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Atlas VPN review

Atlas VPN is useful for unblocking, and it's speedy too

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

Tom's Guide Verdict

Atlas VPN, owned by NordVPN, seems well-led as it now offers great speeds using WireGuard, unblocks all you could need when it comes to streaming and even keeps the price low. There's still work to do to compete with the very best providers, but Atlas is certainly showing promise.

Pros

  • +

    Fast WireGuard speeds

  • +

    Unblocks US Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+

  • +

    Very affordable

  • +

    Unlimited connections

Cons

  • -

    Kill switch issues

  • -

    Support site and apps need improvement

Atlas VPN might be a relative young'un in the world of the best VPN services, but after being spotted as a rising talent and bought by the well-established NordVPN, it continues to improve. Not only does it manage to undercut a lot of the competition in price, but it does so without scrimping on features.

That means you can expect great WireGuard speeds, plus some of the best unblocking we've seen when it comes to watching streaming services from different locations.

There are a few downsides we'll explore throughout this review, and with a server network of just 750 across 27 countries Atlas VPN hasn't got the breadth of its stablemate. However, with decent security features, P2P torrent support and a SafeSwap feature that regularly changes your IP address, it's a promising VPN service that continues to impress.

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 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 fastest VPNs, delivering speeds of 650-800Mbps. That's good news for those looking to stream while connected to their VPN, especially as in our testing, Atlas VPN was able to unblock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney+.

In terms of its security features, you'll find the 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 hope 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)
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Latest updates

Atlas VPN has seen one pretty major shift since the last review and that comes in the form of unblocking. In our last round of testing we found that while a lot of major streaming services were unblocked, US Netflix remained elusive. Since that time the company appears to have done some fixes and we are now able to unblock US Netflix using the service while based in the UK.

Atlas VPN has undergone an "independent audit" by VerSprite, which it passed with a few "medium-to-low risk issues". However this was a very limited test, without actual result publicly published, and likely won't be enough for most very security conscious VPN users that want some more solid reassurances.

The free plan has dropped its data allowance on Windows from 12GB per month down to 10GB. For Mac VPN users, though, there's a generous 2GB of data per day available.

The kill switch has seen fixes made but still with room to improve further. Also there is a useful feature that helps protect your email if found in a data breach.

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:
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 a paid-for option, offering better online safety for all. With its free offering, you'll be loaded up with just under 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. In the case of using it on a Mac, this app has a very generous 2GB daily data limit, making it a potential full-time VPN for some, while on the Windows app it's a more meagre 10GB monthly allowance you're limited to. 

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. Go for the straight monthly rate option and you'll start at $10.99 which drops to $9.99 per month. Opt to pay for the year upfront and that'll drop dramatically to the equivalent of $3.29 per month. The real winner in terms of affordability is its three year plan, though, which works out as just $1.99 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 to play with), but each of its paid-for plans comes with a 30-day money back guarantee period, allowing you time to give the full service 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)
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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, WireGuard, 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. And even this is limited with the result not published in full, so we have to trust that it's the truth.

Other less reassuring features include a website that will opt you in for marketing emails by default when you give your email address, leaving you to cancel that if you don't want that data shared. And the cookie disclaimer only has an "accept" option. All of which adds up to a company serving its own needs first and not the privacy and security needs of customers who have come there for that very reason. A little worrying.

In terms of logging your data in-use, 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 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.

In our previous review the kill switch proved an issue. However, this appears to have been improved. The kill switch immediately kicked in when the VPN dropped, but there were still some gripes. You have to manually disable the kill switch to avoid being connected to the VPN all the time, and there's no automatic reconnect, meaning you have to open the app and start it again yourself. Better than our last review, but still with room for improvement.

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 200-225Mbps, but still fairly mid-range.

WireGuard is where Atlas VPN truly impresses though, with speeds topping out at 770Mbps in the UK, and a 730-780Mbps 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 a similar range as CyberGhost (850Mbps), IPVanish (890Mbps) and NordVPN (760Mbps).

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)
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How good is Atlas VPN for streaming and torrenting?

Unblocking streaming services is one of the most common VPN uses beyond their obvious security attributes - and it's something Atlas VPN does exceptionally well. In fact, it gets all the big name streaming services cracked right open for all your viewing needs.

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 can be an issue and it certainly was in the last testing round with numerous glitches before getting in. But this time it granted us access right away.

Atlas VPN wasn't able to give us access to US Netflix in our last review but changes appear to have been made here too and now access is granted. Let the Netflix binge begin. Perhaps this will even help Atlas VPN earn a place among the best Netflix VPNs out there right now.

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.

SafeSwap and MultiHop are useful features for security with the first jumping you between three spots (Singapore, Netherlands and US) to keep you tough to track. The second, MultiHop, routes your data through more than one server before moving on to the destination, again making you more difficult to track. There is very little control over how this works, unfortunately, only letting you pick a continent to route through, rather than specific countries as some VPN services do.

Since our last review testing, a Data Breach Monitor has been added which alerts you if your email address appears in a data breach. This is very handy and even lets you search with any address you like. Sure, you can do that on some websites that provide this service, but it's a nice extra security layer to include.

The Mac app works well, offers that impressive 2GB of data per day and features lots of the Windows specs. What's lacking is a Favorites system, Recently Used list and auto-connect on accessing Wi-Fi.

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)
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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. While the website has a lot more resources available since our last review, speedy contact options are still lacking.

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 (opens in new tab), especially now it has come under Nord Security ownership. Already proving to be a potential powerhouse in terms of performance and streaming unblocking, it really needs to focus on ironing out its desktop app issues and get a proper privacy audit or two under its belt to join the big players.

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, Alice has over five years experience working in the eCommerce space with two of those years in consumer tech.