Free Atlas VPN Review | technological radar

Free Atlas VPN Review | technological radar

Atlas VPN is a competent provider with an attractive free VPN plan that beats most of the larger services.

As with most free VPNs, there is a bandwidth cap, but it's generous at 10 GB per month (or 2 GB per day for Mac users).

You are limited to three locations: the Netherlands, Los Angeles, and New York. That's better than Hotspot Shield's US-only plan, but it can't match Windscribe's 14 locations in 11 countries.

A decent set of apps is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. However, the free version limits you to two simultaneous connections, so you may not be able to use the VPN on all your hardware at once.

Although the free plan leaves out a handful of app features (auto connect, tracker blocker, and data breach monitor), Atlas VPN hasn't crippled the service by leaving out anything important. You still get the kill switch, for example, WireGuard and P2P support available on all servers. Sounds like a free service that you could really use for the long haul.

If you're new to the Atlas VPN name, know that the service is now owned by Nord Security, the company behind NordVPN. That doesn't mean it's a NordVPN clone; providers work independently and use their own technology.

Atlas VPN kill switch

Atlas VPN has a kill switch to protect your identity if the VPN goes down (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

Privacy and registration

Going for a free VPN shouldn't come with any compromise on privacy, and Atlas VPN apps provide the key technical underpinnings. Strong encryption via WireGuard and IKEv2/IPSec protocols protects your traffic from snoops, while Private DNS protects your browsing history, and a kill switch aims to protect you even if your VPN connection goes down.

Our tests also revealed that the apps worked as advertised. The kill switch had one or two usability issues (see the full Atlas VPN review for more details), but it successfully blocked our internet traffic every time the VPN crashed. And the apps passed our leak tests, too, with no signs of DNS leaks or other issues.

The company does not always treat your privacy as we would like. Submit your email address to open an account and it automatically entitles you to receive marketing emails unless you specify otherwise, eg. And the Windows app sends usage details to Atlas VPN unless you turn the feature off. There is no reason to believe that the app shares something harmful, but we believe that providers should not take such action unless they have your informed permission.

The Atlas VPN website also came to our attention when Blacklight Privacy Inspector (opens in a new tab) discovered that it contained various technologies and web trackers. (Even Atlas VPN seems concerned: In a previous review, we found that their tracker blocker blocked two of the trackers on their own site.)

There's a little extra here to ensure independent auditing, but it's basic and only covers the iOS app. You can't begin to compete with a provider like TunnelBear, who now conduct annual audits of their applications, servers, and more.

Windows Atlas VPN Application

Atlas VPN's Windows client isn't the neatest app interface-wise (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

windows app

Atlas VPN's Windows app looks cluttered than most, with status information, panels, tabs, and menus scattered across the console. It just seems a bit more complex than necessary.

The list of locations has its own usability issues. Free servers are not displayed at the top of the list, for example. If you don't know what's available, you can waste time scrolling through the full set to find out. And there's no favorites system to speed up reconnections, either.

Atlas VPN App for Windows Disconnected

Though it may look messy, the Windows app still gets the job done well enough on a basic level (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

If your VPN needs are simple, it may not matter as much. At the very least, you can simply click Connect to go to the nearest Atlas VPN server, disconnect when you're done, and that's it. We found everything to work fine, with the app connecting in seconds and then delivering decent speeds with no connection drops during the review.

Advanced users won't be impressed with the app's list of basic features. WireGuard support helps provide good speeds for a free VPN, and the kill switch does a capable job of protecting you if the VPN goes down. But as we mentioned above, the paid app auto login feature, tracking blocker and data breach monitor are not included here. And neither the free nor paid Windows apps have split tunneling, stealthy support for bypassing VPN blocking, custom DNS settings, protocol tweaks, or anything slightly advanced.

mac application

Atlas VPN's Mac app is similar to the Windows version, which is good news if you're using both (learn one, you'll immediately know how to use the other).

There's an odd difference in the list of locations: Unlike the Windows edition, the Mac app is sorted alphabetically by continent, with Asia at the top, forcing you to scroll down to access the free servers. It's a very small problem, but would it really have been that difficult for Mac and Windows apps to display the locations in the same order?

If you just hit the Connect button, of course it won't matter much. And overall, the app worked well for us, connecting quickly and providing reliable speeds. Factor in the generous data allowance of 2 GB per day and that's good news.

As with Windows, the feature list doesn't go much beyond kill switch, support for IKEv2 and WireGuard protocols. However, there is an added bonus, in the form of Atlas VPN's SafeBrowse, which aims to block malicious websites. It's a surprise, since the Atlas VPN website says that SafeBrowse is only available in the paid edition, but hey, we're not complaining.

Atlas VPN App for Android

The Android app has a very sparse interface (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

Apps for Android and iOS

While most providers try to make their mobile apps look and function the same, the Android and iOS versions of Atlas VPN are very different.

The Android app has a clean portrait interface, with little more than a Connect button and a menu bar. The very different landscape design of the iOS version makes much better use of screen real estate, with the Connect button, slots, and other details visible on the front.

Atlas VPN Split Tunneling

Android software gives you a bonus in the form of a split tunnel (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

The features here are very similar. As with desktop, support for WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols offers decent speeds, and a kill switch protects you if the VPN goes down. The Android app adds an extra advantage in split tunneling, but there isn't much else to it.

We don't expect a lot of power from a free VPN, though, and what you get works pretty well. One tap and you'll be online quickly, speeds are decent, and we had no VPN drops or other issues.

Performance test Speedtest.net

Atlas VPN worked well for a free VPN in our speed tests (Image credit: Speedtest.net)

Performance

We couldn't run our full VPN performance tests on Atlas VPN Free because it requires much more data than the 10GB monthly allotment, but we did manage to run 10 SpeedTest app checks from a UK data center with a 1Gbps connection. , more than enough to see what the service could do.

The results were impressive, with our WireGuard connection hitting an average speed of 320 Mbps. That's a little less than half of what we'd expect to see from paid VPNs, but it beats most of the free competition. Only PrivadoVPN and Proton VPN scored higher in recent tests.

Atlas VPN WireGuard Protocol

The results with the WireGuard protocol have been impressive (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

Atlas VPN warns that its free service does not have special support for unblocking streaming sites. Experience tells us that some free VPNs offer a lot more than you'd expect in this department, so we did some testing anyway. And of course there was a surprise: while Atlas VPN Free flopped with US Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max, it unblocked Disney Plus.

The company claims that its free service is P2P-friendly, but we'd like to give it a try as well. And of course it is: we were able to torrent through sites in the Netherlands, New York, and Los Angeles.

If you're having trouble with any of these, the Atlas VPN support team is available to help. Although live chat is only available to paying customers, we were able to send a test question via email. This can sometimes mean a long delay, but not here - we received a friendly and genuinely helpful reply just three minutes later. We've waited longer than that for an initial live chat response with some of the competitors.

final verdict

Atlas VPN has a number of small issues (privacy issues, lack of features, app design) and doesn't really excel in any one area. But none of those issues are critical, and when you look past them, it's a good free VPN at heart: fast, with 10GB of data, P2P, and even some unblocking success. Try out.

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