- By Service
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Whilst many VPNs require a monthly subscription fee for their services, they are also often some of the best and most secure networks out there that safeguard your Macs from possible cybercriminal activities. It is always a good idea to shield yourself with anonymity online, even if you cannot register the digital footprints you are leaving behind for not only future employers to see, but also, for the sake of accessing websites that would not otherwise have been accessible in certain regions. One such example is the strict Internet control imposed in China – if you happened to be there on a vacation, then accessing Google is nearly impossible without the use of a substantial VPN to aid you. There is always the risk of governmental agents and potential spies who may also leak important documents. While the majority of the population would not have to worry about this, it should be a concern even for those who work in non-affiliated government companies, who may become involved in expensive lawsuits in the future. Nowadays, even ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have been allowed by the Congress to collect anonymized data on their users’ activities to then sell to advertising companies.
And whilst this many seem innocent and harmless; it is more of a blight to one’s dignity in terms of not having any privacy. There have been countless philosophers theorising on the need to preserve privacy, and hence the best method to moderate this without being extreme in the new digital era. But one of the reasons why discretion needs to be maintained is to be able to retain the control over self image and relationships with others. One of the ways of achieving this is by controlling the information output from yourself to others – friends know more about you than colleagues. When others start collecting your data, it also, thus, impeaches on your free movement in relationship building, where normally, you would be the only one in control. The best way to avoid this is to make your activities anonymous and ensure there is no leakage of your digital footprints online.
Because each VPN mentioned here have their own benefits and disadvantages, we have chosen not to list a series of VPNs in a strict hierarchy, but to outline each of their strengths and weaknesses and where each would be used in the most appropriate circumstances.
It is always a good idea to look at reviews before settling for a VPN server that you believe suits you the most. Nevertheless, prior to looking at reviews, it is always a great idea to consider the following factors as a baseline to choosing the perfect VPN for your Mac.
The reason why such factors have been listed first, is because it is much more important to have a basis of comparison amongst these few critical considerations, rather than blindly deciding without giving credit and weighting to each of these factors.
With more than 160 server locations and 3,000 servers to boast of, ExpressVPN is one of the best choices amongst the VPN networks. This server, which is based in the British Virgin Islands, not only has locations such as in Asia that barely appear elsewhere, but is also very widely spread out, included in over 160 cities and in 94 countries. It seems that Europe and the United States are some of the best covered areas, and it is particularly great for unblocking content or accessing streaming services, such as Netflix.
One of the greatest benefits of using ExpressVPN, is that it protects your incoming traffic through using its own DNS servers, meaning that added with its high-level encryption, it provides an overall very robust and sturdy shield against those who wish to intrude upon your privacy, either for data gathering purposes whereby you may notice an increasing suspicious number of ads that are creepily aligned to your hobbies and interests, or for scheming identity thefts.
ExpressVPN also enables you to control which apps to use with their device, and thus, allows you to be in control of ensuring that you use the apps most effectively. There are always some incompatible apps that may load much slower under this VPN, and for that, ExpressVPN has devised a method for you to change the settings of the server according to your needs. They also have extensive staff availability 24/7, and always somebody who would be willing to respond and help out in the live chat area.
However, ExpressVPN is not without its disadvantages. Although supporting many areas with its services, there are limits to the number of devices you can support using a singular account. For ExpressVPN, this number is 3 – any other devices you wish to use will require a different account with a payment scheme. However, as of June 2019, ExpressVPN has announced that they will be allowing an upgrade to 5 connections simultaneously at once.
On top of that, ExpressVPN does charge a bit for its services, although it is to be expected due to the sophisticated level of staff help and advanced technology. However, they do offer the first 3 months for free. Although it may not seem much to be charging per month at first (US $6.67), it does accumulate to $80.04 per year.
Founded in Romania, with 3,999 servers in 60 countries, CyberGhost is also one of the most trusted VPNs out there. These servers are mostly located in the UK, US and Asia, however it should be noted that there are not as many servers in Asia – only a handful amongst Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, hence missing one of the largest areas where VPNs may be necessary; China, because of their strict internet laws.
On the bright side, CyberGhost is conveniently compatible with a lot of other devices, of course, including the Mac, but also FireFox and Chromebook. For those who are particularly concerned about VPN companies discretely logging their data and intruding upon their privacy to sell those data points to advertising companies to target them, for more profit, CyberGhost has made it clear that they do not log when coming into the contract between their company and the consumer.
With 15 years of expertise, CyberGhost customers have so far lauded the faster connections and the easy and quick installation that it comes with. Financial transactions for the subscription are also claimed to be convenient to use – a huge bonus for the company whose customers are majorly attracted to the quick VPN software downloads and after that, the little hassle required to continue using the service. After logging in, the true beauty of this service lies in its straightforward use- one can connect to their server in any country almost immediately, or they can allocate the software to randomly select one. Or, it could automatically connect just by logging in, and without any additional clicks.
NordVPN are one of the few trustworthy VPN companies who also guarantee no data leakages, and thus a safe space to surf the web. One of the other major benefits that this server boasts of is its ability to provide extra protection for those who wish to dally in the dark web. It has more than 5,800 servers in over 60 countries, with a guarantee of hosting up to 6 devices simultaneously.
One of the best features of the company is that they have a variety of payment schemes and are willing to accept credit card, or PayPal for customers who are not comfortable with sharing credit card information. As one of the very few VPN server providers who have these unique payment schemes, they are willing to accept payments on a monthly basis, annual basis or a payment made every 3 years. Most other companies researched so far seek to hide their profit-making mindsets through only providing monthly subscription fees. However, for NordVPN, they also offer a discount for those who choose to subscribe to their server in the long run. Loyal customers should always be rewarded and here, they are able to save money in return for their stable contribution to the company’s profit.
The setback for NordVPN is that it is very hard to find the free trial they offer for 3 days. Considering the limitations that this free trial harbours, it is almost not worth it to try and access it. There are countless of other free VPNS out there on the web, including ProtonVPN, but it is almost always recommended to use a paid VPN service. This is because although some free VPNs allow for no limits on data usage (such as the aforementioned ProtonVPN), there is no guarantee on data protection. Like many businesses, they also need to earn profit, and it seems that the best way to earn such profit is by selling data to advertising companies to utilise for their own business schemes and expansions. Although some companies sell these as anonymous data, it is still a breach of privacy and the ethical code of conduct that many provide to their customers, specifically in the area where they agree not to leak the customer’s private information out to third parties.
One interesting piece of information for the company of NordVPN, is that the servers they provide are not virtual servers, but are physical servers that are located exactly where they claim it to be. For the more advanced in knowledge in the IT domain, one of NordVPN’s most special traits is its provision of specialised servers – including the BitTorrent Traffic feature, as well as double encryption for data that is especially personal.
As one of the most affordable and experienced servers on the market, their average value is around $11 monthly, and with the annual plan at $2.99 per month, PureVPN may seem like hands down, the best option to go for when seeking a paid VPN server. Nevertheless, it must still be remembered that despite the cheap prices, and its reputation as being long-standing (and hence with more compatible devices, including Windows, Android and Mac), it is easy to select PureVPN solely for its reputation and high ratings. This approach is misguided. Obviously, you should not just focus your attention on looking for VPN servers that are solely compatible with the Mac and a selection of other limited devices, since it is assumed that you will take advantage of the particular server’s usability on your other devices as well, as many VPN servers offer their services for more than 5 devices. However, it is also not recommended that you stick with a server purely for its longer duration in the market.
Nevertheless, PureVPN is not without its perks. With its headquarters based in Hong Kong, PureVPN also has a firm grip in approximately 180 countries, with 200 servers spread across the globe. One of the major benefits that have been pointed out many customers, is the fact that PureVPN is able to be connected directly to a router, which in turn, gives much easier access to simultaneous devices at once.
PureVPN also offers very specific techniques and methods to combat common forms of cyber attacks that hackers implement to gain access to your private account. One such method is the MiTM attacks (also known as man-in-the-middle attacks), which involves hackers specifically placing themselves in between your intended connection and yourself, in an effort to receive personal information as it is passed along through the connection. This includes information sent in emails and bank information sent to companies. PureVPN, who is particularly wary of this, has set up a system where they offer all of the major protocols to be embedded in their service, to offer an extra guarantee that your information is protected and remains unleaked. They also provide a 256-bit encryption service within their servers to ensure that there is sufficient protection against hackers who, nowadays, use computer systems to try and figure out passwords to devices and accounts.
Despite these advantages, PureVPN is also notorious for its slow download speeds, although they are much better compared to many other shoddy services out there. Also incorporated into their services, are sneaky terms and conditions that must be read extra carefully, in regards to their refund policies. However, most recently, this has been changed to a “no questions” approach to refunding disgruntled customers.
Also one of the oldest servers around, IPVanish has always claimed to be the best server available as part of their promotion. Although this may start setting off alarm bells already, it must be remembered that such confidence may have stemmed from somewhere substantial. They have currently more than 1,300 servers located in over 75 different countries, primarily in Europe and North America. They also support almost every type of device that has been sold to the public in the last decade, which, of course, includes the Mac.
One of their core benefits is that their speeds are extremely fast, including quick speeds in uploading and downloading, which seems to be the downfall of many other servers that are available online. Their app is also very easy to use and quite straightforward to follow, without much technical jargon for their customers. Although they have no instruction manuals to hand out to customers, with a bit of research in hand and a little bit of experimentation, the labels and options they provide should be sufficient information for a technically-inept customer with little IT background, to figure out eventually.
Also, as with many other trustworthy servers, it is part of their terms and policies to have a no logging system whereby personal information and data in sessions that involve their server, is not collected and potentially used for marketing purposes. Although one can never truly be anonymous on the web and leave no digital traces, IPVanish is one of the few servers that allows you to achieve as close to anonymity as possible, with their strict policy claims.
Furthermore, IPVanish uses AES-256, one of the leading encryption protocols that is used by many governments and agencies from around the world. Although some may raise their eyebrows for the need of this, there has been an increasing number of attacks on IPs per day. This includes a case in December 2016; there had been a noticed fluctuation of IP attacks, where the peak was up to 30,000 unique targeting of IPs per day. Although this was mainly an attack on WordPress, it’s important to keep in mind that WordPress powers more than a quarter of the web.
And lastly, torrenting is allowed on IPVanish. This is quite a controversial topic, but for the customer, this is a huge additional bonus.
However, as with every server, IPVanish comes with its disadvantages. So far, some third party reviews have not been so delighted with their services, however it is different for each individual depending on their unique circumstances. IPVanish also falsely advertises a 24/7 staff support service – the problem starts with its lack of live chat support and with their automated email responses to queries where they explicitly state to take 1-2 business days to reply. Could this have been an exaggeration to entice unsuspecting customers?
SurfShark is considered to be quite young amongst the variety of VPN server providers, and is considered to have quite a small customer base (with 50,000 installations compared to ExpressVPN’s 10 million). Whilst their monthly subscription rate is seen to be slightly more expensive than others, however, the exchange for their services is certainly worth it. The only information they claim to keep is the customer’s email address and their billing information, and with an easy installation process, and connection method, it is absolutely convenient to use. As for its position on unblocking Netflix – it is one of the only straightforward servers that allows you to do so with ease, with no topsy-turvy intermediate steps involved. This has been tested out by curious customers and each have found a variety of server locations that allowed this unblockage.
On top of that, the safety precautions of the server are truly remarkable. As a result of test scans, there was 100% certainty that there were no viruses nor leaks of data that was involved. Also, this server is based in the British Virgin Islands, which comes at an advantage – it is well away from the 14 prying eyes, which is a term that coins the particular regions around the world who collect data from those who they govern. Although they also claim to collect no logs in their policies, many customers have the right to be sceptical over this ambiguous statement. However, they are quite transparent in their revelation of which sorts of data they collect, including email addresses and billing information, as well as diagnostics. Only the necessary information is collected.
On top of that, their reputation has been quite clean as well – there are no major scandals involving them that have been taken to court (unlike PureVPN). Their speeds are also sufficient, although it depends on the number of miles away from the server they are operating from: it is to be expected that an area chosen farther away from your original location will result in slightly slower connections. As well as this, like IPVanish, SurfShark is one of the few VPN servers that allows for an almost effortless connection to Netflix and torrenting is also allowed.
With such easy access to it in nearly every server, SurfShark also has some noteworthy features to mention. Its Camouflage Mode allows the customer’s VPN usage to run undetected in the ISP and is also compatible to connect with routers that have the support of OpenVPN. One of the best features about it is also its allowance for unrestricted access to all restricted websites.
Its customer service has also been stellar so far: most queries are responded to by staff in one to two minutes. None of the answers, as reported from customers who have taken advantage of this service, have been reported to be copy and paste answers when compared across the board. For the app itself, the simplicity is also astounding, and this is what makes it especially recommended for those who are unfamiliar with VPN networks and unaware of how to use them efficiently.
With its reputation as one of the fastest VPNs out there, HotSpot Shield certainly deserves to be on this list of VPNs that are the most suitable for the Mac, if not for those whose work demands a lot of fast downloads and uploads. It also ticks most of our criteria for guaranteed privacy and anonymity (as stated very clearly and bluntly in its policy) as well as allowing for safer options of payment, such as PayPal. Although this service does not allow for a high level of anonymity, at least not to the extent of government agents, it does allow for the average user to surf the web without the nagging worry of hackers, sufficiently.
As always, reviews from customers should always be taken as guidelines when choosing the perfect VPN service that aligns with your daily use. It is important that you take the time to read through the terms and conditions of each company, to avoid being misled into buying a VPN service that may backfire on your expectations. Not all VPN companies offer data protection and no data collection, and it is always detrimental to assume such significant features will automatically be embedded.