Top 3 VPNs
It’s no secret that using a Virtual Private Network will greatly enhance your online security, protect your privacy, and keep your Internet activity anonymous. And while it may initially sound like an overly technical process – tunneling your data through a remote server to hide your IP address – there are a ton of easy-to-use and affordable VPN products on the market that make the entire process seamless and straightforward, even if you aren’t a tech geek.
When getting started, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that the VPN you are looking at is compatible with your devices. While most VPN services will work on a Mac, some have add-ons and a user interface that will work better than others on your Apple PC. In this post, I’ll share my 7 favorite VPNs that work with Mac operating systems.
How to Evaluate a VPN
For the uninitiated, it helps to first understand what features differentiate one VPN from another. Differences lie in better security features, performance, and customer support.
For security, there are different encryption protocols, although most use AES-256, which is the highest level of encryption currently available. If a company deviates from this, I will be sure to point it out.
It is also important to note how a VPN will affect the performance of your online activity. Since your data is tunneled to a remote server, there will always be some loss of speed, and possibly a drastic effect on latency. Each VPN will tackle this with their own technology, with the end result being sometimes dramatic differences in speed from one VPN to the next.
Finally, I always like to evaluate the more intangible aspects of a VPN service.
- How easy is it to set up?
- How intuitive is the interface?
- And finally, what is their customer support system like?
These things can be just as important as the performance aspects… after all, if your VPN is too hard to use, you may give up altogether.
Making the Right Choice
Shopping for a VPN for your Mac will come down to a few key points. Some of these VPNs have thousands of servers worldwide – is global access important, or do you mostly stick to your own home turf? Additionally, would you rather have a lot of configuration options, or do you want something streamlined and optimized out of the box? How important is blazing-fast speed, and how important is price?
This list gives you some great places to start – reputable, trustworthy VPNs that have an Mac-friendly interface. You can read some of our in-depth reviews on these products, or dive right in with one of the many free trials that many have to offer. Improving your Internet security and keeping your online activity anonymous is just a few steps away.
Express VPN is one of the most well-known and reputable VPNs on the market. The Virgin-Islands based company has been around since 2009, and has built a reputation for honesty and reliability. It is a little more expensive than other VPNs, at $8.50/month when purchased annually, but delivers a total package of great security and high performance.
Downloads will be fast, and connectivity to the service has 99.9% uptime. There are server locations in over 90 countries, which is perfect if you like to take your Mac on the road (and are a nomad, like me). While they do keep minimal user logs (connection times, choice of server location), ExpressVPN strikes a great balance between security, performance, and global connectivity.
- Top of the line security and encryption
- Live customer support available at all hours
- One of the faster options
- Servers in 90 countries
- Depending on subscription plan, quite a bit more expensive than other options
- Limited configuration options
- Limited to 1 other mobile device simultaneously
NordVPN is a trustworthy company that comes in at a reasonable price point, which gets better the longer you sign up for. It is widely regarded as the most secure VPN available. Not only do they have a no-log policy, they also feature automatic double-encryption.
As far as performance is concerned, NordVPN is not as fast as other VPNs, but is very reliable. With ample international server locations, NordVPN provides consistent service for uninterrupted torrenting and/or streaming.
The product is well-rounded, with an attractive Mac client and a choice of security protocols for different devices. In fact, NordVPN allows up to 5 simultaneous connections with one license. If you want to take your Macbook, iPhone, and iPad around the world with you, Nord is an affordable and reputable choice of VPN.
- Great security features and double encryption
- Support for multiple devices
- 2-year subscription option makes it one of the most economical options ($3.33/month)
- Mediocre speed
- Customer service has slower response times
IPVanish is another big VPN provider with a history of success. It’s on the more expensive side with a price point of $6.50 to $10 per month depending on plan. But, the flip side is that it offers insanely good performance and hundreds of servers worldwide. Add in its zero-log policy, and this is a VPN that deserves a second look.
IPVanish differs in the types of users that will appreciate it the most. The service offers a lot of special features, like IP address cycling and a kill switch, but these come at the expense of a clunky and unattractive user interface. While it does have a custom interface for Mac users, it still isn’t as user friendly as other options.
IPVanish also provides more options and configurations for the truly technical user, including connections from up to 5 devices simultaneously.
- Great reputation, with servers in over 60 countries
- True zero-log policy provides maximum privacy
- Allows connection from 5 devices simultaneously
- Many configurations and customization options
- More expensive than other VPNs
- UI can be difficult to navigate and unintuitive
- Customer service has only middle-of-the-road reviews
PureVPN has been a highly rated VPN for over a decade, and offers a lot of features to help you get the most mileage out of your subscription. In addition, the company has 80,000 IP addresses in 141 countries, ensuring optimal global performance and options for bypassing geographic restrictions on content.
PureVPN is a very flexible product, and the Mac version is easy to install and has a simple interface for hassle-free use. That being said, it also comes standard with a robust set of security configurations and features like DNSLeak protection. It’s a great choice if you want something that has a checklist of every major VPN feature that’s still super easy to use.
PureVPN is expensive if purchased month-to-month ($10.95) and in 6 month plans ($8.95/month), but offers steep discounts for longer subscriptions. They do have a 7-day free trial as well, so if you’re looking for a Mac-friendly VPN, this is a good way to test the waters.
- Robust set of features and security protocols
- Total package of performance and usability
- Support for virtually any type of device
- More expensive for plans under 2 years
Buffered is a newer player on the VPN scene, and the service truly feels like it was designed with Mac users in mind. On top of a secure and high-speed network, they already have servers in almost 40 countries, support 5 simultaneous devices, and have a super responsive customer service system in place.
Right now, their cheapest plan is an annual subscription that comes out to around $8/month. This puts it firmly on the high end of VPN prices. In exchange, you get a great custom Mac client and detailed configuration guides.
Buffered is more of a niche product for customers who want to get a lot of mileage out of deeper VPN features, but would like to do so with the aid of tutorial videos and documentation.
- Total package of speed and OpenVPN security
- In addition to Mac client, has compatibility with every OS and SmartTV’s
- Although customer service is not live chat, still very responsive and helpful
- One of the most expensive VPNs
- Minimal logs are kept (login times and connection durations)
HideMyAss is a long-standing competitor on the VPN market with a unique set of pros and cons. The company’s primary target user is someone who is mostly concerned with a great interface, ease of use, and responsive customer support. If you want something that can be easily set up and isn’t cluttered with rarely-used options, then HideMyAss could be the VPN for you.
All of HideMyAss’s features are easily usable and ready accessible on their Mac client. What you will miss out on are specialty servers, connectivity for more than 2 devices, the ability to change VPN protocols, and ad blocking. If you don’t think you will use any of these features, then HideMyAss is a simple VPN solution with worldwide servers and above average performance.
- Performs well on speed tests
- Servers in 190 countries
- Great user experience and customer support
- Very few configuration options or special features
- Connectivity logs can be kept for a month, or longer
- Expensive, considering how few features it has – $6.66 to $11.95/month based on plan
CyberGhost’s pricing is pretty average, although they only offer subscriptions of one year or more. It is also costly to upgrade to their Premium Plus plan (taking the cost from $5.83/month to $9.16/month), with the only added benefit being support for 5 devices instead of 2.
You’ll also want to double-check their server locations to make sure you will be getting the best performance. As a newer company, they have a limited amount of servers, which are mostly in North America and Europe. Despite these minor drawbacks, CyberGhost is a high-performance VPN that I would recommend to any Mac user.
- Excellent performance on speed tests
- Great UI and overall experience
- One of the best no-log privacy policies
- Special features like 1-click streaming
- Only available in one-year plan, and basic plan only 1 simultaneous device
- Limited servers overseas mean Cyberghost works best in North America and Europe