Best VPN for Mac.
In our data driven internet age, it’s becoming incredibly more difficult to maintain online privacy. While anonymity on the web may seem like a pipe dream, there are a few precautions one can take to increase their privacy and protect their online identity. Implementing the use of a Virtual Private Network or a VPN is a good place to start.
As a refresher – a VPN is a tool that can be used to add a layer of security to both private and public networks by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection that is encrypted end to end. When it comes to selecting a VPN service provider there are many possible options. Although many top level competitors offer similar services, there is still some differences to consider when it comes to server locations, pricing, platform compatibility and user experience.
This short article sets out to cover the Top 5 reputable VPN service providers and pit them against one another to help you select the software best suited for your needs. Before we begin, I just want to note that I’ve been testing the following software for a number of weeks using Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11 using the latest version of each VPN solution.
With that out of the way, let’s begin!
Best VPN for Mac
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IPVanish has been around for quite some time, and due to its reputation, it quickly became the preferred VPN solution for many. But what exactly makes IPVanish so great? Well, besides the full end-to-end encryption, IPVanish offers a very competitive software solution. Their range of apps allows users to stay encrypted on any internet enabled device.
IPVanish also promises to deliver “the best VPN speeds” thanks to their VPN network which spans over 40,000 IPs on 400+ servers in over 60 countries worldwide. As far as pricing goes, IPVanish charges on par with other service providers – offering a slight discount for longer memberships. If you’re just looking to try IPVanish for a month it’ll cost you US$10, and if you’re ready to commit for a full year you’re looking at $6.49 monthly.
Taking a look at the Mac OS app you’ll notice a standard, rather intuitive, sidebar that will let you select a server either by city or map.
When digging deeper into the settings, you will find the ability to change the connection protocol between OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP – although if you’re not sure what this means it’s recommended that you leave them on their default values.
Overall, the IPVanish Mac OS app is quite easy to use and selecting servers is painless. One thing that IPVanish lacks is the ability to quickly connect to the fastest server – a feature that I’ve come to appreciate with VyprVPN.
ExpressVPN is another cross-platform provider that’s worth looking into. Not only do they offer great service, but they also have one of the best looking VPN apps for Mac OS. Much like the rest of the providers listed here, ExpressVPN offers a pretty large network. According to their website their servers span 100 cities in 78 countries.
Although there are many options to choose from, the app makes it very easy to select the best server for you. Much like VyprVPN, ExpressVPN offers a single click solution to connect to the fastest server in a selected country. Unlike with VyprVPN you don’t get a speed graph, but don’t worry, ExpressVPN doesn’t lag behind. In fact (in my testing of the app) it has been consistent with offering much faster speeds than any other provider listed here.
For more advanced users there are configurable settings that allow you to switch between various connection protocols. Once again, it’s recommended that you leave these set on their default unless you know what you’re doing.
As far as pricing goes, ExpressVPN is a little bit more expensive than other solutions listed here, but they also offer a 30-day money back guarantee so if you start suffering from buyer’s remorse you can get your money back. A single month of ExpressVPN will run you US$12.95, or if you jump aboard for a whole year look to spend $8.32 monthly.
Next on the list is VyprVPN, another top-tier VPN solution. Although it offers a similar service to the rest of the providers listed here, VyprVPN has an edge when it comes to network management. Everything that goes on behind the scenes is managed in-house. GoldenFrog writes all of their own software, owns the hardware and the DNS in order to offer one of the most secure solutions.
They also offer a very impressive network that spans over 200,000 IPs on 700+ servers in 50+ countries. And similarly to IPVanish, VyprVPN offers cross-platform applications in order to enable a VPN on any device. The Mac OS app is very beautifully designed making it super easy to use.
As far as functionality goes, VyprVPN offers a one-click solution to connect to the fastest available server – a feature that is very handy for any casual user. Selecting a specific server is also incredibly easy, and you’re given the ping to quickly evaluate the connection – a feature that some other providers listed here overlook.
VyprVPN is priced competitively – with the basic package running US$9.99 in a month-to-month plan, or $6.67/month if you sign up for a whole year. That said, the basic package doesn’t include the OpenVPN protocol, so if you value security above all else you should opt for the slightly more expensive mid-tier offering. It’s also worth noting that VyprVPN is the only solution mentioned here that doesn’t accept Bitcoin as a method of payment.
For a more in-depth overview of VyprVPN you can read my recent write up here.
LiquidVPN breaks our cross-platform streak, seemingly forgetting about iPhone users. As a Mac user who relies on the continuity between Mac OS X and iOS, this is a deal breaker. Although LiquidVPN has a fairly strong desktop solution, having to use a different VPN provider on my phone is not ideal.
Moving past the abstinence of the iPhone app, let’s quickly talk about location availability. Although Liquid offers only 12 servers in 7 countries, I have found connection speeds to be quite comparable to other (more widespread) providers listed here. In my personal experience, LiquidVPN managed to beat out both VPN.ac and VyprVPN as far as download speeds go.
The app itself is pretty intuitive, in fact, it very closely resembles the user-friendly VyprVPN, in both functionality and design. That being said, LiquidVPN offers a very interesting feature that other providers listed here do not – Liquid Lock. When enabled, Liquid Lock will ensure that all connections outside of the LiquidVPN tunnel are unavailable. This feature makes it impossible to connect to the internet unless the VPN is running which ensures that you’re always encrypted when online.
LiquidVPN is the most cost-effective VPN solution on this list considering that plans start at only US$4.75/month if you commit to a whole year up front. A monthly plan is also available, but that will run you $7/month.
VPN.ac offers Windows, Mac and Android applications, but leaves behind iOS users. On top of not being cross-platform, VPN.ac for Mac seems to lack several configurations that come with the Windows application. There is no option to search for a server location for example, and most of the configuration happens via a collection of drop-down menus.
That being said, once you’ve configured it, VPN.ac is all set and you will likely never have to make any changes again.
Although VPN.ac is not the prettiest app to look at, they make up for it with their competitive speeds and affordable prices. VPN.ac starts at US$4.85/month when billed annually, or $9 on a month-to-month basis. That being said, they also offer a 7-day money back guarantee in case you’re unsatisfied with their service.
To quickly wrap up – every solution listed here has their own set of pros and cons, but they all have one thing in common – they encrypt your online activity, helping you stay secure while experiencing the internet without geo restrictions. After reading this article ask yourself what exactly is it that you’re looking for in a VPN? Be it speed, ease of use, price, server location or any other factor, there is likely a provider for you.
Although this article lists 5 possible solutions, you don’t have to pick any one of them if you don’t feel like your personal needs align. There are many other offerings out there, but these should serve as a good starting point for you to start making a decision. Regardless of which option you decide to go with, it’s very important that you settle on a VPN provider if you want to maximize your online health.
Personally, I’ve been using VyprVPN prior to this review and I’m quite satisfied with both the iOS and Mac OS X solutions offered by Golden Frog. That being said, after using all of the applications mentioned in this review, I would likely recommend ExpressVPN or IPVanish simply due to their superior download speeds.
Here’s a recap of the Top 5 VPN for Mac.
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