Best VPN for Mac

Apple customers are generally well-protected when it comes to cybersecurity. It’s well-known that Mac devices come with in-built software that acts as a defense against malware. However, Macs aren’t immune from the threats of the internet, and even the best anti-virus software doesn’t protect against hacking and internet snooping.

If you want your macOS to be fully secured when you’re surfing the web, then you need to use a Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs don’t protect your computer, but they protect your data. Any information that you transmit over the web is more secure with a VPN.

As well as providing an extra layer of security to your internet browsing, VPNs are also handy for getting around geo-blocks and accessing censored content. If you travel a lot for work or as a tourist, having a VPN on your macOS will ensure that you can still watch your home country’s Netflix library. Alternatively, if you live in the USA and want to watch BBC iPlayer, then you can access this UK website thanks to a VPN.

Mac users are accustomed to efficient computers that work seamlessly and fast. It makes sense, therefore, that as an owner of a macOS device, you’d want to use a VPN provider that has a stylish client that complements your system’s high functionality.

From what you need to look for in a Mac VPN, to our top picks, we’ve compiled information on what a macOS VPN should include and a list of the best VPNs for Mac devices so that your internet browsing can finally be protected.

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Do I Need a VPN on a Mac?

Most Mac users don’t trouble themselves with installing antivirus software since Apple provides all users with advanced technologies to ensure that no malware is downloaded onto your computer. This includes checking websites and preventing them from loading if they are suspicious. As well as this, your macOS will scan documents upon downloading and ensure that system files cannot be changed without your permission.

All of these features are fantastic, and definitely an improvement from Windows systems which lack the same level of in-built security as Macs. However, a VPN goes a step further and ensures that all your internet traffic is encrypted. This is important for several reasons:

As well as encrypting data, VPNs are great for streaming and gaming. If you like watching foreign streaming services that aren’t available in your region, then a good VPN can usually unblock different sites. Although Netflix has a strong VPN firewall, many providers are able to get past it and allow you to watch foreign content.

If you’re a fan of gaming, VPNs provide you access to geo-blocked gaming and ensures you can play games safely on public wi-fi networks. You’re also more protected from DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks. This is when many compromised computers send requests to a system and force it offline. It’s common in gaming, but a VPN connection protects against this since they mask your actual IP address. This means no one can force you offline.

So, if you’re wondering, do I need a VPN on a Mac? The answer is yes. A macOS VPN is an essential piece of software, especially if your internet usage is high.

What Makes the Best VPN for Mac?

With so many VPN services available for macOS, it’s important to find one that provides you with the best security. However, extra features are also integral and you need to ensure that you download a VPN service that has an easy to use client and a good server network.

So, what makes a good VPN? Things to consider when searching for a VPN for Mac include:

Security features: Does the VPN use industry-standard encryption? If the answer is no, then it’s not worth it. It’s also essential to make sure that there a VPN uses strong protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2. OpenVPN provides extra security to browsing and is usually the default protocol. Many VPN providers have developed their own protocols, such as NordVPN which combine security and speed. As well as this, a VPN that provides DNS leak protection is important since it ensures your IP address will never leak.

Connection speed: VPNs are known to slow down your internet connection, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. The best Mac VPNs provide good speeds for streaming and gaming. Protocols can play a role in speed, and L2TP is known to provide fast speeds. Distance from servers affects speed, so a VPN with servers that are close in proximity to your location will also guarantee that you have faster speeds.

Easy to use client: Macs are popular because they run fast and function well. With this in mind, you’d want a VPN that provides the same seamless ease of use with its client. A macOS app that is simple to navigate and clearly laid out with all the features easily accessible is important.

iOS app: Another important aspect when choosing a VPN is whether there is a compatible iOS app. Many providers allow users to connect several devices to one VPN subscription. If you have a Mac computer and an iPhone or iPad, then ensuring that there is an app available will guarantee that you can use the VPN across all of your devices.

The number of servers: A good number of available servers is important for several reasons. Firstly, the more servers, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to access regionally-blocked content in other countries. A larger number of servers is also important to ensure that no servers are overloaded with too many users at one time. This can slow down connection speeds and affect the VPN’s performance.

Extra features: There are standard things that are expected in a VPN, but extra features are also important. Good VPNs should include a kill switch, have good customer support, and offer at least a 30-day money-back guarantee. As well as this it’s important that there are options that allow you to easily connect to servers.

What are the Best VPNs for Mac?

Even if you aren’t worried about viruses and malware, your privacy and security on the internet should be major concerns. To help you choose the best VPN and give you peace of mind and extra protection when online, here are our picks for the best VPNs for Mac computers.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the best all-around VPNs with regard to security and speed. It is compatible across most devices including macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and Windows.

With a NordVPN subscription, you’ll be able to protect all of your Apple OS devices thanks to the first-rate client for the computer and VPN app. NordVPN offers fast speeds to users and makes use of the IKEv2/IPsec protocol. This isn’t the only protocol that NordvPN offers since this provider gives users a lot more choice than its competitors. OpenVPN is available for extra security, there is support for the Wireguard protocol for fast speeds, or users can enjoy Nord’s very own NordLynx protocol which combines security and speed.

Security is top-notch with NordVPN. There is the ‘Double VPN’ feature which encrypts your data twice, as it routes traffic through two servers. There is a no-logs policy which means that no user activity will ever be stored. NordVPN uses hard drive storage, which is more of a security risk since data has to be manually wiped. However, Nord is slowly making the move over to complete volatile memory (RAM).

If you want a VPN for torrenting or P2P networking then NordVPN gives you the option to do this. Nord has specialized P2P servers which means you don’t need to go through any extra setup. Thanks to NordVPN’s great encryption, you can torrent without any worries.

Nord’s Mac client is easy to use. The client opens up with a large blue map that displays all of Nord’s servers. You can connect to them by selecting one from the map or use the Quick Connect feature. We love this feature since users are connected to the fastest and closest physical server through the click of a button.

Turning the VPN on and off is easy and done through the toggle of a button. You can adjust the settings of your VPN in the client, choosing a server to auto-connect to and ensuring that the kill switch is automatically activated whenever you’re using the VPN.

NordVPN also offers fantastic customer service to Mac OS users. There is a live chat support option and this is available in many languages including English, German, and French. Although NordVPN is one of the more expensive VPN providers, we feel that its prices reflect the first-rate services.

2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive VPNs, yet also one of the most effective. Like Nord, ExpressVPN offers users a plethora of benefits and is especially great for unblocking regional streaming services.

With ExpressVPN you get access to over 3000 servers and have five simultaneous connections with any subscription. Thanks to the wide range of countries in which ExpressVPN has its servers, it is one of the best for unblocking geo-blocked content. Want to watch Japanese Netflix? With ExpressVPN you can access the Japanese Netflix catalog with ease.

Some VPNs manage to unblock streaming services like BBC iPlayer, but users face the possible issue of buffering and low resolution. We tested ExpressVPN with several streaming services including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu, and were pleased to have HD quality on each platform. As well as this, the speed was good.

If instead of searching for a VPN for streaming and gaming, you want to have online anonymity, then ExpressVPN’s strong encryption can assist. ExpressVPN employs military-grade AES-256 bit encryption, which is used by governments. When you’re in an encrypted tunnel using ExpressVPN, you can rest assured that your data and IP address are completely hidden.

When it comes to IP addresses, ExpressVPN offers DNS leak protection. The VPN also uses Perfect Forward Secrecy which means encryption keys are changed at each session, ensuring that every time you use the VPN you are protected.

The ExpressVPN Mac client is well-designed and complements the efficiency of macOS systems. It’s easy to use and includes many features that people can choose to activate. There is the Network Lock, which is ExpressVPN’s version of the kill switch, and a Smart Location feature. This feature is like NordVPN’s Quick Connect button and will connect you to the most appropriate VPN server.

In terms of customer support, there is 24/7 live chat support. If you experience any problems while using your VPN, you’ll be connected to a member of the customer support team.

ExpressVPN is costly, and so it is disappointing that there is no free trial that allows customers to try out the VPN. However, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you’ll receive a full refund before the end of the first month if you aren’t happy with the service provided.

3. ProtonVPN

Although ProtonVPN offers users a smaller network of servers than some of its competitors, its security features are first-rate to provide secure encryption.

With ProtonVPN you have access to a range of security features that will make your internet browsing incredibly safe. Firstly, ProtonVPN uses OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols for extra secure surfing. As well as this, it has the industry-standard AES-256 bit encryption. 256 refers to the key size, and the larger this number is, the more encryption keys are needed to decrypt the data.

Upon download and installation, the DNS leak protection is automatically activated. There is also WebRTC leak protection. Both of these features ensure that your real location and IP address is never revealed. The VPN provider’s mission is to give everyone online privacy, and it certainly does this.

For an extra layer of security, with ProtonVPN you can access the Secure Core Network. This routes your traffic through two servers. The first is a Proton core-owned server and then a VPN server. Proton fully owns the Secure Core Network and the core servers are stored in secure locations. This means that no one except Proton can access the servers, which is reassuring for users who choose to tunnel their internet activity through this network.

ProtonVPN is located in Switzerland so enjoys great privacy laws. The VPN provider has a strict no-logging policy, and only stores a timestamp of each user’s most recent log-in. Every time you start a new session, your previous log-in time will be overwritten.

In terms of unlocking geo-blocked content, it depends on which ProtonVPN plan you use. ProtonVPN has four subscription plans with each one offering more features to users. The Premium plan is by the far the best deal since it gives you access to all servers and has high speeds. This makes it great for watching popular services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix.

With regard to customer support, ProtonVPN doesn’t offer a live chat service like some other providers, which is a little disappointing. However, the website has a knowledge page, with a lot of information. As well as this, customers can email the customer support team and will receive a prompt response.

The macOS client is stylish and features a grayscale world map that shows the location of its servers. User can choose to connect to one of these from the server list, and can even create server profiles. These profiles save your favorite servers so that you can quickly connect to one when you switch on the VPN. ProtonVPN has an easy to use app for iOS systems, making it a great choice for mac users who want to protect all of their devices.

There is no free trial with ProtonVPN, but there is a free version of the VPN. Proton offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for customers. However, the provider will only refund the time left over from the first 30 days, so if you cancel your subscription after 28 days, you will only receive money back for the remaining two.

4. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access provides users with complete anonymity online whilst also helping them to get around regional-blocks that prevent them from viewing censored content.

Despite being a US-based provider, Private Internet Access has a no-logs policy and doesn’t store any of its users’ data. This means that should the US government request data from its servers, there won’t be anything stored that links individuals to what they do while connected to one of the VPN servers.

Private Internet Access uses the best protocols including the new open-source protocol WireGuard. This simple yet powerful protocol provides users with an impenetrable encrypted tunnel so that people’s online activity is protected at all times.

The large server network makes this VPN provider one of the best for unblocking censored content. If you want to access the UK-based BBC iPlayer or the German Netflix library, you can do so with Private Internet Access. Since this VPN is compatible not only with macOS systems but also iOS, Android, Linux, and Windows, you can stream blocked content from any of your devices. Private Internet Access offers ten simultaneous connections, which is an impressive amount.

The easy to use Mac client is customizable and allows individuals to weaken or strengthen the encryption, which can affect speeds. The client has extra features such as a kill switch, which can be activated by the click of a button. Overall, we feel that Private Internet Access’ client complements the style of a macOS.

When it comes to prices, Private Internet Access offers one of the best value for money VPNs. The year-long subscription works out to be a lot more cost-effective than the monthly subscription. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee if you try out the VPN and decide it isn’t for you.

5. Avast SecureLine VPN

Avast SecureLine VPN comes from a Czech-based security company that is dedicated to providing individuals with more privacy online.

Although Avast provides a small VPN server network, its servers are located in good locations in order to give users access to regional-blocked content. The best VPN providers should be able to get past Netflix’s VPN block and although Avast does have fewer servers than providers such as Nord, it can still provide access to Netflix libraries in many countries.

Your VPN connection will be secure on AvastVPN since the provider uses AES-256 bit encryption and OpenVPN and IPSec protocols. Even if hackers get through to your server, they won’t be able to decrypt any code thanks to the military-grade encryption.

There is a no-logs policy with Avast, although the company does store some information including connection logs. These logs include the amount of data transmitted in each session, the duration of your connection, and the time at which you connected and disconnected.

Mac users will enjoy the client since it is easy to navigate. Switching the VPN on and off is done by toggling a switch, and you can change your location by choosing from a list of VPN servers. Avast informs customers of what the optimal server is based on location and speed, but you are free to connect to any server. You can download and install the VPN from the Avast website and set up is easy.

If you have multiple devices then you’ll be pleased to know that Avast offers five simultaneous connections. It has compatible apps for iOS, Android, Linux, and Windows, should you use any of these alongside your macOS.

There is a 7-day free trial with AvastVPN, and there is no automatic sign-up at the end of the week-long trial. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee. Avast is a trustworthy VPN that is constantly growing its server network and updating its features to provide customers with a great user experience.

6. Surfshark

Surfshark is one of the best Mac VPN providers thanks to its Mac client that provides seamless ease of use.

Mac users will love the straightforwardness of Surfshark’s VPN client. Using a VPN shouldn’t be difficult and Surfshark is great for VPN novices. The Mac client has a clear layout, with a list of the VPN servers in alphabetical order. However, there is also a Quick Connect option that connects you to the most suitable server. As well as this, there are other quick links such as the MultiHop and Whitelister features.

With extra features available, Surfshark provides Mac customers with a lot of great VPN services. The MultiHop feature enables you to mask your IP address even more by connecting you to multiple servers. The Whitelister feature permits split tunneling and allows you to decide which apps and websites you want to be encrypted and which you don’t.

When it comes to security, there is a kill switch feature and uses high-grade encryption. As well as this, Surfshark uses IKEv2/IPsec protocols, but you can choose to use the OpenVPN protocol if you want better security and don’t mind the slightly slower speeds.

If you’re a VPN expert, then the simplicity of Surfshark may not be what you’re looking for. However, if you want a VPN to unblock streaming services, you’ll be impressed with Surfshark’s ability to access different Netflix libraries across the world.

With unlimited simultaneous connections, you can connect all of your devices. Surfshark supports macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and Windows devices. Although there isn’t a free trial, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.

7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is one of the best mac VPN providers due to its fantastic speeds and impressive security features.

Out of all the VPNs on our list, Hotspot Shield is one of the best in terms of its VPN service. Its first-rate security features are second to none, as it employs AES-256 bit encryption. Your VPN connection guarantees that your internet traffic is secure thanks to the many protocol options that Hotspot Shield offers. The Hydra protocol guarantees lightning-fast speeds and premium security.

The macOS app is easy to use and involves users simply clicking an on and off button to get the VPN started. Since the Hydra protocol offers such great speeds, you can leave your VPN running in the background and not worry about it slowing down your connection speeds.

Due to the speeds offered, Hotspot Shield is one of the best VPN providers for accessing blocked content. You’ll be able to watch censored regional Netflix content without suffering from buffering or low-quality. There is also unlimited bandwidth available so that you can stream, torrent, and game as much as you want.

Customer support is also first-rate with Hotspot Shield with 24/7 live chat support available. As well as this, there is a support guide on the website, and customers can also get in touch via email and receive a fast response.

Hotspot Shield does have a free version of its VPN, but the VPN service is a lot more limited. The 45-day money-back guarantee is a fantastic feature since it gives customers a long time to try out the VPN before committing to more months.

Are There Free VPNs for Mac?

If you scour the internet or app store you’ll notice there are many Mac VPN providers. As a Mac user, you’ll be used to spending a lot of money, so it makes sense that you’ll want a good-quality Mac VPN but for a lower price.

A lot of people seek out free VPNs. However, at VPNSurfers we’d advise that you are cautious when searching for free VPNs for several reasons. Firstly, free VPNs usually offer lower standards of encryption since they use weaker protocols like PPTP instead of strong protocols like OpenVPN. This means that your internet traffic is more at risk of being exposed to hackers.

Secondly, free VPNs need to make money somehow, and this can be through advertising. Adware is common amongst free VPNs, which can be problematic for Mac customers who want their device to remain free of any malware.

Another problem with free VPN services is that they often don’t provide the option for simultaneous connections and aren’t always compatible with multiple operating systems. If you want to use a VPN on your Mac computer but you also have Android, Linux and Windows devices you want to protect, this can be hard to do.

Finally, many free VPNs sell user information to third parties as another way to make money. Using a VPN is supposed to protect people from their internet activity being logged or sold, so using a free Mac VPN can often contradict the very reason why you are using it.

With all that said, there are some free Mac VPNs that are available and are completely safe. However, good providers who offer a free VPN for Mac will often reduce the features. If you want to test a VPN provider, then trying out their free Mac VPN is a good way to see if the provider is for you.

What is The Best Free VPN for Mac?

At VPNSurfers, we want everyone to have access to internet privacy and freedom. That’s why we are cautious to recommend free VPNs. However, there are a couple of good free VPNs for Mac. Here are the best Mac VPN services that won’t cost you a penny.

ProtonVPN: ProtonVPN’s free version is quite impressive considering customers don’t have to pay for it. Proton makes it easy for you to set up a VPN connection with its straightforward Mac VPN client and app. With the free plan, customers can access only 3 servers, in the US, the Netherlands, and Japan.

Customers also get only 1 device connection which means you’ll only be able to use the VPN on your Mac. However, this free version does have some good aspects. ProtonVPN uses AES-256 bit encryption and employs the strong OpenVPN protocol, which ensures the encryption is secure. The speeds are slow, so that means you won’t be able to use this VPN for Netflix, but it is effective at keeping your online activity private.

With the free Mac VPN, you’ll also have access to great features such as the kill switch and don’t need to worry about any of your online activity getting logged. This is one of the best free Mac VPN options and is a great way for people to test out a VPN without signing up to a long payment plan.

Hotspot Shield: Another provider that has created one of the best Mac VPNs is Hotspot Shield. Its free Mac VPN offers a lot less than the Premium plan version, but is still a good choice for VPN novices who only want a little bit of online protection.

On Hotspot Shield’s website, there is an outline of all of the services its free VPN provides. There is a limit to the amount of data customers can consume, with only 500MB of data available per day. The speeds are slow, and the limited bandwidth means that the free version of the VPN can only be used for basic internet activities such as online banking, and isn’t good for watching Netflix.

However, like ProtonVPN, Hotspot Shield offers people great features like the kill switch and has DNS leak protection. The installation process is easy, and to set up a VPN connection on the free plan is simple since customers can only connect to 1 server.

Like with ProtonVPN, Hotspot’s Shield free VPN is a great way for customers to test the provider before signing up for the Premium version of the plan.

Does Mac Have an In-Built VPN?

Since Macs come with in-built security features to protect the devices from online threats such as malware, many people have wondered whether Mac has its own VPN system. However, there is no Mac VPN that comes installed in a Mac OS device.

Luckily, almost all VPN developers have created dedicated apps and client for Mac OS devices. Since Apple has created very specific systems that work seamlessly, it’s important that a VPN provider also has a great client that will suit the form and functionality of a Mac.

Since most Apple users have all of their devices connected, it makes sense that VPNs offer multiple deivce connections so that all customers can have their Apple systems protected. The best VPNs will have a Mac OS client and an iOS app that works well on iPhones and iPads.

As with anything, Apple is constantly developing its software, and so we can’t say for certain that there will never be an in-built VPN for Mac devices. However, as of now there isn’t but fortunately there are many great VPN options available for Mac customers.

Author Madeleine Hodson

I’m Madeleine and an author for VPNSurfers. I have a keen interest in VPNs and believe that everyone deserves internet freedom and security. I have lived in several countries, including a two year stay in Hong Kong which incl...
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Last updated: November 19, 2020