What Is the Best VPN for Mac in 2020?

It is widely believed that Macs are somehow immune to security attacks. To an extent, this notion is true, given that Apple systems are well-known for their uncrackable encryption.

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Nonetheless, the problem isn’t intrinsically on Mac computers, but rather on the fundamental structure of the internet.

Primarily, the internet was designed to make sharing of information faster and easier. As such, online privacy and security never carried much weight.

Fast forward, today we do more than just accessing information from the internet. For instance, many people send and request payments online, complete banking transactions, and even share personal information with friends and family. All these online activities present an opportunity for hackers and other snoops to steal your personal information.

Ordinarily, most sites can tell your exact browsing location, meaning Mac users (like any OS) are vulnerable to cyber-security threats.  Aside from the worrying security concerns, you may want to access region-blocked websites via your Mac.

To circumvent geo-restrictions, you’ll need to install a VPN on your Apple PC. Yet, you can’t trust just any provider you see out there; on the market. As such, you need to dig deeper into a VPN’s features and functionality to ascertain its capacity to perform.

Most importantly, the VPN must be compatible with your Mac device. How to do it? Fortunately, we’ve had done all the heavy lifting for you.

After a series of battery tests, we came up with the following list of best VPNs to use on your Mac.

Best VPNs for Mac

The number of VPN services claiming to be the best is overwhelming, which is why we researched and tested a few dozens of good VPNs that cater to Mac owners. Here’s a glance at what our top 5 VPNs offer.

  • ExpressVPN: Our best all-rounder for Mac.ExpressVPN uses militarily-grade encryption alongside advanced security features like ‘network lock.’ All its servers are optimized for fast connection speeds.
  • NordVPN: An excellent choice for Mac users looking for a budget-friendly VPN, with unique features, like double VPN. It also stands out for its extensive network of servers, allowing you to spoof a vast region.
  • CyberGhost VPN: For novice users looking for a VPN, CyberGhost might be your best bet. It has a super easy setup process and an intuitive interface and offers a more extended money-back guarantee. 
  • IPVanish VPN: A premium-priced VPN with an impressive performance. It’s feature-rich. Thus, it works perfectly for experienced users. Customizing the VPN settings and configurations are possible as the features can be tinkered.
  • PrivateVPN: PrivateVPN isa reasonably priced VPN with superb customer support. The provider may not have as many servers as other VPNs, but you can trust in their cutting-edge security standards and reliable connection speeds.

Criteria Used for Evaluating VPNs

The VPN market is flooded with lots of VPNs promising reliable services. As such, it helps to have a standard metric, with which you can evaluate your choices.

For starters, a VPN that offers its services for free shouldn’t be in your list of choices. Although securing your Mac with a free VPN is better than using none, these free services tend to have inferior privacy protections.

Additionally, connection speeds and security should also be your primary concerns when buying a VPN. We emphasized more on these two factors in our tests for ranking the best VPNs to use on your Mac.

Other essential factors we considered:

  • Global server coverage
  • Value for money
  • Ability to support simultaneous connections
  • Compatibility
  • Ease of use
  • Customer support

Having now understood the basis of our evaluations, let’s review the 5 best VPNs for Mac with respect to the stated criteria.

1. ExpressVPN

Currently, the provider has over 3,000 servers stationed in 160 cities across 94 countries. This server count makes ExpressVPN a solid choice for P2P file-sharing and unblocking content, like Netflix.

To make your connection undetectable, ExpressVPN uses AES-256 bit encryption. Such rock-solid encryption combined with the provider’s OpenVPN protocol guarantees maximum online privacy.  

The security standards are further enhanced by the VPN’s IPv6 and DNS leak-proof abilities. This ensures that your real IP address remains undetected. There’s also a kill-switch to keep your online activities under wrap, should your connection drop.

ExpressVPN allows you to connect up to 5 simultaneous connections. Moreover, by integrating a router with the VPN, you can connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously.  

What’s more exciting, it supports numerous devices, including, macOS, among other platforms. This is a great feature, especially if you have a big family.

At $12.95/month for the month-to-month plan and $6.67/month for the annual plan, ExpressVPN service isn’t the most affordable VPN around. However, considering the service’s unmatched performance, the fee is a huge bargain.

One of the perks of using ExpressVPN is its simple interface. You don’t need any technical skills to set it up or launch a connection. But in case of any problem, be sure to reach out to their customer support via their 24/7 live chat, or email. Alternatively, there’s a support library where you can search for solutions for simple connection problems. 

Pros

  • Ultra-fast connection speeds
  • Round-the-clock customer support
  • Optimal privacy and security protection
  • Excellent multi-platform support

Cons

  • Not the most affordable choice on this list

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the best providers offering fast connections at an affordable price. The provider offers one of the most comprehensive server coverage in the industry. They have over 5,200 servers stationed in 59 countries.  

Upon signing up, NordVPN offers a list of the closest servers to your location. These servers have no bandwidth limit or data caps imposed on them. As such, you shouldn’t experience any buffering when streaming movies and shows.

The VPN’s clients for both macOS and iOS can secure their connections using OpenVPN without installing the app client.

Speaking of security, NordVPN employs AES 256-bit keys encryption, with OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols. These protocols offer a fine balance of top-level security and performance. Also, all connections are routed through two servers, providing an extra layer of protection.

A single NordVPN account allows you to secure up to 6 devices simultaneously. Plus, it’s compatible with many routers for you to connect more devices.

While its monthly plan is somewhat costly, $11.95/ month, the long-term plans are relatively cheaper. The yearly subscription costs $6.99/month billed $83.88, while the exclusive 3-years plan goes for as little as $3.49/month, charged $125.64.

Their support library and tutorials are quite resourceful, especially if you need help setting up a connection. But if you don’t find the answers you’re looking for, you can always live chat a customer agent or send them an email.

Pros

  • Affordable long-term plans
  • Allows up to 6 simultaneous connections
  • Numerous servers
  • Double data encryption

Cons

  • Less user-friendly apps

3. CyberGhost

The VPN’s 1-month option will set you back $12.99/month, while the annual plan costs $5.99/month but can be brought down to $2.75/month by choosing the 3 years plan.

No matter your subscription plan, one login account lets you connect up to 7 devices simultaneously.

What also loved that the service offers its users a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is way more than the standard 30-days provided by most premium VPNs.

Pricing isn’t the only selling point. The provider has one of the most extended server rosters that consist of more than 5,500 servers located in over 90 countries.

Most of these servers are optimized for fast media streaming and torrent downloads. For even faster download speeds, the VPN has port forwarding capabilities, which also furthers user’s online security.

All connections routed to each of these servers are encrypted with 256-bit AES, with OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2 protocols.

We didn’t experience any problem setting up this VPN, mainly due to its minimal features. But if you have questions, help is available on multiple channels.

First, there is a searchable library where you can get answers to common technical problems. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you get, you can contact customer support via email or live chat support.

Pros

  • Wide server coverage
  • Reasonably priced
  • Stable connection speeds 
  • 7-day free trial version for macOS

Cons

  • Costly month-to-month plan

4. IPVanish

IPVanish packs quite a punch with some of the most advanced security features. In addition to protecting your Mac with AES-256 encryption, the service includes the proprietary ‘Scramble OpenVPN Traffic’ option that protects your privacy in countries with strict internet censorship.

There’s also a kill-switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection to ensure your real identity isn’t revealed even when the connection drops.

Since the VPN strikes a balance between usability and features, both new and experienced users won’t have problems using the VPN service.

A monthly subscription to IPVanish sets you back $10.00/month; a quarterly plan costs $8.99/month and the annual subscription $6.49/month. Note that, from time-to-time, new and existing customers are offered special discount offers.

The VPN provider has more than 1,300 speedy servers distributed across over 75 locations. The good thing, all the servers are self-managed.

A single IPVanish account allows you to connect up to 10 simultaneous connections at the same time. Moreover, the service has a straightforward and intuitive native client for Mac and iOS devices.

Manual set up guides provided; in case you need help launching a connection. Also, the VPN service offers call support, which is quite uncommon in the VPN market. Alternatively, you can reach the support team via live chat and email.

Pros

  • Super-easy to use
  • Fast download speeds
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Telephone support

Cons

  • 7-day money-back guarantee

5. PrivateVPN

With just over 100 servers in 60 countries. To make up for this limitation, the provider offers an easy to use Mac app loaded with premium features to secure your internet browsing both at home and on public Wi-Fi.

PrivateVPN also has port-forwarding capabilities on specific servers, for faster streaming. Similarly, it encrypts your connection with AES 256-bit key encryption.

The service also supports various secure protocols, including OpenVPN with UDP/TCP, L2TP, IPSec, PPTP, and IKEv2. One caveat, though, despite the VPN’s compatibility with macOS, the kill-switch feature only works in the Windows client app.

PrivateVPN is committed to its zero-logs policy. As such, the provider cannot give any users’ data to the government since they do not record it in the first place.

When using the VPN’s app, you can easily switch between ‘simple’ and ‘advanced’ modes. The ‘simple’ mode is neat and well-laid out for entry-level users while the ‘advanced’ mode offers numerous features to experienced users, for customization.

A single subscription to the service lets you secure up to 6 devices at once. A month-to-month subscription costs $7.67, while the 3-months plan goes for $4.88/month.

The annual plan costs $3.82/month, making it one of the cheapest VPNs in the market. Plus, all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Overall, we were pleased with PrivateVPN’s email support, but we wish their live chat support was provided 24/7, like most top competitors.

Pros

  • An exhaustive searchable knowledgebase
  • Allows 6 simultaneous connections
  • Inexpensive long-term pricing
  • Ideal for both beginners and experienced users

Cons

  • Limited server coverage

Why you Should Avoid Free VPNs

Free VPNs provide a good way to get familiar with how a VPN works. Besides, they’re more enticing than those charging expensive fees for their service. As such, it’s easy to end up entrusting your privacy to a free VPN service.

As they continue to grow in popularity, here are five compelling reasons why you shouldn’t trust free VPN services:

Your Privacy is compromised

Most free VPNs aren’t safe. To maintain their servers and other infrastructure, a VPN provider must be endowed with a significant amount of cash.

Most of these maintenance costs are facilitated through the subscriptions paid by customers. So, if a VPN doesn’t charge customers for its service, they have to seek alternative ways to finance the infrastructure. As it’s often the case, free VPN providers end up selling users’ data to raise money for running the service. 

Free VPNs Contain Malware  

An awful lot of free VPNs have been found to contain malware that tracks your online activities. For this reason, users can easily fall victim to identity theft perpetrated by some of these VPNs.

The malware can also affect the performance of your Mac. While not all free VPNs contain bugs, it’s hard to know since most free VPNs are highly-rated with millions of downloads in the App Store.

Bottle-necked Speeds

Slow connection speeds are inevitable when using any free VPN. The providers are known for throttling your connection to lure you into upgrading to their paid plans.

If you use the VPN to stream geo-blocked content, you can expect lots of buffering and low-quality images. Additionally, some of the free VPNs are robust enough to protect your real IP, potentially putting you on the legal risks, especially if you are downloading torrents.

Limited Capabilities

As a way to get customers to upgrade to paid plans, free VPNs offer limited functionality. This can compromise your online security since you do not have access to essential security features. For instance, in case your connection drops, you risk being exposed as there is no kill-switch feature on the free VPN version.

Your online privacy and security are priceless. As such, you wouldn’t want to entrust sensitive data to a free VPN service. More so, a good number of premium VPNs have a long history of providing robust security and privacy protection.

Conclusion

Finding a Mac-friendly VPN is not as straightforward as it sounds. The VPN, obviously,  has to be compatible with macOS for it to be considered in your list of choices. But still, this isn’t the ultimate standard for choosing a reliable VPN for your Mac device.

While all the listed providers met the criteria, qualifying them as being suitable for Mac, ExpressVPN stands-out from the rest. Thanks to its high performance and security standards. The VPN’s fast and consistent connection speeds are unmatched.  

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