If there was a word to describe the state of our digital lives in 2020, it would be “privacy.” We’re truly more concerned about exposing our personal information today than ever before. All because services we rely on every day, such as Google and Facebook, are always hungry for more of our behavioral data to feed into their advertising engines. Even our ISPs (internet service providers) are selling information to marketers. So a lot of people said “enough” and turned to VPNs.
A good VPN (virtual private network) is essentially a cluster of servers spread out worldwide and it solves the problem of unsecured connection by encrypting the signal between your Mac and one of its servers of your choosing before it hits your ISP or any other people.
So what exactly are the benefits of using a VPN client for Mac? There are quite a few:
Protect your private information online from snooping advertisers
Prevent hackers from seeing your data while you’re using unsecured public networks (e.g. in a cafe)
Add an extra layer of online security (in case someone would ever want to get access to your Mac)
See geographically restricted content (e.g. US-based Netflix) by directing your traffic to a server in that country
Seems quite useful, doesn’t it? Let’s then go over all the factors that are important in choosing the best VPN service for your Mac.
How To Choose The Best Mac VPN
Since privacy has become a popular issue, it’s no wonder that the proliferation of Mac VPN clients happened at the same time. There are, however, some aspects by which you can pick the best VPN app for you.
Servers. Simply put, the more servers your setup VPN on Mac has the better. You get more choice of countries to pick and browse from, although a curated selection is sometimes better than the sheer number, since you’ll probably not use most of them, but some of them you’ll use a lot.
Price. Cheap VPNs often provide the same service for less money. So why not? However, beware of the best free VPN for Mac marketing calls — running VPN servers costs money, so if they are not taking it from you, they are more likely to actually be selling your data too.
Speed. The closer the VPN server is to your location the faster your signal can reach it — resulting in faster internet speeds. So reaching a US-based server from Canada would take much less time than from, say, India.
Interface. Some VPN clients are enterprise-grade and complex, some are simple and user-friendly. Some have a lot of features, some don’t. Pick the one that’s right for your goals.
Device support. It’s important to check that your VPN on Mac also works for iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and anything else you or people you share the VPN with are using.
Ready to see the top picks for the best VPN 2020?
Security: NordVPN for Mac
While NordVPN is a good VPN client for Mac all around, it especially excel in providing an extra layer of security, known as the Double VPN — which encrypts all your data twice by passing it through two of their servers, in addition to other offerings like a secured chat and web proxies.
Ease of use: ExpressVPN
One of the most famous Mac VPN clients, ExpressVPN is also a strong contender across all categories, but its true trump card is how easy it is to use. Just get the ExpressVPN download for Mac, choose the destination country, and simply click to connect.
If you were originally looking for the best free VPN for Mac and now realized it’s not such a good idea, but still want to get access to cheap VPNs from time to time, you should try PureVPN.
PureVPN has all the essential features of the best VPN service (servers in more than 140 countries) while still being able to undercut them all on price, so you can get a good VPN for just $3.33 a month.
Speed: Hotspot Shield
For some people, security is desirable, but speed is non-negotiable. How fast the best Mac VPN client is depends on the number of servers, their processing power, and their positioning with relation to your actual location.
Hotspot Shield manages to ace all of those and comes out on top when compared to other Mac VPN clients, mostly due to its proprietary VPN protocol called Catapult Hydra, which solves a lot of latency issues that affect the industry, especially cheap VPNs.
If you’re not sure which best Mac VPN factor to prioritize, or you want flexibility, there’s no better way to go than Shimo.
Shimo is one of the best VPNs for Mac on the market, simply due to its flexibility. While a full-featured VPN in its own right, it also allows you to add VPN accounts from OpenVPN, Cisco IPSec, PPTP, and lots of other protocols. What’s more, Shimo doesn’t limit your connections and makes it possible to set automatic triggers for types of networks or geographic locations. And it’s so easy to use too — no technical background required!
How to properly test VPN speed
It might be that Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN client for Mac you can use. But, as was pointed out above, the speed you get might differ based on your location and the proximity of company’s servers. So you could in theory end up with a different client working better for you. The question is how do you test the speed properly? First, you need TripMode.
TripMode is a great app for controlling all incoming and outgoing traffic to your Mac. It’s especially useful for reducing data usage when hotspotting or when you’re in a place that has very minimal WiFi connection.
For our VPN testing purposes though, TripMode allows to block all processes from accessing the internet, except for the best VPN app you’ve chosen. That way you’ll be able to get a real picture of what the real VPN speed is.
How to protect your Mac from malware
What even the best VPNs don’t do is protect your Mac from malware or viruses. Even though Macs are sandboxed from direct intrusion, your best bet here is to get a proper malware scanner, such as CleanMyMac X.
CleanMyMac X is an all-in-one Mac optimization utility that makes it easy to keep your laptop safe, secure, and blazing-fast. It includes dozens of scans to tweak every part of your Mac for optimal performance as well as a thorough and continuously updated Malware Removal capability to spot malicious players in seconds.
Using CleanMyMac X to track down malware couldn’t be more simple:
Navigate to the Malware Removal tab under Protection
Hit Remove if anything was found
In the end, the best Mac VPNs play an important role in keeping your private life, well, private and helping you avoid dubious geographical restrictions when it comes to access to content. Make sure you pick one that suits your needs the most (e.g. Shimo) by testing it with TripMode. And when you feel like your Mac needs some proper security (and you should), pay attention to CleanMyMac X.
Best of all, Shimo, TripMode, and CleanMyMac X are available to you all at once for free during a seven-day trial with Setapp, a platform with more than 170 best apps for your Mac, from recovering data (Disk Drill) to managing projects like a pro (Merlin Project Express). Try them all today at absolutely no cost!