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Best VPNs for Mac (2021 Review)
You finally sold your kidney for a new Macbook Pro and taken the time to brag about it to your friends. You may have told them how much better it is than their computers and then basked in your perceived superiority for a bit. With all the important things done, it’s time to get a VPN to secure your new wonder machine.
Easy, right? Well, not quite.
Problem is — despite it possibly being the better OS — a lot of VPN companies have been sluggish or outright neglectful of getting over to MacOS.
A lot of the big names started on Windows and decided to stay there, meaning you’d need third-party software for them to work on Mac. Such software has a, let’s say, questionable reputation. If you can avoid that route you probably should.
But rather than you having to go through the heart-wrenching process of finding out just how VPN-unloved your new Mac is, we’ve done the emotional labor for you. We’ve gone through the unforgiving Mac VPN market and found the companies that will treat your OS right.
TLDR – Mac may be a secure OS, but its privacy commitments leave quite a lot to be desired. That’s why owning a VPN is so vital for Mac owners, this article covers the best VPN services you can find—Surfshark, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN. We gave NordVPN the nod for the number one spot because of its phenomenal price and value it provides.?
NordVPN delivers on every aspect required of a quality VPN. With a reasonable cost and well optimized for Mac, there isn’t anything to dislike.
1. NordVPN – Best Overall Choice
- No Logging
- User friendly
- Military grade encryption
- Servers in more than 50 countries
- Easy setup
- Extra protection
- Slow phone support
- Not as fast as competition
What is NordVPN?
NordVPN started out as a strictly Windows-based software but has now created a smooth Mac experience as well. With Nord’s success, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their native clients work equally well on every operating system.
Nord does tend to be more expensive but the long track record and staggering 5300+ servers across 59 countries means it’s still a VPN worth looking into if you’re serious about protection and privacy for your Mac.
Let’s take a glance at some of NordVPN’s key features:
- Biggest server selection available: There’s such a large server selection you might struggle to decide! Luckily, NordVPN has an automated selection system should the sheer volume of choice overwhelms you!
- Wide Netflix compatibility: although it cannot offer 100% Netlix compatibilty, a 95% compatible server is never more than a click away.
- User-friendly: the UI is intuitive and very easy to navigate, the drag-and-drop map, for example, is one of the stand out user-oriented features
- Military Grade encryption: NordVPN’s encryption is the same grade used by the US military, so a leak is extremely unlikely.
- No logging: a must-have for any VPN. In its long track record, NordVPN has never logged any data, or at least hasn’t been exposed so there’s no reason to assume they would break their promise now
- Panama based: with no mandatory data retention laws in Panama, NordVPN is legally free to direct your traffic without making a single record, keeping your data legally as well as digitally protected.
- Double servers: you get your traffic checked through two different VPNs, which makes this sort of encryption almost impossible to penetrate.
Do I Recommend NordVPN for Mac?
It’s among the most successful VPN companies for a reason, and a big part of that is they haven’t neglected any of their users, including Mac users.
Even if a proven record doesn’t convince you just yet, the free trial and money-back guarantee mean it’s worth looking at. This is why it’s our top overall choice.
At No.2, Surfshark is going to be your best budget option. It has the features the big guys have but with a long term deal that is extremely affordable.
2. Surfshark – Best Budget VPN
- Solid support
- Provides access to Netflix
- Extremely fast
- Low prices for such quality
- Slow response on email support
What is SurfShark?
Surfshark doesn’t leave Apple user as an afterthought, putting it on par with its other OS types it caters too. As a relative newcomer to the VPN playground, Surfshark was careful not to dismiss the Mac operating system. The VPN app it offers is a well-tailored tool, rather than a poorly ported copy.
With a quality privacy service situated in British Virgin Islands, and wide-ranging Netflix compatibility, the low price of Surfshark is almost too good to be true. It also stands up to rigorous testing in every category.
Here are some of the key features:
- Competitively priced plans: Just $2.49 per month for a full 2-year plan, and $4.98 a month for a single year, it’s one of the cheapest functional VPNs on the market
- Mac User-friendly: with features such as the ‘Quick Connect’ button for instant connection selection, Surfshark is a straightforward and simple to use
- Flying colors: in terms of variety, encryption, DNS-leak and speed tests, Surfshark always makes the top results, the only blip is occasional inconsistencies with the speed, but these are being improved with every patch
- The perfect VPN Location: the British Virgin Islands is not under the supervision of the 14 eyes, a notorious government data collection zone. This isn’t a danger you need to worry about with Surfshark. Essentially, Surfshark can’t be forced to give up any info on you.
- No logging data: Surfshark doesn’t keep any logs except those standard ones like your email or billing information. Other than that, you’re safe from getting your data passed around.
- Quick data: speeds are at high levels atmost times, although it might depend on the server. Nevertheless, you won’t have to deal with lag issues.
- Kill switch: you get this feature on Mac, allowing you quickly get rid of any suspicious attacks or connections.
Do I Recommend Surfshark for Mac?
Surfshark is a rare gem that brings over all the features that make it so impressive on other OS’s to Mac, and all for such a good deal, this is definitely one we’d recommend.
At No.3, ExpressVPN is still a quality product, providing serious protection and anonymity in a package well optimized for a Mac OS. The extra cost and streaming incompatibility are its main issues.
3. ExpressVPN – Security and Reliability
- No logging
- Complete privacy
- Very fast
- Bonus features
- Great customer support
- Pricier option than others
- Limited settings and configuration
What is ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is dedicated to your protection and anonymity. It’s the product of choice if you are regularly dealing with valuable data.
Whilst coming at a higher price and poor-streaming compatibility puts it at third place on this list, it’s still a quality VPN. More importantly, it suffers no issues with its Mac compatibility. Keeping the speed, fortitude and user-friendliness of the original platform in the new Mac app.
Here’s a breakdown of what makes it cost more:
- Fastest VPN on the web: ExpressVPN is extremely fast, use any test, such as SpeedTest.net or Fast.com and you’ll be blown away.
- Huge server range: when it comes to number of servers and locations (3000 in over 160 locations), it’s in the same ballpark as NordVPN , but it definitely takes the cake when it comes to scope and range.
- Intuitive kill switch: there’s no risk of accidental leaks, and if you even for a second lose connection with the VPN (even if you don’t notice) the intuitive kill switch will quickly sever the connection
- Customer first: ExpressVPN has a long track record of looking after its customers. With a quick and responsive support system, any issues you have will be quickly fixed.
- Security to match their ethics: With a high-grade encryption protocol and passing every Leak test we put it through, this is undoubtedly a secure system. ExpressVPN matches this with a commitment to never log any of your sensitive info.
- Premium pricing: for those on the lookout for the cheap option, you might want to look elsewhere. Then again, if you’re willing to break the bank a bit, you’ll get your moeny’s worth with Premium plans.
Do I Recommend ExpressVPN for Mac?
Depends on how seriously you take your privacy. If you’re all about that, then by all means, go with ExpressVPN. This is a VPN that takes things to the next level when it comes to users’ anonymity and privacy.
What’s a VPN?
Virtual Private networks create a tunnel that allows web surfers safe passage from their device to the internet by shielding their activity from prying eyes.
That means that while you’re working on the road, you can access files on your home or business networks with fewer concerns about someone hacking into your smartphone or accessing your private data. It also means that your employees can work on sensitive data from anywhere without jeopardizing the integrity of customer data.
The best VPNs will make it appear that your internet activity is taking place on another network, from another location. This allows you to view movies and TV shows on Netflix in Canada while vacationing in the Bahamas or make it seem like your smartphone in Australia is on a network in New York.
It means that people living in or visiting countries where censorship and oppression are rampant can still taste a little freedom in the virtual world.
In short, any reason that you would need safe, secure access to information while surfing the internet or using your cloud-based account is reason enough to use a VPN.
Best VPNs for Mac
As I said, it’s a sad fact that a lot of VPN companies simply neglect Mac computers. Even of the 300 or so dedicated Mac VPNs, there are considerable issues. A good chunk of them were made to fill a market vacuum with an inferior product—broken apps, data leaks, and a catalog of other issues plague these VPNs.
Luckily, some of the most respected (but initially windows based) VPNs successfully migrated over to Mac and can provide you with protection as well as they do on any other device. Some systems, such as NordVPN, are so well migrated that you can sync a single VPN to a Mac and Windows simultaneously.
In general, you have to be extra-vigilant when searching for a Mac-compatible VPN. There are all the normal concerns for privacy and security such as logging policies, provider location, etc. as well as a slew of more specific issues.
The general thrust of these specific issues is the proliferation of poor VPN providers. Even larger companies such as ProtonVPN, IPVanish, and TunnelBear have proven to be poorly matched for Mac. They suffer from dodgy connections, unreliable security, and a generally poor UI.
The Mac OS itself is relatively solid for privacy if configured correctly, so the biggest problem is with the VPN providers available, rather than the software.
That’s why we’d suggest one of those on our list, it’s simply not worth sifting through all the pitfalls of Mac VPNs when the hard work has already been done for you! Surfshark, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN represent some of the few examples of fully Mac compatible VPN providers.
Are Free VPNs Any Good?
It’s tempting to just find a free app on Google Play or the Apple Store. There are probably hundreds of them out there.
Few developers create an app out of the goodness of their hearts. Most want to make money or they need to market another service or app, and they do so at the expense of your data and online privacy. You’ll get slower speeds and restricted access unless you switch to their “premium” service, and they make sure to let you know frequently with popup solicitations.
Or, they’ll sell your information to third-party advertisers. Many keep logs of your activity, and your IP may be still visible to others.
If the company uses its own domain name servers, your data can leak. In other words, your free, private network may not be so secret or free. Commercial VPNs offer a good ROI. For a small fee, you’ll have access to military-grade encryption without speed or privacy being sacrificed. Paying for service also means that you’ll also be able to circumvent online trackers, cookies, and annoying ads.
Mac is fraught with dodgy providers and poor products, so go for an affordable and quality product like NordVPN that won’t let you down. It’ll provide everything you need for a Mac without losing out in the core VPN qualities of security, privacy, and anonymity.