As the internet continues to expand, more people are looking into ways to protect their privacy. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are an excellent way of protecting your online privacy. In this guide, I will reveal the best free VPNs for Mac computers.
Best VPN For Full Feature Range
Best VPN For Internet Kill Switch
Best VPN For Unlimited Bandwidth
Best VPN For Catapult Hydra Protocol
Best VPN For AES-256 Encryption
Why you need the best free VPN for your Mac
Devices from Apple are well known for their security features. Based on experience, many Mac users often feel they’re safe from malware and security breaches and don’t need to go the extra mile of using a virtual private network. The truth is that macOS does not provide full encryption of your internet traffic and does not stop your internet service provider (ISP) from trailing your online activity. It’s on this basis that I highly recommend using a VPN if you have a Mac device.
I have done all of the hard work for you and analysed the capacity of different VPN services within the macOS ecosystem, including their compatibility with Apple’s security features and privacy policies. Besides checking the compatibility, I considered the connection speeds of the different VPNs, added features, and more.
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While NordVPN may not be free, it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, enabling you to try it for free for 30 days effectively. Plus, I always recommend going for a paid VPN, as they are more secure and comprehensive. NordVPN is one of the cheapest options out there, and so I would always recommend going down this route if your budget will allow for it.
Well-known for its zero-log policy and its Onion Over VPN feature, NordVPN is among the leading VPN brands in the world. Based in Panama, NordVPN has 5,400 servers in 59 countries with over 5,000 IP addresses. Tests conducted on NordVPN have shown no privacy leaks. The speeds are also reliable and fast.
While most VPN providers offer five or fewer simultaneous connections through their networks, NordVPN provides access to six simultaneous connections on their network.
NordVPN also provides a dedicated IP option for those who are looking for a higher-level VPN connection.
Other great features of NordVPN include the kill switch feature, which automatically disconnects you from the internet if the internet connection is not stable. Regular readers will know I am a massive fan of the kill switch feature! This ensures that your local ISP does not track your activity online even if your Internet drops out.
NordVPN is a comprehensive VPN service and incorporates torrenting and gaming. As a plus, it works in China. NordVPN’s coverage around the world is extensive. You can use NordVPN to access geo-blocked content from any location in the world. The smart select feature makes it easy to bypass geo-blocks. The smart select feature automatically detects optimum servers that can serve you best and automatically switches, ensuring the speeds remain quick and you get a seamless streaming experience.
NordVPN comes with various security features that make it a solid choice. For instance, all your online activity is protected with 256-bit encryption. The strict no-logs policy ensures that NordVPN does not hold onto any of your information.
While using NordVPN, you’re automatically protected from suspicious sites and malware thanks to the CyberSec feature. What’s also great is that you can finally stop being interrupted by irritating ads. Since the VPN’s architecture is built with obfuscated servers, all your internet activity is camouflaged, and it’s almost impossible for trackers to notice that you’re using a VPN.
On the App Store, NordVPN has a score of 4.6 out of 5 with over 59,000 ratings. It is also worth noting that for long-term use, NordVPN is not free. However, there is an available 30-day free trial option. You can opt for the trial for the first 30 days with a money-back guarantee.
Does NordVPN Sound Right For You?
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Windscribe is my second choice VPN service provider that is available for free to Mac users. The free edition of Windscribe provides up to 10 VPN server locations. The servers offer torrenting and P2P activities, although they’re unreliable for streaming.
Windscribe VPN comes with an Internet Kill Switch feature that automatically cuts you off from the internet if your connection is unstable or disconnected.
Every month, users have access to 10 GB of bandwidth for free. Windscribe logging policy provides privacy and security, making it trustworthy compared to other free VPN providers for Mac. Windscribe provides an additional 5 GB of bandwidth to users who share a post about the VPN service on Twitter. BY doing this, in total, you will have 15 GB of bandwidth for free.
Does Windscribe Sound Right For You?
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Based in Switzerland, Proton VPN is another popular option among Mac users. Proton VPN is unique because it offers unlimited bandwidth – something that is very rare for free VPNs!
Currently, Proton VPN has 1,200+ servers in 55 countries. However, free users only have access to three server locations; the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Apart from browsing your favourite websites, you can comfortably stream from various sites, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and Hulu, while still maintaining your online privacy.
The security features on ProtonVPN are excellent for a free VPN. The VPN is secured with military-grade encryption. Your internet traffic is encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption and a choice of either L2TP/IPSec or IKEv2/IPSec to ensure that your data is safe. In addition, it features a strict no-logs policy that means none of your online activity or data is stored or shared elsewhere. Users of Mac will also enjoy browsing with no ads and interruptions, thanks to the built-in adblocker.
It’s worth remembering that the free version of ProtonVPN on Mac can only access geo-blocked websites available in the three countries; the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands. The free plan doesn’t provide simultaneous connections, so you’re only limited to using one device at a time. Also, connection speeds for streaming, especially high-quality (HD) videos, may be slow.
In terms of compatibility, the free Proton VPN supports Sierra 10.12, High Sierra 10.13, Mojave 10.14, and Big Sur 11. Proton VPN can also be used on Mac 10.9.5.
Does ProtonVPN Sound Right For You?
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4. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is an easy-to-use Mac app that is designed to protect your online identity. The VPN features the Catapult Hydra protocol, which improves latency and connection speeds. This feature is rare among free VPNs.
The free Hotspot Shield plan limits you to one server in the United States. On the free version, streaming is limited to 500MB of data per day. Plus, you can’t unblock HBO GO, Amazon Prime Video, or Netflix US. However, you can access geo-blocked Kodi add-ons and YouTube videos. When I tried to access streaming sites like Netflix, a premium payment wall popped up and requested that we upgrade the version to access streaming services.
During peak times, connection speeds may be slower since free users rely on the same server.
One advantage of the Hotspot Shield VPN is that it provides a high level of protection in the free version, similar to the paid subscription. Military-grade encryption ensures your online activity is anonymous, and your data can’t be accessed or tracked. In addition, the VPN has a built-in kill switch that automatically disconnects you from the internet in case the server fails.
A built-in malware protection feature blocks any suspicious websites and protects you against phishing scams or potential malware. Although it is an effective first line of defence against malware, I recommend that you still go ahead and install an anti-malware program on your computer.
The free plan only covers one device and does not provide live support. If you have any queries, you have to access the FAQ section and see whether your question has previously been answered.
Hotspot Shield is a popular option in the free VPN market. The Hotspot Shield app for Mac is compatible with Big Sur 11, Catalina 10.15, Mojave 10.14. High Sierra 10.13 and Sierra 10.12. Built with a beautiful design, the VPN is easy to use.
Hotspot Basic is the free plan and comes with a 500MB per day bandwidth limit. You can stream for roughly 30 minutes with 500 MB of data. Despite the few limitations of the basic plan, Hotspot Shield still has a high rating on the App Store of 4.5.
Does Hotspot Shield Sound Right For You?
Hotspot Shield Pros:
Hotspot Shield Cons:
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The VPN also comes with AES-256 encryption and a no-logs policy. The no-logs policy means that they don’t collect any of your data.
The 10 GB of free data in the basic plan is sufficient for browsing, social media, and streaming. You can stream in HD and SD from various sites using hide.me, including Netflix UK.
Connection speeds on Hide.me are decent. The VPN supports P2P file sharing. You can also access torrents on the free plan. However, torrenting speeds on Hide.me may be slow.
Other security features on Hide.me VPN include the Split-Tunneling and IP leak protection features. The Split-Tunneling feature allows you to route some traffic over your VPN and the rest through your local ISP, while the IP leak protection comes in handy during malfunctions, as it keeps your IP hidden.
The versions of Mac currently supported by Hide.me VPN include macOS 10.15 and Big Slur 11.
The app is rated highly on the App Store with an average of 4.5 out of 5.
Does Hide.Me Sound Right For You?
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Recognized for its user-friendly interface, TunnelBear is also available for free to Mac owners. The apps GUI is appealing, making its usability excellent.
The basic plan has access to 26 different servers, which is impressive considering other servers provide limited options. The speeds are also decent.
In terms of privacy, TunnelBear ranks highly since it has a no-data retention policy. The provider does not keep any of your data. As a result, no one, including your ISP or government agencies, can track your internet activity.
When it comes to free VPNs, there is always a catch. One limitation with TunnelBear is that the free version only allows 500 MB of data per day. You can receive an extra 1 GB bandwidth for free if you refer a friend or tweet about TunnelBear.
While you can stream on sites such as Netflix US and Netflix UK using TunnelBear, you won’t be able to do much with only 500 MB of bandwidth.
TunnelBear supports various macOS, including Sierra 10.12, High Sierra 10.13, Mojave 10.14, Catalina 10.15, and Big Sur 11. On the App Store, it is rated 4.6 out of 5.
Does TunnelBear Sound Right For You?
How to set up a VPN on a Mac
There are three different ways to install a VPN on your Mac; installing the VPN app, using OpenVPN software, or manual configuration. The first method is the easiest.
Installing via a Mac VPN App
This is the easiest and most common way of installing a VPN on your Mac. You don’t need to be a programming wizard to install VPN app.
In this example, we are going to use NordVPN to show you the different stages involved.
- Go to the official site of the VPN provider, in this case, NordVPN
- On the homepage, at the top right-hand corner, you will see a button that reads Get NordVPN. Click this.
- On this page, you will be directed to choose a subscription. Normally, there are three options to choose from, one month plan, one year plan, and a two-year plan. Purchase your VPN subscription.
- You’ll be directed to log in and register your details before going ahead to make a purchase.
- Use the login details to access your account.
- Download the set-up file for NordVPN for macOS.
- Install NordVPN.
- Fill in your credentials of your Mac, including your username and password.
- Log in to your NordVPN account, and it will automatically connect you to NordVPN servers.
- You’re now set to use NordVPN.
Follow these simple steps to set up your VPN on your Mac. If you have any challenges when installing the VPN, you can contact the VPN service provider or check online tutorials for further directions.
Free or paid Mac VPN? Which option should I go for?
A common question I receive is whether to go for a free VPN or paid VPN. Underlying this question is the worry that free VPNs are not safe.
Although many people search for free VPNs, there is the constant worry about whether free VPNs are really free. In addition to having limited features, some VPNs support ads, and using them discloses some of your information.
Ultimately, I never recommend opting for a free VPN unless you have no choice but to do so. Not only are there security concerns, but the data limitations make it almost impossible to enjoy a good experience.
Disadvantages of using free VPNs
- Free VPNs monitor your online activities
- Providers sell your data to third parties for a fee
- Pop-up advertisements
- Slow internet speeds
- Limited protocols, restrict locations, and bandwidth
- May leave you vulnerable to attacks
- May leak your IP address
Advantages of using paid VPNs
- Have additional privacy and security features
- Are reliable and provide robust security
- Security features are top-tier and you’re assured of your privacy
- No bandwidth or speed restrictions
- Provide a vast number of servers in comparison to free VPNs
- Work in countries that have extreme censorship such as Saudi Arabia and China.
- Can access blocked sites such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.
Many people who consider using free VPNs are concerned about price. The idea of getting a service for free with all the benefits of privacy is quite alluring. However, how free is free? Running a VPN service is capital intensive; one needs to pay for servers and bandwidth and pay salaries to the staff and maintain operations of the company. To accumulate this capital, your personal details will often be sold by some of the free VPNs out there.
Final words: Best free VPNs for Mac
So there you have it: everything you need to know about the best free VPNs for Mac today! I hope that this has helped you to get a better understanding of the different options that are available so you can choose the right one for you.