Whether you are a regular Mac user or have simply inquired into the product, chances are you’ve heard legends of Apple’s virus-free software. Unfortunately, all is not as simple as it seems – even Mac users need to be careful when it comes to security, and any device with an unsecured internet connection runs a potential risk of being monitored by the government, ISPs, and potentially even cyber criminals. In order to prevent this from happening, you need a VPN.
Aside from maintaining your privacy and security, a VPN also helps you bypass regional blocks and access websites or services that would otherwise be blocked in your physical location. In this article, we will discuss how to pick the best VPN for your needs; give you our top VPN provider recommendations; explain the benefits of a VPN; and get you started with just a few simple steps.
How to pick the right VPN for Mac
Before you start looking into specific VPN providers, you will need to identify exactly what your online needs are. There are numerous compelling reasons to get a VPN, but depending on whether you want to surf anonymously or simply bypass geo-blocks on streaming websites, your choice may change. Below we have provided the most important features to look out for in a good VPN. To get started, prioritize these depending on what you do most online.
- Strong encryption – when browsing online without a VPN, your data is completely unencrypted. This means that anyone could track you down and see your browsing history, IP address, and personal information. Encryption adds a massive layer of security to your data, therefore opting for a provider with strong (e.g. 256-bit AES) encryption will always keep you safe online.
- No-logging policy – if a VPN stores your logs online, there is always a risk that this data could be passed on to third parties, including the government and ISPs. We recommend you choose a provider that employs a no-logging policy so that there are no records of your activity.
- Large network – in a nutshell, the larger the network, the more options you have when it comes to connecting to a server, both in terms of speed and location. For example, if you want to unblock French Netflix from the United States, the provider will need servers in France.
- Speedy connections – in order to get the most out of your provider, choose a VPN that does not limit your bandwidth or use speed caps.
- Device availability – to enjoy your VPN on all your devices, you will need to go with a provider who has a wide software availability. This means that the service will be available on your mobile device, PC, and maybe even router.
Can I use a free VPN?
The question surrounding the use of free VPNs is a common one, especially with new users. If you are looking to have a secure, reliable connection, we strongly suggest you do not use a free VPN. A free VPN, essentially, does not have any of the strong security features a paid VPN has, including a zero-logging policy. This means that your information could get into the hands of cyber criminals, and everything from your timestamps to account credentials could be exposed and leaked. Therefore, a free VPN may sound like it doesn’t cost anything, but it could end up costing you your privacy.
Our top VPN recommendations for Mac
Now that you are familiar with the features to look out for in a VPN service, take a look at our VPN recommendations for Mac.
ExpressVPN is our number one choice when it comes to a service with strong security features as well as an easy user interface. With 256-bit AES encryption, it would take the world’s strongest supercomputer millions of years to be able to read the data, which means that your information would be protected at all times. ExpressVPN also offers a range of other encryption protocols, including OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, and SSTP, which helps beat even the most hardcore censorship blocks. Furthermore, ExpressVPN has a solid no-logging policy, which ensures that there are no logs on traffic, DNS requests, IP addresses, and browsing history. In case you ever get disconnected, the provider employs an automatic kill switch which shuts down your internet in order to prevent any of your data from being unencrypted.
In terms of speed, ExpressVPN truly lives up to its name. With a server network consisting of 2,000+ servers in 94 countries, users have a vast amount of connection options, both in terms of geographical location and speed. Moreover, ExpressVPN provides unlimited bandwidth as a default and does not employ speed caps, which means you can enjoy the secure and quick connection for a long time. For desktop devices, the provider even has a built-in speed test, which will allow you to constantly have the fastest connection available.
If you’d like to know more about ExpressVPN’s range of features, check out our full ExpressVPN review.
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NordVPN is particularly known for its security and advanced features, which means it is a great choice for those trying to add an extra layer of protection to their Macs. With 5,200+ servers in 62 countries, NordVPN has the largest network in the industry, and it continues to expand over time. The provider also offers a range of speciality servers, such as onion over VPN, anti-DDoS, double VPN, and obfuscated servers, which completely masks the fact that you are using a VPN. These advanced features make NordVPN a solid service for unblocking streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu, as well as bypassing other VPN blocks.
In terms of security, NordVPN employs top-of-the-line features that keep your data and information private. The military-grade 256-bit AES encryption is considered to be practically unbreakable, which protects all your activity logs while you are browsing online. Furthermore, NordVPN’s logging policy is considered to be one of the most complete in the history. It does not keep logs on anything from traffic to IP addresses and browsing history.
For more information on NordVPN’s device availability and security features, take a look at our full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost is considered one of the best VPN providers when it comes to privacy, security, and especially ease of use. Upon launching the app, you will be able to choose from six configuration profiles, which automatically set up the VPN depending on the settings needed for best performance. For example, if you need to stream content on Netflix with your Mac, you will select the profile “unblock streaming”, which helps bypass VPN blocks on 20 different streaming websites. Each of the six profiles can further be customised with toggles such as “block online tracking” and “extra speed”. The best part is that despite the advanced technology, CyberGhost is very user-friendly.
In terms of security, CyberGhost is also amongst the industry leaders. The service employs 256-bit AES encryption via OpenVPN, which is nearly impossible to crack. Other encryption protocols include UDP and TCP, as well as L2TP and PPTP. CyberGhost’s no logging policy is also considered one of the best on the market because it logs almost nothing at all, including your email address. Other security features include a kill switch and an online tracking blocker.
Want to learn more about CyberGhost’s range of features? Check out our full review of CyberGhost.
PureVPN has a network of 2,000+ servers in 140 countries, which means that you can practically connect to any IP you want. The list includes countries which often don’t have available VPN servers, including Bangladesh, Armenia, Brunei, Mongolia, and Senegal. The number of available servers means that not only do you have a great variety in terms of location, but you can pick the fastest available server for quick streaming or downloading.
PureVPN also has some of the stronger security features. It employs 256-bit AES encryption on all data, as well as a DNS leak protection in case the connection is interrupted. Furthermore, PureVPN keeps your identity and activity logs safe with a solid zero-logging policy, as well as an automatic kill switch which shuts down the internet in case you lose connection. The best part about this provider is that despite its strong security and quick connection speed, it is fairly simple to use on any one of the available devices.
Why do I need a VPN?
There is a myriad of reasons to use a VPN service, even with a secure device like a Mac. Whether you want to unlock the American Netflix library from Europe or browse websites anonymously, a VPN gives you plenty of benefits without any hassle and at a low price. By opting for one of our recommended VPN providers, you can enjoy all the advantages we have delved into below.
Enjoy sitting in a coffee shop and surfing the web while working? Well, that public Wi-Fi hotspot is not as secure as it may seem, and even when you have nothing to hide, think of the number of times you have entered your passwords or credit card details online. When connecting to a public wi-fi, your data is unencrypted and runs the risk of being logged. With a VPN, you will be able to enjoy a secure, reliable connection wherever you go, from your friend’s home to a local cafe. Furthermore, using a VPN will hide your browsing history, IP addresses, timestamps, and more, if you choose a quality provider with military-grade security features.
Bypassing regional blocks
Whether you are travelling abroad for work or enjoying your internet connection in the privacy of your home, regional blocks can be irritating. Depending on where you are located, governmental internet laws vary, but almost all locations have either restricted or blocked access to certain websites. For example, if you are located in China, a VPN will allow you to access websites like Facebook, Google, and Youtube, without any hassle or error messages.
Streaming geoblocked content
Regional blocks apply to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, too. Due to copyright agreements, some streaming media providers cannot broadcast all content globally, which means that some of the titles are available in some locations but unavailable in others. Upon login, the websites detect your IP address and depending on your country show you available content. With a VPN, you can manipulate your device’s IP address depending on the content you wish to access. This means that whether you are in China or Sweden, you can view American Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
If you live in a country with harsh internet laws, including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and many others with low internet freedom, a VPN will protect you from government and ISP snooping. This means that you will be able to not only access websites that are otherwise blocked, but prevent your information from being monitored or logged. In the long run, this is one of the only ways to maintain your privacy online.
How do I get started?
Now that you know all the benefits of using a quality VPN provider and have chosen the service you wish to try out, it will only take a few simple steps to get started.
Download, install, and setup the VPN
- Go into your browser and sign up for a VPN account with your chosen provider. Download the right app for your operating system.
- Upon download, launch the app and sign in using your new credentials.
- Once you login, you will be automatically connected to the quickest available server – this is a default with most VPN providers. If you need to connect to a specific location, select a node manually.
- You are now ready to browse on your Mac! Bypass regional blocks and enjoy your secure connection as long as your VPN is on.
Verify your IP address (not mandatory)
This step can be omitted, however, we believe it is important to make sure your connection is, in fact, reliable.
- Open your browser, go to ipleak.net and give the page a few moments to load.
- The page will run an automatic IP address lookup test. To check how secure the connection is, check the IP address indicated under “your IP addresses”.
- If you see your chosen server, you are good to go. If, however, you see your physical location, there may be a leak and you will need to speak to a representative of your VPN provider to fix the problem.
While it may seem that an operating system as secure as Mac does not require extra layers of security, truth is everyone could be facing the potential danger of being monitored and tracked. In order to bypass regional restrictions, have a secure connection and keep all your data private, all you need to do is choose one of our recommended VPN providers. We have carefully selected the best services in terms of speed, security, ease of use, and compatibility with Mac.
Which VPN works best with your Mac? Have you had any problems with using any of the services? Leave us your thoughts down below!