Even if you think that your Mac is completely immune from online security threats, there are loads of reasons why downloading and installing a Mac VPN is becoming an ever more popular thing to do on Apple computers.
Whether it's because you're trying to use your Mac to access websites that are blocked by your office, school or ISP (or even your government!) or just want to watch foreign TV shows, getting a Virtual Private Network makes sense.
And because Apple’s desktop computers and MacBooks are being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, it never pays to let your guard down. Getting the best Mac VPN you can is a good option to help give you extra online security.
As well as competent antivirus, folks with a Mac need a quality VPN just as much as anyone on Windows – although not every one of the best-rated VPN options 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 with TechRadar's dedicated best Mac VPN guide.
- Check out our guide to the overall best VPN service of the year
The best Mac VPN 2020
Best all-round VPN for Mac
Number of servers: 3000+ | Server locations: 160 | IP addresses: 30,000 | Maximum devices supported: 3
ExpressVPN is our top choice for the best all-round VPN on the Mac. The firm's dedicated app is intuitive and very user-friendly, featuring a one-click option for connecting, as well as some advanced options.
It uses 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN UDP by default and the app comes with a kill switch and split tunnelling functionality.
There’s also a very good iOS app and Safari browser extension, so you get a complete Mac VPN experience. More than that, Express's advanced features (and their in-depth tutorials) are great for Apple users. For instance, if your Mac connects to the internet by a wired connection, you can set it up as a wireless hotspot for your local devices, allowing them to connect via the VPN without having to be set up for ExpressVPN themselves.
ExpressVPN includes fast VPN servers across 94 countries and unlimited bandwidth. That makes for a solid choice for anyone using the VPN for P2P traffic or unblocking content on streaming services like Netflix.
The provider is a tad pricier than most other VPNs, but may be a great fit for those who want the best experience for Mac. ExpressVPN doesn’t come with a free trial, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee for reassurance.
The company offers three price plans, with the 12-month plan offering the best value (you get an extra three months into the bargain). The packages available are:
Get the best Mac VPN 2020: $6.67 per month (with 3 months FREE)
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we'd choose if we were getting one and it's hard to argue with the provider's 30-day money-back guarantee. And the good news is that TechRadar readers can get a little perk when they sign up, too. ExpressVPN has agreed to give readers three months extra FREE when they sign up for a year.
Specialist Mac software rich with features
Number of servers: 3,600+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 7
We found that Mac VPN provider CyberGhost certainly has the smarts to easily back up its claims. Let's start with the basics: more than 3,600 servers spread across 60 countries, no bar on torrents and some really handy live chat support if you ever run into difficulties.
Guaranteed no logs, rigorous encryption and a trigger-happy kill switch for any breaches in security mean it's certainly strong. But it's the added little extras that make CyberGhost stand out from the rest. Wanting to unlock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube or something else? No worries, as CyberGhost will automatically connect you to the server best poised for the purpose. It can also block ads, trackers and malicious websites.
CyberGhost has recently improved its interface - previously one of main gripes with this Mac VPN. Now that only gives us room to moan about the odd bit of clogging, which lead to reduced speeds from servers in the far reaches of the globe. There's still room for improvement on website-based support pages, too - an area where ExpressVPN has everybody else licked.
Straightforward and secure
Number of servers: 5400+ | Server locations: 60+ | 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.
That's not to say that you don't have options...NordVPN gives Mac users more choice than the average provider, with an IVEv2 version of its client available on the App store, and an OpenVPN version available directly from the NordVPN website. And that's not all-- you can also manually set up to use OpenVPN without installing either of the clients.
This provider is also P2P-friendly and has a strict ‘zero logs’ policy. Performance was slightly above average in our testing.
There's a free 30-day money back guarantee, and otherwise NordVPN is one of the most affordable VPN options for your Mac. The packages available are:
Brilliantly balanced Mac VPN
Number of servers: 1300+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 10
The Mac app from IPVanish features a nifty design and a few welcome options like a kill switch and automatic IP switching. The US VPN 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.
IPVanish doesn’t have a free trial, sadly, although there is a 7-day money-back guarantee with all three available plans. The 1-year subscription is clearly the best choice in terms of outright value. The packages available are:
5. Hotspot Shield
A great option for online privacy
Number of servers: 2,500+ | Server locations: 50+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
The premium offering from Hotspot Shield is a great mix of price and privacy. The prices start low and we found in our tests that its encryption was strict in ensuring your anonymity online will be protected.
Plus, thanks to its pretty cool sounding Catapult Hyrda protocol, it recorded some of the fastest times of any VPN as well. So if the main reason for installing a VPN on to your Mac is for gaming or streaming, then you shouldn't be dogged with laggy interruptions that some lesser Virtual Private Networks can cause.
And then there's the numbers. For a start, you can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously from one account - so that's your Mac, smartphone (iOS or Android), Smart TV and games console with room for something else on top. Hotspot Shield has access to more than 2,500 servers across 25 countries and offers 24/ 7 support. The 7-day trial and 45-day money back guarantee makes Hotspot even more attractive to try, and these are its current plans in full:
How to choose the best Mac VPN
It’s not always easy to find a Mac-friendly VPN. 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.