Apple (How to Buy APPL Shares) may be known for emphasising the safety and privacy of its products.
However, your ISP, advertisers, and other snoops try their hardest to circumvent safeguards put in place.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a simple technology that may help you regain some of your privacy and also redirect your internet traffic to any location on the planet. It’s not perfect but does help… So in this blog review, we'll compare the top VPNs for Mac in the UK.
Table of Contents:
7 Best VPNs for Mac 🚀: The Selection
We’ve written about some rather suspicious activities such as a UK campaign that leaked.
It’s sometimes better to be safe than sorry by trusting authorities to protect your data. We’ve compared the top online backup software manufacturers with regard to their respective installation procedures, privacy levels, logs reports, user-friendliness, and price schemes. The software's free plan tools for SMBs and ordinary users were also evaluated.
A VPN goes well with a cloud backup service.
1. ProtonVPN — Best VPNs for Macs in Value
ProtonVPN gives you an unbeatable value way to surf on Mac OS without advertisers tracking your every move.
ProtonVPN Somewhat Changes the Game
Once upon a time, we didn’t believe it was possible to find a free VPN that did not greatly compromise your security. (Many of these Mac VPNs contained malware.) ProtonVPN changes things, except for privacy on the free plan (more in the section below).
Once shrouded in mystery but now increasingly common, virtual private networks (VPNs) encrypt your internet traffic, making it difficult for your Internet service provider (ISP) and others to monitor your online activities.
Proton’s popular VPN for Macs, which is part of the wider Proton product line, is a polished option with a great set of capabilities and the best free plan we've tested so far.
Its premium membership offers excellent value for a virtual private network of any quality, and the addition of private communication and storage options makes it much more appealing. Despite this, it is our top pick and our best free virtual private network.
Free Plan Requires Registering
To what extent does ProtonVPN cost you something?
It will cost you this: registering with your personal details, and fewer servers and features.
If that sounds good then Proton is a great choice. The fact that ProtonVPN maintains a strong free plan compatible with the Mac OS system is music to our ears. There are only three VPN server locations to choose from (Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States), and each user is limited to a single connection at a time.
Creating an account with ProtonVPN is required to use the free tier, however doing so grants you access to many of Proton’s general features (Drive, Calendar, Mail).
By comparison, for all subscriptions including premium, neither Mullvad nor IVPN asks users to sign up for an account or provide any personal information.
Even though signing up for ProtonVPN is required, the service's free tier is exceptional due to the fact that it does not restrict your data transfer. The free tiers of Hotspot Shield, TunnelBear VPN and KeepSolid VPN Lite all cap the amount of data you can transfer securely at 500 megabytes, with access to a single server.
All of these factors together make Proton the best free VPN available.
But Premium Offers More Abilities…
The VPN Plus plan is £8/mo (or £57 each year, or £99 for 2 years), thus it is somewhat less expensive than it was in the past. With those competitive figures…VPN Plus is just marginally more costly than average.
ProtonVPN is superior to many virtual private network services with comparable features, including our overall favourite NordVPN. Proton is the most cost-effective option, although there are cheaper alternatives that provide fewer features.
Access the premium VPN for Mac servers on the Proton virtual private network with the VPN Plus plan. These servers are less popular than the free ones, thus they may provide better performance. With VPN Plus, Proton has doubled the number of simultaneous connections that its users might utilise.
However, there are VPNs that no longer restrict their users to just one device, e.g. Surfshark VPN.
Subscriptions to Proton may be bought with any major credit card or with PayPal. You'll need an account before you can pay with bitcoins. We have only seen this option with Mullvad and IVPN, but ProtonVPN claims it would take payments transferred straight to its headquarters.
Verdict 👑 — Proton Wins Overall for Budget Mac OS Users!
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are helpful for enhancing internet anonymity, but they aren't foolproof. Many of us should use a password manager, turn on multifactor authentication whenever it's an option, and have antivirus software.
ProtonVPN has been well-liked for a long time due to its high level of security to add to Apple’s track record and plenty of cutting-edge VPN capabilities. We also like that its free tier does not restrict the quantity of data a user may transfer.
The latest pricing change made things more confusing, but it also brought tremendous value to the service. Proton now provides its paying users with a suite of tools that no other VPN can match, including a secure email service, cloud storage, and scheduling software for Mac.
Unlike many other VPNs for Macs, which tend to prioritise speed and video streaming, ProtonVPN is still dedicated to its image as a privacy-focused business. An audit in 2022 is a vital stamp of approval for the company's privacy policies.
ProtonVPN has more than quadrupled its server count, number of server locations, and number of simultaneous connections since the service was last assessed.
The firm proved it could increase production without compromising quality. Compared to its competitors, ProtonVPN stands out for its superior free version and extensive set of privacy features.
2. NordVPN — Best VPNs for Mac with Full Features
By making it more difficult for websites to identify and your ISP to monitor your online activity, a VPN could significantly increase your online privacy.
Ranking high among them for anonymisation for both individual, family, and online business use is NordVPN…
In addition to standard VPN security, it also provides a wide range of additional features.
It has extensive and varied server infrastructure, an incredible array of seldom encountered technologies, and rigorous privacy and security protocols.
What is NordVPN's Cost? 📙
The higher price of NordVPN is somewhat explained by the fact that it has several sophisticated capabilities that no other has.
Unlike many other VPN providers, NordVPN now provides other services beyond just VPN security, such as NordPass’ (review) password manager and NordLocker’s secure file storage.
These extra features are now available as part of a higher subscription…
- Standard—£7/month or £55/year, offering the VPN alone.
- Plus—£9.90/month or £58.72 for the first year and thereafter £91 per year. You also get NordPass.
- Complete—includes 1 terabyte of secure cloud storage for a tenner per month or £62 for the first year and thereafter £118 per year.
Two-year plans for NordVPN exist at reduced prices. This is a yearly renewal at the standard fees.
We advise not shelling out cash for deeply discounted multi-year plans right away, despite the fact that the thought of doing so is appealing. Choose a temporary plan first to see whether the VPN service works in your house.
Amazon Payments, all major credit cards, CoinGate for cryptocurrency transactions, Google Pay, PayPal, and Plaid are all accepted methods of payment.
What Do You Get for Your Money?
Six simultaneous connections are permitted with NordVPN. Most VPN providers have a limit of five simultaneous connections.
For an extra fee, NordVPN provides users with a static IP address. Select a mailing address in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, or the United States.
If you often connect from the same location, using a static IP address for your VPN connection might assist avoid getting it banned. Compared to other VPN services, NordVPN's static IP add-on is difficult to set up and a major service failure.
World's Leading VPN for Cutting-Edge Anonymisation Features...
The many extra features that NordVPN gives you to enhance your privacy are great. Connect directly to the Tor anonymity network.
This makes it much more difficult to track your online activity and provides access to otherwise inaccessible websites, but at much slower rates. However, it does not cost anything to use Tor.
In addition to a single VPN server, NordVPN allows for what it terms “Double VPN”, or multiple VPN server connections. Your data will now be sent across two separate VPN servers instead of just one. In that manner, even if an attack compromises one end of the link, the other end will still provide security.
Through the use of split-tunneling, you may choose which applications should use the VPN and which should bypass it. This is an intriguing addition to NordVPN, which allows you to mandate or disallow VPN use with certain applications. Split tunnelling, Tor over VPN, and multiple hop connections are features that a few of VPNs provide, yet both NordVPN and ProtonVPN do so.
Verdict — Veteran in This Industry, Still Leading
Today, NordVPN is up against the most formidable rivals the VPN business has ever seen.
However, NordVPN's strength has always been that it provides the most competitive features in a highly customizable package.
When using NordVPN, you have the option of using it in a simple “set it and forget it” mode or taking use of its more complex tools and capabilities.
The firm is also seeing success after integrating cutting-edge technologies like WireGuard into its flagship goods, and it is planning to grow by introducing cutting-edge consumer features like Meshnet. There are several glaring omissions, however…
We were underwhelmed by its Threat Protection capabilities, and we recommend that the organisation conduct more audits. However, when put together, these parts form a fantastic whole.
3. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Mac Users Who Travel
In this regard, ExpressVPN stands out as a top-tier service that covers a wide geographical area and employs stringent security measures to keep your data safe.
ExpressVPN's apps have been given a facelift and are more appealing to users as a result, but the service is still costly and lacks the feature depth of its cheaper rivals. As it provides better value for money and more comprehensive service, ProtonVPN is our top pick in this group.
ExpressVPN offers three different payment plans: monthly at £9.35, semi-annual at £43.41, and yearly at £72.18. Most VPN packages are identical except for the length of time you commit to using the service.
ExpressVPN's six-month and yearly subscriptions provide savings, but even at £72.18, they're still more expensive than the average of £53 across all of the VPNs we've examined.
It does not provide a free virtual private network service, which is the most cost-effective option. That isn't that shocking, given it is unusual to find a VPN service that doesn't charge for its services.
The free version of TunnelBear VPN gives you access to the service's worldwide network of servers, but only lets you use 500MB (or 1.5GB with special offers) of data per month. In contrast, ProtonVPN's free tier has no bandwidth limits at all.
Connect 5 Devices Simultaneously
ExpressVPN allows you to connect up to 5 devices at once. With the VPN services we've tested, that's about parred. It seems that VPNs are moving away from such limits altogether rather than gradually increasing that maximum.
ExpressVPN emphasised this singular commitment to providing the finest VPN time and time again in our talks with the firm. Its VPN service, therefore, does not prevent advertisements or viruses and does not include any of the extras that you would find with other VPNs, such as dedicated IP addresses. The likes of CyberGhost VPN and NordVPN are just two VPN providers that have branched out to provide more brand names.
Missing Extra Anonymity Features
By using ExpressVPN's split tunnelling feature, you can choose which of your connections should use the virtual private network’s secure tunnel and which may bypass it. Split tunnelling is helpful for low-threat activities that demand a lot of bandwidth, such as gaming or video streaming.
Regrettably, ExpressVPN's security options are no longer available. If you want an extra layer of anonymity, you may use the Tor anonymization network, although the service does not make it easy. Keep in mind that a virtual private network is not required to use Tor; it is only recommended.
ExpressVPN also does not allow you to set up a connection with many hops. With this setup, your data will travel between two different VPN servers. This ensures that your data is safe even if the secondary VPN server is hacked. Access to Tor, multi-hop connections, and split tunnelling are features exclusive to NordVPN and ProtonVPN.
Because VPNs are an established technology, there are several protocol methods for establishing a VPN connection.
Since OpenVPN is free and available to anybody, its security flaws have been thoroughly examined, making it our go-to for many years. WireGuard is the open-source successor to OpenVPN, with faster speeds and more advanced encryption. However, as it is still relatively new, not all VPN services support it.
ExpressVPN does not support WireGuard, opting instead to concentrate on OpenVPN and its own protocol, Lightway. It is prudent that this protocol makes use of the publicly available wolfSSL cryptography library, since developing novel cryptographic systems is a high-risk endeavour.
Verdict — 🌴 Best Traveller’s Companion VPN
Competition is fierce. Those who travel often or who need access to a server in a certain region will find that ExpressVPN is a good option.
In contrast to many VPN providers that advertise extensive server networks, this one relies only on a small number of dedicated physical servers. Importantly, it has a firm dedication to protecting its clients' personal information. The app's updated vintage design is another something we like.
ExpressVPN has a lot going for it, but its rivals can provide more bang for the buck. If you value paying for a superb experience, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice if you are often travelling, need VPN access to a certain location, or are just interested in protecting your online anonymity.
4. Mullvad VPN — Solid VPNs for Mac
Mullvad VPN is distinct in that it prioritises user privacy at a low price. It is also unusual in that it has adopted radical new approaches to user security. Better online privacy for shockingly little money is what you get without upsells, a wide selection of servers, or a stunning UI. The Mullvad VPN is the most cost-effective VPN that we recommend.
Working with the Mac Version of the Mullvad VPN
Mullvad's macOS VPN was put through its paces on a MacBook Air (M1, 2020) running Big Sur 11.2.2. It's not in the Apple App Store, but you can get it through Mullvad's website.
After entering our Account Number, a testing group tracked things as the app sent them to the same VPN server used during a previous iOS test, demonstrating that user data is synchronised across devices.
Good Mac Experience…
The Mullvad app on macOS is quite intuitive. Sign in, choose your destination, then hit the big green button. The programme gives you a lot of leeway in terms of server location, letting you choose the nation, city, and individual server from a number of options. The app itself is compact. Your WireGuard key is shown, and you may adjust the app's settings for other VPN protocols and the Bridge mode.
We did not find any DNS leaks in the macOS app throughout our testing. Under typical conditions, it likewise had little effect on performance.
You may also be able to view YouTube videos without any latency or disruptions, even while connecting via a Madrid, Spain-based VPN server. Some tests even checked out some BTS videos on Weverse, and the streaming was smooth and uninterrupted throughout.
Mullvad VPN: What VPN Protocols Does It Support?
Multiple methods exist for establishing a virtual private network connection. For many years, OpenVPN was the VPN protocol of choice, but lately, the more modern WireGuard protocol has gained popularity. One of the first adopters of VPN technology was Mullvad VPN.
WireGuard, like OpenVPN, has an open-source design, meaning that its code may be scrutinised by security researchers. WireGuard is an alternative to OpenVPN that use more modern encryption methods and has less of a negative influence on your connection speed.
Moderate Server Network 🛰️
The Mullvad VPN network spans the world with servers in 39 locations. That's an okay deal, but it's not as good as the ones offered by rivals in the other 52 nations. Mullvad VPN also lacks in server variety, with just one location in South America and no coverage in all of Africa.
It's preferable to have a wide variety of servers so that users have more options for location spoofing and can more easily connect to a server that's geographically close by. When compared to Hotspot Shield VPN and ExpressVPN, the latter only supports 94 countries.
Mullvad VPN's infrastructure is quite small, but the service's transparency is admirable. The firm provides a comprehensive, sortable list of all of its servers on its server page, including details such as whether the servers are owned or leased and the identity of the Internet service provider (ISP) utilised.
Virtual private networks seldom provide this kind of detail, opting instead to optimise their server sites for search engines rather than providing users with relevant information.
Verdict — Low-Cost, Holds Up
The Mullvad VPN challenges the notion that low-cost privacy solutions must sacrifice quality in order to be accessible. It takes a strong stand on customer privacy and security while being very open and honest.
It's true that Mullvad VPN doesn't have a tonne of features, the most polished UI, or a big worldwide server footprint, but it's hard to argue against its strategy given that it provides rock-solid foundations for a fraction of the price. We anticipate many customers would overlook its imperfections in favour of affordable, reliable VPN security.
If you're looking for a cheap VPN, go no further than Mullvad.
5. IVPN — Powerful VPNs for Mac Using Multi-Hop
IVPN's dedication to openness and privacy is particularly noteworthy, and more than makes up for a relatively small server network.
This product wins because of all of its Mac-compatible features and its reasonable price.
How to Use the Mac Version of IVPN
IVPN's VPN client for macOS installed without a hitch on a Mac laptop running Big Sur. Since Apple has yet to include it in its App Store, we were forced to get it directly from IVPN.
Those concerned about eye health may switch to the macOS's Dark Mode, which isn't available on Apple's mobile operating system.
There is a column of toggles on the app's main page that lets you privately connect to a server, activate the Firewall (Kill Switch), and activate the AntiTracker, which prevents advertisements, dangerous websites, and third-party trackers from being shown or downloaded.
If you're already connected to a VPN server and you hit the green toggle button to connect, a Pause button will display next to it.
Tests showed users were able to watch a YouTube video without any buffering or delays when connecting to the Netherlands server.
In addition, Twitch.tv was fast to load, and the live broadcast was unbroken and in its original quality. During our testing, we had zero delays or interruptions in either the video or audio streams when connecting to the VPN server.
Experience With the iPhone IVPN App
On an iPhone XS running iOS 14, setting up IVPN required nothing more than installing the software from the App Store and inputting our account ID.
The IVPN iPhone app's user interface is pristine white, with a globe map highlighting the locations of all IVPN VPN servers. The iOS app, in contrast to the Windows version, does not provide a pause button but rather simply Connect and Disconnect.
Find the best server for your needs by filtering results by location, nation, latency, and proximity. It's a pretty straightforward presentation of servers that makes it easy to see which ones are nearest to you and hence will provide the quickest connection.
However, you may choose merely the location of the server rather than a specific server inside that location.
Using IVPN's Protocols
The concept of a virtual private network (VPN) is not new, and there are a number of VPN configuration options available. We like IVPN's lesson on protocol distinctions. More businesses should provide this type of customer service.
The latest and greatest VPN protocol is called WireGuard. Due to the protocol's availability in its source form, it may be analysed for security flaws. It is very quick and employs cutting-edge cryptography methods. Even while we currently recommend OpenVPN, another open-source protocol, we expect WireGuard to become the industry standard.
At the moment, IVPN has applications for Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows that support the VPN protocols WireGuard and OpenVPN. The superior IKEv2 protocol is supported by IVPN's iOS app as well. Remember that IVPN has released its program's source code under an open-source licence and that its Android app can be downloaded through the F-Droid open-source app repository.
Underrated Alternative VPN for Macs
VPN stands apart from the competition because to its privacy-first account structure, innovative use of multihop VPN connections, and support for WireGuard technology.
While it would be nice if IVPN offered a free or deeply reduced long-term membership, it currently includes almost all the features users might desire at a price lower than the market average. Although IVPN's server count and geographic reach are not very large, the service nonetheless achieved excellent results in speed tests.
That alone would make us confident in endorsing the firm, but there are other factors at play.
It is committed to openness and transparency, publishing the findings of an independent audit and providing as much detail as possible about the company's practises regarding the protection of its users' personal information.
To put it simply, it's one of the best VPNs tested.
6. Surfshark — Popular VPNs for Mac Brand
While Surfshark VPN (full Surshark review) may help you to stay anonymous online by encrypting all of your data—before sending it off to a distant server—this added layer of security does not come cheap.
However, the limitless device connections, constantly evolving and growing products, and high-quality applications more than make up for this price tag.
Third-party testing confirms Surfshark VPN's effectiveness. It’s still impressive despite competing in a saturated market.
Strong VPN Protocols Are Supported by Surfshark
Making a VPN connection may be done in a variety of ways. Since its development began as open source, OpenVPN has been subject to extensive scrutiny for security flaws, making it our top selection. WireGuard looks to be OpenVPN's natural successor.
WireGuard is a free and open-source VPN service that offers the same anonymity and security as OpenVPN but is said to be much quicker.
In addition to OpenVPN, Surfshark's mobile applications for iOS, macOS, Linux, and Windows also support the WireGuard protocol. IKEv2 may be used on macOS, iOS, and Android devices (Guide: Best VPNs for Android).
Effective at Anonymising Data
Based on our research, Surfshark VPN seems to be effective at keeping users' data safe. But trust is essential for security to function. Avoid dealing with a business you have doubts about.
Few Logs but Has Some…
Surfshark VPN emphasises that it does not record user IP addresses, web activity, bandwidth use, or network traffic in its policy guidelines.
What more could you ask for from a virtual private network provider? While it is true that the corporation does not keep track of when a link was established, this is only partially the case.
If you read the fine print of the Terms of Service, you'll see that the corporation does keep track of the time of your connection establishment and termination, but that these logs are deleted after 15 minutes.
We contacted Surfshark VPN, and they informed us this is to prevent users from abusing the service by connecting an excessive number of workstations at once, taking advantage of the unlimited simultaneous connections the service offers.
Surfshark is Mac-compatible
It's crucial that your VPN serves its purpose and keeps your data safe. Through a connection to a server in Sao Paolo, Brazil, extensive DNS leak tests were conducted by going to DNSLeakTest.com.
Our true IP address was concealed while using this server, and there were no DNS leaks.
Some YouTube videos were played while we were still linked to the Brazilian server, and they all started playing without delay or interruption. Moreover, testers went to Twitch.tv and watched a few minutes of a live broadcast, and both the page and the video played back remarkably quickly and in stunning clarity.
Verdict — 🏭 Does it All
Surfshark VPN is a great service in many ways. It supports split tunnelling and the unusual multi-hop connection tool, and its policy of allowing an infinite number of connected devices is quite liberal.
It is also growing and developing new goods and services, which is encouraging to see even if we do not endorse the Surfshark One package.
We appreciate Surfshark's willingness to have its VPN infrastructure audited and hope the firm will continue to do so on a regular basis to demonstrate that it adheres to industry standards.
7. TunnelBear — A VPN with Bears!
When it comes to VPN services, TunnelBear is one of the few that provides one for no cost. However, the Free plan limits you to only 500 MB of data transfer monthly.
Funnily enough, by tweeting positive comments about TunnelBear, you can increase your monthly data allotment to 1.5 GB. (Please note, that bonus payout trick can be repeated once per month ;).)
However, if you don't want to pay, you can still access any of TunnelBear VPN's server locations inside the same nation as a free member. When making a purchase, clients in certain areas are given the option of choosing a particular city.
An Anti-Censorship Mission…
In particular, TunnelBear VPN was the catalyst for a new emphasis on anti-censorship initiatives. Extra free bandwidth is now available for consumers in countries with restrictive internet rules.
The unlimited data plan of ProtonVPN's free tier is among the best tested. Although convenient, the service only offers a limited number of server locations. Still, those who want additional geographic freedom can choose TunnelBear VPN.
TunnelBear's Servers are Strong 🐻
A greater variety of IP address spoofing methods is available when more server locations are used by the service. When travelling internationally, having access to servers in a number of different regions increases the likelihood that you'll be able to connect quickly and reliably to a server in your immediate vicinity.
When using TunnelBear's VPN, you may connect from any of their 48 global server locations. That's only slightly below what we observe for the items we evaluate as a whole.
This package not only has the basics covered, but it also now includes more of South America and Africa, two regions that are often overlooked by competing VPN services.
As you’d expect, their server infrastructure is still inadequate in countries with restrictive internet rules, such as Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam. Like many other companies, TunnelBear has relocated its server infrastructure out of Hong Kong, yet it continues to operate out of Ukraine.
There are around 4,700 servers in 100+ countries that make up TunnelBear VPN. CyberGhost VPN's network of over 8,000 servers is the biggest we're aware of. Remember that more servers do not always mean greater performance.
How to Use the Mac Version of TunnelBear's VPN…
TunnelBear has a macOS app, however, it can only be downloaded from their website, not the Apple App Store.
For some reason, unlike many other applications, this one requires installing a separate addon before it operates.
The TunnelBear VPN macOS client is just as functional and adorable as the Windows version. A cartoon bear burrows underground via a rainbow-coloured global map to reach your final VPN destination.
When it comes to speed and responsiveness, the macOS client for TunnelBear VPN is excellent. Using a server in Finland, we had lightning-fast page loads across the board, from Google searches to YouTube videos to Twitch streaming.
Verdict — Fun, Popular, Sunny 🌞
The VPN service TunnelBear is so popular because it is not afraid to be attractive, sunny, and fun. When it comes to digital security, the organisation has always prioritised design and user experience. TunnelBear VPN is a fantastic VPN service, and it's not just because it looks good.
Even though TunnelBear's features are a little more limited than those of other top-tier VPNs, it’s still recommended.
7 Best VPNs for Mac — Buying Guide
Virtual private networks are a simple and effective tool for enhancing online anonymity.
With our top-rated VPN for Mac services, you can seamlessly add more privacy to your online sessions. But how does this work and how can you get the most out of your service?
Apple computers and Virtual Private Networks 💻
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, allow you to connect securely from your Mac to a distant server managed by the provider. The whole of your web traffic leaves the server through this encrypted channel before rejoining the open internet.
Because of the encrypted connection, nobody on the same local network as you, not even the administrator of the network, can see what you do online.
Because it isn't often apparent who controls public Wi-Fi networks or even whether it's safe to connect, this is helpful for anybody who needs to use them.
Protect your privacy and avoid being tracked by ISPs using a virtual private network (ISPs). A lot of us already pay a lot of money to our internet service providers, and now those same ISPs are attempting to make money off of us by selling our anonymized user data.
Most UK residents have no idea of the current privacy laws. It may be argued that VPNs are unnecessary because of the widespread use of HTTPS, which provides an additional layer of security for your data. You can be certain that your data is safe when using this protocol.
However, a VPN can conceal even more of your data and safeguard your DNS queries, making it so your ISP cannot even see what sites you're visiting. Website owners may want to also protect their domain privacy.
What ISPs see when using a Mac VPN…
VPNs also aid in other ways in which privacy is preserved. An onlooker only sees the VPN server's IP address, as all of your communication seems to come from the server and not your Mac. That's helpful since your online activities may be traced back to you through your IP address, which in turn can be used to determine your general geographic location.
While the VPN is operational, it is more difficult for advertisers and other parties interested in monitoring your online behaviour to do so.
Likewise, by connecting to a remote virtual private network server, you may make it seem as if you are somewhere else. If you use a virtual private network server in Canada, it will seem as if you are accessing the web from inside Canada.
Free speech advocates and journalists alike have taken advantage of VPNs' ability to circumvent censorship. We don't rate VPNs based on their capacity to circumvent censorship because we know that if we got it wrong, it would have a devastating effect on our audience.
This similar feature of virtual private networks is useful for more pedestrian uses, such as watching regionally restricted material online. Those in the United States who connect to a server in London using a virtual private network will be able to access Netflix shows and movies that are normally restricted to users in the United Kingdom.
As a result, Netflix and similar providers exert significant efforts to thwart VPN access. Keep in mind that VPNs and streaming providers are in a constant game of cat and mouse and that a VPN that is unblocked today may be shut down tomorrow.
- Instructions 📙: How to Install & Use a VPN in 2023
Limits of VPNs
Protecting your privacy is the primary function of a VPN, not blocking spam or viruses. While certain virtual private networks do keep an eye out for known harmful sites, antivirus software is still recommended.
Top antivirus software protects your computer against malware that arrives through non-malicious websites and from unknown, previously unrecognised threats.
Instead of using malicious software, some cyber criminals use devious phishing schemes to get access to sensitive information. If you check in to the genuine PayPal.com on a phishing site (Guide: How to Spot Phishing…) that looks just like PayPal, a malicious actor somewhere now has your PayPal login information.
Although a VPN might shield you against phishing to some extent, bad websites tend to pop up and go just as rapidly. Antivirus software may prevent certain phishing efforts, but it is still important to verify that the site you are visiting is real.
Account takeover attacks are potentially far more hazardous than phishing for the typical user. This occurs when an unauthorised person gains access to your account by guessing or acquiring your login details. If it's an email address, the situation is much more terrible.
An attacker may then utilise the password recovery process on other sites to access more of your accounts. VPNs can't really help much here, either. If you want to ensure the security of your many online accounts, you should utilise a password manager.
Last but not least, use two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. An attacker who obtains your password cannot access your account if Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is enabled.
Finally, a virtual private network cannot guarantee complete anonymity when browsing the web. Spoofing your location and changing your IP address are fantastic ways to avoid being tracked, but advertising (and spies and law police) still have plenty of other options.
Fingerprinting is used by certain websites to identify users by keeping track of a wide variety of data points that, alone, wouldn't be enough to pin down a specific person, but when combined, generate a unique signature.
The specifics of your screen resolution, device make and model, browser and operating system versions do not identify you, but combined they do. Cookies and other tracking technologies are still a problem.
We advise turning on the privacy safeguards built into the most up-to-date web browsers and utilising a tracker blocker like the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Privacy Badger. To maximise your anonymity, you'll need to utilise the free Tor network, however, this slows down your internet connection even more than a VPN.
- Guide📙: Best Password Managers UK
Essential VPN Features 💡
The bare minimum for a decent virtual private network is the ability to connect 5 devices at once. It must be cross-platform; for example, if you subscribe to the service on a Mac, you should be able to use it on an iPhone. A VPN isn't worth it if you have to jump through hoops and spend more money to protect all of the devices in your house.
Reviewing a virtual private network service, we look for one with a client that is both feature-rich and intuitive.
In all honesty, a lot of security providers put convenience last on their list of priorities. Even if your VPN is the most powerful and secure in the world, it won't help you if the typical user hates connecting to it. Our research puts each VPN through its paces across a variety of platforms and gadgets to ensure its universal compatibility.
When a virtual private network offers extras that make it easier to use, we take note. Using a technique called “split tunnelling”, you may choose which applications should use the tunnel and which should not. While it's understandable to take precautions with your web browsing activity, the extra layer of security may not be warranted for the traffic to and from your favourite games, resulting in frustratingly slow performance.
As of this writing, the average monthly cost of the VPN services we've tested is around a tenner. In comparison to Mullvad, which is just around a fiver per month, NordVPN is somewhat pricey at the market average price of £10. More expensive plans may be justifiable if they include premium privacy features like multi-hop connections and access to the Tor anonymization network.
There are many reliable “free” VPNs out there, so cost shouldn't be a consideration when it comes to safety. Among the VPNs we tested, only ProtonVPN allows unlimited data transfer with a free account. You can save a lot of money by signing up for a VPN for a year or more at a time, but before you commit, we suggest giving the virtual private network's shortest plan a try.
We also consider the geographical spread of server hosting locations and the total number of server hosting locations. When you have access to many server locations, you have greater flexibility in hiding your true location and connecting to a server when travelling overseas. We also partially evaluate a VPN service based on how many servers it offers.
- Guide: NordVPN Review UK
Frequently Asked Questions 📚 — Seven Best VPNs for Mac…
How can I find out how private a virtual private network is?
The privacy policies of a VPN provider are just as crucial as the functions it offers.
You have to have faith that the service will protect your privacy and not misuse its authority by, for example, data mining or careless data leakage. The top virtual private network providers save very minimal log information and are unable to comply with legal requests for user data.
When conducting our research, we inquire with VPN services about the kind of information they collect on their users and whether or not they share that data with other parties. You need to know this since a VPN provider might possibly be spying on your online actions.
Also, we check the companies' privacy policies to make sure they're telling the truth. The finest services keep as little data as possible about their users and their activities, and they should make it clear in their rules why the data they do keep is being stored. VPN providers are able to mislead about any of these concerns. However, we can at least require VPN services to justify their stances and not let them lie by omission.
VPNs, by their very nature, must operate in secrecy, although some VPN providers are making strides to alter this. To reassure their clients that their services are as advertised and that their infrastructure is safe, more service providers are having it audited by an outside party.
Companies are doing the right thing when they provide transparency reports that detail the number of government requests for information and the amount of data made public in response to those requests. Both are not ideal, but they are the best we have for now.
Are US virtual private networks trustworthy?
To provide just one example, we've heard readers who say they'd never use a VPN headquartered in the United States and others who say they'd only trust a VPN based in the United States.
We think it's irresponsible to advise people to steer clear of a firm just because of where its headquarters are located. Maybe you have a different opinion. If you disagree with our assessment, you can always look up the physical location of each VPN provider's headquarters in our ratings.
Do VPNs slow down the internet?
Your connection speed is likely to decrease while using a virtual private network (VPN) instead of going via your regular ISP. When additional fibre and servers are placed in between you and the internet, latency and transfer rates tend to grow.
The Ookla Speedtest tool is used to conduct a battery of tests, both with and without the VPN enabled, to get a feel for this effect. Medians from both sets are compared to determine the percentage difference. Our thorough methodology for testing VPNs is detailed in a section of the site with the same name.
Speed is not the most crucial consideration when selecting a VPN. Even if you have a lightning-fast connection now, that might easily change tomorrow. Instead, we consider the capabilities and privacy guarantees that businesses may provide.
So it’s possibly worth testing out your chosen provider using a free trial or a monthly membership, rather than jumping into a long-term obligation. Let us know how it goes!
While Apple spent a lot of time making macOS look good, the company also made sure that users' data was safe. Good to know, but once you're online, advertising and internet service providers don't give a hoot about what sort of gadget you're using. You may regain some of your anonymity by connecting to a VPN.
When thinking about Mac security, it's important to keep in mind the importance of privacy. Read our summary of Mac and PC antivirus programs if you haven't already.
Enjoy your VPN, and leave us a comment 🌞💬.