Atlas VPN free review: Limited but fast (2024)

Atlas VPN’s free plan stands out in a crowded market for its impressive features and strong security, and as a new addition to the Nord Security family, it looks set to inherit even more capabilities. As our digital lives become increasingly intertwined with the internet, the need for a free VPN to maintain privacy and security is paramount. Drawing from our extensive experience in testing VPNs, we put Atlas VPN’s free service through our battery of tests to evaluate its strengths and areas for improvement. Below we’ll delve into the provider’s performance in terms of speed, outline its features and privacy protocols, among other questions and concerns people have when choosing a VPN.

30-second review

Rating: ★★1/2

Atlas VPN’s free plan shines with its excellent connection speeds, even exceeding 200Mbps, which facilitates lag-free high-definition video streaming and torrenting across its three server locations. It features a kill switch, peer-to-peer (P2P) capabilities, and the WireGuard protocol, promoting secure and flexible browsing. However, it lacks automatic connection and split tunneling, which could lead to faster data limit exhaustion. Despite minor app issues and third-party trackers on their website, Atlas VPN still offers substantial privacy protection, positioning it as a suitable option for casual users seeking basic privacy features and good performance.

Its speed is impressive, but limited data and restricted features mean Atlas isn’t keeping up with its rivals.

How we research and rate free VPNs

100+

hours performance testing

500+

customer reviews read

100+

hours of research

4

VPN experts consulted

Our researchers are committed to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the best free VPN. We will only recommend a provider after hours of testing, head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews and the opinions of industry experts.

Our Atlas VPN free review score was determined by the following categories:

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

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, download, 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 that our content is as accurate and up to date as possible. To find out more, read our article on how we review VPNs.

Atlas VPN free overview

  • Data limit: 5GB per month
  • Number of servers: 3
  • Server locations: 3
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited
  • AES-256 encryption: Yes
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited no-log policy: No
  • Headquarters: Delaware, USA

Pros and cons

ProsCons
Fast connection speedsLimited server locations
Optimised for streamingSmall data limit compared to competitors
P2P capabilitiesLack of common VPN features

How does Atlas VPN compare to other free services?

What sets Atlas VPN’s free service apart from its top competitors is that it supports streaming and torrenting. However, with only 5GB of data each month, there’s only so many videos you can watch. Its data cap is the tightest of its rivals, and its meagre server count is also the lowest of the group.

Finally, while it has undergone an independent VPN audit of its security practices, this was only for its iOS app and did not include analysis of its no-logs policy. This is fairly normal for a relatively new VPN provider, and the company says further audits are ongoing and due to be published this year.

VPNServersCountriesData limit/monthPlatforms supportedTorrentingUnblocks streamingAudited no-log policy
Atlas VPN Free335GB4YesYes**No***
ProtonVPN Free1523No limit6NoNoYes
PrivadoVPN Free121010GB6NoYes**No
Windscribe Free11112GB – 15GB*12YesYes**No
Hide/me Free VPN5510GB19YesNoYes

*>2GB data requires email verification, social media promotion
** Limited library access; video/audio quality reduced by bandwidth limits
*** Its iOS app had a security audit in 2021, and others are coming this year, but at the time of writing the logging policy has not been independently verified

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

Atlas VPN free features

The free version of Atlas VPN is noted for its excellent connection speeds and impressive streaming unblocking capabilities, while its data limit is capped at 5GB. The free VPN’s standout features include a kill switch, P2P capabilities on every server (making it a useful VPN for torrenting), and support for the WireGuard protocol. However, it does lack split tunnelling (except for Android devices).

In terms of security, Atlas employs the highest available encryption and DNS protections, ensuring a safe and private browsing experience. It also operates under a no-logging policy, though as we note later on, because the company is based in Delaware, USA, it may be subject to local laws that could influence information gathering.

Though the free version only has access to three server locations, two of those (LA and New York) are optimised for streaming. While there are some limitations and areas for improvement, the free version offers a decent suite of features and could be a great choice for casual users not seeking advanced functionalities.

Server count and countries

Atlas VPN offers three server locations for free users – Los Angeles, New York and The Netherlands. However, Atlas doesn’t state how many servers are in each location, nor what type they are. We reached out to its customer service team for clarification, and the team would only confirm they use physical servers in those locations rather than virtual ones.

For paid users, Atlas VPN offers different types of servers that are optimised and equipped to provide specific features, including SafeSwap, streaming-optimised servers and MultiHop+ servers.

Encryption and privacy

Atlas VPN offers many of the industry-standard security features for its free users as well as those who pay for the service. All users benefit from AES-256 encryption and both WireGuard and IPSec/IKEv2 VPN protocols. The free version also features a kill switch, which disconnects your internet if the VPN service drops or is compromised. However, users need to manually disable the kill switch each time they stop using Atlas VPN, or their internet access will remain blocked, even with the VPN inactive​​.

The provider has a no-logging policy, meaning it shouldn’t keep records of your online activities. However, it’s worth noting the company is based in Delaware, USA, meaning it may be subject to local data collection and privacy laws, though the information doesn’t need to be kept after 30 days. The US is also part of Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance, meaning authorities in the other member states – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK – can issue court orders for Atlas to hand over any customer data it might hold. To date, the company has not had its no-logs policy verified.

Within the app, users have a fair amount of control over the security of their connection. Within the settings menu, you can set the free VPN to start automatically when your device is turned on. You can also enable the kill switch or change your VPN protocol.

Other features

SafeBrowse

This tool can be enabled in the Assistant menu in-app and blocks not only ads but malicious websites and third-party tracking.

Data Breach Monitor

This is a very handy feature that lets you scan the web to see whether your email and personal data has been compromised. If it has, the monitor will highlight which login credentials you need to change.

Atlas VPN performance test results

To ensure a VPN meets the desired level of security, speed and reliability, Independent Advisor follows a comprehensive testing process that examines the following factors:

  1. Connection speed: Our first step is to assess the internet speed without the VPN connected. To this end, we use tools such as Speedtest.net. Subsequently, we establish a connection to the VPN and conduct another speed test. While it’s typical for a VPN to introduce a slight reduction in speed due to encryption overhead, our focus is on identifying substantial drops that could impact your browsing or streaming activities. We meticulously examine download and upload speeds, as well as latency, across different server locations to determine their performance.
  2. Security verification: To ensure your privacy, we employ services like IPLeak.net to detect any potential DNS leaks that may expose your true location even while connected to a VPN. Additionally, we scrutinise for WebRTC leaks that could inadvertently disclose your IP address.

Our researchers adhered to these precise benchmarks while evaluating the performance of Atlas VPN.

Speed test results

Download Speed (Mbps)Degradation (% of base value)Upload Speed (Mbps)Degradation (% of base value)LatencyLatency % increase from base value
No VPN89.1683.753ms
UK to Netherlands82.8793%79.3995%112ms3633%
UK to New York74.3983%48.7358%180ms5900%
UK to Los Angeles71.8681%69.3183%179ms5867%

Its servers for free users may be limited, but it must be said that Atlas’ free VPN is fast. Not quite believing the speeds, our researcher tested their download speeds over and over again, and on the US servers, they never dropped below 80 per cent of the base value witout the VPN. The Netherlands’ server was even faster, nearly on par with the base value speed. Latency was a bit of a problem, increasing quite significantly, but we didn’t notice any demonstrable effects on performance. Pages loaded quickly, as did videos on YouTube. We were also able to access streaming using Atlas’ LA and New York servers, which are optimised for that process. Overall, we were rather impressed by the speed of Atlas’ free VPN.

WebRTC leak test

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) serves as a technology facilitating direct peer-to-peer communication within web browsers. Its functionality extends to real-time applications like voice and video chat.

While WebRTC proves highly advantageous, it can also give rise to a security concern referred to as a WebRTC leak. This occurs when your authentic IP address is unintentionally divulged by WebRTC, even when you employ a VPN or proxy to conceal it. The underlying reason for this occurrence is that WebRTC needs your real IP address to establish a direct connection between browsers, potentially bypassing the protective measures of the VPN.

We repeatedly tested each of Atlas VPN’s free servers for such leaks, and we’re pleased to say it passed each time. It’s perhaps worth noting that when connected to the New York server, IPLeak showed us as connected to a server in Haviland, Kansas, which seemed strange considering the company told us all of its free servers were physical ones.

Breaches and audits

Atlas VPN has not had any major security breaches in the last five years. The company has also completed an independent cybersecurity audit, which did not reveal any significant vulnerabilities that could have been exploited to affect users. It’s worth noting, though, that this audit was only of its VPN app for iPhone and did not include verification of its no-logs policy. Further audits are reportedly in progress.

The iOS audit was conducted by VerSprite, a US-based cybersecurity consulting firm, which did find a few medium-to-low risk issues, but these were deemed not sufficient to compromise user privacy. The Atlas VPN team has already begun addressing the vulnerabilities identified in the audit and has committed to transparency by sharing these findings with their customers​​.

Shortly after its audit, Atlas VPN was acquired by Nord Security (the owner of NordVPN and Surfshark) and is now part of Nord’s corporate structure. As such, it is required to follow its parent company’s core principles of transparency and trustworthiness and is subject to regular third-party audits​​.

In response to a law introduced in India in 2022 that requires VPN providers operating in the country to keep identifying logs of their users, Atlas VPN, like many other providers, removed its servers from India​​.

As for privacy practices, Atlas VPN’s privacy policy states the company does not log any user activity or any other data. Any data needed for creating a VPN connection is wiped when customers disconnect. The company confirmed it does not sell user data to pay for the free service, saying its only source of revenue is customer subscriptions for the paid version. Atlas does gather some information on app usage and customer devices, such as device model and OS version, and it uses ad identifiers, which are IDs assigned by app stores to mobile devices. However, it is possible to reset your ad ID yourself​.

Compatibility and apps

Atlas VPN is compatible with a variety of devices and operating systems. It can be installed on Windows 10 (64-bit), MacOS 11.0, Android 7, Fire OS 7, iOS 14, Linux Ubuntu and ChromeOS. With a premium subscription, there is also a VPN app for Firestick and Android TV, but these are not available for free users. The company says it is constantly working to improve the app and plans to make it available to customers using other operating systems in the future​​.

The desktop and mobile VPN apps are very similar, and very simple to use. From the home screen, you can quickly connect to your desired location; however, as free users only have access to two US servers and one in The Netherlands, you either need to scroll down through the geographic hierarchy to find them or use the search bar. A handy bar counter in the bottom right displays how much of your 5GB data cap you’ve used, and a side menu lets you navigate between Home, Settings and the Assistant menu. In this latter menu, you can enable Atlas VPN’s Data Breach Monitor and SafeBrowse tool. In the settings menu, you can enable tools like the kill switch or choose your VPN protocol.

Overall, the app is easy to use, but it could be more intuitive if the company updated the user interface so that it’s faster to access the free servers.

Customer support

Atlas VPN does have a live chat portal to communicate with its customer support team, but this is only available to those paying for a premium plan. Free users can contact the support team in the following ways:

  1. Email: Users can send an email to the support inbox at support@atlasvpn.zendesk.com with details of their issue or request.
  2. Request form: Free users can also fill out a request form for customer service assistance. This form is available on the website or within the app.

In our tests, we found the form was often an obstacle to getting an answer. When we typed out our subject line in the form, a drop-down of related FAQ articles appeared, and when it thought it had a match, it automatically redirected us from the request form to the page it deemed relevant. This is good, in theory, but the page didn’t always answer the question, which meant having to navigate back to the request form and trying to think of an alternative way to ask the same question without triggering the redirect. Email was much more straightforward, and we got a response to our query within 24 hours.

Atlas VPN does provide 24/7 support for all its customers, regardless of whether they have a free or premium subscription, which is a nice plus for a free VPN. As mentioned above, there is also a good selection of FAQs on its website, which can help users troubleshoot their issue or figure out how to set up the VPN on various devices.

What do customers say?

On Trustpilot, Atlas VPN scores 4.2 out of five stars overall, with 71 per cent of reviews giving it the full five stars. Many reviewers praise the quick and concise help provided by the customer support team, as well as its fast connection speeds.

“After a long search for a VPN and reading the conflicting reviews, reports and opinions, I was a little confused, but I was recommended [to try] Atlas VPN. I tried the free version first before upgrading to the premium [plan] and I have to say I’m very impressed.”

On the Apple App Store and Google Play store, Atlas notches scores of 4.6 and 4.2 out of five, respectively.

“Day one – I’m thrilled there’s absolutely no lag with loading web pages in Chrome. Most of my apps work flawlessly now. I don’t have to keep turning off the wifi to get a text message [or] to send, either. I was having so many issues – even with having antiviral software on my phone. Atlas VPN has been the cure for what was ailing my cell. With that being said, there are apps that refuse to load while Atlas is turned on. Netflix and Amazon, just to name a few. Overall, Atlas VPN is great!”

  • Karren Campbell, via Google Play

Independent Advisor’s verdict

Compared to other VPNs, Atlas VPN’s free tier offers some of the most impressive connection speeds you’ll find, even allowing for high-definition video streaming without lag or buffering, and successful P2P file sharing. But speed isn’t everything. For instance, we found the 5GB data limit pretty limiting. Just in an afternoon of testing the VPN, we used nearly 2GB of the allotted data. So we feel it wouldn’t be sustainable for a whole month for many users.

The service also has some other limitations, such as a very small number of server locations and some usability issues we found when trying to contact customer support. Some people might have concerns, too, with the lack of a full audit (only its iOS app to date). Yes, Atlas is a relative newcomer, having launched in 2019, but many users looking for a VPN for Android or a VPN for PC will be waiting for those audit results.

Overall, though, Atlas provides a decent level of service for a free VPN, and considering it was just bought by the giant NordVPN, many of these audit and usability issues might soon get a kickstart.

Score: ★★1/2

Read our review of Atlas VPN’s paid plan.

Score breakdown

Reputation★★
Privacy★★★
Performance and features★★★
Plans and pricing value★1/2
Customer experience★1/2

Frequently asked questions

Round up of today's best VPN deals

NordVPN 2 year £2.79 /Month

£2.79 /Month

Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month

£1.79 /Month

ExpressVPN 12 month £5.48 /Month

£5.48 /Month

CyberGhost 2 year £1.92 /Month

£1.92 /Month

Proton 2 year £4.29 /Month

£4.29 /Month

PIA 2 year £1.69 /Month

£1.69 /Month

Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month

£1.34 /Month

PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month

£1.99 /Month

Windscribe 12 month £4.52 /Month

£4.52 /Month

IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month

£3.58 /Month

Legal disclaimer

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.

Jeff Meyer

Writer

Jeff is a highly experienced editor and journalist with extensive experience in the tech industry, as well as for the automotive and DIY sectors, writing for both B2C and B2B brands. Jeff has tested all manner of tech, from cameras to phones to EVs and home appliances. In his 23 years as a writer and editor, Jeff has written for global tech titles like TechRadar and Digital Camera World, as well as brands such as eBay, Canon, Panasonic, Eero, and many more. In addition to editorial, Jeff also has many years experience producing video and podcasts. He is also passionate about renewable energy and green living, and explaining this technology to new audiences.

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Atlas VPN is a free VPN service that offers impressive features and strong security. It is a new addition to the Nord Security family, which suggests that it will inherit even more capabilities. The need for a free VPN to maintain privacy and security is becoming increasingly important as our digital lives become more intertwined with the internet.

According to a review of Atlas VPN's free plan, it has several strengths. It offers excellent connection speeds, with speeds exceeding 200Mbps, which allows for lag-free high-definition video streaming and torrenting. It also features a kill switch, peer-to-peer (P2P) capabilities, and uses the WireGuard protocol for secure and flexible browsing. The review also mentions that Atlas VPN provides substantial privacy protection, positioning it as a suitable option for casual users seeking basic privacy features and good performance [[1]].

However, there are some limitations to Atlas VPN's free plan. It lacks automatic connection and split tunneling, which could lead to faster data limit exhaustion. The data limit for the free plan is 5GB per month, which is relatively small compared to its competitors. Additionally, Atlas VPN has a limited number of server locations, which may be a drawback for some users [[1]].

In terms of privacy and security, Atlas VPN employs AES-256 encryption and operates under a no-logging policy. However, it is worth noting that the company is based in Delaware, USA, which means it may be subject to local data collection and privacy laws. The review mentions that Atlas VPN has not had its no-logs policy independently verified. It is also part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which means authorities in member states can issue court orders for customer data. However, Atlas VPN states that it does not log any user activity or sell user data to pay for the free service [[1]].

Atlas VPN offers three server locations for free users: Los Angeles, New York, and The Netherlands. The review does not specify the number of servers in each location. For paid users, Atlas VPN offers different types of servers that are optimized for specific features [[1]].

Overall, Atlas VPN's free plan provides decent performance and features for casual users. Its impressive connection speeds and privacy protection make it a suitable option for basic privacy needs. However, the limited data cap and server locations may be a drawback for some users. It is important to note that the review is based on the performance and features of Atlas VPN's free plan and does not cover its paid plans [[1]].

Atlas VPN free review: Limited but fast (2024)
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