# What is RIPE Atlas?
RIPE Atlas is a global network of probes that measure Internet connectivity and reachability, providing an unprecedented understanding of the state of the Internet in real time.
# Public data
To get started with RIPE Atlas it is good to know that the vast majority of all data that RIPE Atlas collects is freely available. You don't need to host a probe or even to have a RIPE NCC Account to browse, download or use this data.
# First steps
If you are completely new to the system and want to get acquainted with it, we suggest you follow an itinerary like this:
- Watch the introductory video to RIPE Atlas (opens new window)
- See what researchers and network engineers use RIPE Atlas for (opens new window) and read about some use cases
- Browse the measurements that are currently running (opens new window)
- Go to the details page of the measurement by clicking on it and see some of the visualisations.
- Browse the interactive map with all probes and select a probe to see its details
- The FAQs also hold information about the general usage of RIPE Atlas
# Batteries included
If you decide that RIPE Atlas is a system that you want to explore further we suggest that you go over to the documentation section about built-in measurements. These are the measurements that are automatically scheduled and started by the RIPE Atlas system, so you don't have to. Some of these measurements have been running for years and years on end, so they can give you a full historical perspective.
There are also some long-running measurements started by our users that might also suit your needs. Check them out (opens new window).
# Running your own measurements
If you cannot find what you need among built-in measurements and measurements created by other users it is time to create a RIPE NCC account (opens new window) (It's free!). RIPE Atlas uses a credit system to schedule measurements. RIPE Atlas credits can be obtained by either hosting a probe or having credits transferred to you by other users or the RIPE Atlas administrators. Researchers can request credits by sending us an email. Some people are successful in getting credits by making a request on the mailing list (opens new window) to other users.
The next chapters of this section are about hosting your own probe and starting your own measurements.