Mac users can get somewhat complacent about security, but they shouldn’t – Apple’s desktop computers are being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, and it never pays to let your guard down.
Certainly, as well as competent antivirus, folks with a Mac need a quality Virtual Private Network just as much as anyone on Windows – although not every VPN service provides a client or satisfactory support for macOS users. However, if you’re stuck as to which provider to go with, help is at hand…
How to choose the best VPN for Mac
It’s not always easy to find a Mac-friendly VPN service. Obviously enough, it’s important to choose a provider that offers a pre-configured client for its service. Having a good Mac client is a huge boon in terms of simply making things as easy as possible. Solid iOS support is also a welcome feature if you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem and have an iPhone as well as a Mac.
Best all-round VPN
Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 136 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3
ExpressVPN is our top choice for the best all-round VPN service on the Mac. Their dedicated app is intuitive and very user-friendly, which features a one-click option for connecting, as well as some advanced options. It uses 256-bit OpenVPN encryption both over UDP and TCP protocols and comes with a kill switch.
Nevertheless, the pricing slightly tarnishes things. The service is a tad pricier than most other VPN providers, with no free trial – but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. ExpressVPN offers three price plans, with the 12-month plan offering the best value. The packages available are:
Most secure VPN
Number of servers: 759 | Server locations: 56 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
When it comes to security, NordVPN does it like no other. Its own ‘Double VPN’ technology encrypts data twice – in other words, it passes your data through two separate VPN servers to make things even more secure – while there are additional security extras such as encrypted chat, web proxy extensions and so on.
NordVPN’s clients for both macOS and iOS are rather basic compared to others, but keeping things simple can be advantageous for novices. This provider is also P2P-friendly and has a strict zero logs policy, which makes it perfect for those seeking an ultra-secure and private experience. The performance was slightly above average in our testing, too.
There's a free 3-day trial (hidden away in the FAQ), and NordVPN is a relatively affordable service. There are three plans available with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The 1-year plan is the most popular choice (although currently, there’s a limited time offer for a 2-year plan that boasts the best savings). The packages available are:
- [$11.95 a month] 1-month
- [$7.00 a month] 6-months - $42.00
- [$5.75 a month] 1-year - $69.00
- [$3.29 a month] 2-years - $79.00
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 5
IPVanish’s Mac app features a nifty design and a few welcome options like a kill switch and automatic IP switching. The service is blazingly fast, and it’ll automatically hook you up to the fastest server available, a nice touch on the convenience front. Not only are download speeds fast with this VPN, it allows P2P.
OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP protocols are supported, and there’s also decent iOS support and a wide coverage of servers, with no logging of the user’s activities.
However, you pay for the performance you get here. IPVanish doesn’t have a free trial, although there is a 7-day money-back guarantee with all three available plans. The 1-year subscription is clearly the best choice. The packages available are:
Most affordable VPN
Number of servers: 300+ | Server locations: 50+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited has all the right ingredients in optimal quantities. Its native Mac client is well-designed, and you can pick up nifty extras like a personal server or a personal static IP. The service also offers solid iOS support and doesn’t store any user information on the privacy front.
Performance varied a bit during testing, but overall it was solid enough, doing well on downloads but with things slowing up a bit more on uploads. And the choice of servers isn’t as extensive as some VPNs.
The pricing plans are a story of their own. There’s six of them and they all represent good value for money, ranging from a weekly plan to a permanent ‘forever’ subscription. The 3-year plan offers the best savings – and don’t forget you can avail yourself of a 7-day free trial to test the service out. The packages available are:
- [$1.99 a week] 1-week
- [$4.99 a month] 1-month
- [$3.00 a month] 3-months - $9
- [$2.08 a month] 1-year - $24.95
- [$1.94 a month] 3-years - $69.85
- Forever - $129.99
Best balanced VPN
Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 20 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
Our best balanced option for the Mac is Hotspot Shield. First and foremost, it boasts speedy performance levels, actually increasing both our upload and download speeds once connected (although your mileage may vary). The client is pretty straightforward to use, although don’t expect much in the way of more advanced configuration options.
Another strong point of Hotspot Shield is the pricing. It currently offers five subscription plans, including a ‘forever’ option. Unless you want to commit to the latter, the overall best bet is the 2-year plan which is extremely affordable. The packages available are: