Your MacBook Pro is a workhorse, and it deserves the best VPN protection so it can continue to serve you perfectly for years to come. However, only a few providers have truly optimized their apps to satisfy the demands of MacOS users. We review the most secure, best-performing VPNs for Mac below.
If you’re an expat, remote worker, world-traveler, or content creator – especially of videos and audio files – the MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops you can buy. Even these brushed aluminum-clad workhorses have their limits, and cannot provide the level of security mobile workers and travelers require.
Enter virtual private networks: slick little pieces of software designed to lock down each packet of data that leaves your MBP behind a veil of unbreakable cryptography. But which is the best VPN for Apple’s flagship device?
Whoever you are, you likely have your own special considerations that dictate how you expect your MacBook Pro to function. Remote workers will want to ensure their employer’s sensitive data remains secure, while jet-set travelers will primarily face the frustration of region-locked content restrictions. In any case, we’ve scoured the market for the best MacBook-compatible VPNs to help you get the job done reliably, safely, and affordably.
What the best VPNs have in common
So you start researching a VPN that works on your MacBook Pro. You quickly realize a few things: (1) many VPNs don’t offer compatible apps, and as a result require a technical, lengthy setup; (2) there are a lot of VPN providers out there; and (3) they make a lot of the same claims: voted #1 fastest in the world, most trustworthy, etc. But how can you trust any of them, then?
We’ve run through the gamut of VPN providers on the market, and we’ve brought together the core search criteria we used to separate the wheat from the chaff:
- Compatibility – This is one of the top qualities for a reason we already mentioned twice: not all providers have apps for MacBook Pro. There are ways to setup a VPN without an app, but they take much longer to do. So a VPN provider that offers support for MacOS is a must.
- Encryption – To keep your employers’ data safe and secure, as well as your own creations, you need excellent encryption. Encryption scrambles your data making it virtually impossible to read or trace.
- Speed – Everybody wants fast internet. Unfortunately, VPNs have a reputation for slowing your connection down because of the encryption process. So a VPN that mitigates this and maintains high streaming, downloading, and browsing speeds is a must.
- Zero-logging policy – ISPs are required to monitor, log, and maintain records on their users’ data. This includes your traffic, IP address, DNS, bandwidth, and more. To keep your activity and identity truly private, you need a VPN that has a strict policy against this.
Fastest, most secure VPNs for MacBook Pro
Those criteria defined, here’s our list of the best VPNs for MacBook Pro:
ExpressVPN gives you 2 important things in a VPN: speed and ease-of-use. A lightweight, single-click design gets you connected fast to their 3,000+ server network that’s spread across 94 countries.
Once online, you’ll experience buffer-free streaming and download files in a few beats of your waiting heart. You’ll also find yourself possessing unlimited bandwidth and face no attempts to throttle you. And alongside speed, you get nearly-unbreakable encryption: 256-bit AES, plus a DNS leak test and automatic kill switch in case you get disconnected.
Breaking Netflix and Hulu’s VPN blockers is consistently a cinch, and of course – ExpressVPN provides an app for Mac. Your Wi-Fi router, too, if you have more than 3 devices you want to protect.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
- Fast serves with minimal speed loss
- OpenVPN, IPSec & IKEv2 Encryption
- Strict no-logging policy
- 24/7 Chat Support.
- Month-to-month plan has high cost.
Starting out strong, NordVPN has the largest network in the entire industry: more than 5,500 servers in 58 countries.
You’ll be safe, too, with military-grade, 256-bit AES encryption and multiple protocols to fool even the toughest blocks and queries. And no matter what country you’re in, your activity will be safe: NordVPN offers one of the most complete zero-logging policies around, with no logs kept on your traffic, IP address, timestamps, bandwidth, or browsing history.
Plus, even though there’s no information maintained that can be traced back to you, NordVPN is located in the neutral country of Panama, so they don’t have to listen to other, bigger powers that come knocking.
NordVPN is great for advanced users, offering specialty servers and customizable DNS settings, if you feel like upping your security even further.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- Highly affordable plans
- Fast and stable connections
- No IP/DNS leaks found
- Based in Panama
- Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
- Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
CyberGhost packs incredible VPN functionality into an attractive and simple-to-use package. First, their server network: numbering more than 5,500 servers in 80 countries, you’ll be spoiled for choice in customizing your connection.
What’s more, privacy nuts love CyberGhost’s complete policy against keeping logs; in fact, they won’t even keep the email address you used to sign up on record! Add to that 256-bit encryption, a connection guard, and an automatic kill switch and sitting very well for your online privacy and security.
But CyberGhost has another esteeming quality: just how easy they are to use. A minimalist, colorful display greets you with 6 profiles configured out-of-the-box for select use-cases. So protecting your Wi-Fi connection at a café, or unblocking 10 basic websites takes only a single click.
And to give you extra options if you want them, you can turn on customizable toggles that can block malicious websites, annoying ads, and online tracking, as well as give you extra speed if you find your connection lagging. And with unlimited bandwidth, you’ll never run out of power.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
- Unblocks US Netflix in web browser
- 3,600+ servers, 55+ countries
- 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA256 authentication
- No logs policy
- 24/7 Live Support.
- Some streaming sites cannot be unblocked.
If you’re looking for a VPN that’s friendly, easy to use, and has excellent customer support, look no further than PrivateVPN. At 150+ servers in some 60 countries, PrivateVPN’s network trades sheer variety for more reliable performance per node. In fact, we found PrivateVPN to offer the most consistent access to popularly geo-blocked streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. What’s more, PrivateVPN’s refined encryption methods (employing 256 bits of AES cryptography) allow for maximum preservation of your natural Internet speed.
Contained in PrivateVPN’s simple interface are powerful failsafes designed to guard your security at all times, such as DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch. Even better, the company maintains a respectable no-logging policy, allowing you to cover your tracks and avoid detection by anyone and everyone. Keeping its design simple and “fluff”-free, you’ll have no problem getting online with the PrivateVPN app, purpose-built for your MacBook Pro
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
If you want an established, proven-reliable VPN, PureVPN has you covered. One of the oldest ones around, they’ve proven time and again their ability to stay competitive and give you powerful encryption and fast speeds. 2,000+ in 140+ countries gives you plenty of options to choose from when it comes to server selection, and the neat split tunneling feature helps you pick-and-choose what activity goes through the VPN.
Unlike with other VPNs, where you need external apps to protect you against things like viruses and malware, PureVPN gives you app filtering, DDoS protection, Dedicated IP addresses, NAT firewall, anti-spam filtering, and antivirus software – all internally. For your money, it’s hard to beat the sheer utility of PureVPN’s all-in-one cybersecurity package.
Read our full PureVPN review.
Steps to quickstart your VPN
The steps for downloading and installing a VPN for your MacBook Pro are pretty similar to guides you’ll find for other systems, like PC. First, visit your chosen VPN’s website. Select a plan and provide the information requested. Here, you’ll also create your user login and password. Once this is done, download and install your provider’s Mac installer.
Once the .dmg file is downloaded, click and hold the icon and drag it to your Applications folder. From there, just open the app and enter your login information. Most VPNs then automatically connect you to the fastest server available – usually one located nearby. If you’re just trying to secure your data, then you’re good to go.
If you’re trying to bypass geo-blocks to view content from elsewhere (say, your home country), then you’ll need to visit the VPN’s server list and select the appropriate server. For example, if you’re physically located in Bangkok, but want to view the U.S. Netflix library, visit your VPN’s server list and select one located in the United States.
With your server selected and to all appearances connected, run a quick test to be sure. Open your favorite browser and visit ipleak.net. This web page automatically runs an IP address lookup, so you’ll be able to tell within seconds if your connection to the VPN server was successful. In the example in the last paragraph, ipleak would list your IP address’s country of origin as “United States” if the connection was successful, and “Thailand” (or similar) if it was not.
If your connection to the VPN server was unsuccessful, return to the app and try again with a different server. If the problem persists, contact support. If, however, your connection resolved successfully to the chosen server, then you’re securely online with your VPN.
Why you need a VPN for your MacBook Pro
MacBooks have built in security to stop viruses and malware. Why do you need a VPN?
While it is true that your MacBook Pro isn’t as vulnerable to those types of attacks as other operating systems, those rules don’t apply to your network traffic. Your MacBook Pro only handles its own hardware, keeping it pretty safe from local attacks – not the traffic that goes out of it. When it comes to the privacy of your data online, you’re just as vulnerable as everyone else.
If your ISP, the government of the country you’re in, a hacker, or another 3rd-party wants to peek in on what you’re doing and where doing it – they can. But with a VPN, encryption scrambles your online data. This hides your traffic and DNS, and masks your actual IP address, securing sensitive data and hiding what you’re doing and where you’re doing it from.
And if you need to use non-local websites, you may not be able to due to geo-blocks. Whether for work, pleasure (i.e. Netflix), or simply to view home accounts, a VPN can help you bypass geo-blocks that prevent you from viewing certain content online. Just pick a server located in the region you want to access, and you’ll be online.
Things to keep in mind
But as useful as VPNs are for keeping your data secure and accessing content from different parts of the world, they’re aren’t silver bullets. There are still a few limitations you should keep in mind:
- Multiple downloads necessary – If you have more devices than just your MacBook Pro that you want protected, they won’t automatically be so. You’ll have to download and install the VPN app for each device you want protected. If you work from home, though, some VPNs offer the support to install directly onto your Wi-Fi router, creating a blanket effect of security over the entire house and every connected device.
- Viruses and malware – Again, although your MacBook is pretty good at beating these, it isn’t invincible. Some can still get through and cause problems, so using anti-virus and -malware software is still a must.
- Speed – In some cases, if you’re unhappy with your ISP’s connection speed, a VPN won’t help. However, if you have unlimited data and find your connection slowing down later in the month, they may be throttling you. In that case, a VPN can help speed it up.
- Tor – If you plan on doing some deep, “sketchy” work – journalism in an oppressed country, for example, or activity lying in the grey area of the law – you may need more than a VPN’s encryption to bypass firewalls or other forms of censorship. When used in conjunction with Tor, however, you’ll gain the anonymity needed to bypass these restrictions and access the free and open Internet (though at a noticeable cost to your connection speed).
Considerations for remote workers and expats
With the shift toward remote working and expat living, there’s been a shift in culture and new concerns raised. With so many conversations moved to the online world, suddenly things that could only really be caught by a hidden audio recorder are now vulnerable to leaks, breaches, and hacks. Anything from a big contract to a new demo of video, audio, or otherwise are now online. Where once employees and collaborators spoke in person or over the phone, these same conversations are now taking place in chatrooms – that can often be vulnerable.
Plus, hardware is often non-standard for remote workers of all types, especially freelancers. In a typical office, technology is standard across the board, so security software can be, too. But with different, personal devices being used remotely, cybersecurity concerns land squarely on the shoulders of the remote workers and freelancers. And, since these devices often do double-duty as personal devices, that gets mixed with work data, too, which can lead to accidental exposure to friends and family.
A VPN reduces these risks
Keeping your connections secure is one of the most biggest and most important things you can do to stop these breaches from happening and reassure your employer or clients. It’s oh-so-tempting to get out of the house and go to the local internet café or coffee shop, but these are very insecure networks. So before connecting to them, connect to your VPN, first.
There are other things you can do, too. When collaborating on projects, make sure you keep any business-sensitive documents in one secure cloud location, rather than on your and your team’s MacBook and laptops. Plus, you can brush up on your password, too. Make sure it’s complex, lengthy, and easy to remember. Use a VPN and these tips, and you can keep your work secure, private, and safe.
MacBook Pro is an excellent laptop for remote workers, particularly those engaged in creating video and audio works. So as the choice for many, it warrants a guide all to its own. In this article, we showed you some excellent VPN providers and explained why it’s so important that you use one. We gave you the characteristics to look for when choosing one, and talked about what VPNs can and can’t do. All that’s left now is to use what you learned and secure your network with the best VPN for your MacBook Pro.
Do you use a MacBook Pro for your work or pleasure? Have you used a VPN with it? Would you consider doing so after reading this article? Let us know in the comments section.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.