Atlas VPN Review (2020) – Free option that logs your IP-address
Atlas VPN is a new VPN service that launched in January 2020. They offer a VPN that is, and will remain, free of charge. On top of that, they offer a premium version. The difference between these versions is that Premium gives you access to faster servers and servers that have been optimized for streaming.
Atlas VPN has quite a lot of competition, since there are many other free VPNs out there. Even so, their service looks promising. Currently, they only offer software for smartphones and tablets, supporting both Android and iOS. Atlas will extend their services later this year so that computer users will also be able to enjoy Atlas VPN. Their server network is slightly limited. However, the biggest downside to this VPN is that they log a lot of personal information, including your IP address.
- Simultaneous connections: 1
- Operating systems: iOS, Android
- Protocols: IKEv2
- Logging policy: Logs IP address a.o.
- Servers: 19 servers in 16 countries
- Price: Free
- Money-back guarantee: n.a.
Speed – How fast is Atlas VPN?
The speed of a VPN is very important. It can be frustrating to work with a VPN that slows down your internet connection. Nobody wants to sit and wait for a buffering Netflix show, slow downloads, and browsers that take ages to load a web page. That is why every VPN we review is extensively tested for its speed. Atlas VPN was put to the test as well.
Speed test results Atlas VPN
We have tested our internet speed using various Atlas VPN servers. These tests were done on an Android phone in the Netherlands. Since Atlas VPN Premium has an offer right now where you get the first three months for free, we decided to use that for our tests. We started with checking our internet speed without a VPN, so we can use that as a benchmark to compare the other results to.
Speed without a VPN (speedtest.net)
The results above show our internet speed without using a VPN.
Speed using a local Dutch Atlas VPN-server (speedtest.net)
These are the results we got when we connected to the Atlas VPN-server that was the closest to our physical location. The ping has increased slightly, as you can see, although this increase is minimal. The up- and download speeds have decreased a lot, showing a drop of over 50%.
Speed using a long-distance American Atlas VPN-server (speedtest.net)
The speed test results from speedtest.net when we used an Atlas VPN-server that was far away from our physical location (in this case a USA server) were surprising to us. Although the ping has increased massively, the up- and download speeds are similar to the speeds achieved by a more local server. Even so, this means speeds have been reduced by half compared to our ‘normal’ connection. Atlas VPN appears not to be the fastest VPN around, even when using Premium.
Speed during daily use
We decided to try out this VPN for a couple of weeks to check its performance. We used Atlas VPN during browsing, streaming, downloading, and online gaming.
The VPN performed well when we used various online apps. There was barely any lag while we went about our daily internet use. Streaming went very well too, which was surprising. YouTube videos would play without buffering. Streaming on Netflix was no trouble either, although not all series and films were available with this VPN. We were shown a proxy pop-up when trying to play country-specific content. More on this later.
We decided to look at the download speed of mobile apps and experienced no significant delays. The desired applications were downloaded from the Play Store within seconds. We are aware that this is not representative of downloading larger files in, for instance, Bittorrent.
We did experience some lag during online gaming. Now, this won’t be an issue for the regular gamer. But for the more practiced and serious gamer it might be problematic. Overall, the results of Atlas VPN during daily use are surprisingly good considering the outcome of the speed tests.
Conclusion speed Atlas VPN
- Atlas VPN decreased our internet speed by around 50%.
- Both local and faraway servers showed similar speeds.
- Browsing and streaming went well with Atlas VPN, although we experienced some lag during online gaming.
Safety – How secure is Atlas VPN?
The most important aspect of every VPN is its safety. Your data traffic will only remain hidden from onlookers as long as you’re using the right encryption and protocols. Without a proper logging policy, a provider can see everything you do online. In such cases, you don’t have guaranteed anonymity and online protection. That’s why this section of our review will focus on the safety of Atlas VPN. We take a closer look at the protocols it uses, as well as their logging policy, the option to activate a kill switch, and the data the company asks you to share with them.
The Atlas VPN website and app provide very little information on the technology they use. They only state that they use the “highest encryption standards”, as can be seen in the image on the right, without actually naming the encryption protocols they use. After some research we found out that Atlas VPN uses AES-256 bit encryption, which is protection at military level and is used by many other VPN providers.
At this point in time Atlas VPN only uses IKEv2 as its VPN-protocol. This protocol is relatively fast and safe, but still Atlas VPN is planning on using other protocols in the future as well.
Logging and privacy
Atlas VPN does not log the internet usage of individual users. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t log anything at all. On the contrary, they save a lot of sensitive information about you. Some of this data is used to improve their service and to make their Premium service available to you. They also log communication data, like your email-address, when you contact their customer service.
Due to the extensive logging done by Atlas VPN, your online anonymity can’t be guaranteed. The list below gives some examples of data that’s collected about you when you use their apps:
- Data about the app’s use: including the changes you make to your settings and the date and time at which you connect and disconnect. This includes:
- Your IP address: Atlas VPN saves your actual IP-address, on top of the information about your VPN use. This can be used to pinpoint your location and might even be connected to your identity.
- Data on your device: they register what type of device you use, including information about its make, model, language, operating system, time zone, and location.
All information is stored as long as your account exists, and maybe even longer. Atlas VPN adheres to US law, which doesn’t only mean that they’re very susceptible to government requests, but are also subject to a “5 Eyes” country. This isn’t great for your privacy. Atlas VPN is not the best choice for your privacy and safety, especially since it logs your IP-address and can therefore pinpoint your location.
The Atlas VPN app currently doesn’t have an option to enable the kill switch. However, you can still activate this function on your Android device. If you want to turn on this setting, go to “Settings” and then to your connections (“Network & Internet“). Click “VPN” and press the little cogwheel next to Atlas VPN. You’ll see the option “Always-on VPN”. If you enable this, your VPN will always stay connected. You can also find the option to “Block Connections Without VPN”. When you enable that, you’ve enabled the kill switch.
If you’d like more information about the benefit of a kill switch, you can read our article “What Is a Kill Switch?”.
What information does Atlas VPN need?
Atlas VPN is currently only available for Android and iOS. You can also make use of the VPN’s three month free Premium upgrade, which you automatically get when you sign up. So right now you only have to download the app to use the service. You don’t have to create an account or submit any extra personal information or credit card details. Don’t forget, however, that whenever you download an app for Android, you always use your Google account. Due to this, the app might have access to your email-address and be able to link your VPN account to your device and Google account.
Conclusion safety Atlas VPN
- Atlas VPN uses AES-256 bit encryption and the IKEv2 protocol.
- Atlas VPN’s logging policy claims to be “no log”, but logs quite a lot of data, including your IP-address.
- You can only enable Atlas VPN’s kill switch through the settings on your smartphone.
- Atlas VPN barely requires any personal information for you to be able to use it.
Usability – How user friendly is Atlas VPN?
The usability of a VPN plays a large part in determining our score. If a provider’s website is confusing or the software doesn’t function properly, user experience will be negatively affected. On the other hand, a VPN with great live chat support and self-explanatory software will improve user experience. We’ll be testing all of those different aspects to determine the user-friendliness of AtlasVPN in this next section.
The Atlas VPN website
Atlas VPN’s website is one long webpage. It might not be a big surprise that there isn’t a lot of information to be found on the website, since the provider is relatively new and still growing their business. The most useful aspects of the page are links to the App Store and Play Store and an FAQ section that answers a limited number of questions. There isn’t much else to it.
Atlas VPN uses its website to give a short overview of the different features of the VPN without really going into any detail. The “about us” section mostly talks about Atlas’ goals, not about the team behind it. This doesn’t make the provider any more transparent. It is, however, possible to follow Atlas VPN on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. There’s a “support” button in the lower right corner of the webpage that allows you to contact customer support. More on this later.
Finally, Atlas VPN has an active blog on which they regularly post news articles and step-to-step guides on installing their VPN, which might be useful for new users.
Installing Atlas VPN
At the time of writing, Atlas VPN is only available for Android and iOS. We tested the software on an Android phone. Downloading the app was very easy and took no time whatsoever. The installation process goes as follows:
- Go to the official Atlas VPN website and click “Get it on Google Play” (or “Download on the App Store” if you want to use it on iPhone or iPad). You can also use the search function in your app store to find “Atlas VPN”.
- Download the app onto your phone by clicking “Install”. The download process might take a minute.
- Open the app by clicking “Open”.
You can get started immediately without having to create an account. The process is almost the same for iOS. Within minutes, you’ll be able to secure your internet connection with Atlas VPN. The versions for Mac and Windows will be released later this year.
Atlas VPN’s appearance and ease of use
Atlas VPN’s app is very easy to navigate. The first screen that pops up when you open the app consists almost exclusively of a large ‘on’ button. When you press it, you will immediately be connected to the server closest to you. In our case, that was a Dutch server in Amsterdam. The overall appearance of the app is simple and attractive.
The features available for Atlas VPN are somewhat limited. You can choose a server location by swiping up. You can also press the three lines on the side of the screen, which will show you the app’s settings. At the moment of writing, the only available option here is to enable “SafeBrowse”. This feature functions as a type of firewall that keeps you away from malicious online services and websites. We expect that more options will be available soon, perhaps including a kill switch option within the app.
Aside from these more practical settings, the Atlas VPN-app allows you to view your Premium-subscription. You can also access the “Help” section, although this will only give you the same information as the FAQ section on the website. Finally, you’re also given the option to contact Atlas VPN via email.
Pricing and methods of payment
Atlas VPN offers both a free and a premium version of its service. The difference between the two is that Premium gives you access to faster servers as well as specialized servers for streaming. Of course, the Premium version will need to be paid for eventually, even if it is currently available for free.
You don’t have to submit any payment details for the free version of the app. The service is and will remain free of charge. At the moment Atlas VPN is giving away three month long Premium subscriptions for free, meaning you won’t have to submit any details for this version either. Consequentially, there are no prices or payment methods listed for the premium service. It isn’t clear when those will become available.
Atlas VPN’s customer service can be contacted via email. Simply click the “support” button in the bottom right corner of their website and send along attachments, like a screenshot, if needed. You can also contact the support team by going to the “Help” section in the app and scrolling down. Click “contact us” and select your email app. Data about your phone and the version of the app will automatically be attached to your message so customer service help you more effectively.
Even though the customer service claims to be available 24/7, we didn’t get a rapid response. We didn’t receive a reply until four days after we sent our email.
Conclusion usability Atlas VPN
- Atlas VPN’s website doesn’t contain a lot of information, but looks coherent and user-friendly.
- At the moment, Atlas VPN only offers software for Android and iOS.
- Installing the Atlas VPN app is simple and the software is easy to use.
- The app offers very few features so far.
- Atlas VPN is available for free and offers a three month trial period for the Premium account. Prices for the Premium version have not yet been announced.
- Customer service can be contacted through email, but they are quite slow to respond. Support is offered in English as well as in other languages.
Server network Atlas VPN
A brand new VPN like Atlas VPN won’t immediately have thousands of servers, even if other providers such as NordVPN and CyberGhost do. Even so, as a VPN user you probably want at least some options. A server close to your location will help you maintain your internet speed. Aside from that, servers in specific countries could be important if you want to unblock certain online content. In the next section we will look at the various server and server locations Atlas VPN provides.
Number of servers and locations
Atlas VPN has servers in sixteen different countries. They offer nineteen server locations in total, with four servers in the US. Some of these servers are specifically optimalized for streaming, although those are only available for premium users. This small network is a decent start, but we assume it will grow in the future.
Here’s an overview of all Atlas VPN server locations:
|Germany||Frankfurt am Main|
|United States||Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Seattle|
Every country with an Atlas VPN server only has one server location, except for the US, which has four. In total there are nineteen server locations spread out over sixteen countries. The locations are mainly concentrated in Western Europe and North America.
Atlas VPN currently doesn’t offer dedicated IP-addresses. This could change in the future, after they have developed and expanded their software. If you want more information on dedicated IP-addresses or how to use them, you can read this article.
Conclusion server network and locations
- Atlas VPN has 19 server locations in 16 countries.
- Premium users also have access to specialized servers for streaming.
- Atlas VPN does not offer dedicated IP-addresses.
Atlas VPN’s options
Many people use a VPN to watch Netflix content from another country. The following section will look at Atlas VPN’s abilities to help with unblocking this specific content.
Atlas VPN and Netflix
Unfortunately, we were unable to watch Netflix content from other countries with the help of Atlas VPN, even though we were able to view all original Netflix productions. Whenever we wanted to watch a show or movie that’s only available for some countries, we were faced with an error message, claiming we were using a proxy and were therefore denied access. In short, Atlas VPN doesn’t seem able to unblock Netflix content. Shows or films that are, for example, only available on the American version of Netflix are not available through Atlas VPN.
Conclusion – Our experience with Atlas VPN
|Easy to install||Logs your IP-address|
|Simple, user-friendly app||Currently only available for Android and iOS|
|Free VPN||Few features and options|
|Little personal information required to create an account||Not much information available online|
|Decent speeds during daily use||Small server network|
|No dedicated IP-addresses|
|Not suitable for unblocking Netflix|
Atlas VPN is a new VPN on the market and has a unique selling point as they claim to offer a service that’s completely free of charge. On top of that, they’re currently giving out three months of free Premium use to anyone using their service. The software is easy to install and very user-friendly. You’re only one click away from being protected. Finally, the service is quite fast during daily use. Unfortunately, this is where the good things end for Atlas VPN.
The biggest drawback of this VPN is its logging policy. They claim they don’t log any information about you, but at the same time they state that they save your IP-address, data about your device, and communication logs. Therefore, this VPN isn’t a great choice if you value your privacy. On top of that, it currently only offers software for smartphones, it has a very limited server network, and it doesn’t give you access to the American Netflix. Atlas VPN only has a few features available and the website doesn’t give much information about the technology behind the VPN. All we can do is hope that Atlas VPN will fix its flaws and grow to be a better service in the future.