Hulu and Disney+’s geoblocks, allowing me to watch their entire libraries. Disney+ is notorious for its geo-restrictions, so I was pleasantly surprised by these results. It was also easy to access YouTubeTV in several regions and watch the usually restricted NBA videos.
HBO Max worked too, which tends to be more tricky to unblock. It was impressive just how quickly Atlas VPN managed to unblock these platforms, with no waiting around for the server connection to ‘settle.’
Blocked By: BBC iPlayer, DAZN, Amazon Prime Video, and 10Play
Unfortunately, Atlas VPN couldn’t unblock a few platforms like BBC iPlayer. I could get as far as to load the video, but it got stuck on an error screen. The Australian streaming site 10Play wouldn’t load at all, and Amazon Prime Video detected the VPN. Prime Video and DAZN are notoriously difficult to unblock, so it’s not massively surprising they didn’t work.
Atlas VPN couldn’t crack the geoblocks on some of the more tricky platforms
You won’t have any luck unblocking streaming platforms with the free version. I tried the 3 free servers in Amsterdam, New York, and Los Angeles — none of them could bypass geoblocks or swap content for a new location.
Overall, it managed to unblock a decent range of platforms and let me stream in high quality. It’s a shame the free version couldn’t unblock any sites, although these limitations aren’t uncommon for free VPNs. I’d almost always advocate a premium version over a ‘free’ one. Here is a rundown of some other free VPNs you may wish to consider.
Speeds — Even Faster Than My Base Speed
Atlas VPN’s speeds were super fast, and it even increased my local UK speed by over 50%. This was a pleasant surprise, and I didn’t experience too much of a drop in Mbps with more distant servers until I connected to the farthest ones. The same can be said for ping, which remained OK until I connected to Hong Kong and beyond.
The essential measurements of speed are:
Download speed, measured in Mbps. This determines the quality you can stream in and how quickly you can download data.
Upload speed, also measured in Mbps, is how fast you can send data online.
Ping is an important consideration, primarily when gaming. It’s the response time for the connection, measured in ms — the lower the ping, the better.
It’s important to have a speed to compare against, so I captured my base speed first. I then enabled Atlas VPN with the IKEv2 tunneling protocol, connected to a local server in the UK (London) to note any changes. As a VPN encrypts your traffic, usually, there’s a slight slowdown. I was delighted that it actually increased my speed by over 50%. It also boosted my upload speed and slightly lowered the ping.
My UK base speed gives me something to compare the VPN speeds to
As a VPN encrypts your traffic, usually, there’s a slight slowdown. I was delighted that it actually increased my speed by over 120%. It boosted my upload speed, and ping remained the same.
VPN Disconnected (London, UK)
Speed Percentage Change
This usually happens when the ISP throttles your internet connection, so it was nice to see Atlas VPN easily bypassed it.
Long Distance Speeds
I got impressive speeds that remained usable even when connected to the most distant servers. There wasn’t a significant drop in Mbps until I tested the US servers, with the biggest drop being on the Sydney server. However, even that achieved 12.05 Mbps which is good enough for HD streaming.
There was no particularly negative impact on speed when switching between servers
Even when connecting to a server in Italy, 1137 km from me, my connection speed was faster than my regular base connection at home. This is excellent news for streaming, gaming, torrenting, and downloads. It really added a boost to my online experience that I didn’t expect.
I was surprised that my connection speed on the most distant server was faster than my local server
Ping increased more or less as expected, with response times increasing the farther away the server was. It wasn’t until I connected to Sydney that I experienced ping that you might find problematic for some online activities.
I had low ping until connecting to the most distant servers from me
The free version produced respectable speeds too. Atlas VPN provides 3 servers in the US and the Netherlands for this version, and they all stayed above 30 Mbps. This is suitable for high-speed downloads, gaming, and even UHD streaming — although you likely won’t be able to use the free version for that.
Are Atlas VPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes
Atlas VPN’s stellar speeds and acceptable ping make it a good match for gaming. In most gaming situations, you won’t notice a significant difference with a ping below 120 ms. If you’re one of the more competitive, extreme gamers, you might want to avoid the more distant servers. I noticed a very slight difference with more intense, fast-paced gaming when I used the Hong Kong and Sydney servers. It’s all relative, though — if someone has a ping around 50 ms lower than you, they might have an advantage.
I successfully played Extreme Asphalt Racing connected to an Italian Atlas VPN server
In summary, I can recommend Atlas VPN for most gamers. Don’t forget the added benefits of protection against DDoS attacks, access to other game servers, and encryption. However, if you're an extremely competitive gamer and want to weigh up all your options, you may want to check these top gaming VPNs.
Server Network — Intermediate Network Server
Atlas VPN has 750 servers in 43 countries that are robust and reliable. I found a few infrequent issues connecting to some servers initially, like Tokyo and Sydney, which you might find a little bit frustrating. However, they always connected on the second attempt.
It’s not unexpected to find a few servers that won’t connect at first using a VPN
A VPN can have as many servers as it likes, but it’s best to measure the network by how effective it is for things like unblocking reliability and security. Besides the minor connection issue above, I found the premium list of servers to be dependable and a suitable array of countries to choose from to bypass geoblocks, access media, gaming servers, and more.
The optimized servers are available using the premium version of Atlas VPN
There are 3 servers available with the free version in the US(LA and NY) and the Netherlands(Amsterdam). I got reliable connections with each of these, despite the limited number. Considering you’re not relying on them for unblocking streaming platforms, this gives you a good starting point to try the VPN.
In addition, there are 3 “Safeswap” servers, which you can read more about in the security section here.
Security — Good Protection but With Older Protocol
I was confident that Atlas VPN prevented any leaks and kept my data safe. It performed well during my tests in this area, except for the kill switch. The VPN could do with adding a multi-hop feature to its apps for an extra security upgrade. Dedicated IPs aren’t currently offered, meaning you can’t choose your own permanent IP — just whatever IP is generated from a server connection.
Encryption and Protocols
Atlas VPN uses solid AES 256-bit encryption along with the IPSec/IKEv2 and WireGuards protocols. The encryption level is military-grade, so you can’t get any better than that.
IPSec/IKEv2 is one of the older protocols, being gradually phased out. However, my data was encrypted while testing the VPN with YouTube, as the data packets were scrambled as expected.
WireGuard is one of the new VPN protocols, providing high security and superfast connection speeds. For now, Atlas VPN made it available on Windows and Android devices, but I'm looking forward to using it on macOS too.
This feature protects you from malware. If you attempt to visit a webpage that contains a malware threat, Atlas VPN will block the page from loading. This feature is not available in the Windows app, however, which is a little bit disappointing. I’d like to see it rolled out to all the apps, especially Windows, where arguably you are more susceptible to web-based malware.
SafeBrowse is a great feature, but not supported in the Windows version
The SafeSwap servers constantly rotate your IP address for added security. There are 3 Safeswap servers available with the premium version of Atlas VPN in the US, Singapore, and the Netherlands. This feature is not available in the macOS client.
You can select the Safeswap servers in the premium Atlas VPN Windows app
Data Breach Monitor
The Data Breach Monitor feature is exclusive to the mobile apps and searches for compromised email addresses. I tested this feature, and it was handy to know where my details may have been intercepted. Most of the results were from large-scale and well-known data breaches.
Just enter your email address and the scanner will find if you’ve been compromised
2FA Login Procedure
Atlas VPN employs 2-factor authentication for logging in to new devices. If you log into your account from an unrecognized device, you’ll be asked to confirm a code sent to your email. This adds an extra layer of security knowing that your credentials cannot be used without your permission.
The Kill Switch caused me some problems, and I was unable to use it. The point of it is to kill your connection should the secure VPN ‘tunnel’ fail. Using the Windows app, I couldn’t connect to any servers at all initially. It transpired this was due to the Kill Switch, and the only way to connect was to turn it off in the settings. The problem was also apparent with the macOS version, as it had to be disabled for the VPN to work.
With the Kill Switch enabled, I couldn’t connect to any servers at all
There’s also a Kill Switch on the mobile apps, but I encountered another problem. I couldn’t activate it initially as the option was missing. The app details that the feature isn’t available on your device if the settings can’t be found. In reality, you need to connect to a server first to establish the “Always-on VPN” option in the Android menu. This could be made clearer.
You need to connect to a server first before the option appears
I hope Atlas VPN can remedy these problems, as the kill switch is one of its main selling points. It’s an essential feature for a premium VPN package, and after some other impressive stats, detracts from Atlas VPN’s effectiveness. Look here for a detailed explanation of what a kill switch does and some other VPN recommendations.
Atlas VPN was watertight and prevented leaks on every server I tested. I was pleased with its performance, and you can depend on Atlas VPN to keep your online activity secure.
The measures of a leak test are:
Ensure your IP address isn’t leaked — this can expose your location and device to malicious threats.
DNS leaks are similar, but it’s your private internet traffic that can be intercepted.
WebRTC is the peer-to-peer communication between your browser and the web pages you visit — this data can slip outside the safety net and mistakenly reveal your IP
IPv6 is a type of data that sometimes isn’t sent through the VPN ‘tunnel’, thus allowing sensitive data to fall into the wrong hands. Most VPNs disable it entirely.
I’m pleased to report that Atlas VPN prevented all data leaks
Atlas VPN protected me from leaks and disabled IPv6 completely. This way, no one could intercept my online activities.
I ran the Atlas VPN Windows installer package file through VirusTotal, and it found no malicious components. You can safely install it in the knowledge that the program is trustworthy.
It’s reassuring to know that nothing malicious like spyware will be installed
Privacy — Some Logging, But Independently Audited
Atlas VPN uses an “identifier” on your device, but this is regarded as a functionality requirement
The types of data collected are laid out in the privacy terms, stating that only basic analytics are collected. There is also a signed token stored on your device — which you may think sounds alarming — but the VPN says this only limited technical data to get your app working.
If you find the retention of data concerning, Atlas VPN provides an email address you can write to and request the deletion of any data linked to you. California residents can even ask for a copy of any data Atlas VPN has on them. It’s reassuring, that Atlas VPN has had an independent security audit. Completed by VerSprite, the findings indicated that there is no risk of compromising your privacy with Atlas VPN. It doesn’t use a Warrant Canary at present.
I got download speeds of over 70 Mbps with Atlas VPN — great for apps like BitTorrent, but dependent as always on file availability from seeders. I wouldn’t recommend the free version for torrenting as the servers are quite limited, although the speeds are still noteworthy at over 30 Mbps.
I reached out to Atlas VPN’s customer support, and they advised me that it’s not guaranteed to work in China. This is an honest and helpful response, and they suggested trying the free version first rather than selling the premium version under false pretenses.
The premium version of Atlas VPN supports unlimited devices. This isn’t all too common to find with VPNs, so this is a precious feature. You’ll be able to set up the VPN on all of your devices and make the most of your account.
I contacted the support team to find out how many devices the free version supports and await a response.
Device Compatibility — Multi-Platform Support but Features Differ
There isn’t any support for Linux at the moment, which pegs it somewhat behind other premium VPNs. You can check out top VPNs with Linux support here. You might also be disappointed that you can’t use it on devices like smart TVs and Amazon Fire Sticks — I hope to see this support expanded in the near future. There are no guides for setting up Atlas VPN on a router as it’s currently not supported.
Installation & Apps
Set-Up & Installation — Simple Installation With Some Issues
AtlasVPN was easy to download and install, but I encountered difficulties getting it to work initially. I downloaded the app via the webpage, and you don’t even need to log in or register to do this. For Windows I selected the platform, clicked the download option, and followed the installation prompts. This provides you with the free version and access to 3 servers.
The apps are easy to install from the Atlas VPN webpage
The free servers were quick to connect to, although they aren’t optimized for streaming
Unfortunately, with both the free and premium versions, I wasn’t able to connect to any servers at first. It looked like it was connecting and then popped up with an error message before my internet connection dropped. I couldn’t find any support on this via the help pages but managed to connect by disabling the kill switch. This is something Atlas VPN should try to fix.
The Settings menu is pretty basic in the Windows version and lacks some features from the other apps, like SafeBrowse and Data Breach Monitor. It does, however have the Safeswap servers, which seem to be absent from the mobile apps.
The Windows settings screen is basic, but you can turn off the kill switch to fix connection issues
The Android version of the app is straightforward to use and has extra features. Except for the initial confusion with the kill switch, it was easy to navigate and find the options I wanted.
I could find everything I wanted and get connected quickly with the Android app
You’ll find the addition of SafeBrowse and Data Breach Monitor within the app menu. There’s a nice option to refer a friend too, 7 days of free premium for each one you recommend. They’ll also get 3 days of free premium usage.
In the mobile app you can invite friends to Atlas VPN, giving both of you free premium access for a limited time
All versions of Atlas VPN, even the free version, are ad-free. This is quite rare when it comes to free versions of VPNs, which usually generate income through advertising. You won’t be bombarded with hundreds of ads just to use the service.
You’ll see the free and premium version features compared, with an option to upgrade in the mobile app
iOS and Mac
The iOS and Mac version is much the same as the Android version. One difference here is the addition of an “improve me“ option — a facility to send crash reports, usage data, etc. to better the Atlas VPN service if that’s your thing. You also get SafeBrowse Plus, an upgraded version that also blocks ads. Within the app there’s the option to switch between a light and dark mode display, depending on your preference.
I found the Mac and iOS version of the app to be much the same as the Android iteration
It was easy to find a server and access the settings using the iOS app
I thought the pricing represented decent value for money, especially on the 3 year plan. In addition, you can take advantage of a deal for 82% off the usual prices. This makes a subscription all the more worthwhile.
Atlas VPN has a free version with no data cap or submission of personal info. The catch is speed and server limitations. A more prudent option would be to try its premium version with the backing of its 30-day money-back guarantee policy. You’ll get the full range of premium streaming optimized servers and blazing-fast speeds.
You can pay by major credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal and Google Pay. It appears there are options to pay via cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin) and WebMoney. However, at the time of writing, these options are marked as unavailable.
Reliability & Support
Online help centre
Web-form ticket submission
Atlas VPN only offers email and web-form support at present. I thought the contact address was tricky to find and should be more visible. It advertises a benefit of premium to be 24/7 support, though it’s unclear how this presents itself as you still use the same support channels.
There are in-depth guides, but you need to email if you require further support
I contacted support myself and had a friendly and helpful response within 24 hours. This is always good to know and adds an element of trust that you won’t be left in the dark if you need help. It’s reassuring that they were open and honest in telling me the VPN may not work in China.
Atlas VPN also has a presence on social media, with a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube account.
Overall I was more than satisfied with Atlas VPN’s performance. It managed to unblock some major streaming sites and delivered speeds even faster than my base connection speed.
It didn’t manage to unblock some of the trickier streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, and the kill switch problem needs to be urgently addressed. Support-wise, it would be better to have a live-chat facility. Luckily, the support provided was professional and honest. While the IKEv2 protocol is a bit outdated, knowing that Atlas VPN also offers WireGuard is relieving.
Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, HBO Go, Disney+, and YouTube
No, in fact it increased my base speed.I got superfast speeds in my tests, with only a significant slowdown when I used the most distant servers. It’s normal to expect a slight slowdown with a VPN at times, but I didn’t experience much at all with Atlas VPN.
Is Atlas VPN free?
There’s a free version of Atlas VPN, though it has limited features. You only get access to 3 servers in the US and Netherlands, and they have limited unblocking capability.
Downloading a modded APK is never a good idea. When you download files from unverified sources, you’re exposing yourself to malware and trackers. Besides, a modded APK won’t give you access to the full version of the VPN — you need a valid account for that. However, AtlasVPN has a free version and you can find it in the Play Store. If you like it, then you can subscribe for a premium account.