Atlas VPN vs. Surfshark Face-to-Face Comparison Review
On to the main segment of this Atlas VPN vs. Surfshark comparison review. How do the features of the two VPN providers compare? Without further ado, let's get into it.
Today, the VPN industry is among the most lucrative markets attracting hundreds of providers and brands. There are genuine VPNs that offer excellent security and privacy and tag along with several other features and capabilities. On the other hand, there are many dubious providers out there that should be avoided at all costs. That said, the first thing you need to know is whether a VPN can be trusted or not. Here, what matters is the opinion of cybersecurity experts and users. It's also worth going for brands that have been in business for long. So, which of the two brands has the best reputation?
Atlas VPN was started in 2019 but is a trusted brand owing to the fact that it is now part of Nord Security, the same venture behind NordVPN. Over 6 million users trust the brand mainly because of its freemium service.
We checked VPN threads on Reddit, and we are glad it has excellent reviews save for a few complaints here and there, which is not unusual. We also like the fact that it has been recommended by several top cybersecurity experts and featured in top publications, including TechCrunch, CNET, Forbes, and TechRadar.
At the time of writing, Atlas VPN has a Trustscore of 4.5/5 on Trustpilot after around 190 reviews.
Surfshark is also a relatively new VPN brand that started in 2018. The company is owned and operated by Surfshark Ltd, a venture recently acquired by Nord Security.
That is to say, both Atlas VPN and Surfshark are owned by the same conglomerate that owns NordVPN. This equally makes it a worthy VPN brand. Surfshark has risen to the ranks to become a market leader in the VPN industry, winning several top awards, including CNET’s Best Overall VPN in 2022.
We also did background checks on Reddit VPN threads where Surfshark commands a great following of satisfied users and cybersecurity experts. At the time of writing, Surfshark has a Trustscore of 4.5/5 on Trustpilot after over 17,200 reviews which is impressive.
The second consideration when selecting the best VPN is the supported devices. There are VPNs compatible with specific devices, while others are all-rounders that work with various devices. Definitely, you should go for the latter. Besides compatibility, checking the number of allowed simultaneous connections is vital. Some VPNs have limits on the number of devices you can connect simultaneously, while others allow for unlimited connections. So, which provider wins this bout?
Atlas VPN works with Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs, and besides, there are apps for Android and iOS devices. It also supports Android TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Unfortunately, it is not compatible with routers and gaming consoles.
The company says it’s in the process of bringing routers and other devices on board. But one good thing about Atlas VPN is that it allows unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can connect as many devices as you want.
On the other hand, Surfshark supports the major PC platforms, talk of Windows, macOS, and Linux.
There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Besides PCs, Surfshark has apps for mobile devices using Android and iOS alongside routers, gaming consoles, Smart TVs, Fire Sticks, and so on.
This is one area where Surfshark beats Atlas VPN hands down. When it comes to the number of devices you can connect simultaneously, Surfshark allows for unlimited connections.
How user-friendly is the VPN you are about to subscribe to? This is an important consideration, as user-friendly VPNs have a short registration process and are easy to set up and configure. In the same token, some have a lengthy registration process and complex setup and configuration processes with cluttered interfaces. Definitely, you want a user-friendly VPN. So, how does Atlas VPN compare to Surfshark?
AtlasVPN free version is easy to get started with. All you have to do is download the free software version, and that’s it. However, the process is a bit complex for the paid plans.
First, hit the Get Premium button, redirecting to the plans page, where you must select a preferred plan. Then, proceed to Checkout, enter your email address, add a payment method and complete the purchase.
Then, set up an account, download the software, and log in. It’s that simple. The Atlas VPN interface is straightforward and intuitive, so finding your way around is easy.
Surfshark is also a user-friendly VPN with an easy registration process.
The first step in the registration process is clicking the Get Surfshark button, which redirects to the plans page. Here, you need to select a plan and continue to the checkout page.
The next step is entering a valid email address, adding the preferred payment method, and completing the order.
After completing the purchase, set up your account, download the software and log in. You are all set now. The interface is equally user-friendly, just like Atlas VPN’s.
At the core of a VPN's security is encryption, which is how your data is encrypted into an unreadable format so that even 3rd parties can't decipher the information without the decryption key. There are several encryption technologies with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-256 bit as the industry standard. AES 256-bit encryption is so secure that it would take millions of years to perform a successful brute-force attack on systems encrypted using this technology. So, what encryption technology do Atlas VPN and Surfshark deploy?
Atlas VPN is a robust VPN that deploys AES 256-bit encryption to secure your traffic. Security is further enhanced by ChaCha20-Poly1305 for symmetric encryption and Poly1305 for data authentication. With these features, it’s safe to say that Atlas VPN is impenetrable.
Just like Atlas VPN, Surfshark deploys military-grade AES 256-bit encryption for your data’s security. It is complemented by SHA-256 hash when it comes to data authentication alongside RSA-4096 as the key exchange.
Another feature that can be the deal maker or breaker when it comes to security is the supported protocols. A VPN protocol, also known as the tunneling method, is a set of rules that determine how your traffic is routed via the servers. Today, we have over a dozen protocols designed for specific applications. There are VPNs for speed, enhanced security, and so on. The rule of thumb is to go for a VPN that supports multiple protocols for versatility. So, what protocols does Atlas VPN work with? What about Surfshark?
One of the shortcomings of Atlas VPN is that it supports just 2 protocols; IKEv2/IPSec and WireGuard.
IKEv2/IPSec is a stable protocol supported across several devices and offers excellent security and a seamless internet experience even against network changes.
On the other hand, WireGuard is a modern protocol optimized for speed and security.
Surfshark has the edge in terms of protocols as it supports 3 protocols; IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard.
If you want stable connections across different networks, IKEv2/IPSec will be the best choice, while for a balance between speeds and security, WireGuard is the best choice.
One addition is OpenVPN, which is considered the industry standard. OpenVPN is open source and a lightweight protocol that offers airtight security.
A VPN's security is not just about the encryption technology and supported protocols. Several extras take your security a notch higher. There are some basic security features, a must-have for that matter, and advanced security features. In this segment, we have assessed all the security extras that the two VPNs tag along with.
Atlas VPN comes with DNS Leak Protection, so you can be assured that your DNS queries are always intact. Remember, DNS queries can sell you out if they leak.
Another feature is an internet kill switch that drops the internet connection swiftly when the VPN connection drops.
Atlas VPN also boasts Split Tunneling, a feature that lets you decide apps whose traffic should be routed via the VPN and vice versa. To further secure your data and identity, Atlas VPN brings on board SafeSwap and MultiHop+.
SafeSwap switches your IP address regularly, while MultiHop+ routes your traffic via double VPNs for added security. Last is SafeBrowse, which is basically an ad and malware blocker.
Surfshark is equally packed when it comes to security extras.
First, it comes with DNS and IP Leak Protection, preventing your DNS queries and the IP address from leaking.
Second is an internet kill switch that comes in handy when your VPN connection drops. It drops your internet connection promptly, so your data is not exposed.
Another feature is Bypasser, which is basically split tunneling, so you can dictate traffic that should be routed via the internet and traffic that can connect to the internet directly.
To keep ads at bay, there’s also CleanWeb which blocks ads, malware, and other threats. Other security extras include Camouflage Mode (obfuscation), which gives you an extra layer of security, Surfshark Alert, and Surfshark Antivirus.
7. Privacy & Confidentiality (Jurisdiction)
As you may be aware, there are privacy-friendly countries that champion online privacy. At the same time, some have strict laws regarding data retention and even pry on the activity of their citizens. Others are even members of global surveillance organizations such as the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes. When looking for the best VPN, go for one in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction to ensure that the government can't coerce the provider to share your data. So, where are Atlas VPN and Surfshark based?
Unfortunately, Atlas VPN is based in the United States, a country with a tight grip on its citizens’ online activity.
Besides, it is the founding member of the 5 Eyes alliance. So, to say the least, the United States can’t be trusted when it comes to your online privacy.
Surfshark is not any good either, as it is based in the Netherlands, a country that is part of the 9 Eyes alliance.
This means the Dutch government has an obligation to share data with other members of the surveillance alliance.
8. Privacy & Confidentiality (Log Policy)
Another aspect to discuss under privacy and confidentiality is the logging policy. In as much as a VPN provider may be based in a country that is part of a global surveillance organization or has mandatory data retention laws, there's a lifesaver, a strict no-log policy. However, there's a catch - some providers claim to be no-log VPNs, yet they log crucial data that can be used to track you. When looking for a VPN, don't just fall for the 'no log' hype. Ascertain whether the logging policy is credible or not. So, what's the logging policy of Atlas VPN and Surfshark?
Atlas VPN has a no-log policy. It does not collect or store personally identifiable information such as your real and assigned IP address, browsing activity, connection logs, timestamps, etc.
However, the company admits that it collects your billing information and address but doesn’t share this information. When it comes to audits, Atlas VPN’s log policy has not been audited yet.
Surfshark, too, is a no-log VPN that doesn’t collect or store any personally identifiable information that could be used to track you.
It states clearly that it doesn’t log your IP address, browsing history, bandwidth, session information, network traffic, or connection timestamps. One great thing about Surfshark is that its log policy has been independently audited by Cure53.
9. Server Network and Distribution
The server network of a VPN really matters, especially when it comes to reliability. The best VPN should have a wide server network, with servers distributed across the globe. Besides, you should go for a VPN with highly specialized servers for different applications. So, how does Atlas VPN's server network compare to that of Surfshark?
Atlas VPN may be a good VPN, but there is room for improvement when it comes to its server network and distribution. As of 2022, the company has around 750 servers in 45 locations in Europe, the Americas, and Asia Pacific.
Just to note, you get access to all the servers with a paid plan, but on the freemium version, you can only access US and Netherlands servers.
These highly specialized servers offer decent speeds and allow P2P activity, streaming, and gaming but can’t match Surfshark’s.
We like that they are privacy-pro servers engineered for security courtesy of SafeSwap and MultiHop+. However, note that these two features are not available on all servers.
Surfshark is the best option in terms of server network and distribution. The provider has over 3,200 servers in 65 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East.
The servers boast top-of-the-line hardware for reliability. Surfshark is the best option if you want high speeds, as all servers come with a 1Gbps port, while daily updates add 10GBps ports.
One thing that sets Surfshark apart from the rest is the fact that all these servers are RAM-only servers that wipe out all data after every reboot, so your privacy is on another level. Also worth mentioning are the specialized servers.
There are obfuscated servers that give you an extra layer of anonymity, virtual servers for faster speeds and content access, and private DNS servers that further enhance security by bypassing your local DNS.
10. Streaming, Torrenting, and Gaming
VPNs are not meant for online security and privacy only. They also open a whole new world of opportunities in the entertainment scene. First, they can unblock streaming sites with geo-locked content, for example, Netflix and Hulu. VPNs also facilitate safe and secure torrenting and file sharing over P2P networks without the risks of bandwidth throttling or copyright infringement. Lastly, there are VPNs for gaming that keep attacks and threats at bay and improve overall gaming performance. They can also help gamers to access geo-restricted gaming content and discounts. But then, not all VPNs are up to all these tasks. So, let's find out what Atlas VPN and Surfshark can do when it comes to streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
Atlas VPN is a good VPN for streaming. We tried unblocking several Netflix libraries, and it worked perfectly. Besides Netflix, we tried several other sites, including Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Hulu, Apple TV, Crunchyroll, DAZN, and BBC iPlayer, and it worked perfectly.
AtlasVPN also performed exceptionally in P2P sharing and torrenting on all the servers. We launched several torrenting sessions, and it got the job done, only that the speeds were rather slow now that we were 100Mbps connections, and speed losses were up to 50%.
On gaming, Atlas VPN is a reliable VPN that can prevent DDoS attacks and other threats in the online gaming scene. You can also count on Atlas VPN to access geo-restricted content and discount. However, the speeds were not that good, and so was the latency (35ms).
Surfshark is also a reliable VPN for streaming. In our tests, we managed to unblock several Netflix libraries with a high success rate. Besides Netflix, Surfshark works with other streaming sites, including Hulu, Apple TV, BC iPlayer, Popcorn Time, Paramount+, and Kodi.
The high success rate can be attributed to the fact that Surfshark has streaming-friendly servers. When it comes to torrenting, it was also exceptional. We launched several torrenting sessions and managed to get our files faster than when using Atlas VPN.
At no time did the speeds drop because of bandwidth throttling. There are P2P-friendly servers, and besides, Surfshark doesn’t prohibit torrenting, so you are safe as long as torrenting is allowed in your country. Last, on gaming, Surfshark is very secure, so you are protected from DDoS attacks and other threats.
It’s also possible to access geo-restricted gaming content and discounts. Regarding speed, Surfshark is better than Atlas VPN, so you can enjoy smooth and lag-free gaming. In our tests, the speeds were decent, and the latency averaged 26ms.
Customer support is important when choosing the best VPN. At times you may experience glitches that require the intervention of the provider. And it's not just technical glitches; you may have problems with billing or other non-technical issues. So, whether you are a pro-level user or a newbie, you must assess available support options. Here, the priority should be a provider with multichannel support, with live chat as the fundamental channel. So, what customer support options do the two VPNs have?
Atlas VPN Has robust multichannel support. The best option is live chat, available 24/7. However, you must enter your email and verify it before getting in touch with a live chat support agent.
We find this quite tedious. You can also send an email or use the email ticketing system, but feedback is not immediate here.
Other options include detailed guides and the FAQ section that answers all the common questions users ask.
Surfshark, too, understands the importance of reliable customer support as it also has multichannel customer support.
The best option here is the 24/7 live chat which offers instant feedback. We are glad the agents are knowledgeable on all matters.
Besides live chat, Surfshark has an email ticketing system, but unfortunately, response takes a while. You can also take advantage of the detailed user guides, tutorials, or FAQ section.
12. Plans, Pricing & Payment Methods
In this last round of this Atlas VPN vs. Surfshark comparison review, we want to assess the available plans and pricing. We will be finding out if there are free versions of the software, money-back guarantees, and payment methods. So, without further ado, let's get into it.
One advantage of Atlas VPN over Surfshark is that there is a free version. However, this plan has limitations. You get access to servers in just 2 locations; the US and the Netherlands.
When it comes to the paid plans, there are 3 options. There is a 1-month plan at 10.99 USD /mo billed monthly, a 1-year plan at 3.29 USD /mo billed monthly, and a 3-year plan at 1.83 USD /mo billed every 3 years.
All the paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can always ask for a refund if you are unsatisfied with the service.
The available payment options include Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, JCB, DISCOVER, Google Pay, and PayPal. You can also opt for cryptos such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple for under-the-radar payments.
On the other hand, Surfshark has no free version, but there is a 7-day trial for iOS, Android, and macOS platforms.
Surfshark has 3 paid plans; a 1-month plan for $12.95 a month billed monthly, a 12-months plan for $3.99 a month billed yearly, and a 24-months plan for $2.49 a month billed every 2 years.
All plans tag along with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can ask for a refund within 30 days of purchase.
The available payment options include credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and AMEX, alongside PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and Sofort. You can also go for crypto payments, for example, Bitcoin and Ethereum.