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 one of the best VPN services 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.
- Check out the best VPN services of 2017
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN services of 2018
Best all-round VPN
Number of servers: 1500+ | Server locations: 145 | 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: 1731 | Server locations: 61 | 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 seemingly strict ‘zero logs’ policy, but digging further into the latter, the firm’s session logging policy isn’t clear, which is a slight concern. Performance was slightly above average in our testing.
There's a free 7-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 and obvious choice. The packages available are:
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
This Switzerland-based provider operates a tier-1 network and is solely in charge of its own servers – so it’s no wonder that VyprVPN does well on the performance front. In fact, in our testing we found that it more than doubled our download speeds compared to our regular rates (without the VPN running).
When it comes to Mac, there is a rather neat and, to our knowledge, unique feature. Namely, the ability to manage and customise your VPN connections on a per-app basis, allowing for better overall control of your online privacy.
And in terms of security, you get VyprDNS, OpenVPN (160-bit and 256-bit), L2TP/IPsec protocols, as well as VyprVPN’s own Chameleon protocol for avoiding VPN blocking. However, note that some logging does go on here in the form of recording connection times and IP addresses.
VyprVPN has two pricing plans with either monthly or annual billing. Monthly plans are rather expensive, so the yearly option is the best way to save money. Curiously, there are no refunds available from this provider, so be sure to utilise the three-day free trial in order to test the service out before you buy. The packages available are:
- Basic: [$9.95 a month] [$45 annually - $3.75 a month]
- Premium: [$12.95 a month] [$60 annually - $5 a month]
Best balanced VPN
Number of servers: 850 | 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: 200+ | Server locations: 100+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
Ivacy gets off to a great start in terms of raw performance, as in our testing, it offered download speeds which almost matched our normal non-VPN rates. And when you consider the plentiful server locations spread across the globe, things are definitely looking good for this Singapore-based provider.
The Mac app is pretty intuitive, presenting you with a list of purpose-themed options – such as unblocking websites, or torrenting. Simply choose what you wish to do and the client sorts out the actual nitty-gritty of the settings itself, which makes everything very user-friendly.
Multiple security protocols (PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, OpenVPN and IKEv2) and 256-bit encryption are in place here, and you also get some advanced features like split tunnelling, IPv6 leak protection and a kill switch. As for your privacy, Ivacy enthusiastically states that it keeps ‘no logs whatsoever’!
Ivacy doesn’t offers a free trial and there are some restrictions with the refund policy. It’s only valid if you connect fewer than 30 times or use under 7GB of data. The one-year plan is extremely affordable, mainly because you get an extra year for free, so effectively it’s a two-year plan. The packages available are:
- Ready to make the switch from Mac? Check out the best 2-in-1 laptops