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Atlas VPN review

Atlas VPN climbs the rankings in speed, but lags behind elsewhere

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

Our Verdict

Atlas VPN has bags of potential with some incredible WireGuard speed results and an ability to unblock almost all major streaming services. Affordable and P2P-friendly, too, there are a few niggles that need ironing out, but since its acquisition by NordVPN it could soon be climbing the rankings.

For

  • Above average speeds
  • Unblocks Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+
  • Very affordable
  • Unlimited connections

Against

  • Doesn't unblock US Netflix
  • Kill switch issues
  • Support site needs improvement

Tom's Guide Verdict

Atlas VPN has bags of potential with some incredible WireGuard speed results and an ability to unblock almost all major streaming services. Affordable and P2P-friendly, too, there are a few niggles that need ironing out, but since its acquisition by NordVPN it could soon be climbing the rankings.

Pros

  • + Above average speeds
  • + Unblocks Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+
  • + Very affordable
  • + Unlimited connections

Cons

  • - Doesn't unblock US Netflix
  • - Kill switch issues
  • - Support site needs improvement

Atlas VPN is a promising up-and-coming VPN service that offers some of the cheapest plans on the market, speedy WireGuard protocol results, and a good track record of unblocking top streaming services.

Based in the US, it's got a small network of 750 servers based across 27 countries, three of which you can have access to at no extra cost with its free plan. More interestingly, it was acquired by Nord Security in October 2021, which could bode well for a bright future.

Offering a bunch of nifty security features, P2P support, and unlimited connections to boost, Atlas VPN will continue as an independent provider - one that could prove to pack some power.

Atlas VPN 1-minute review

Atlas VPN has begun to see some intriguing, potentially exciting developments, not least because it is now owned by the same company that runs the powerful NordVPN, which rides highly on many of our VPN buying guides.

With a small offering of 750 servers across 27 countries, it's loaded with both WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols, the former of which sees it joining ranks with some of the best performing VPNs, delivering speeds of 650-800Mbps. That's good news for those looking to stream while connected to their VPN, especially as Atlas VPN was able to add BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney+ to its unblocking prowess. Unfortunately, though, US Netflix didn't make the cut.

In terms of its security features, you'll find its IP-jumping SafeSwap, malware and ad blocking, a data breach monitor, private DNS, and a no-logging policy to boot. It has also run an independent security audit on its iOS VPN app, though we'd like for it to have a full privacy audit - something we're sure to see under its new ownership.

There's also its kill switch, which admittedly had a few issues in terms of alerting us when a connection failed on its Windows client. This follows other shortcomings for this particular app, which isn't the best in terms of usability. However, if you're an Android or iOS user in search of a VPN for your smartphone or tablet, you're in luck, as Atlas seems to deliver a far better experience here.

While there are certainly areas it can improve upon - its support center and desktop apps being two such instances - Atlas VPN has strong potential to really polish its rusty parts and deliver a tool that could become something of an underdog hit.

Atlas VPN homepage

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)

Latest updates

Atlas VPN hasn't seen many significant developments in terms of infrastructure. However, as a company, it was acquired by Nord Security in October 2021, the company behind top-tier VPN service NordVPN - so it doesn't feel premature to say Atlas VPN will therefore be in good hands.

While Atlas VPN will continue to act independently, this does mean it will have to comply with Nord Security's "principles of transparency and trustworthiness", alongside presumably benefitting from Nord's resources and authority in online security. It'll also include regular third-party audits. With Atlas VPN's privacy credentials somewhat lacking, this will be another string to the provider's bow that'll see it hopefully continue to climb up our rankings in the future.

Atlas VPN specs

Number of servers: 750+
Number of countries:
27
Platforms supported:
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Simultaneous connections:
Unlimited
Split tunneling:
No
Kill switch:
Yes
Supported protocols:
WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec
Country of registration:
Delaware, USA
Support:
24/7 support via email, online articles and guides

Atlas VPN price: how much is it, and is there a Atlas VPN free trial?

Atlas VPN brands itself as a "fremium VPN service". In simple terms, this means it has both a free VPN and paid-for tool, offering better online safety for all. With its free offering, you'll be loaded up with 400MB of data a day across three of its 27 locations - Los Angeles, New York, and Amsterdam. You can also install and use it on an unlimited number of devices, and won't be restricted by speed caps. 

Of course, with a paid plan you'll get your pick of its fairly modest 750+ servers, including those that are optimized for streaming, as well as other features like ad blocking and detecting malicious websites.

For those kinds of features, you've got a choice of three plans. Its monthly rate will set you back $9.99. Opt for its annual plan and it'll essentially cost $3.99 a month. The real winner in terms of affordability is its three year plan, though, which works out as just $2.19 a month - that's cheaper than our top-rated cheap VPN, Surfshark.

You can pay for your Atlas VPN subscription with a number of credit cards, Google Pay, or PayPal.

Across each of these plans there's no Atlas VPN free trial (you've already got a whole free plan, for goodness sake!), but each of its paid-for plans comes with a 30-day money back guarantee period, allowing you time to give it a try. It's important to point out that you'll need to email Atlas VPN support in order to cancel before it auto-renews, as, frustratingly, there isn't the option to do so within your account. 

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

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)

How private is Atlas VPN?

When it comes to Atlas VPN and its privacy, it has a little room for improvement. While it's covered by the basics with AES-256 encryption, its WireGuard protocol, and privacy features like SafeSwap - which allows you to you hop from multiple IP addresses at one time - Atlas VPN has only carried out an independent security audit on its iOS app. 

That said, with the aforementioned acquisition by Nord Security, we expect Atlas VPN to be put under scrutiny through a number of regularly carried out privacy audits, which will hopefully allow for any security qualms to be ironed out. 

In terms of logging your data, Atlas VPN claims to have a no-logging policy. It states, "we do not collect details on our users' activities, DNS queries, or other data that could be linked to our users." 

It goes on to state the kind of data its apps do collect, but we determined this did not include any user online activity. On the other hand, Atlas VPN would be able to create a pretty illustrative user profile. Of course, this is simply what Atlas VPN states, with no official audit to back these claims. Hopefully that's all in due course as it further integrates with Nord Security best practice.

Another drawback in terms of Atlas VPN's privacy are the persistent issues with its kill switch. When testing out the effectiveness of the feature, we found the VPN didn't notify us when our VPN failed to connect, or attempt to reconnect either. Although it was able to perform its function of protecting us when our connection dropped, there is certainly plenty of room for improvement in keeping users notified of its current status.

How fast is Atlas VPN?

When it comes to carrying out our performance tests, we used a Windows 10 machine to connect Atlas VPN to the nearest location in both the US and UK. To test speeds, we utilize a number of speed test sites and tools, noting down at least five results. This process is repeated three times using WireGuard and OpenVPN to get a broad picture on the kind of power each VPN can offer.

In this instance, Atlas VPN doesn't offer OpenVPN support, so we ran our tests on its IKEv2 protocol. In the US this saw half-decent results, recording a range of 260-320Mbps. In the UK things were a touch slower at 170-210Mbps, but still fairly mid-range.

WireGuard is where Atlas VPN truly impresses though, with speeds averaging at 590-600Mbps in the UK, and a whopping 650-800Mbps in the US. When you consider the fact that's faster than ExpressVPN - the best overall VPN in our eyes - these results are not to be sniffed at. That puts it in the same range as CyberGhost (760-860), and just behind the likes of IPVanish (750-900Mbps) and NordVPN (760-880Mbps).

If it can get its act together in other areas and offer a fuller package, this could see Atlas VPN enter the game as one of our choices for a fast VPN.

Atlas VPN interface on desktop

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)

How good is Atlas VPN for streaming and torrenting?

Unblocking streaming services is a pretty common use of a VPN beyond its obvious security attributes - and it's something Atlas VPN does pretty well at. We were able to access both Disney+ and BBC iPlayer (one that has been known to be quite difficult to circumvent with even the best streaming VPN in the past) with ease.

Streaming Amazon Prime Video's US library did prove a touch more troublesome, prompting us to complete a CAPTCHA before giving us access. Still, it's one small hoop to jump through before bingeing the latest US-exclusive title to the Bezos platform.

Unfortunately, Atlas VPN fell at the last hurdle when it came to unblocking US Netflix. It's fair to say, though, that very few VPN have been able to do this as Netflix continues to crackdown on the use of VPN to access its services. In our recent round of tests, ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN soared to the top as the best Netflix VPNs, the only two providers to manage accessing US and international Netflix libraries.

In terms of those looking to torrent, it supports P2P, allowing you to share large files "safe and sound".

How good are the Atlas VPN desktop apps?

When it comes down to the Atlas VPN Windows app, how good it is really depends on how you look at it. It's pretty basic, which may appeal to those who don't want to be overwhelmed with too many techy features. On the flipside, there is very little to it in terms of configuration, which could also very easily be a turn off. 

Open it up and you'll be presented with the barebones of any VPN, including a Connect/Disconnect button, a list of locations to connect to, as well as the option to toggle on or off the kill switch, and to choose between its WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols.

In terms of usability, there's no particular rhyme or reason, which is a bit disappointing. Rather than being listed in alphabetical order or sorted in some other logical way, the location list is an amalgamation of cities and countries. With no Favorites or Recently Used system in place, this eyesore will likely have you scrolling back and forth to find the server you want to connect to. 

As previously mentioned, the kill switch also presented its own list of issues with no alerts pushed to the user when the VPN failed to connect to the desired server.

In terms of its promised malware and ad blocking features, there were no setting options present, and we didn't always have success connecting to the free Atlas VPN servers - though that makes sense if they're overloaded with... freeloaders.

Connection time was fairly average at 5-6 seconds. With few features to tinker with and those connection prospects, it certainly won't take long to get up and running.

How good are the Atlas VPN mobile apps?

It a shocking turn of events, the Atlas' Android VPN client is actually better than its Windows counterpart.

The interface here makes far more sense with countries sorted alphabetically in the location list, and dedicated categories for servers optimal for streaming. 

You'll also find access to settings for the tracking blocker and the Data Breach Monitor under the 'Assistant' section of the app, both of which seemed to prove effective.

Much the same can be said for the iOS app, aside from the absence of a kill switch and WireGuard support. 

Atlas VPN help section of its website

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)

What customer support does Atlas VPN offer?

If you wish to contact Atlas VPN's support team, it promises a 24/7 service, though this is currently only through email - there's no live chat function as of yet.

You'll also be able to find articles and guides on the 'Help' section of its website with the ability to search your query or click through its four hubs 'Get started', 'General info', 'Billing and account', or 'Troubleshoot issues'. While the former prove fairly straightforward, clicking through 'Troubleshoot issues' conveys some largely unhelpful and vague issues with little explanation or depth. 

In terms of its support system, then, Atlas could definitely brush up a few more helpful resources. The introduction of a 24/7 live chat feature would also be good, though when we sent an email we did receive a response two hours and 15 minutes later, which isn't terrible.

Atlas VPN: Final verdict

It's safe to say Atlas VPN does have potential, especially now it has come under Nord Security ownership. Already proving to be a potential powerhouse in terms of performance and, for the most part, streaming unblocking, it really needs to focus on ironing out its desktop app issues and get a privacy audit or two under its belt to join the big players.

Alice Marshall

Alice is the resident eCommerce Staff Writer at Future with a focus on VPN and streaming services. She predominantly writes buying and streaming service guides, how to watch articles, with the odd phone deal thrown in there for good measure. Previously a Commercial Content Writer at Trusted Reviews.