What's the Best VPN for Mac OS Users?
Macs are widely popular amongst content creators because it has earned a reputation for being secure and easy to use. However, as of late numerous security and privacy vulnerabilities found in the Mac operating system states otherwise. That said one way to ensure that you continue to remain safe while using Mac OS, is to use a VPN. Plus using a top VPN can help you unlock otherwise regionally locked streaming services like Netflix.
Though not an alien concept for Mac users, there are still those who aren’t aware of which VPNs are the best choice for them. So, in this post, we’ll give you a rundown of the best VPNs to use if you’re a Mac user.
Like with our Best VPNs for Windows and VPN for Android articles, here too our goal is to give all top VPN providers a level playing field. Our test system was the MacBook Pro running Mac OS X Lion – 10.7 (the latest version).
The MacBook has received no out of market upgrades. The beauty of using a Mac compared to Windows is that the systems are uniform for the most part which makes the operating system feel consistent. Plus, it makes running tests like ours for valuable reviews which you find useful easier.
What Makes a Good VPN to Use for Mac OS?
Like evaluating everything else, it is important to start with defining the rules. The rules here is that any VPN that meets the criteria listed below is worth considering or at the very least is worth checking out. That’s even if it isn’t on the top. Unfortunately, out of the dozens of VPNs, we tested only a couple made it through because they checked all the boxes we list below.
Easy to Use:
Most Mac users know that the reason they are using the OS is that everything is simplified and hassle-free. So, it only stands to reason that the VPN app that’s meant for the Mac be just as easy to use.
Supports Unlocking Popular Streaming Services:
A VPN should do more than mask your IP address. It should be able to give you access to otherwise geo-locked or blocked content. Ideally, Mac users should be able to stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer, etc.
Streaming is only going to be possible if the resulting connection with the VPN server is fast. Connection speed also matters if you’re uploading and downloading files. So, the faster, the better! That said many if not all VPNs throttle internet speeds depending on the server you choose. Premium VPNs though have very little throttling.
Supports P2P File Sharing Protocols:
P2P or peer-to-peer is a file sharing system that allows users to use Torrent and other protocols to download and upload files.
Has a Large Number of Servers:
The more servers, the better. After all the more servers you have, the higher the chance of being able to connect to one which isn’t congested.
A premium quality VPN shouldn’t keep logs. Logs can easily be traced back to the user which defeats the whole point of using a VPN service in the first place. That’s why we lean strongly in favor of VPNs that have a no-logging policy without compromises.
Advanced features allow tech-savvy users to tweak certain settings of the VPN app. Mac users, for instance, may want to turn on double encryption when accessing an unsecured website.
Encryption ensures that the data you send to and from the VPN server is unreadable. Even Mac users have been victims of so-called man in the middle attacks. Using an encrypted service is highly recommended for that very reason.
Sure, Mac users have been shown to belong to a higher income bracket, but competitive pricing is still a selling point. Nobody wants to overpay for a service.
The Best Overall VPN for Mac OS
The best or top overall VPN for Mac OS is ExpressVPN as per our evaluation. Now we didn’t just arrive at this conclusion by only marveling at their well thought off interface. The dedicated Mac VPN app for ExpressVPN is also user-friendly, and features a single click connection option, in addition to various advanced options.
Also included is 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN UDP which is considered amongst the best types of encryption for VPN services. Plus, it is set up by default along with the kill switch feature and split tunneling.
In addition to a well-built standalone app for the Mac, Express VPN also has a Safari browser extension, which goes to show the commitment the company has to the Mac. We also like the fact that compared to the others the speed offered is great, in addition to 24/7 customer support.
We tested Express VPN by connecting to servers in the UK, Germany, Japan, and India. Our speeds remained overall good with the drops in speed ranging from 4% to 10% maximum. What makes this the best choice for a VPN user is excellent P2P support, and it successfully blocked streaming content on Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Plus the kill switch successfully prevented data leakage.
The only drawback is the price. Express VPN is a tad bit pricier than some others we’ve tested for this review.
The Most Secure VPN to Use for Mac OS
NordVPN is amongst the most secure VPNs you’ll ever use on a Mac, and it supports streaming. That’s thanks almost entirely to its unique Double VPN technology which encrypts data twice. So, in other words, your data passes through two different servers, and each time it is encrypted. Plus, Mac VPN users can enjoy other security features like web proxy extensions, kill switch and encrypted chat. Not to mention the fact that you can toggle the kill switch feature on/off.
Another great thing at least in our experience is that a single subscription means that you can use the Mac OS app for both iOS and MacOS. However, the only drawback is that Nord’s offering on the Mac app is basic at best. Sure it is P2P friendly and has a zero logs policy, but you don’t get any other fancy features like with some of the other competitors we tested.
The Most Feature Rich VPN for the Mac
During our testing for this review, the one thing that stood out about CyberGhost from all the rest of the top VPNs was functionality. CyberGhost offers many more features compared to the competition, in addition to a large number of servers in over 90 countries, plus there is no bar for torrents, a kill switch feature you can turn on and you get live chat support.
CyberGhost guarantees that there are no logs; they also offer excellent encryption options and a kill switch feature amongst others. We were able to successfully unlock Netflix in the UK while being in the US. The same goes for streaming on Hulu and iPlayer. Plus Mac app users don’t have to be networking gurus as the app automatically connects them to the best server. Also, it automatically blocks malicious websites, ads, and trackers.
The only thing we didn’t like about CyberGhost VPN’s Mac app was that the interface is a bit complex. So, navigating through it can take some getting used to. That said if its features you are looking for from your VPN provider you can’t go wrong with CyberGhost VPN.
A Cheaper Alternative VPN for Mac Users
Private Internet Access or PIA is amongst our top VPN picks. It stands out from the others partly due to the price. However, at $9.99 a month for the monthly subscription, it certainly isn’t cheaper than some others we’ve tested for this review. However, when it comes to ticking all the boxes, we mentioned earlier at the lowest possible price no competitor comes close to beating PIA’s monthly, annual and 2-year pricing. It has features ranging from double encryption to kill switch, so it is up to par with the leaders in the industry.
It makes sense to get a long-term subscription because that is where you’ll save money. That said the initial monthly subscription is essential because it gives Mac app users a feel for how the VPN works before they invest upwards of $40 on a long-term plan that saves them money.
The only drawback worth mentioning about using PIA on the Mac is that the user interface isn’t exactly the easiest to understand. Plus, some servers are slower than others which makes using it a bit of a mixed bag. Also, streaming can be a little touch and go. Other than that we have no other critique about the service or the app for that matter.
The Absolute Worst VPN for Mac Users
Now we discussed the best VPN, but that’s incomplete without the context of the worst one. Hotpot Shield in our experience is amongst the most and yet quite popular or should we say notorious VPNs that any Mac app user can use. It is unfortunate that many reputed websites recommend or at least give the service a clean chit, when in fact they blatantly collect and sell user data. Unlike top VPNs that don’t.
In addition to all of the above, the service lacks something as simple as a kill switch feature, in addition to many others which are now industry standards.
So, even if HotSpot Shield says that they don’t sell your data or log sessions they have been proven to do so. However, if you are willing to get past the controversy and still use the service you are treated to mediocre speeds and a God-awful user interface. Mac VPN users who choose this VPN provider will be paying for opening up their computers to ad-ware, hackers, interception, and redirects, all of which are reasons why people use a VPN in the first place. If you value your wallet, sanity, privacy, and security, then stay away from this one.
As mentioned earlier in this review we tested dozens of VPN providers on our Macs to find the best VPN. It is unfortunate that not all or should we say the majority of Mac VPNs are not secure. Some of the apps that didn’t make it to our top 5 list make users jump through dozens of time-consuming and frustrating hoops. They also had little to no security. The majority of VPNs for the Mac were in our opinion half baked and required at least a year more of development. The only good thing to come out of it all that was none of these apps crashed our Macs.
Out of several apps and VPNs, we were able to narrow our list down to just five that we thought offered the best speed, ease of use, features, privacy, and security compared to all the others. These apps made the cut and are ranked in order of their goodness!
Right on top of the food chain, we have ExpressVPN with its winning combo of excellent security, useful features, superior encryption, support for P2P, a growing number of servers and a competitive price. The second and third we’d recommend are NordVPN and CyberGhost. In our experience, NordVPN offers excellent security, and privacy features something that like us all Mac VPN users will appreciate with CyberGhost being more feature rich. Again both of these are competitively priced something that we always appreciate.
You can find more details on our top 5 best VPN listing above along with each service’s pros and cons. We have also reviewed the best VPN overall and top VPN services if that’s what you are looking for. If anything it will help you make an educated decision as to which service suits your needs and wallet the best.