Whether you're concerned about your online privacy or looking to access sites that are ordinarily blocked in your country, a VPN (virtual private network) will help. You'll be able to hide your location online and access blocked content using the services in our round-up of the best VPNs for Mac.
Many people use a VPN in order to enjoy the BBC iPlayer's streaming services while outside of the UK, or to access US Netflix whilst inside the UK in order to make use of its expanded catalogue (although with much tougher restrictions these days many VPNs can no longer help you access these reliably). VPNs are also a great tool to help you keep prying eyes at bay, giving an element of anonymity whilst browsing the web.
There are free VPNs available, but beware that some free VPNs may install unwanted toolbars or third-party applications, and others simply offer much less advanced features. It's important to first read the terms and conditions before using a free VPN, and to make sure you know the free VPNs limits.
Generally, though, even paid-for VPNs are quite cheap. You can subscribe to many for under £6 per month.
Read on for our round-up of the best and most popular VPN services available for Mac.
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Best VPN for Mac
- RRP: From £5 per month, From US$5.75 per month
- Buy from NordVPN
One of our favourite VPNs is NordVPN, which has servers operated under the jurisdiction of Panama, meaning there's no traffic monitoring required by law. The company tells us that it does not keep any logs of user activity at all.
NordVPN offers more than 700 servers across 57 countries and offers a Kill Switch that will end the connection if the VPN drops for any reason.
NordVPN is also reasonably priced, and offers lots of privacy and security features to help it become one of the most attractive VPN services for internet users looking for privacy online. It's easy to set up and it's quick, too, and there are mobile apps included should you need them. Connect to up to six devices at once.
- RRP: £5 per month, US$6.49 per month
- Buy from IPVanish
IPVanish isn't going to help you watch US Netflix, but it is a popular option that is well-worth considering if you have a different priority such as torrents or security/privacy. It has a whopping 700 servers across 60 countries, and you'll be able to connect via five different devices at once with the same account.
There are no traffic logs, and if you do want to use the service for torrents you can reduce the encryption to hide your IP address without sacrificing download and upload speeds. Better yet, IPVanish owns and operates the entire internal infrastructure (its private network, physical points of presence and servers), which is unlike most other VPN services available today.
Like Nord, IPVanish offers a Kill Switch, and offers apps for iOS, Android and Windows in addition to Mac. You'll get a 7-day money back guarantee, and prices start at around £5 per month.
- RRP: Free version available; £3.74 per month, Free version available; US$5.83 per month
- Buy from CyberGhost
CyberGhost offers one of the safest ways to browse the web, and has managed to build a solid reputation when it comes to security and transparency. In addition to helping to keep you anonymous online, CyberGhost also boasts military-grade encryption to protect you against hackers trying to steal your data on public WiFi hotspots.
It works with most devices including phones and tablets, and there's also an ad-blocker included in the application to speed up surfing. Of course, that does deprive impoverished writers of their hard earned money, so that's something worth bearing in mind if you want to switch the ad-blocker on.
There is a free version of CyberGhost but it lacks some of the main features. You'll need to wait before you can connect, and after three hours you'll be disconnected and will need to connect again. It's more of a trial designed to show you how the service works. The full version for a single device is £45 per year or £3.99 per month, while the five-device plan is £70 per year or £6.99 per month.
- RRP: From £2.30 per month, From US$2.95 per month
- Buy from PureVPN
PureVPN is among the biggest services when it comes to the number of countries it offers. There are more than 750 servers available in 141 countries. It also boasts that there are no third-parties involved and no logs of your activities, as it's a self-managed network owned by the company itself in a similar way to IPVanish as mentioned above. It does, however, keep a record of connections and bandwidth in order to optimally manage its servers.
It has a kill switch feature, and also offers split tunnelling if you only want to use the VPN connection for specific apps.
PureVPN is compatible with more than 20 devices, including your Mac, and you can login to 5 devices at once with your account. Prices start at $4.99 per month if you're willing to commit to a year, or $9.99 if you want to pay on a month-by-month basis. It also offers a 7-day money back guarantee.
- RRP: From £6.50 per month, From US$8.32 per month
- Buy from ExpressVPN
Among the speediest VPN services out there is ExpressVPN, which is situated on the British Virgin Islands. It's not the cheapest option available starting at $8.32 per month, but it does offer 24/7 live chat customer support and a 30-day money back guarantee, as well as a zero log policy and kill switch.
There are more than 1,000 servers available in 95 countries, and a range of apps for mobile devices as well as your Mac or PC, in addition to router apps too.
ExpressVPN also works with Netflix to allow you to virtually reside in the country of your choice to access additional TV shows and movies.
Private Internet Access
- RRP: From £2.60 per month, From US$3.33 per month
- Buy from Private Internet Access
For an even wider choice of servers, Private Internet Access offers a whopping 3,340. It's also mega-cheap at just under £3 per month, and you'll get five licences for that small fee that can be used simultaneously on any device, including iOS and MacOS.
It doesn't track your IP address or timestamps, offers a Kill Switch feature and lets you pay anonymously. It's also among the fastest VPNs available.
There is one big downside, though, and that's that it is based in the US, which is the very centre of the 5-eyes data swapping collective. For some, that will ring immediate alarm bells, but if you're not overly concerned about where it is based this is a definite contender for the best VPN available.
- RRP: £6.30 per month
- Buy from Buffered
You'll also get anonymity from Hungary-based Buffered, including when using public WiFi connections, but it does keep a record of timestamps and IP addresses that uses so it's not as absolute as some of the other options in this round-up.
You'll be able to virtually reside in more than 30 countries, and you won't need to worry about speed and bandwidth limitations, and it can almost always allow you to access blocked content including Netflix.
There's no free version of Buffered, but there is a 30-day money back guarantee available. Plans include a monthly plan at $12.99 per month, but you can save by opting for a bi-annual plan for $9.99 per month or a yearly plan of $8.25 per month. There's 24/7 customer support, too.
- RRP: $29.95 per year
- Buy from AnchorFree
Hotspot Shield offers a low-cost VPN service that lets you browse anonymously as well as access the blocked content by providing you with a new virtual location. And of course, as the name hints, it can shield you from threats when you're using a WiFi hotspot.
It's just $29.95 per year, which works out at under $3 per month, so is one of the cheapest options available.
- RRP: Free version available; £5.99 per month
- Buy from Total VPN
As the name suggests, Total VPN offers you total anonymity once installed and running on your Mac. It'll hide your IP address, location and personal information from snoopers, and promises not to keep logs of your browsing history. You'll get protection whilst using public WiFi, too.
There is a free version of Total VPN available, but that's limited to three locations and there's limited usage. The Total Premium Plan, on the other hand, lets you access more than 30 locations with completely unrestricted browsing.
Not only can you use TotalVPN on your Mac, it's also available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Windows, Android and more.