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5 Best VPNs for Mac in 2018

If you’re one of the 100 million Mac users around the world, then you may be one of many under the impression that Macs are immune to cybercrime and hackers. However, Macs are still susceptible to various security issues just like any other device, so it is critical that you use a Mac VPN to secure your data. Read on to find out the other benefits of using a VPN for Mac. 

VPN for MacOne of the most important steps you can take as a Mac user is to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network). By using a VPN, Mac and MacBook users can be safe in the knowledge that the data they transmit online is shielded from prying eyes, making it impossible for hackers to infiltrate your machine. Not only that, but since a VPN will change your IP address to that of a remote server, you can use your VPN to unblock loads of geo-restricted content! 

We give you a detailed rundown of the best VPNs for Mac that will keep you secure and protected.

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The Best VPN for Mac OS

With hundreds of VPN providers on the market today, it can certainly be a difficult task to choose a VPN for your Mac. No need to be discouraged, however, because we’ve thoroughly reviewed and tested over 100 of the most popular VPNs on the market and have outlined a comparison of the best VPNs for Mac in the comparison table below.

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These are the best VPN providers for Mac on the market today because each of them offers dedicated VPN clients that are optimized for macOS systems. Furthermore, they each provide world-class security and reliability, a large global network of server locations, and excellent speeds for Mac users.

While the overall functionality of a Mac VPN client and a Windows client will be virtually identical, there may be a few minor differences as far as features and protocols are concerned. Other than that, there shouldn’t really be much of a noticeable difference between a Mac and a Windows VPN client. Of course, the best VPNs for Mac will have a secure, reliable, and easy to use client explicitly optimized for your Mac.

Top 5 Mac VPN clients 2018

Below, we’ve put together an in-depth list detailing each of the 5 best Mac VPN clients on the market today.

1. ExpressVPN

BestVPN.com Score 10 out of 10
Editor's Choice

Our top recommendation for best Mac VPN is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN’s Mac application is fully-featured, extremely reliable, and easy to use. With 148 server locations in 94 countries around the world, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a fast and reliable server close-by, as well as the ability to unblock all sorts of geo-restricted content.



They provide military-grade AES 256-bit encryption to ensure that your Mac and your personal data that you transmit online are fully protected. Furthermore, ExpressVPN runs their own private DNS on each server, which means that no third-party will ever be able to catch a whiff of what you’re up to online. Other features include a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling. They back all this up with a 30-day money back guarantee on all of their subscription plans. For any Mac user looking to safeguard their Mac and their own personal online privacy, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 94
  • Average Speed 77.14 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 3
  • Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands

Likes

  • Super fast - great for streaming!
  • Very secure 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited downloading
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 5* 24/7 customer support
  • Special Deal: Save 49% Today

Dislikes

  • IPv6 WebRTC leaks (fixed by browser extension)
  • A little pricey
  • BVI jurisdiction is not ideal

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 2000
Countries 94
Simultaneous connections 3
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 178.05
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 77.14
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes

Support

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

2. NordVPN

BestVPN.com Score 9 out of 10

NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN service that is a superb option for privacy-conscious Mac users. Based in Panama, NordVPN is safely out the jurisdiction of the NSA.



Mac users can download the NordVPN macOS IKEV4 app from the App Store. Their macOS app is slick, easy to use, and offers great speeds and reliability. Simply fire it up and select from a list or on a map and you’re protected in a matter of seconds. The macOS app also includes a kill switch, Onion over VPN, as well as a special list of servers optimized for P2P. Another awesome feature that NordVPN offers its users is their double VPN technology, which encrypts your data not once, but twice through the VPN tunnel, all while maintaining excellent connection speeds. NordVPN also boasts a strict no-logs policy, a network of servers in 62 locations, and a 30-day money back guarantee.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 62
  • Average Speed 59.23 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 6
  • Jurisdiction Panama

Likes

  • Christmas Special Offer: 75% OFF!
  • Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Dedicated IPs (cost extra)
  • Based in Panama (great for privacy)

Dislikes

  • IPv6 leak in macOS IKEv2 app

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 4568
Countries 62
Simultaneous connections 6
Bare metal or virtual servers Combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction Panama
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 229.99
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 59.23
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes

Support

Free trial Yes - 3 Days
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

3. CyberGhost

BestVPN.com Score 8.4 out of 10

CyberGhost is another excellent VPN for Mac users to consider. CyberGhost impresses with AES 256-bit encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and over 3,000 servers in 60 locations around the world.



With excellent connection speeds and unlimited bandwidth, CyberGhost is a great VPN for Mac users who want to unblock popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. CyberGhost is also one of the more generous VPN services out there, allowing for 7 simultaneous connections, providing 24/7 customer care via live chat, and offering an unprecedented 45-day money back guarantee.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 60
  • Average Speed 61.97 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 7
  • Jurisdiction Romania

Likes

  • Christmas Special Offer: 77% OFF!
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Unblocks US Netflix + BBC iPlayer
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting allowed
  • Private: Strong no logs policy
  • Based in Romania so no government spying!

Dislikes

  • Not much

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 2750
Countries 60
Simultaneous connections 7
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
Android
Linux

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction Romania
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 132.01
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 61.97
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes

Support

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

4. PrivateVPN

BestVPN.com Score 7.6 out of 10

PrivateVPN is a Swedish-based VPN provider, which means they are under no legal obligation to collect logs. Although their macOS app is extremely simple to install and works like a charm, their technical support staff go the extra mile and offer free remote assistance should you run into any issues installing or using the app. In addition to offering excellent security standards via AES 256-bit encryption, PrivateVPN provides their users with exceptional speeds for streaming content from Netflix or BBC.



Additional security features include DNS leak protection, SOCKS5 and HTTP proxy, and port forwarding. They also offer 60 server locations as well as 6 simultaneous connections. Mac users can feel free to try PrivateVPN risk-free thanks to their 30-day money back guarantee.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 60
  • Average Speed 58.97 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 6
  • Jurisdiction Sweden

Likes

  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Servers in 56 countries
  • Strong OpenVPN encryption
  • Zero logs
  • 24/7 customer support

Dislikes

  • Not much

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 100
Countries 60
Simultaneous connections 6
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols IPSec, Shadowsocks

Privacy

Jurisdiction Sweden
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 327.86
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 58.97
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Proxy

Support

Free trial Yes - 7 days
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

5. VyprVPN

BestVPN.com Score 6.8 out of 10

VyprVPN is a Switzerland-based VPN service that would excel as your Mac OS or iOS VPN. VyprVPN is ideal for accessing geo-restricted content on TV streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. VyprVPN also allows up to five simultaneous devices and offers 24/7 live customer support.



This VPN includes better than average server speeds, strong encryption protocols and proprietary technology for added security. If you prefer to sample your Mac OS/iOS VPN before committing, you can use VyprVPN’s free 3 day trial.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 70
  • Average Speed 30.5 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 5
  • Jurisdiction Switzerland

Likes

  • Strong encryption protocols and policies
  • Worldwide server network
  • 24/7 customer support
  • PayPal now a payment method
  • Proprietary Technology & exclusive features

Dislikes

  • Does not accept Bitcoins
  • Basic plan does not come with stealth (Chameleon) so if you need this get premium

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 700
Countries 70
Simultaneous connections 5
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols Chameleon

Privacy

Jurisdiction Switzerland
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 124.4
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 30.5
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes

Support

Free trial Yes - 3 days
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

Why do I need a VPN for MacBook?

If you value your online privacy and wish to safeguard your Mac from various online threats, then you need a VPN. You can also use a VPN for Mac to unblock geo-restricted content and other websites which otherwise may be blocked by your ISP, government or content provider.

How Mac VPN software can keep your data secure and private

Although Mac computers are considerably more secure than Windows PCs (many argue that this is only because there aren't that many Mac users compared to Windows users so it isn't really worth the effort for hackers!), that doesn’t mean that once your data is completely safe. Your data can still be intercepted in transit by man in the middle attacks.

VPN for Macbook

Using a VPN is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your personal data is kept secure and private when you go online. A VPN will route all of your online traffic through a VPN tunnel to a remote server from which you access the internet. The VPN tunnel is fully encrypted end-to-end, meaning your traffic is completely secure and your data is protected. Without a VPN, anyone with even a mediocre understanding of networking can intercept data packets you send over an unsecured connection to the internet. 

A VPN for Mac is also crucial if you’re concerned about the very real threat of government surveillance. Because all of your internet traffic is fully encrypted when connected through a VPN, neither your ISP nor any government agency will be able to decipher what you are up to online. A VPN will effectively hide your online data from prying eyes and provide you with a critical layer of protection from anyone attempting to snoop on your online activity.

Unblocking content with a Mac VPN

In addition to protecting your online privacy, a VPN for Mac is also a great tool to use if you want to unblock geographically-restricted content. Whether you’re facing government censorship measures, or if you’re simply wanting to view online content only available in a foreign country,  a VPN is what you will need to bypass such restrictions. With a VPN, you can truly get the most out of the internet.

When you connect through a VPN, you are connecting to the internet via a remote server which can be virtually anywhere in the world, depending on which location you choose at any given time. Further, the VPN will change your IP address to that of the remote server you are connecting through. This means that whatever website you visit will register your location as the location of the VPN server you are connecting through, not your current physical location. Basically, you can trick any website into thinking that you are in a completely different country by using a VPN.

If you connect to a UK server, you can easily unblock BBC iPlayer even if you’re not in the UK. Similarly, you can connect to a US server to unblock Amazon Prime and unblock Hulu even if you’re not in the US. Taking it further, with a VPN that works with Netflix, you could also potentially unblock the entire worldwide Netflix library by simply connecting to different server locations available in your VPN provider’s network. Not only that, but if you happen to be in a country with oppressive internet censorship regulations, or behind your school’s firewall, with a VPN you can unblock a host of otherwise banned websites such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. 

Proxy vs VPN for macOS

A proxy is a tool that works much in the same way that a VPN does, in that it will change your IP address and route your internet traffic through a remote server. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. Using a proxy on your Mac will not grant you the same level of protection that a VPN will because a proxy will not encrypt your data in the same way that a VPN can. Nevertheless, using a proxy can be advantageous in certain use cases.

Using a proxy for Mac

Advantages

  • faster speeds than you could get through a VPN due to the lack of encryption employed through the proxy connection
  • A proxy service can be cheaper than a VPN service

Disadvantages

  • One huge disadvantage with a proxy is that it will not encrypt and protect your online privacy like a VPN will
  • Usability isn't great in that a proxy would need to be configured for each individual application you use on your Mac instead of covering your entire system as a VPN for Mac will do

Using a VPN for Mac

Advantages

  • A VPN can do all that a proxy does, and more
  • A VPN will protect your Mac from hackers and government surveillance via end-to-end encryption - something a proxy simply cannot do. From a security standpoint, VPN is the superior choice
  • A VPN works on the operating system level. As such, a VPN will fully encrypt your online data transmitted through whatever application you are accessing the internet through on your Mac, without needing to configure it for each individual application

Disadvantages

  • A VPN will indeed slow your internet connection somewhat, though under normal circumstances it will be virtually unnoticeable if you’re using a top-notch VPN for Mac

The long and the short of it is that while both VPNs and proxies provide similar functionality, a VPN will go that extra step and offer you the added layer of security you need to stay safe and sound as you browse the web. A VPN is, therefore, the wise choice for anyone interested in keeping their Mac protected from online threats.

VPN protocols for Mac

A VPN protocol is the means by which an encrypted connection is secured and routed between your computer and the VPN server. There are a few main VPN protocols that are compatible with Mac, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Take a look  below to learn more about what VPN protocols work best in certain situations.

What is the most important factor when using a VPN on Mac?

  • Ease of use
    PPTP - This is an outdated VPN protocol that is easy to use, however it is no longer considered to be secure
  • Speed
    IKEV2 - This is a newer VPN protocol which is both fast and secure. IKEV2 will also automatically reconnect to the VPN server if the user’s internet connection cuts off
  • Security
    OpenVPN - This is generally considered to be the most secure VPN protocol available. It is fully open source and easily integrated with Mac
  • Reliability
    L2TP - This is an extremely stable VPN protocol that is usually implemented in conjunction with the IPSec protocol


What VPNs should you avoid with Mac?

While there are many VPN providers that are compatible and work with Mac, there are a few that we recommend you avoid outright for the reasons listed below.

Hola

Hola scores very low for overall privacy and security due primarily to the fact that they turn their users’ connections on their network into individual VPN nodes for other users to connect through. Essentially, this means that you are technically held liable for any activity being transmitted through your connection. We wouldn’t recommend using Hola under any circumstance

Unlocator

We wouldn’t recommend using Unlocator on your Mac because they are essentially a SmartDNS service first, and a VPN service second. Unlocator’s VPN service playing second fiddle to their SmartDNS service doesn’t particularly give us much faith that they direct any of the necessary resources into making their VPN worthwhile. On top of that, they do not offer a dedicated client app, they only offer access to their servers. The setup needs to be done manually on your computer, which is not ideal for VPN neophytes.

OkayFreedom

An otherwise decent VPN service, we cannot recommend OkayFreedom for Mac simply because they only offer Windows compatibility at this time.

As illustrated with the examples above, there are a few reasons why certain VPN providers do not make the cut for Mac. To be safe, we strongly advise sticking with one of the recommended VPNs for Mac in this article.

Can I use a free VPN for Mac?

While there are certainly a host of free VPN services out there that you can use with Mac, there are certain things to look out for and take into account when considering going with a free VPN service.

Since free VPNs need to make money somehow, they will often sell their users’ personal data to the highest bidder in order to compensate for offering their services free of charge. This means that instead of paying with your money, you are instead paying with your privacy when using a free VPN service. Free VPNs also will generally not provide you with the same level of encryption that a paid service will; meaning that you are putting your online security at risk when using a free VPN. Furthermore, free VPNs will be considerably limited in their offerings in terms of speeds, server selection, and usage. 

If you do need to opt for a free VPN service, then take a look at our article outlining the best free VPN services guide.

FAQs

Written by: Attila Tomaschek

Attila is a Hungarian-American currently living in Budapest. Being in the VPN game for several years, he brings a deep knowledge of the industry to share with BestVPN readers. When he's not writing about VPNs and digital privacy, Attila enjoys listening to music, cooking, and road-tripping through Europe.

29 Comments

  1. gramic
    on September 18, 2017
    Reply

    I looked at NordVPN - it is good in that it has servers everywhere, but, when the VPN server drops, unless you set up the app to kill with it, you're left connected with no VPN security. It's the same when you first connect - you have to open your browser, so if you restore previous session, every website you were visiting, now gets to know your IP address, until you connect and establish a VPN connection to NordVPN servers. I use AirVPN and prefer that it locks your network immediately if the VPN connection drops, and because the network is locked, you can continue to look at your browser.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to gramic
      on September 18, 2017
      Reply

      Hi gramic, Well... The NordVPN client does have a per-app kill switch. You can choose which apps will be shut down in the event of a VPN disconnection. This is very handy, but it is not a firewall-based kill switch like AirVPN's. So if the NordVPN client itself crashes, the specified apps will not shut down and can continue to access the internet. I'm not sure what you mean by having to open your browser. You can run the client before you open your browser...

  2. Anna
    on September 15, 2017
    Reply

    I'm confused because I've read and experienced inability to use the BBC iPlayer, Netflix, (and Hulu) with a VPN yet this article says the opposite. Years past one could use a VPN with the BBC Player and Netflix without problem but now I receive a Proxy error for Netflix and a similar error for the iPlayer. Please explain if I'm missing something.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Anna
      on September 18, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Anna, Netflix, iPlayer and Hulu are actively trying to block VPN users from using their services. They do this simply by blocking IP addresses that are known to belong to VPN providers. There are ways around these blocks (such as a provider regularly recycling its IP addresses), however, and some providers are better at it than others. In our reviews we always test to see if we can access US Netflix and iPlayer. At present I know that NordVPN and ExpresVPN work with these services (you may need to contact ExpressVPN to ask which servers they recommend using). We are currently working on a system to regularly check which VPN serverces do and don't work with Netflix and iPlayer (and hopefully other services going forward).

    2. Anna replied to Anna
      on September 29, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you for your helpful reply. I'll have to try out one of the 2 VPNs you suggested. I look forward to when you're able to say which VPNs are currently working with US Netflix and the BBC Player. On a similar note I live in the US and I'd love to be able to access UK Netflix shows. Is that also possible with these VPNS do you know? Thanks again

      1. Douglas Crawford replied to Anna
        on October 3, 2017
        Reply

        Hi Anna, If you have problems, please let me know, but they should work (and come with 30-day money-back guarantees, so you'll have plenty of time to check). Not sure about UK Netflix, but since you are trying those services anyway, there is no harm in checking for yourself.

  3. Ariel G
    on August 5, 2017
    Reply

    Would like to configure our Apple Extreme to have VPN capability or service that will block our location. Is there anything out there that we can try? Appreciate the feedback.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Ariel G
      on August 23, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Ariel G, I'm afraid that running a VPN on an Airport Extreme router is not easy. Check out this article from Flashrouters on the subject.

  4. JJ
    on May 29, 2017
    Reply

    After in-depth reading reviews on VPNs to use in Canada, Friends suggest Hotspot Shield being #1 and others have crappy service...(Free vs Paid) . Should I go with ExpressVPN (despite Buffered is Best)? Its a split 50/50 for torrenting US shows + streaming online tv from Hong Kong/Taiwan/Korea using my MacBook Pro (Sierra) + looking into Kodi for Asia programs / Soccer Games for the elderly + using Android for Asia radio, etc... What are your suggestions? Is it 100% completely safe from Spys, cyber security? I was told CISCO has a way around that can hack into our internet even the Gov't can't. Originally I partly installed OpenVPNGate than deleted after running into problems with Sierra. Will having VPN affect Hardware Upgrades on Mac? Thanks.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to JJ
      on May 29, 2017
      Reply

      Hi JJ, - Both ExpressVPN and Buffered are good for torrenting US shows. -To stream shows from Hong Kong/Taiwan/Korea, you will need a service with servers in those countries. Buffered has a server in South Korea, but ExpresdsVPN has servers in all these countries. - Nothing can be 100% guaranteed. Both Buffered (Gibraltar) and ExpressVPN (British Virgin Islands) are based in British Overseas Territories. How this might or might not affect vulnerability to UK spying is unclear. For most purposes, though, I'd say both services are fine in this regard. - If you run the VPN in software, then all data will be encrypted as it passes through the router. So it doesn't matter if the router has a backdoor. - Running a VPN will have no effect Mac hardware upgrades.

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