If you’ve seen any of the advertisements or buzz around Atlas VPN, you might have some questions. We’ve gone to the trouble of answering them and cranked out out a quick run-down of the pros and cons of the VPN world’s latest “free” alternative and whether or not it’s worth your time and data.
What is Atlas VPN?
Atlas VPN is a relatively-new VPN app. Similar to other such privacy apps, Atlas VPN promises an instantly-convenient and anonymous web browsing experience that strips away some of the technical details - specifically stuff that can often intimidate newcomers and those less experienced with VPNs - but doesn't compromise when it comes to security.
Atlas VPN also stands out in that it is pitching itself as the Best Free VPN.
Fast and easy setup
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Atlas VPN app from the IOS or Google Play Store, the app itself does a great job of simplifying the setup process into a handful of prompts. As a software experience, it’s very intuitive. Start to finish, you can be anonymously web browsing within about 60 seconds.
Even if you’ve not used a VPN before, Atlas VPN is very approachable and easy to use.
Atlas VPN has a fairly robust no-log policy. If part of the reason you’re downloading a VPN relates to privacy, that’s an important detail.
According to the company, they “will never store or track your online activities. While using Atlas VPN your domains, applications will never be associated with your device, IP address or email.”
Built-in breach tracker
While there are plenty of other sites and services that offer this nowadays, it’s neat to have the ability to find out whether any of your account credentials have been compromised from within the Atlas VPN app. It’s a shame it’s locked to the premium tier though, since other free alternatives to this feature exist elsewhere. For example, Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor.
Breach tracker aside, Atlas VPN also boasts a kill switch and SafeBrowse mode.
Smaller server infrastructure
Where some of the other VPN services boast virtual networks in the hundreds of thousands, Atlas VPN relies on just twelve. This can affect your VPN experience in a pretty big way because the less servers there are, the more users are forced to share each one. This can lead to slower loading times and other VPN-adjacent issues.
Value Over Time
Although the simplicity is part of the pitch, Atlas VPN ends up struggling when it comes to offering more than just essentials. If that’s what you’re looking for, that's fine. However, it’s not hard to find a more fully-featured VPN experience at a cheaper price-point and that reality inevitably hurts the potential appeal of this particular option.
You have to go premium if you want better speeds and less ads
Although it is advertised and more-or-less usable at the free tier, the developers behind Atlas VPN obviously want you to subscribe to the premium tier for the best experience.
Signing up for Atlas VPN Premium gets you more servers, faster servers and servers that are optimised for streaming content through geographically-sliced platforms like Netflix.
Premium users also get an ad-free experience, which is a nice perk over the alternative.
However, the real kicker here is that the monthly cost of signing up for Atlas VPN is not particularly competitive compared to some of the other options. You can save some money by doing the annual subscription, which works out to around $4.90/month versus the $11.95/month than the monthly plan costs. Unfortunately, even then, there are other, cheaper and better VPN options out there.
This article was originally published in May 2020 and updated in January 2021.