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Atlas VPN Free review

Very usable, but not as polished as some rivals

Atlas VPN interface composition on a smartphone and desktop screen
(Image: © Atlas VPN)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Atlas VPN free offers excellent connection speeds and a decent monthly data limit, and also surprises with impressive streaming unblocking power. However, its limited feature-set and wide range of small issues means it can’t quite challenge the very best – yet.

Pros

  • +

    Unblocks Disney Plus

  • +

    Decent speeds

  • +

    10GB monthly data limit, and 2GB per day on Mac

Cons

  • -

    Limited server locations

  • -

    Some privacy concerns

  • -

    A little clunky to work through

Atlas VPN is a relatively new service, having been founded in 2019. However, it is part of the ever-growing security programs under the Nord Security umbrella, the same parent company responsible for NordVPN and, recently, Surfshark. However, this free VPN service works independently from other parts of the company. 

Atlas VPN Free only has three server locations, with two of those located within the United States. The third is in the Netherlands. For paying customers this increases to over 750 servers in 37 countries.

Atlas VPN is compatible with PCs and Mac, both Android and iOS smartphones, and also Android TV and Amazon Five TV. While premium users can unblock all the popular TV streaming apps, we were able to unlock Disney Plus with Atlas VPN Free. Some users have even reported success being able to access Netflix – and although we wouldn’t rely on it, this is a very nice bonus to have.

Atlas VPN Free review: specs

Number of servers: 3
Number of countries: 2
Platforms supported:
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Simultaneous connections:
2
Split tunneling:
Android
Kill switch:
Yes
Supported protocols:
WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec
Country of registration:
USA
Support:
email, knowledgebase

Atlas VPN Free review: Privacy and logging

Atlas VPN uses the highest encryption available to ensure anything you send through its servers is well scrambled and hard to trace back to you. It has DNS protections, which are especially helpful when using public internet connections because it keeps snoops from hacking into your connection and swiping personal information. Atlas VPN also has a kill switch that quickly disables your internet connection if the VPN ever drops or is compromised in any way.

We tested Atlas’s security, and for the most part, it did well. The kill switch blocked our activity when the VPN failed, and we didn’t detect signs of DNS leaks. However, the kill switch does have some hiccups. You need to disable it every time you stop using Atlas VPN, otherwise, internet access remains blocked even with the VPN inactive.

Atlas VPN has a no logging policy, but there are a few concerning aspects of this company. For instance, we tested its ability to detect third-party trackers (which isn’t a feature available with the free version), and it blocked three trackers on its own website, including Google Analytics and Facebook. Also, the cookies used on its website aren’t easy to bypass. The notice itself only has an option to “Accept.”

It’s also important to note that Atlas VPN is based in Delaware, USA. This means while it may have a strict no-logging policy, it may be subject to some information gathering based on local laws, though the information doesn’t need to be kept for longer than 30 days.

Atlas VPN has put itself through an independent audit to help it find weaknesses and other issues. However, this audit has only been done on iOS devices, so there really isn’t any transparent or third-party information to verify its security on other devices.

Atlas VPN homepage

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)
(opens in new tab)

Atlas VPN Free review: Windows and Mac apps

Atlas VPN's free tier gives you access to some important features, like a kill switch, P2P capabilities on every server, and the WireGuard protocol. However, you can’t set the app to automatically connect when you start up your computer. Also missing is split tunneling capability. This means you can’t decide to funnel specific data through the VPN while leaving others unaffected. This isn’t the biggest deal breaker, but it does mean your data limit may be reached faster.

On that note, there is a monthly data limit, but while it’s 10GB a month for Windows users, Mac users get an excellent 2GB a day. Save for Proton VPN’s unlimited free plan, that’s about as generous as any free provider gets. Another perk is that Atlas VPN lets you connect two devices at the same time.

It takes a little work to find a free server. This is because locations are listed in alphabetical order and not with available servers listed first, and you can’t add servers to a Favorites list to speed this process up. Plus, the dashboard isn’t the most intuitive, so it may take a while to figure out where all the features and functions are located.

Atlas VPN's mascot ushering an illustrated globe surrounded by a digital network through the front door

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)
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Atlas VPN Free review: Android and iOS apps

The Android app is very, very basic and looks like a clunky version of the desktop program. But being stripped back means it’s easier to find the functions you’re looking for. One advantage the Android app has over the other Atlas VPN version is split tunneling.

The iOS app is much more appealing because it has been nicely designed with a mobile device in mind. The Connect button is front and center with locations and other important functions clearly marked and easy to find.

With both mobile apps, we found that you still get great connection speeds and protection. The kill switch works as it should and there aren’t any indications of DNS leaks.

Atlas VPN Free review: Performance

For a free service, Atlas is a pretty fast VPN. We were able to connect at an impressive 320Mbps. On average, internet download speeds of 200Mbps are considered fast for most applications, so Atlas VPN is good enough to watch some high-definition videos without experiencing lag or buffering.

We tested Atlas VPN’s claim of P2P support and were able to verify that it does allow this and does it well. We were able to download torrents through each of Atlas VPN Free’s three server locations.

If you need a little help getting up and running, Atlas VPN has a couple of options. First, there is a help section on its website with the most common problems listed under topics to make them easier to find. You also have an email option. When we tried it out, we got a pretty quick response - under 2 hours. The information we got was very detailed and easy to understand and follow. Atlas VPN does have a live chat option, but it’s for paying customers only.

Atlas VPN interface on desktop

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)
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Atlas VPN Free review: Final verdict

Overall, Atlas VPN Free does a decent job of protecting your privacy, though there are a few problems with the apps, the kill switch in particular. Also, because of its use of third-party trackers on its own website, we’re not fully convinced of its anti-logging policy. 

However, you do get great connection speeds, P2P support, split tunneling for Android devices, and a very generous data cap on Mac. Overall, it’s a decent service that’s evidently improving, and could be a great choice for a casual user who’s not looking for advanced features. 

Nicole Johnston
Nicole Johnston

Nicole is a commissioning editor for Tom's Guide covering everything VPN. With over 17 years of research and writing experience, and 10 years of testing and reviewing internet security solutions, Nicole knows how to dive deep to get the information consumers need to make better buying decisions. She is also a mom to 10 children, and personally uses many of the products she reviews to ensure the safety of her own family.