The Best VPNs for Mac Users
There are a number of reasons why you might want to start using a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs offer many benefits, like getting around geographic restrictions for streaming content. They can also help protect your privacy and make browsing more secure (though it's always a good idea to vet your VPN provider's claims carefully — some do a better a job than others). But choosing the right VPN for you can be a daunting task. With so many options, you'll want to think carefully about which features are most important to you and how much you're willing to pay.
So, let’s focus on which VPNs will provide them the best service.
ExpressVPN ranks near the top of most VPN rankings. Mac users have their own dedicated MacOS desktop app, so connecting is as easy as a single click.
It’s also one of the faster VPN products that we’ve reviewed. All VPNs will sap away speed. Some steal in excess of 90% of your performance.
Thankfully, ExpressVPN Mac users will see a negligible drop. Performance is so smooth that most won’t even notice a difference.
It uses OpenVPN as its main tunneling protocol, which is the very best in the business. This Open Source protocol is maintained by the entire global security community, so it’s constantly upgraded to ward off new threats.
Working alongside the OpenVPN protocol is AES-256 encryption, which is virtually uncrackable by modern supercomputers.
The company doesn’t log any user data whatsoever. And it’s British Virgin Islands jurisdiction places it outside any government surveillance alliances.
To top it off, ExpressVPN works with Netflix and allows torrenting with absolutely no restrictions.
When people talk about ExpressVPN, NordVPN is usually not far behind it.
The two commonly trade the number-one VPN title. For us, Nord comes in as a close second place for overall and for Mac users.
Connection speeds vary based on distance from the server you’re connecting to as well as the benchmark speed that you receive from your ISP.
But Nord is faster than most.
They also have a stellar MacOS app that makes life far easier for visually-inclined Apple users. And like ExpressVPN, it uses OpenVPN and AES-256 protocol, the dynamic duo of anonymous browsing.
Nord also has the most servers we’ve ever seen. Signing up for one of their low-cost plans gives you instant access to thousands of servers — 3350+ to be exact — around almost every city on the planet.
NordVPN is based out of Panama, which puts it outside the jurisdiction of surveillance alliances. That’s another home run in the VPN world because it means NordVPN data won’t be shared with government agencies across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and many, many more.
Netflix worked with most of the servers that we tested, and torrenting is allowed. NordVPN actually encourages torrenting services, saying that they are the best platform for it.
3. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost is a Romanian company, which means that it does not answer to the 5, 9, or 14-Eyes Surveillance Alliances.
Unlike the first two, it’s not one of the faster VPNs on this list. But it does maintain average speed loss based on our extensive tests. Your performance shouldn’t be impacted too much.
And like the other VPNs we’ve discussed, it has a dedicated app for MacOS, allowing for up to seven simultaneous connections at a single time. This gives users the flexibility needed to safeguard pretty much every device in their life.
To their credit, CyberGhost draws a hard line in the sand where it comes to logging. They don’t keep any browsing history, traffic destinations, or data content, with no monitoring, recording, or storing of search preferences. It provides the true anonymity that you need from a VPN.
Once again, we also see the winning combination of 256-bit AES encryption and OpenVPN. This may seem repetitive, but it is the most secure partnership on the planet and a Mac VPN necessity.
You’ll see that many VPNs use outdated protocols like L2TP or PPTP. These are fine in some cases. But they’re not the most secure. PPTP, for instance, can be hacked in minutes. And it’s been happening for nearly a decade!
That’s why OpenVPN is, and should be, your default option. Otherwise, run and hide.
Not only did Netflix work for us when using CyberGhost, but they have a dedicated server that adapts to counter Netflix’s attempts to block it. Every time Netflix tries to shut it down, the server changes the IP. That means even if you run into issues initially, a few more tries will almost always unlock access.
Torrenting is available with no restrictions, as is the use of the TOR network.
TOR is a private browser that can add an extra layer of anonymity to browsing sessions. Your IP address gets redirected through random relay points, so nobody can tell where (or who) you are.
The only downside is that it doesn’t really do much for security. Doubling-up with a VPN can give you that extra layer of security when browsing or downloading.
Except not every VPN is TOR-friendly. Thankfully, CyberGhost bucks this trend.
4. Trust.Zone VPN
Trust.Zone is another fast, reliable MacOS application that protects your device from outside attacks, while also not tracking any data, either.
First off, it’s located in Seychelles, a gorgeous archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean.
But even better, this location means that the company never has to turn over a shred of information to any government body.
Jurisdiction is massively critical when choosing a VPN, and the Seychelles islands are a perfect place to provide some much-needed anonymity.
They provide all of this, without sacrificing the best-in-class OpenVPN and AES-256 Encryption. If you’re wondering just how secure this pairing is, this is the level of security used by government agencies like the NSA and the FBI.
If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for your iMac.
Two out of five Trust.Zone’s servers that we tested worked with Netflix. Technically, that’s less than half. But compared to the other 74 VPNs we’ve reviewed, it easily puts them in the top third.
They place absolutely no restrictions on torrenting services. That means they permit all kinds of internet traffic, including torrenting. And to top it all off, there is no network protocol banned by Trust.Zone. Free and clear usage.
5. PrivateInternetAccess VPN
PIA, which stands for Private Internet Access, is one of the simplest VPN services you can use. Once you've installed PIA, you control everything from a drop-down menu in the Mac menu bar.
With more than 3,000 servers in 28 countries, PIA offers a sizable number of countries and regions to set as your location of choice, making it ideal for streamers trying to get around geographic restrictions. It's also one of the easiest VPNs to use: once you've connected to the VPN, there are no other settings or menus to muck around with unless you feel like diving into the service's advanced security features.
If you do, you'll find controls that will help you lock down PIA's already good security settings even further.
6. Pure VPN
Pure VPN is unique in comparison to other services, in that it optimizes your connection based on what "mode" you want to use. It offers modes for streaming, "internet freedom," privacy, file-sharing, and dedicated IP.
Some might find this too limiting — why should you have to choose between a fast streaming connection and privacy — but all your activity is kept private no matter what mode you're in. And the dedicated IP mode helps deal with some of the speed issues VPNs frequently face.
In addition, the service has other features most people expect from VPN and the ability to easily change your location from a list of dozens of countries. It also has built-in protections against pesky malware, viruses, and ads.
Pure also offers extensions for Chrome and other browsers, which let you control your connection directly from your browser.
7. Vypr VPN
VyprVPN is a particularly competitive VPN service, and it shines on macOS with excellent speed scores and a strong offering of advanced features, as well as a smart tutorial for new users. It's an excellent VPN for Mac.
The additional features that Golden Frog reserves for the highest VyprVPN tier require some explanation. The Chameleon VPN protocol is an encryption protocol that the company says is harder to detect as VPN traffic and therefore harder to block. The company recommends that users in China, or anywhere else that attempts to block access to certain parts of the internet, should use this protocol. If that's not your thing, the macOS client also supports L2TP and IPsec, as well as my preferred option: OpenVPN. In addition to being open-source code—and therefore scrutinized for errors by a community of volunteers—OpenVPN also tends to be faster and more resistant to disconnection. Note that the VyprVPN app for iPhone only supports the IKEv2 protocol.
8. VPN Unlimited
VPN Unlimited offers a little bit of everything. The service operates more than 400 servers in more than 70 locations and supports multiple encryption standards, including AES 128-bit and AES 256-bit. It has a kill switch feature and an extra stealth setting, called "KeepSolid Wise," which is optimized for use in countries that tend to block VPNs.
Novices will also appreciate the relatively straightforward setup process and easy-to-understand interface, which makes getting started a snap.
Power users will appreciate VPN Unlimited's additional services, like the ability to get your own dedicated VPN server, set your own static IP, or the ability to set up your VPN directly on your router (which lets you use your VPN with any device that connects to it). These features will add an additional cost on top of your normal subscription, but it's nice to have the option for those who want to get a little more from their VPN.
As its name suggests, TorGuard is really targeted toward those who frequent torrent sites. It offers a "stealth" service that it claims can get around even the most advanced firewalls designed to root out VPN users and the company says it doesn't keep any logs of users' activity.
Its download speeds are also optimized for torrents and the service doesn't place any data caps on users. And, with more than a thousand servers in dozens of countries, TorGuard offers a lot of flexibility in choosing a location.
Finally, a single subscription buys you access for up to five different devices, all of which can be connected to the VPN simultaneously.
10. TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is the kind of service you'd recommend to your mom or someone who needs a VPN but isn't very tech-savvy. While the user interfaces of many other VPN services can easily be overwhelming to the uninitiated, TunnelBear makes it super easy to understand what you're doing at any given moment.
That's because TunnelBear uses animations depicting — what else — tunnels and bears to illustrate your current connection status. Yes, it's a bit cheesy, but it's also kind of cute.
More importantly, it was one of the faster VPNs we tested (when set to auto-connect) and TunnelBear doesn't skimp on privacy protection or encryption. Besides the standard security features, it also offers a VigilantBear feature (the services version of a kill switch) and GhostBear (a feature that helps you circumvent VPN blockers).
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