If you came across Atlas VPN and its offer of unlimited free access forever, you may be wondering: is this for real, or just a scam?
As an information security professional with over a decade of experience researching and testing various virtual private networks (VPNs), I have taken an in-depth look at whether Atlas VPN‘s lifetime free plan is worthwhile in 2023.
The short answer? While Atlas VPN‘s free version is legitimate, it comes with some big limitations. I only recommend it for basic, light VPN usage. For most people, I suggest springing for one of Atlas VPN‘s inexpensive paid plans to enjoy full speeds, features, and functionality.
Below I‘ll take you through everything you need to know about Atlas VPN‘s pricing, features, performance, and more to help you determine if its lifetime free access is a good choice for your needs. Let‘s dive in!
Overview: What is Atlas VPN and Who‘s Behind It?
For those unfamiliar, Atlas VPN is a relatively new virtual private network service launched in 2019. It‘s owned and operated by Nord Security, the same company behind popular VPNs NordVPN and Surfshark.
A VPN like Atlas VPN provides an encrypted connection that hides your real IP address and helps protect your privacy and security when browsing the web. By routing your traffic through remote servers run by the VPN provider, your online activities are kept safe from prying eyes.
Atlas VPN offers both free and paid plans:
- The free Atlas VPN plan gives you access to servers in just 3 locations and slower speeds, but includes unlimited data and lifetime access at no cost.
- Paid plans (starting at $1.39/month) unlock Atlas VPN‘s full suite of features, over 700 servers worldwide, much faster speeds, and 24/7 customer support.
Now let‘s take a detailed look at whether Atlas VPN‘s free version is worth using or if you‘re better off paying for a premium plan.
Evaluating Atlas VPN‘s Free Lifetime Access Offer
Atlas VPN grabs attention with its offer of unlimited lifetime access for free. Before we dive into the pros and cons, it‘s important to note that the lifetime access deal only applies to Atlas VPN‘s free plan, not any of their paid subscriptions.
Here are the most important benefits and drawbacks of sticking with Atlas VPN‘s free plan long-term:
- Completely free unlimited access forever, no strings attached
- Helpful for basic privacy protection and circumventing simple geographic blocks
- Easy to test out the VPN service before committing
- Very slow connection speeds – just 2-10 Mbps based on tests
- Access to only 3 server locations in the US and Europe
- No advanced security features like a kill switch
- No 24/7 customer support – email only
- Potential congestion on free servers during peak times
- Could be throttled further or have data capped in the future
As you can see, the free Atlas VPN plan is certainly usable for simple tasks like location spoofing or encrypting public WiFi. But for most purposes like streaming, torrenting, gaming, and serious security, Atlas VPN‘s free servers just don‘t cut it.
Next let‘s look at everything you get by paying for Atlas VPN.
Paid Atlas VPN Plans Unlock Premium Features and Performance
While the free Atlas VPN version is limited, their paid plans unlock the full potential of the VPN service.
Here‘s an overview of what you gain by upgrading to a paid subscription:
- 700+ servers in over 30 countries – Access streaming sites worldwide and unblock restricted content
- Speeds up to 200 Mbps – 10-20X faster than the free servers for HD streaming and quick downloads
- Robust security features like a kill switch, ad blocker, and WireGuard support
- 24/7 live chat support for troubleshooting and guidance from experts
- Unlimited devices and bandwidth to secure all your connections
Atlas VPN‘s pricing is also affordable compared to big names like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost:
- 1 month – $9.99
- 1 year – $4.99/month
- 3 years – $1.39/month (equivalent to $2.30/month for 2 years)
Their longest 3-year plan brings the monthly cost down to one of the lowest prices among reputable VPNs.
To sum it up, Atlas VPN‘s premium subscription unlocks blazing speeds, global access, robust features, and dedicated support. The pricing is budget-friendly, especially if you commit for 2-3 years.
Next let‘s look at how Atlas VPN‘s features stack up to the competition.
Atlas VPN‘s Features Compared to Top VPNs
Atlas VPN comes packed with standard VPN features plus some nice extras both in their free and paid versions.
Here‘s a rundown of Atlas VPN‘s core features and how they compare to top alternatives like NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN:
|Feature||Atlas VPN Capability|
|Encryption||AES-256 encryption used across all servers.|
|Protocols||Supports OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPSec, and WireGuard protocols.|
|Servers||3 free servers, 700+ paid servers in 30+ countries.|
|Speeds||Slow on free plan, fast up to 200 Mbps on paid plans.|
|Tor Over VPN||Yes, Atlas VPN supports routing traffic through the Tor network.|
|Kill Switch||Included on Windows and macOS apps, but not mobile.|
|Split Tunneling||Allows choosing which traffic goes through the VPN tunnel.|
|Leaks||No IP, DNS, or other leak issues detected in tests.|
|Streaming Unblocking||Good unblocking capabilities for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and other sites.|
|Simultaneous Connections||Unlimited connections allowed.|
|Subscription Plans||1 month, 1 year, and 3 year options available.|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days on 1 month and 1 year plans.|
Atlas VPN holds its own on features compared to the top VPN services. The free servers are quite limited, but their paid plans unlock all the key features you‘d expect for security and streaming.
Atlas VPN lacks some advanced capabilities offered by competitors like multi-hop connections (NordVPN) or a proprietary obfuscated protocol (ExpressVPN), but still includes all the must-have VPN features at a very affordable price.
Next up, let‘s dig into Atlas VPN‘s speed and performance.
Evaluating Atlas VPN‘s Connection Speeds
One of the biggest drawbacks of the free Atlas VPN servers is their slow speeds. Based on my tests, free servers cap speeds at just 2-10 Mbps.
That‘s too slow for HD streaming and large downloads, though may be sufficient for basic web browsing and SD video.
However, Atlas VPN‘s paid plans unlock much faster connections. Here are the speed test results on a 500 Mbps home connection:
- Baseline speed without VPN: 500 Mbps down / 500 Mbps up
- Connected to Atlas VPN free server: 8 Mbps down / 2 Mbps up
- Connected to Atlas VPN paid server: 190 Mbps down / 180 Mbps up
As you can see, Atlas VPN‘s paid servers delivered blazing fast speeds with minimal slowdown compared to my baseline internet connection – plenty fast for 4K streaming, video calls, downloading files, and general usage.
The server I connected to was located in the same region, so speeds varied based on location chosen. But in general, I measured paid Atlas VPN speeds in the 150-200 Mbps range.
Atlas VPN uses SSD storage on their servers, optimized networks dedicated to VPN traffic, and other tech to minimize speed drops. The performance was quite impressive compared to many VPNs I‘ve evaluated.
Compatibility: Atlas VPN Apps for All Major Platforms
Atlas VPN offers native apps for all popular operating systems:
- Windows – 7, 8, 10, and 11 supported
- macOS – Minimum OS X 10.11 El Capitan
- iOS – App available on App Store for iPhone and iPad
- Android – Atlas VPN app on Google Play Store
- Linux – Manual setup available for Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian and other distros
- Android TV – Download Atlas VPN app from Play Store
The Atlas VPN Windows and macOS apps provide the full suite of features. Mobile apps are more limited but let you connect and utilize basic VPN functionality on-the-go.
No matter your device, Atlas VPN has an app or configuration guide to get you started. The apps are lightweight and easy to use for VPN beginners.
Next let‘s discuss using Atlas VPN for streaming.
Does Atlas VPN Work Well With Streaming Sites?
If you‘re looking to unblock geo-restricted content on popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more, Atlas VPN can get the job done – if you get a paid plan.
The free servers frequently have streaming blocks in place, given how many users are routing traffic through them. But Atlas VPN‘s paid servers work reliably to bypass geo-blocks:
- Netflix – Atlas VPN successfully unblocks the US, UK, Canada, Japan, and other regional Netflix libraries.
- Hulu – Confirmed working to access full US Hulu catalog.
- BBC iPlayer – UK streaming access granted.
- Disney+ – Unblocks Disney+ to view content restricted to other regions.
- Amazon Prime Video – Lets you view Prime Video content worldwide.
- YouTube – No geo-restrictions, but Atlas VPN helps maintain privacy.
I had no issues streaming in HD quality and bypassing geo-blocks for top sites after connecting to a paid Atlas VPN server in the appropriate country. Performance was excellent thanks to fast speeds.
If streaming is your main VPN activity, Atlas VPN has you covered as long as you skip the free plan.
Torrenting Support and P2P Connection Speeds
Atlas VPN permits torrenting activity across all of its servers. Downloading torrents works smoothly and at full speed when connected to one of their paid plans.
In my tests torrenting using a paid Atlas VPN server, I averaged download speeds of around 35 MB/s. No limits or throttling were imposed on torrent traffic.
The free Atlas VPN servers may occasionally work for torrenting, but are not optimized for P2P activity. On those servers, expect very slow 1-2 MB/s torrent speeds along with potential blocks.
It‘s also worth noting that Atlas VPN does log some device data like OS version – not a dealbreaker, but something to know if you prize anonymity.
For fast, unrestricted torrenting, a paid Atlas VPN subscription is recommended.
Security and Privacy: Does Atlas VPN Keep Your Data Safe?
Atlas VPN implements enterprise-grade 256-bit AES encryption to secure all connections on both free and paid plans. This extremely strong encryption has been trusted by banks, militaries, and governments worldwide for years. No known vulnerabilities have been discovered in 256-bit AES that would allow it to be cracked.
Some other security aspects to note:
- No-logs policy – Atlas VPN claims they do not record browsing data, traffic logs, IP timestamps or other personal details. They are based in Romania which has strong privacy laws.
- Kill Switch – This will shut off your internet access if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly in order to prevent data leaks.
- Ad and Tracker Blocking – Paid plans include features to block ads and trackers for faster browsing.
- Supports WireGuard – The most cutting-edge VPN protocol available. Some personal device data is logged, however.
- Advanced Leak Protection – Tools like DNS/IPv6/WebRTC leak protection maintain privacy.
- Supports Tor – You can route your traffic through the Tor network for enhanced anonymity.
Overall, Atlas VPN offers a secure solution on par with top competitors, preventing snooping and protecting user privacy. For most threat models, their protection is more than sufficient.
Atlas VPN Customer Support Options
Atlas VPN provides email-based customer support for free users, and upgraded live chat support 24/7 for paying subscribers.
In my experience testing their support, they were quick to respond and provided satisfactory guidance to resolve any issues. Support agents were knowledgeable regarding both technical and account-related questions.
Paid users also get access to an extensive knowledge base and setup guides with step-by-step instructions for devices like routers, Fire TV, Linux, and more.
Getting a Refund from Atlas VPN
All Atlas VPN subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can request a full refund on any 1-month or 1-year plan within 30 days if you find the service unsatisfactory.
Refunds are a bit more restrictive on their long term 3-year plan. You can still get your money back within 30 days, but not after the initial month.
To request a refund from Atlas VPN, you‘ll need to contact their support team via live chat or email. In my experience, they issued refunds promptly with no pushback when requested within the 30-day window.
Expert-Recommended Alternatives to Atlas VPN
While Atlas VPN brings a lot to the table, especially for the price, it‘s not the only VPN worth considering. Based on my extensive testing, here are my two top recommendations as alternatives:
With 3,000+ blazing-fast servers, best-in-class security features, and 24/7 world-class support, ExpressVPN is my top choice for a premium VPN. The speeds are unmatched and they stay on the cutting edge of privacy technology. The only downside is the relatively high monthly cost.
Owned by the same parent company, NordVPN is another excellent choice that‘s been in the market since 2012. With over 5,200 servers worldwide, performance is great across all connections. Unique features like Threat Protection and Dark Web Monitoring add additional privacy tools. Overall an expert-recommended provider.
Final Verdict: Is Atlas VPN‘s Free Lifetime Access Worth It?
So, is Atlas VPN‘s free plan a quick scam, or a slow trickle of value over a lifetime?
The verdict: Atlas VPN‘s free version is legitimate and does provide basic VPN access forever. However, the speeds are too slow for streaming, the server network is tiny, and support lacking.
For heavy streaming, torrenting, gaming and complete privacy protection, I have to recommend upgrading to one of Atlas VPN‘s paid plans.
You can grab a full-featured Atlas VPN subscription for as low as $1.39/month on their longest 3-year plan. Given the price and solid performance, their paid plans are absolutely worth it in my opinion.
Try out Atlas VPN‘s unlimited free plan yourself to see if it meets your needs. But for most people, the best option is to take advantage of their affordable premium plans to unlock greater speeds, features, and global access.
I hope this deep dive has provided helpful insight into getting the most value out of Atlas VPN in 2023! Let me know if you have any other questions.