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Atlas VPN is probably the first provider born in the new decade to catch widespread attention. Aiming to become the best free VPN, it also plans to avoid using ads and will live off premium version users.
But is Atlas VPN safe and fast enough to try out already? Does it unblock Netflix and other streaming platforms? What do we know about Peakstar Technologies Inc., the company behind this new project? Read my Atlas VPN review and find out.
Is Atlas VPN safe?
This provider has a solid foundation for becoming a truly safe to use VPN. It all starts with military-encryption, safe protocols, and strict no-logs policy. However, at this stage of development, Atlas VPN still lacks a kill switch and other security features, such as split-tunneling, a stealth protocol, or multi-hop.
In short, it’s too early to say what security level Atlas VPN will offer users.
Atlas VPN encryption and tunneling protocols
The Atlas VPN official website and Google Play Store page don’t list the level of encryption. However, after contacting customer support, I found out that it uses AES-256 – the same encryption standard we find in the military and financial institutions. This is practically unbreakable and should make Atlas VPN users feel very safe indeed.
When it comes to tunneling protocols, Atlas VPN offers IKEv2, which is both fast and secure. More options will be coming soon, so OpenVPN fans should get it eventually in 2020.
At the moment, Atlas VPN doesn’t have a kill switch, but it is currently in the pipeline for Android and iOS. As of now, this shouldn’t be an issue, because users can turn on the Android native “Always-on VPN” feature.
No IP or DNS leaks
Atlas VPN has no IPv6, DNS, or WebRTC leaks. It’s difficult to say how sophisticated their leak protection it is, but my real location didn’t pop up during any of the tests.
I connected to a server in the Netherlands and saw only this country as the assigned IP location wherever I went.
Where is Atlas VPN based?
Atlas VPN is located in the United States and its Terms of Service were written in accordance with the laws of the state of Delaware. The company behind this service is Peakstar Technologies Inc., but I found little about it on the web. I was able to learn that it registered the Atlas VPN trademark in October 2019, its CEO is someone named Jim Roberts, and the media contact is Valentina Perez.
Does Atlas VPN keep logs?
Having a true no-logs policy is not that common among VPNs and finding a free service with one is a tough task. That’s why Atlas VPN stands out from the crowd by doing minimal logging, which is needed to provide the service and comply with applicable laws. The fact that there’s no account creation in its free version speaks volumes.
So is there anything you can do about the data that’s being collected? Well, California residents may ask for a copy of their data once a year. As for the others, they can write to Atlas VPN support and request an edit or full deletion of their data.
Speed: what drop-off can you expect with Atlas VPN
I tested Atlas VPN on my Android phone from Europe. You should expect a significant downloading speed drop-off, but having a fast connection will allow you to stream in HD and download large files anyway.
First, I checked my baseline speeds without a VPN connection.
- Download: 225 Mbps
- Upload: 151 Mbps
- Ping: 1 ms
Later, I measured how they changed with the free and premium version of this provider. I used the average from them both.
Netherlands (free and premium)
- Download: 34 Mbps (85% drop-off)
- Upload: 113 Mbps (25% drop-off)
- Ping: 41 ms
United States, East Coast (free and premium)
- Download: 28 Mbps (88% drop-off)
- Upload: 97 Mbps (36% drop-off)
- Ping: 116 ms
Australia, Sydney (premium)
- Download: 28 Mbps (88% drop-off)
- Upload: 36 Mbps (76% drop-off)
- Ping: 340 ms
Connection times are fast, but download speeds are below average with Atlas VPN, leaving you with less than 20% of your bandwidth. Strangely, the distance to the server had almost no impact (except on ping) as I had nearly identical speeds in the Netherlands, the US, and Australia.
I wrote to Atlas VPN customer support and they’ve told me that there are no limits for the free version in terms of speed. And while Premium servers are available to everyone (that’s at least three months more), comparing them will be impossible. It would be easier, though, if Atlas VPN added server load metrics to its app – now I can only guess that the Australian speeds were nearly identical because of the low load.
In any case, it’s a bit too early to evaluate Atlas VPN speeds because it’s only available on Android. Besides, it still has a small fleet of 150+ servers in 17+ countries that will definitely grow together with the userbase.
Does Atlas VPN support my device?
Currently, Atlas VPN supports Android and iOS as of February 2020. Later on, you should expect desktop apps as well. There’s no information about other platforms or browser extensions, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing about them soon.
Atlas VPN for Android
This provider markets itself as a “free and simple VPN for everyone.” While I’m not sure about the “everyone” part, it cannot be more easy-to-use than it is now. That stems largely from the awesome interface, as well as the low number of features, which is common among the industry’s freshmen and shouldn’t be frowned upon (at least not yet).
The main menu has four clickable areas – a huge Off & On button, Server list, premium features section indicated with diamond, and settings dashboard. Free version users get servers in the US and the Netherlands, while the Premium version unlocks all countries. It doesn’t take long for Atlas VPN to connect to your desired server.
Clicking on the diamond icon lets you enter your email and check if it’s been hacked. If it was – you’ll be informed that your password was leaked and how many times. It’s best to change the compromised passwords as soon as possible. It’s a good practice to check your and your family’s emails on a regular basis with this tool. However, this service is reserved for Premium clients only.
The Settings dashboard is where support, FAQ, payment, and security options are located. There’s however only one option to tweak it – SafeBrowse. Turned off by default, this still-in-development feature protects you from entering malicious websites by using special DNS servers that don’t resolve malware-containing addresses. In the future, the Atlas VPN team plans to add a blocker for trackers and ads.
You can download Atlas VPN for Android from the Google Play Store. At the moment of writing this review, it had a rating of 4.2 from over 700 votes. The app has been installed on more than 5,000 Android devices so far.
Atlas VPN for iOS
The recently released iOS version has little differences between the Android one. The apps are virtually the same, but on the iOS version’s icons are somewhat slicker.
All the clickable areas are identical to the Android version but have more rounded icons. Plus, the diamond marking premium feature on the iOS version is called Assistant. This too works the same way and lets you check if your accounts were hacked.
The only thing that’s exclusive to iOS is under settings dashboard. Once you click security options you’re able to toggle Improve me.
Since the iOS version was released recently, the developers are still gathering data on what works and what doesn’t with this app.
Atlas VPN for Netflix and other streaming services
Using the free version of Atlas VPN, I was able to watch Netflix US and NL. Switching to the Premium account also opened the door for Netflix UK. This is quite impressive for a VPN that’s both very new and, more importantly, completely free.
The aim of the Atlas VPN team is to continue supporting Netflix and other streaming platforms via their free service. Let’s hope their success continues!
To sum up, using Atlas VPN for streaming is not a bad idea, especially if you’re on a budget.
Does Atlas VPN support torrenting?
Yes, you can download torrents using Atlas VPN. At the moment, there aren’t many countries and servers to connect to, so you shouldn’t expect fast speeds. Also, Atlas VPN doesn’t offer a SOCKS5 proxy or port forwarding, so it’s probably not the best for your P2P activities. With that said, for a free service, Atlas VPN is a great proposition if you want to torrent anonymously.
Support: Atlas VPN’s FAQ and ticketing system
At the moment, Atlas VPN has only a few customer support options:
- 24/7 Email
- Submitting a ticket
The FAQ can be found on the Atlas VPN website and also in your app. It covers some basics but is far from being named helpful. In fact, it acts more like an introduction to the new provider that still holds the majority of its tricks in its proverbial sleeve.
I submitted a ticket on its website to test the support. Although it took some time to get a response, the agents were clear and informative. Again, this is the very beginning of a new service that grows by the day, so the next evaluation will come when Atlas VPN adds a 24/7 live chat, which I hope will be soon.
Pricing: grab the 3-month Premium of Atlas VPN for free!
Atlas Premium has two subscription options: monthly for 11,95 USD and annual for 4,98 USD/month. However, during the coronavirus, they’re offering a 3-month Premium of Atlas VPN for free. Make sure to grab this offer while it lasts.
With Premium, you get more locations, better connection speeds, 24/7 customer support, UHD streaming, and no ads. Keep in mind that you can also try Premium for 7 days for free.
Should you get Atlas VPN?
Yes, you should get Atlas VPN. It’s free and it offers a free 3-month premium. There couldn’t be a better time to try this new service out. It’ll provide you with robust security, decent privacy, and OK speeds. Hell, it will even unblock Netflix US for you.
The best is yet to come for this provider if you’re an Android or iOS user. If you’re not, desktop versions are also on their way, but this could take a while.