Have you ever wanted to create a personal VPN for your computer or mobile devices? Or perhaps you want to secure your entire network with a VPN? You can do so with one of the many VPN apps available for download on the App Store or Google Play. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy to use VPN solution, then look no further! Here’s how to get started with Atlas VPN.
What is Atlas VPN?
Atlas VPN is a free VPN service that allows you to create a secure tunnel between your internet-accessible devices. Once you’ve connected your computer, mobile or smart-device to the internet via WiFi or a 3G/4G connection, you’ll see a red pin logo in the upper right corner of your screen. Tap on this logo to enter the VPN client and connect to the Atlas VPN network.
You’ll see the following message: “You’re now connected to the VPN. Please enjoy higher privacy and security while browsing the web” or the like.
Setting Up Your Account
Once you’ve connected to the VPN, you’ll notice a small orange “i” in the upper right corner of your screen. This is your VPN indicator, which will blink when you’re connected to the internet via a VPN and turn off when you’re not. Tap on the indicator to enter the settings menu and make some important choices about your account.
What are the Choices You Have?
When you first enter the settings menu, you’ll see that you have several options:
- Auto-connect: This option will automatically connect you to the nearest available VPN server whenever you launch the app. You can also set a VPN server to connect to automatically whenever you use a specific VPN app.
- Locations: You can choose which country you want your VPN to be available in. When traveling, you might want to limit your VPN’s reach to only the country in which you are. Moreover, if you’re using a mobile VPN app, you might want to limit its reach to only the countries your mobile carrier provides service in.
- Logging: With this option activated, you can choose whether or not to have the app record activity and store that information in your device’s log books. You can also choose the amount of detail to be recorded.
- Usage: With this option activated, you can choose whether or not to have the app record the amount of data you use each month. When this option is not activated, you’ll see a spinning wheel icon in the upper right corner of your screen whenever you use the app. If you tap on the icon, you’ll see that the usage is being recorded but not stored in your device’s log books. In either case, your VPN is still functioning correctly and protecting your internet traffic even if this option is not activated.
- VPN Type: This option will determine the type of VPN connection you’ll use to connect to the Atlas VPN network. You can choose from OpenVPN (recommended) or IPsec (Advanced).
- Security: This option will determine the security protocol you want to use to connect to the Atlas VPN network (if you choose OpenVPN, you’ll need to set a security password to use the VPN). You can choose from None, WEP (Weak), WPA (Tested), or WPA2 (Strong).
- Compression: Compression is the ability to reduce the amount of data you need to send across a network or internet connection. When you’re using a mobile phone or WiFi hotspot, data compression can help save you both money and internet traffic. Activate this feature if you’re having trouble staying connected because your network isn’t capable of handling the amount of data you’re sending. Your data will be compressed before it’s sent to the server, so it will appear that you’re still connected even when you’re not. (This feature is only available in the paid version of the app).
- IPv6: Set this to block all IPv6 activity (if you’re on a network that uses IPv6, this is a must) – otherwise, you’ll find that most web sites won’t load properly and you’ll be unable to access certain resources on the internet (e.g. games, social media platforms, etc.).
- Kill Switch: Have you ever been on the internet when all of a sudden your connection drops and you can’t access any websites? Have you ever been on the receiving end of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) where all of a sudden the server that you’re connecting to is overwhelmed with traffic and couldn’t handle everyone connected to it)? A kill switch is a feature that will disconnect you from the internet (and any other connected device) if there’s an error in the connection and the server is not repaired in a reasonable amount of time. So, essentially, it works like a safety net to ensure that your internet connection is always available when you need it. You can enable this feature to protect your device from internet harm as well as ensure that your internet connection is always available when you need it.
- Help: This help menu will bring you to the App Store and Google Play if you tap on it, or to a link to an FAQ or documentation page if you tap on it twice. (You cannot exit the settings menu through this route).
- Connection Status: This option will display the status of your current VPN connection – Disconnected, Connected, or Timed Out. You can also choose to have the status be sent to you via email or a text message. If you tap on your device’s Bluetooth icon and scan for devices, you’ll see a connection status icon that will blink when your device is connected to another device (e.g. a VPN server) and stop blinking when your device is disconnected from whatever is connected to it.
- Log Files: This option will take you to a settings page where you can choose the amount of detail to be logged (and stored in your device’s log books). When logging is not activated, you’ll see a spinning wheel icon in the upper right corner of your screen whenever you use the app. If you tap on the icon, you’ll see that the usage is being recorded but not stored in your device’s log books. In either case, your VPN is still functioning correctly and protecting your internet traffic even if this option is not activated.
Which Should You Choose?
It’s certainly not an easy choice because each option comes with its perks and quirks. For instance, the Auto-connect feature is great if you’re constantly switching connections or if you’re on a network that is not capable of handling the amount of data you’re sending. The Logging feature is great if you want to track your internet usage. The Security feature is great if you want to ensure that your personal information is always protected whenever you use the internet (e.g. banking, email, etc.).
Choosing the right VPN for your needs can be tricky, so we’ve collected a few pros and cons for each option so that you can make the right choice for your situation.
This is the most popular and, therefore, the most commonly used option. OpenVPN allows you to create a secure and encrypted connection between your internet-accessible devices using a public/private keypair. The public half is published to the internet so that anyone can use it to connect to your server (hence the name, “open” VPN). The private half is only known to you and any other devices that you authorize to connect to your server (e.g. via a VPN client app). When you first launch the app, you’ll see a splash screen with a list of countries where the service is available. Choose one of these countries and you’ll be able to connect to a VPN server there. From then on, all your internet traffic will be protected regardless of where you are.
This is the simplest and, therefore, the most convenient option. Whenever you launch the app, you’ll see a splash screen with an available VPN server address. You’ll simply need to type in the address and tap the Connect button. This is also the most flexible option because you can use a public key to connect to any server you choose. You won’t need to setup a VPN server in advance because the app will detect whether or not you’re on a public or private network and automatically connect you to the right server.