Atlas VPN provides a secure service for all major mobile and desktop platforms. It's easy to use but does slow down the speed of an Internet connection considerably. The pricing is moderate in comparison to other VPNs (starts at $10.99/month), but users can also choose the free version of the service. Even though they have a no-logging policy, they do still collect user data.
- EASE OF USE
- BUSINESS PRACTICES
- TEST RESULTS
Atlas VPN provides an easy to use, secure service.
With so many people now working away from traditional office settings and using the Internet more frequently from remote locations, no one can debate the importance of protecting your connection. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to do this. When you do a Google search for the term ‘VPN’ you will get approximately 3,040,000,000 results. Trust me. I just did it. The question is, how do you know which one to select?
While we’ve explored several different VPN providers on Mac Sources, we are dedicated to finding the best options that can suit different types of needs. This review will focus on Atlas VPN, a freemium VPN service that was founded in 2019. There are several things we look for and test when we review VPN products. These areas include:
- Who the company is
- who owns them
- What makes them unique
- Where are they located
- How their service works in real-world terms
- Testing: speed, IP leak, DNS leak, WebRTC leak
We feel that by running these tests and looking at these different areas consumers can make the best-educated decision about what VPN will work best for them. We also do not place any affiliate links in our VPN reviews (as of 2022) as we want to maintain our objectivity on the VPN itself. So, any links that go back to Atlas VPN’s website are just placed for information purposes.
Who is Atlas VPN?
Atlas VPN is a relatively new organization. They were founded in 2019 with a solid goal in mind – to make digital privacy and security accessible to all consumers. The VPN service was officially launched on January 16, 2020. At the time, they only rolled out a mobile app for Android with plans to release other platforms in the future. They have always billed themselves as a ‘freemium’ VPN provider, which means that they offer both free and paid services.
Atlas VPN is supposedly located in Delaware although I haven’t been able to track down an official address for them. Their trademark is owned by Peakstar Technologies, Inc., which is located in New York, NY.
With Atlas VPN being located in the U.S., that means they fall under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes, an alliance between a group of countries that was created in order to share intelligence data. The Five Eyes alliance includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. So, since Atlas VPN is supposedly located in the U.S., they are governed not only by U.S. laws but also by the Five Eyes.
The main reason to be concerned about an alliance affiliation is if your data is being shared. Atlas VPN has a strict no-log policy and does not keep information about their clients’ browsing history. They also do not utilize ads within their service, which can sometimes act as traffic manipulation to users. Now, this doesn’t mean that Atlas VPN doesn’t log any user data. But, it seems as though they try to keep it to a minimum.
- collect real IP addresses
- store any information that identifies what users browse, view, or do online via the VPN connection
- share data with law enforcement and government agencies who makes requests for information about what users were doing through a VPN connection
- collect basic analytical information to improve their services
- collect an email address for provision of services, account creation for paid services, security of the account (checked against a third-party database of breached credentials), communication between user and Atlas VPN
- have access to billing information for paid services (via third-party payment processors)
- store some device information for monitoring, developing, and analyzing use of their services
- collect data when users visit the Atlas VPN website including various cookies, access logs, and social media widgets.
In addition to their privacy policies, Atlas VPN also uses AES-256 and ChaCha20-Poly1305 encryption and both IPSec/IKEv2 and WireGuard protocols to forward user data safely. Internal audits of services provided are performed regularly and VerSprite has tested the security of the iOS app.
- Block malware and ads
- WireGuard protocol
- Tracker Blocker
- Split tunneling
- Data Breach Monitor
- Private DNS
- Solid no-logs policy
- Change your location
- Superior web traffic encryption
- Network kill switch
- Server around the globe (more than 750 servers)
- Seamless streaming
- Safe and sound P2P
- Best location detector
- Supersonic web surfing
- Unblock websites and apps
- Unlimited use
How much does Atlas VPN cost?
Users have the option to use VPN basic services free or to pay for a more feature-rich service option. This is what defines Atlas VPN as a *freemium* VPN service. Users are not obligated to pay anything to use Atlas VPN. When they download the app, they can connect to several locations at no charge. That said, Atlas VPN does offer three paid plans that provide more advanced features and access to all their servers. All prices are valid as of publishing this article.
- 1 Month: $10.99/month billed monthly
- 1 Year: $3.29/month billed $39.42 for the first year
- 3 Years: $1.99/month billed $71.49 for the first three years
With the 1 and 3 year terms, it is indicated that the price may be an introductory price and can potentially be changed when the term renews. According to the Atlas VPN Terms of Service, subscriptions are automatically renewed unless canceled (can be completed with Atlas VPN support). Atlas VPN does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
How does Atlas VPN measure up against testing?
When we complete tests on VPNs, we first do a control test that is our connected computer without the VPN engaged. Then we turn on the VPN and run the tests again. All of these tests are completed from our office which has high-speed internet service. Our WiFi router is the Netgear ORBI RBRE960 WiFi 6E Mesh System and the cable modem is the Netgear Nighthawk CM1200.
The speed tests were completed using speedtest.net while the connected computer was on our WiFi network. The download speed was 453 Mbps and the upload speed was 19.7 Mbps. After getting this data, I completed a speed test with the VPN for the following locations – Dallas, TX, Romania, and Australia. The results are listed below.
|Location||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)||Percentage Difference|
|Dallas, TX||191||18.0||-58% & -9%|
|Romania||159||16.6||-65% & -16%|
|Austalia||155||6.34||-66% & -68%|
The further away the server was the more the speed declined. I would still say these speeds are reasonable, however, if you can expect this type of drop when you are on a lower speed connection, then that could significantly affect your Internet experience.
IP Security Tests
We use bash.ws to check for IP leaks, DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks, and other IP security issues. The IP anonymity report gives you a full overview of where you might run into problems. When I ran the report with no VPN turned on, my anonymity was rated at 41%. There were 7 areas that were flagged as problematic. When I ran the test connected to Atlas VPN, I got a score of 66%.
There were still 4 areas (location, system, browser, and DNT being inactive) that were flagged. The other issues had been resolved. I also ran the IP Blacklist test (both VPN and non-VPN connections were not blacklisted) and the Open Port Check (both VPN and non-VPN connections showed all closed ports.
How does Atlas VPN work in practice?
I have been using the apps for macOS and iOS while reviewing Atlas VPN. The setup was painless and the apps are very user-friendly. Both apps are available through their respective app stores. I haven’t had issues with the way that either of the apps function. After you download the app, you can select the specific server you want (location of the server) or let the app connect to a ‘suggested server’ that will give you the best possible connection.
This will usually be the one that is geographically closest to you. To test this theory, I connected to a server in Belgium, disconnected the VPN, and then selected the suggest-a-server option and was connected to Dallas, TX which is the closest geographical location to me.
You can fine-tune your preferences so that Atlas VPN starts on launch, activate the kill switch, decide to share analytics with Atlas VPN, enable Safebrowse Plus, show the application in the dock or menu bar, and select which protocol you want the VPN to use.
I had a really good opportunity to use Atlas VPN when we were out of town recently. We took a trip to Florida and had a rented condo for the week. WiFi was provided, but I really didn’t trust the connection. This was a prime opportunity to use a VPN and I strongly recommend using a VPN when you are on a connection that you don’t trust. Not only did I not trust the connection, but we were in a condo with many units nearby. I had no idea if the WiFi was a shared network or if other people might be tapping into it.
So, anytime I connected to the WiFi – with my phone or laptop – I enabled Atlas VPN. It worked really well and I did feel confident that my connection was more secure than without the VPN engaged. I did not complete the VPN testing at the condo, but I did do an IP check. That is the quickest option to determine if your VPN is securing your connection.
With your VPN turned off, visit whatsmyip.com or just type the phrase “What’s my IP” into Google and make a note (or take a screenshot) of your IP address. Then turn the VPN on and check it again. If the IP address has changed, then you know that the VPN is indeed active and protecting your connection.
I completed that quick check and determined that Atlas VPN was working as it should. As I mentioned above in the speed test section, it appears that Atlas VPN drops the connection speed by up to 66% depending on the location of the server and its distance from your geographical location.
I was using the Las Vegas, NV server and didn’t do any speed checks, but I noticed that the speed dropped quite a bit when the VPN was engaged. I was watching streaming videos (Netflix) and there were several times that the connection was so bad that the video couldn’t play.
I want to mention here that I also watched Netflix from our office (where the official testing was completed) and didn’t have as many problems watching videos when connected to the VPN. The quality was decreased a bit from my standard connection (without VPN) and it took longer to load at first, but the videos were watchable.
Now, I do want to point out that this could have been caused by the Internet service itself because I did try to watch streaming video without the VPN, too, and at different times of the day, the feed was unwatchable.
I also want to point out that on the same WiFi network, we were completing a cloud backup to Backblaze. I suspect that had some influence on my Internet speed because at the time I was watching videos, no one else was awake and actively using the network.
Many factors interfere with Internet service and when you are in a situation where you aren’t familiar with the setup, it’s hard to say for certain what is causing the slowdown. I did, however, notice a change in speed between using the VPN and not using the VPN.
I am a big advocate for using VPNs when you are connecting to unfamiliar Internet networks. And, I think it’s important to note that not all VPN services are created equal. Atlas VPN apps are nicely designed and easy to use.
The service seems to be secure, but the speed drop is something to consider as well. I do have concerns about Atlas VPN’s business practices. NordVPN, a sister company of Atlas VPN has become known for questionable business deals regarding its affiliate program. Hopefully, they continue operating as an independent entity.
The intent of this review is to provide information on the company, the service, and how it performs in real-world settings. We hope this article has helped to provide adequate information for users to make decisions about their own VPN use.