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Updated: 2022-04-18 / Article by: Timothy Shim
Background: AtlasVPN is a New York-founded Virtual Private Network (VPN) brand that’s considered brand-spanking new. It launched circa 2019/2020 as a free VPN service provider. Naturally, they also offer premium plans, but these aren’t overly pricey. Most surprisingly, though, is its quick recent acquisition by Nord Security. That’s the umbrella group that holds together the various Nord-branded products, including NordVPN, NordPass, NordLocker, and more. AtlasVPN, though, is still currently a US-registered entity, and we’ve just put it through its paces to see if it’s any good.
AtlasVPN is far from perfect, but if you want a fast and cheap VPN for browsing and streaming, this is one to consider. While the US jurisdiction is a major turn-off, the acquisition by NordVPN may mean a possible change in this respect.
If price is your chief consideration, then AtlasVPN is a sterling choice. It offers a free plan you can start with, but that’s limited in both bandwidth and server access. Still, it’s enough to give you a feel of the service.
If you think it’s a good fit, then a bump up to their paid plan on a 36-month subscription means you’ll only be paying $1.99/mo. Considering the other advantages AtlasVPN offers, that’s a dirt-cheap offer you won’t easily find elsewhere.
To get things out of the way, AtlasVPN supports only two protocols – IKEv2 and WireGuard. That makes perfect sense since the former works on mobile devices. WireGuard is a newer option and the likely replacement for OpenVPN.
Most VPN service providers support WireGuard, but that’s because they’re older brands in the process of migrating to the newer protocol. Being a new kid on the block, AtlasVPN jumped right into WireGuard instead.
To give you an idea of how fantastic Wireguard is, here are the speeds I noted during my tests;
AtlastVPN US Server Speed
AtlastVPN Europe (Germany) Server Speed
AtlastVPN Asia (Singapore) Server Speed
Overall, AtlasVPN shows outstanding speeds. While traditional VPN users may still balk at the absence of OpenVPN, I’d much rather have the speed boost than any misgivings over newer protocols.
3. Streams Media Smoothly
Given the speeds that I observed with AtlasVPN, it should be no surprise that it manages to handle streaming well. The app claims that specific servers are “optimized for streaming,” but I didn’t notice any significant difference.
Regardless, Netlfix US-region content appeared fine, which is the main obstacle of concern for many users. Other streaming services like BBC’s iPlayer were all right as well, but those are generally a little more cumbersome to handle.
While the playing stream was perfect, I was also a little surprised that skipping sections in movies resulted in minimal buffering despite the high latency. It worked as smoothly as a well-oiled clog.
4. Unlimited Simultaneous Device Connections
Most VPN service providers will limit the number of devices on which you can simultaneously use the service. That’s not the case with AtlasVPN – you can connect as many as you wish and use them for as long as you like.
It may seem like a slight advantage, but if you think about it, most modern households today have over 25 smart devices. Even if some are IoT devices, you have the standard collection of PCs, laptops, smartphones, and other mainstream platforms.
I have subscriptions to many VPN services (the hazard of my job as a reviewer), and some are seriously uptight about the devices you’re able to connect. One, I recall, even locked my devices into a registration system to keep track of them.
5. Decent Server Network in 30+ Countries
AtlasVPN’s server network isn’t the largest. It offers access to around 700 servers in 30-odd countries. Yet, given it’s only about a year old, that accomplishment is considerable. I recall when Surfshark first launched, it had around the same number – and how that brand grew!
The AtlasVPN network sprawls the globe with a good balance spread between East, West, and the middle.
6. SafeSwap Servers Increase Privacy
There are various privacy and security features in AtlasVPN. These include a kill switch, malware and ad blocker, tracker blocker, and IPv6 leak protection. However, the most unique seems to be what it calls “SafeSwap” servers.
You won’t see this feature commonly, but it increases privacy by routing your data through several IP addresses. These IPs swap regularly but seamlessly during your connection to the server, decreasing the chances of tracking you via an extended login session.
While technically it sounds excellent, there are only three SafeSwap server locations to choose from; Amsterdam, Singapore, and Los Angeles.
Cons: What's Less-than-great About AtlasVPN
1. The App Seems Slightly Buggy
Given that AtlasVPN is slightly new to the market, I expected some bugs. Yet, the first I encountered was kind of a big deal. It started when I was trying to cycle through servers, and the app became completely unresponsive.
From there, it all went downhill, with my entire Internet connection disabled. I only managed a recovery after I removed and reinstalled AtlasVPN. It turned out that the culprit seems to be how the kill switch behaves, so I reached out to their support team.
If you decide to get AtlasVPN, disable the kill switch for now.
2. Limited Support Channels
While the AtlasVPN team responded quickly to my emails, I can’t help but wish they used a more transparent ticketing system. ZenDesk powers their email support, but for us, there’s no way to track what’s happening behind the scenes.
If you’ve got a serious problem and there’s no response to your email, chances are you’re going to get pretty upset.
3. AtlasVPN is (Currently) a US-based Entity
The acquisition of AtlasVPN by Nord Security happened a short while ago. There’s no news if the jurisdiction for this service will move to another country. For now, though, it remains in the US, a terrible place for a VPN service to operate.
That said, AtlasVPN provides a “Warranty Canary” page to post all official requests they get for private information. That typically means government warrants and other “national interest” requests. To date, it reads zero, but you never know when something will happen.
4. No Server Search Feature
Perhaps because AtlasVPN only offers around 30-odd locations, they felt it was all right to omit a server search feature. Yet, within the first hour of use, I found this a terrible annoyance. Imagine scrolling through a text list to find the server you want – and the list even in alphabetical order.
It’s not something that will make or break the brand, but I would love to know WHY they did things in this manner. It’s a simple, helpful thing to offer.
Verdict: Is AtlasVPN Worth a Try?
Given that they have a free plan you can use to try the service out for as long as you want, I’d recommend giving AtlasVPN a try. While the free tier essentially puts it in the “Free VPN” category, I have to say that their paid plan is strong enough to bring them into the big leagues, even at the bottom.
From the performance observed so far, my gut tells me that AtlasVPN will go far. The only stone in the shoe is their acquisition by Nord Security. That movement means things could go either way. But for now, it’s an excellent option.
* Note: To compare VPN speed performance, also check out our VPN speed tests for major brands here.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.