Last Update: August 26th, 2016
Before I delve into VPNs for Mac computers, let us reminisce a little on the Apple computer’s path to mainstream. Apple’s involvement in the PC industry was a long and tumultuous one. They helped shape the personal home computer and have been for a long time, revered as the luxury version of the PC but with many shortsighted OS plans that never became realities, they also lost most of the market share to the PC giants. Before the iPhone craze, Apple finally took hold of the market’s attention with the iPod and with that push, Macbooks and iMacs started selling in record numbers.
The Cupertino-based company, to its credit, managed to maintain a decent market share in the desktop OS space. Currently, nearly half of all PC users are using Microsoft Windows as their primary desktop platform, but that doesn’t mean there is a lack of Mac OS X users. According to data from Netmarketshare, nearly 8% of all PC users are using Mac OS X, and that’s not a small percentage if you consider the fact that there are millions (if not billions) of people using some sort of desktop computers today.
With this popularity, a sharp increase in malicious software and attacks targeted at Apple products was apparent. For too long, many Apple users had a mythical belief that somehow their systems we’re safe, but lately, multiple vulnerability reports have demonstrated it’s absolutely false and you are no safer on OSX than any other platform. The company has been fighting security flaws ever since, and now offer a bounty of up to two hundred thousand dollars for any individual that finds and reports a security flaw or backdoor on their software.
On the other hand, users themselves also need to gear up and better secure their computers and private data. VPN usage is now very much a need, no longer an option for those seeking better security and privacy of their online data transmissions. Mac OS X users are probably also very conscious about their privacy, and that’s why virtual private network (VPN) providers must also cater to Apple’s loyal followers. So far, natively configuring a VPN on Macintosh has been difficult. I even wrote a guide on how to use a VPN on a network using an Airport Extreme.
Developers and net service providers have come to realize that Apple fanatics are willing to spend on tech gadgets and services—evident by Apple’s high profit margin. Not only that, but developers that once developed exclusively for Microsoft jumped ship and began making Mac-exclusive apps. Meaning, chances are VPN software developed for Mac might be, in fact, more secure and less buggy than its Windows counterpart.
So if you own a Mac OS X-based Apple PC, we have compiled a list of VPN services that you should consider during your VPN search. If you also use an iPhone or iPad, check out our iOS article here.
VPN for Mac OS X – Top Picks:
ExpressVPN does not offer hundreds upon hundreds of servers, but they don’t need to. Instead they cover close to 90 countries and over 130 cities with top tier gigabit servers with short routes for the best possible response times. Apple and Macintosh users usually like the best of the best, and Express appeals to those consumers by providing the best possible VPN service, albeit being a bit more costly than most.
The service is simple, just straight forward VPN service with clients for all platforms including OS X and iOS. However they do offer free additional Smart-DNS for Apple TV or gaming consoles, and setup guides for multiple devices. The software for Mac OSX is some of the best I have used. Identical to the one for Windows, ExpressVPN’s software is bug free and very simple, but effectively laid out.
The main screen automatically lists servers by ping and speed, and you can run an automatic test with one click, that verifies ping and speed test results for each individual server. The settings page allows you to change from OpenVPN to other protocols, or more importantly, between TCP and UDP connections for donwloading and regular use vs. gaming and streaming. Overall ExpressVPN is more expensive by a little bit, and does not allow as many simultaneous devices, but you get what you pay for.
With 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN protocol on all their software platforms, the service looses little to no speeds on my top 5 to 10 low ping server locations, and I never have to look or switch servers, because the stability and speed is always on par. Notably, they also offer a no-fuss 30 day money back guarantee, so if you’re not fully satisfied for any reason, you can get your money back.
Staying true to its trademark, Private Internet Access (PIA) is force to be reckoned with when it comes to providing web users with complete privacy. PIA has over 3000 servers across 24 countries, and offers just about as many security options as other top-tier VPN providers out there. Speed and reliability aside, what we really like about PIA is the cost value per dollar offered. Yearly plans make it affordable to many, and each account allows up to 5 devices to connect simultaneously.
So what makes PIA an ideal candidate for Mac OS X users? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. It’s everything we mentioned above and more. Many Windows users will boast that their platform is much more ‘customizable’ than Mac OS X, but when it comes to VPN services from PIA, that argument is thrown out the window (pun intended). The PIA Mac OS X app isn’t as eye-pleasing as that of VyprVPN for example, but it gets the job done.
The setup process is relatively simple, and with just a few keystrokes and clicks, PIA VPN users can start surfing the web using their own configurations. A kill switch is built-in to protect from data leaks, as well as an ad blocker and live protection from trackers and malware. Finally, anonymous payment methods including Bitcoin are made available, and the no-log service fully supports P2P traffic. A 7-day money back guarantee is offered, allowing you to test it risk free.
NordVPN is a solid choice for Mac OS X based computers for a few reasons. For starters, they have great OS X and iOS software clients. The software user interface is easy to use and graphically pleasing, but more importantly, it offers a solid level of security and privacy through their various encrypted servers. The apps include a kill switch, as well as a DNS leak resolver, to avoid any type of data leaks. You can opt for Tor over VPN and even Double VPN servers for layered security, or connect to one of their fast video streaming servers for the best possible speeds.
In terms of pricing, they fall somewhere in between ExpressVPN’s top tiered service, and Private Internet Access’s budget friendly cost. Performance can be judged somewhat the same, not as fast as ExpressVPN, but as fast or better than PIA depending on location. Where they do have an advantage is by providing global coverage across more than 50 countries and 900+ server locations. Additionally, one account allows up to 6 devices to be used simultaneously, which is more than any provider I have tested previously.
Privacy is a priority with NordVPN, and they offer a trustworthy no log policy that fully supports P2P traffic. Just like ExpressVPN, a solid 30 day money back guarantee allows you to test the service risk free and see if it fits your needs.
VyprVPN is one the best VPN services out there. There’s no question that this Swiss-based VPN provider is a leader when it comes to providing its clients with top-notch speed, reliability and security. The company is owned by Golden Frog, and is reportedly ‘not subject to US agencies’ as it’s a Swiss-based company, however they unfortunately do not support P2P and action on DMCA takedowns by terminating accounts. Unless you plan on never downloading torrents, they may not be a good fit.
On the Mac OS X front, whatever VyprVPN offers to Windows users, it offers to Mac users. VyprVPN’s Mac interface is an extremely clean and efficient app that is very straightforward—even for those that don’t know too much about VPN in general. The app features a one-click connect process, and who could really complain about something like that. Additionally, users will also be able to switch between servers with just a click, and with the built-in monitoring dashboard users can easily see for themselves with sever has the lowest ping for the best performance. All these features and security options are accessible via the app, with absolutely no need to tinker with the OS itself to get things rolling.
With over 700+ servers in 50+ locations across North America, Europe and Asia, you can rest assured on having access to a reliable and fast VPN server. In addition to some of the more standard encryption protocols such as PPTP and Open VPN, VyprVPN also offers what it refers to as its own ‘proprietary 256-bit SSL protocol.’ The company guarantees that its Chameleon encryption will mask VPN traffic to ensure that no snoopers can figure out that you’re surfing the World Wide Web using a VPN.
If you’ve ever wandered around on the web and landed on a page with a donkey in a trench coat as the logo, it’s a good thing that you did. In addition to its free proxy service, HMA has expanded and now offers premium VPN capabilities as well. The company reportedly has over 50,000 unique IP addresses to its name as well as a slew of other security protocols to match. HMA offers something called Secured IP Binding, which dynamically assigns IP addresses during a session to ensure optimal security under most conditions.
Despite HMA’s involvement in the Lulzsec crackdown by the FBI and other government agencies, the company has worked diligently to improve its image among privacy buffs. One major mishap aside, what we especially like about HMA is that it offers extremely high speed. The Mac OS X HMA VPN app is extremely detailed, but that doesn’t imply you’ll have to jump through several hurdles to get connected to a desired VPN. Often times, Mac OS X users will pride themselves on their ability to get things done with ease—as compared to Windows. If you want to connect to the fastest server, the HMA app has a feature called ‘Speed Guide’, which basically automatically detects the server that will provide the best performance. For security you can select between Open VPN, L2TP and PPTP.
If you’re a Mac OS X user, there’s no reason to feel that you’re a part of the minority. In fact, you might be in much better hands than you think. VPN providers know all too well how heavily vested you are in your electronic gadgets, so it’s a given that they’re working hard to provide exceptional services that caters specifically to Apple products. For full reviews on the individual VPN providers we listed in this article, go ahead and check out our review section.