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Atlas VPN review: Paid features and servers tested

Verified by Molly Dyson

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are becoming increasingly popular as a tool for safeguarding online privacy and security. They provide a service that creates a secure, encrypted connection between a user’s device and the internet, effectively hiding their online activities from prying eyes. 

By encrypting all traffic between their device and the internet, VPN users can prevent their internet service provider (ISP), government agencies, or hackers from seeing their online activities. They can also hide their IP address, making it much harder for websites and advertisers to track their online movements and build a profile of their interests and habits. 

Atlas VPN was founded in 2019, providing users with both free and paid subscription services. In 2021, it joined Nord Security with the aim of making safe, open internet accessible for everyone, irrespective of their budget or technical ability. 

With more than 750 servers worldwide, robust security protocols, unlimited simultaneous connections, and student discounts, Atlas VPN is worth a closer look.

60-second review

Rating: ★★★½

Atlas VPN provides a reliable and robust VPN service for those wanting online security and anonymity. It uses strong encryption protocols, allows unlimited connections, and has a free version available. While its download speeds are not outstandingly fast, they deliver a good online experience, and the latency is comparable with other VPNs we tested. However, it lacks independent verification for its no-logs policy, and doesn’t possess the server numbers or breadth of location that other VPN providers offer. 

Atlas VPN is a good place to start if you’re interested in seeing what a VPN can offer and have never used one before. As you refine what you need from a provider, other services may deliver a better fit.

How we research and rate VPNs

100+
hours performance testing
600+
customer reviews read
100+
hours of research
25
competitors compared
4
VPN experts consulted

Our reviewers are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when buying a VPN. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, extensive head-to-head feature comparisons, and after considering verified customer feedback and reviews, and the opinions of industry experts.

Our review scores are determined by the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30 per cent)
  • Features and functionality (30 per cent)
  • Reputation and credibility (25 per cent)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10 per cent)
  • Customer experience (5 per cent)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories, including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload and download speeds, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured our content is as accurate and up to date as possible. Read our article on how we review VPNs.

Atlas VPN overview

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Free subscription option No privacy audits
Unlimited simultaneous connections No RAM-only servers
IP swapping servers Poor functionality in Windows app
Multi-hop connections Small number of server locations (49)
Log in issues

How does Atlas VPN compare?

Since 2021, Atlas VPN has been part of Nord Security, the parent company of NordVPN, and while it’s still small by comparison, it’s expected to match its stablemate in terms of growth and features. However, it still has some way to go. 

One of the big issues with Atlas VPN regards its no-logs policy. Although it claims not to retain user data, there have been no independent audits to verify this. Most VPN providers request regular independent audits to establish that their users’ personal information is not kept, and to provide reassurance to that extent. Peakstar Technologies Inc, from Delaware, US, is the company Atlas VPN names as controlling its users’ personal data, but without an independent audit, the provider has missed an opportunity to prove itself safe and reliable. 

While on this topic, it’s also worth noting that Atlas VPN servers are not RAM only. Atlas VPN uses the more traditional method of storing data on hard drives until it’s erased or written over, meaning there is a chance sensitive user information could be retained. Random Access Memory (RAM) is a volatile memory, which wipes any data the instant the server reboots, and all information associated with that session is permanently removed.

Many providers, including NordVPN, CyberGhost, and Surfshark, now include RAM-only servers in their portfolio. If you want the added security RAM-only servers afford, Atlas VPN may not be your best choice. 

Atlas VPN is one of the cheapest VPN services on the market, even offering discounts for students wanting its two-year subscription plan. It also allows unlimited simultaneous device connections – one of the few providers that does. A free version is also available and ranks among the best free VPNs, according to our researchers. While this delivers similar benefits to the premium packages, with unlimited devices, ad blockers and no speed limits, it does limit server locations for users, which could be an issue if you need a server in a particular country.

VPN provider Price Free version? Number of servers Maximum number of devices Netflix BBC iPlayer Disney+ Amazon HBO Max Audit?
Atlas VPN From £1.49/m Yes 750+ Unlimited No
ExpressVPN From £5.36/m No 3,000+ 5 Yes
NordVPN From £2.79/m No 5,500+ 6 Yes
Surfshark From £1.80/m No 3,200+ Unlimited Yes
CyberGhost From £1.85/m No 9,000+ 7 Yes

Some prices exclusive of VAT or local taxes. Prices correct as of 11/7/2023
Best alternative to
NordVPN is one of the most trusted VPN providers in the world, offering top-notch encryption, incredible speeds, and extra features to make all your online activities more secure.
4.5
Excellent Trustpilot rating
24/7 customer support
AES-256 encryption
VIEW PLANS At NordVPN

How much does Atlas VPN cost?

Atlas VPN is one of the only top-level providers to offer a free version, and although it has limitations, such as the server locations, it gives users a chance to try it before committing. As a result, Atlas VPN calls itself a “freemium” service. 

It offers three different subscription terms – monthly, yearly and two-yearly, with correspondingly different price points. Like most providers, Altas VPN tempts users with steep discounts if they sign up for long-term subscriptions. Once the initial term ends, your plan will automatically renew at the one-year subscription price at the time of renewal. Changing the default setting or cancelling a subscription cannot be done from the control panel; instead, users must contact customer support, which isn’t as convenient as other providers’ cancellation process.

All subscription plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, similar to the guarantees given by other providers, excluding Surfshark, which offers a 45-day guarantee.

Subscription term Price
Monthly £9.83 ($12.21) / month
12 months £2.69 ($3.34) / month (£32.32/$40.16 up front)
24 months (+3 months free) £1.49 ($1.85) / month (£40.34/$50.13 up front for 27 months)

Prices may exclude VAT or local taxes. Prices correct as of 24/5/2023

Payment options

Atlas VPN provides several payment options:

  • All major credit/debit cards, including Discover and JCB
  • PayPal
  • GooglePay
  • Cryptocurrency
Compare our top recommended providers
Best Overall
Get up to 67% off
Best Value
Get 79% off + 2 months free
Best All-rounder
3 months free on the 12 month plan
Best for Gaming
Get 82% off + 2 months extra

Atlas VPN features

Atlas VPN offers a feature-packed service, starting with its innovative SafeSwap privacy feature.

SafeSwap

Developed by Atlas VPN’s engineers, SafeSwap allows you to have a number of different IP addresses that rotate while you’re online, providing another layer of anonymity. 

VPNs reroute your internet connection through servers, meaning that your actual IP address remains hidden, and only the server’s IP is visible. SafeSwap routes your internet connection through a pool of different IP addresses, which automatically rotate as you move between online sessions, making your activities even harder to track.  

Atlas VPN servers offering SafeSwap are located in Amsterdam, Singapore, and Los Angeles, and unfortunately, it’s only available as part of its paid packages.  

MultiHop+

Working similarly to SafeSwap and the double VPN features offered by other providers, MultiHop+ selects random exit servers from Atlas VPN’s pool of global servers, rotating between them as you browse. It also allows you to benefit from double encryption. Used when government tracking in highly restricted countries needs to be bypassed, MultiHop+ servers are currently available in North America and Europe. 

SafeBrowse

Atlas VPN’s SafeBrowse is designed to prevent tracking and block malware by disabling third-party trackers and stopping you from entering malicious websites. 

Data breach monitoring

Data breaches can occur due to accidental or deliberate causes, but the results are the same – the loss, alteration, or unauthorised disclosure of your personal information. This can include your address, emails, passwords, and financial data. According to Statista, the US alone saw more than 422 million individuals impacted by data breaches in 2022. 

To combat this, Atlas VPN’s data breach monitor continually scans every publicly leaked database for your credentials, alerting you if they have been exposed. Subscribers can check any number of email accounts, while free version users are limited to one account. Many other providers we’ve reviewed, including NordVPN, offer data breach monitoring.

Server count and countries

With 750 servers spanning 49 locations, Atlas VPN is on the lower end of the server spectrum, and although most are located in Europe and North America, it does cover some countries that many providers don’t, including Mexico, Chile, and the UAE. Other than South Africa, the African continent is disappointingly devoid of servers. By comparison, CyberGhost and Surfshark have servers throughout Africa.

Although none of Atlas VPN’s servers are RAM only, they do offer WireGuard and IPSEC/IKEv2 security protocols, private DNS, and are peer-to-peer (P2P) friendly. Private DNS servers provide custom nameservers that can be used with your domain names, while P2P servers allow secure file-sharing between large user groups – many multiplayer video games utilise this type of server. 

At the time of writing, only three locations offer SafeSwap, and although Atlas VPN markets itself as a specialised streaming VPN, only 12 of its servers are optimised for this.

No-logs policy and headquarters

Atlas VPN claims to have a solid no-logs policy, collecting no details of user activities, DNS queries, or other personal data. However, its privacy policy states it does collect “some information to provide our service for you, improve and optimise it, deliver you relevant information, create new and better privacy services and comply with our legal obligations”.

This includes your email address and payment information, such as your postcode, full name and credit card details, which are passed on to its third-party payment processors. Atlas VPN also collects your social media profile, post information, and access logs, including your IP address, browser type, and operating system. While there’s nothing to indicate that Atlas VPN logs your online activities, it still has enough data to build a pretty illustrative user profile.

What our researchers find more worrying is the lack of an independent audit verifying Atlas VPN’s no-logs policy. It has had an independent security audit, however VerSprite has only tested the functionality of the iOS app, while MDSec has done the same for the Windows app. NordVPN, CyberGhost, Surfshark and ExpressVPN, among others, have committed to robust external audits, and we feel this is something Atlas VPN should also provide. 

Atlas VPN has its headquarters in Delaware, meaning it operates under the legal jurisdiction of the US, which doesn’t have any data retention laws but lags behind many other countries in terms of data protection regulations. This means companies such as Atlas can be ordered to share whatever user data they have with authorities. The US is also a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which means other jurisdictions can also issue court orders for user data.

Kill switch

A kill switch is designed to temporarily halt your access to the internet when your VPN connection drops, protecting your online privacy. Atlas VPN includes this feature as part of its free and paid subscription packages. 

Our researchers found that it immediately stepped in if the connection became unstable; however, it lacked an auto-reconnect option, meaning we had to reconnect manually. Although this is a minor issue, it could prove frustrating if you carried on browsing, thinking you were reconnected through the secure server.

Split tunnelling

Split tunnelling allows you to select which apps require VPN protection and which don’t, sending the ones that do through an encrypted tunnel while any remaining traffic travels across your normal network. 

Atlas VPN allows you to toggle split tunnelling on and off, but it’s only available on the Android app at present.

Encryption and privacy

VPN encryption refers to scrambling the data that travels from your device, through the server to the internet. From the server, it’s sent through an encrypted tunnel, hiding it from sight and preventing data leaks.

Like many other providers, Atlas VPN employs WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols to ensure users’ privacy, as well as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-256 to encrypt data. Approved by the US National Security Agency (NSA), AES-256 transforms information into indecipherable code using complex algorithms, making it almost impossible for anyone to break.

Atlas VPN also uses ChaCha20 for symmetric encryption, Poly1305 for verifying data integrity and authenticity, BLAKE2s to add another security layer, and SHA-384 for message authentication. These four extra security measures give Atlas VPN the edge over other providers such as NordVPN and Surfshark.

Atlas VPN performance test results

The best way to find out how a VPN affects a user’s internet speed is to test it. 

There are three main components to consider when testing internet speed, with or without a VPN: download speed, upload speed and latency (ping).

  • Download speed: The rate at which digital data is transferred from the internet to your device.
  • Upload speed: The rate that data is transferred from your device to the internet. 
  • Latency (ping): The time it takes for a set of data to be transmitted to a server on the internet and back to your device again. 

Our researchers thoroughly tested Atlas VPN to establish how using the service affected internet download and upload speeds. First, we tested the speeds without the VPN to obtain a baseline with which to calculate the degradation between the speeds with and without the service activated. Then we moved on to test speeds from the UK to servers on other continents. Our researchers used the Ookla Speedtest for this review.

Speed test results without Atlas VPN activated
Speed test result without Atlas VPN turned on. This is our base line. The numbers along the bottom of the image are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test, measured in megabytes.
Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 37.5 9.4 8
UK to UK 35.6 8.85 12 94% 94%
UK to US 32.47 8.87 98 86% 94%
UK to Australia 27.05 8.76 280 72% 93%

When assessing how a VPN impacts your internet connection, download speed and latency are key indicators. To achieve a good online experience, you want a download speed of above 25Mbps (megabits per second), although some activities, such as gaming, call for a higher speed. 

Latency looks at the time (in milliseconds) data takes to travel to and from a destination. A latency of more than 150ms will generate a noticeable lag, with video conferencing becoming difficult and gamers experiencing a long delay in their character’s actions. A latency of less than 50ms is the goal to produce optimum performance.   

Using Atlas VPN to connect from our UK base to a UK server, we achieved download speeds aligned with many other providers we tested. Surfshark produced marginally better speeds at 36.01Mbps, and ExpressVPN gave us 36.77Mbps. However, Atlas VPN beat the latter with a latency of 12ms, the same as Surfshark. 

Atlas VPN UK to UK
Speed test result when connected to a UK Atlas VPN server from the UK.

The UK to US connection gave us 32.47Mbps – a degradation of 14 per cent from the baseline – which was slower than CyberGhost, Surfshark, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN. With a latency of 98ms, we noticed a slight lag, although not enough to cause an issue.

Atlas VPN UK to US
Speed test result when connected to an Atlas VPN US server.

Connecting from a UK server to Australia caused unsurprisingly slow download speeds of 27.05Mbps. Only ExpressVPN, at an alarming 11.66Mbps, was noticeably slower. A latency of 280ms made online video calls and gaming impossible.  

Atlas VPN UK to Australia
Speed test result when connected to an Atlas VPN server in Australia from the UK.

Overall, Atlas VPN delivered speeds and latency that matched our experiences with other providers.

WebRTC leak test

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is a modern technology that enables real-time communication between web browsers without additional plugins or add-ons. Although WebRTC enables seamless communication, it can inadvertently expose your real IP address, even when using a privacy service. This is known as a WebRTC leak, which can compromise your online privacy and security. A WebRTC leak test is designed to detect such leaks.

Our researchers conducted a number of leak tests to detect whether their real IP addresses were exposed. Without using an Atlas VPN server, IP addresses and locations were clearly visible, but once connected to the VPN, only the IP address of the servers were recorded, meaning Atlas VPN passed our WebRTC leak test.

Breaches and audits

There are no security breaches within the public domain regarding Atlas VPN. 

Many reputable providers undergo third-party audits to evaluate and verify their security and privacy claims. To date, Atlas has failed to provide its users with the reassurance that it does not log user data, although its iOS and Windows apps have passed separate security audits. Although the absence of an audit does not necessarily indicate a lack of privacy, it is considered best practice for VPN providers to have an independent review.

Compatibility and apps

Atlas VPN offers compatibility across various devices and operating systems.

Desktop and mobile apps:

  • Windows 7 and later versions
  • MacOS – MacBook, iMac, and Mac models with High Sierra 10.13 and later
  • Linux 
  • iOS
  • Android

TV apps:

  • Android TV
  • Fire TV

Desktop app

Before we look at Atlas VPN’s desktop app, we do have to mention its login method. We’re all familiar with logins that require passwords, but Atlas sends a login link to your email address instead. Several of our researchers had to repeat the process as many as eight times, with the emailed link not working each time, before finally achieving a successful login. While this might not be a problem for an individual user accessing the service on one device, it can become tedious when trying to install apps on multiple devices.

Once in, however, we found a clean and straightforward interface, with easy navigation allowing us to quickly connect to the closest server and choose a specific location or server type. However, the list could be improved by adding each location’s distance from you and its latency rate, as is the case with NordVPN. It would also be good to see a way to differentiate between the servers in a location. For example, the three New York servers are all labelled the same, and the ability to rename them would make finding a particular server easier. 

With a large connect button taking up a large portion of the screen, there’s no mistaking when you’re connected, and it’s simple to customise your experience under the settings and assistant menus. Although the text could be a little clearer, the simplicity of Atlas VPN’s interface makes it suitable for both novices and experienced users.

Mobile app

Atlas VPN’s mobile app, available for Android and iOS devices, boasts a crisp-looking, intuitive interface with a few more options than the desktop app. It should be noted, however, that split tunnelling is only available on Android devices. 

We particularly liked the optional haptic feedback, meaning your device vibrates when the VPN connects and disconnects. It’s important to know if you have online protection, and the more ways a service can alert you to this, the better.

Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Atlas VPN mobile apps, both in terms of design and performance.

Router compatibility

Atlas doesn’t appear to offer compatibility with routers, according to its website.

Atlas VPN customer support

Atlas VPN has an extensive list of troubleshooting articles, but if you need to contact customer services, there is an email form, and it claims to reply as soon as possible. Our researchers found in most cases, they received a reply within one to two hours. 

Paid subscription customers can contact customer support via the 24/7 live chat under account settings. This was the quickest way to contact support and receive practical answers to our questions.

What do customers say?

  • Trustpilot: 4.3 (247 reviews)
  • Apple App Store: 4.7 (5,500 reviews)
  • Google Play: 4.2 (100,000 reviews)

Atlas VPN has a Trustpilot rating of 4.3 out of five, with 78 per cent of reviews awarding it four or five stars. Many users mention its affordability, functionality, and good customer service experience.   

Conversely, 17 per cent of customer reviews give the service one star, with reviews citing a high level of spam being sent and poor customer support. 

“The app does what it is supposed to do and at an attractive price compared to its competitors. The support is also very good! I can recommend the app with a clear conscience.”

“The difference between Japanese Knotweed and Atlas VPN is that Japanese Knotweed is easier to get rid of. Despite unsubscribing and asking 12 times to delete my account and stop spamming me, within one hour I received more spam.”

Google Play reviews gave Atlas 4.1 out of five, with a similar star ratio to Trustpilot. Atlas VPN has responded to several negative reviews, suggesting customers get in touch to resolve their issues. 

“Doesn’t work well on Android. When you try to access some of the settings, the screen won’t scroll, preventing it from setting some of the options. One example of this [is] split tunnelling. It does not scroll, meaning that this feature is unavailable. Happy I only paid for a month of this. It’ll be one and done on this!”

Apple’s App Store awards Atlas 4.7 out of five, giving it its highest score from the three sites we checked. 

“I am a certified ethical hacker; it’s my job to hack things from websites to applications to clients, all the way down to smart fridges and other IOT devices. Which is all very easy if one knows such things. But by someone simply enabling Atlas VPN, it makes it absolutely impossible. As a user you will gain end-to-end military-grade encryption with the push of a button. From my personal experience with VPNs, so far my favourite is Atlas and has been for a while.” 

Independent Advisor’s verdict

Atlas VPN is a reliable service, offering robust encryption and a user-friendly experience across its apps. Our researchers found the speeds and latency comparable with the other providers reviewed – not outstanding but perfectly acceptable. 

Atlas VPN provides a good range of features. While not as laden as NordVPN or CyberGhost, it delivers a package that even novices can navigate while maintaining online security. We particularly liked the SafeSwap feature and would like to see it rolled out in more locations. To provide the type of global service the company is aiming for, more servers across a greater expanse of countries is a goal to work towards, and now it has partnered with Nord Security, that rollout has become more likely. 

However, one big issue with Atlas VPN is its lack of an independent privacy audit. This needs to be addressed in order to attract and reassure users that it takes their privacy seriously, particularly as the company’s headquarters are in the US – a country with lax data protection laws and a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. 

Overall, Atlas VPN delivers a good service, offering online security, unlimited device connections, and an intuitive mobile interface at an affordable price point. 

Overall score: ★★★½

Score breakdown

Reputation ★★½
Privacy ★★★
Performance and features ★★★★½
Plans and pricing value ★★★★½
Customer experience ★★★★
Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.79 /Month
£6.79 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.26 /Month
£4.26 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.60 /Month
£4.60 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £2.92 /Month
£2.92 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Katharine Allison

Energy Saving Writer

As Independent Advisor’s energy saving expert, Katharine, a keen advocate for sustainability, is an authority on solar panels, double glazing, and cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Her dedication merges with a commitment to enlighten and steer readers toward embracing eco-friendly solutions and the latest trends in sustainability.

With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.