Mac fanboys and PC users have been arguing for decades about which operating system is better.
While it’s true that each operating system has their own unique advantages, Mac users know their operating system is a higher quality product. After all, who hasn’t heard of the infamous ‘blue screen of death (BSOD)’ which can crash any Windows computer in a heartbeat.
We all know that Mac systems are much more stable and secure, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect.
We’ve all run into problems on Apple devices which don’t exist on Windows platforms.
One of the biggest problems of owning an Apple device is finding the right software.
From video players to security applications, it can be difficult finding the right program for your computer. Microsoft operating systems are more mainstream, and as a result, more programs are written for Windows than Mac.
But Windows applications lack many of the security and hardware integration benefits of Apple’s proprietary software.
Some software developers will create applications for both platforms, but how do you know that you’re getting the best security software for a Mac?
If you haven’t tried to find the best VPN for Mac OS X, believe me, separating the wheat from the chaff can feel challenging.
Security Vulnerabilities that Plague Mac Users
There is a common misnomer among avid Mac users that I need to talk about. Most people tend to think that OS X is inherently impenetrable, whereas Windows is riddled with security flaws.
However, this misnomer can be incredibly misleading, leading many Mac users to think their information is secure. When their data is actually still easily accessible by governmental agencies and common hackers.
While it is true that OS X operating systems are not susceptible to viruses and malware as often as Windows, OS X still contains security flaws.
And all bets are off once your data leaves the computer.
Even the latest version of OS X – El Capitan – was found to contain numerous bugs and weaknesses in the code that posed massive security threats. Though operating systems play a key role in your privacy and security, the largest factor to consider when browsing the web is encryption.
Once you click a link in a web browser or sign into an online account, your data can be seen by third-parties as it traverses across the very public Internet. Encrypted data is impossible to read, whether or not it is intercepted by hackers or surveillance programs (as long as your data is encrypted with the latest standards).
When you access a website, your computer or mobile device is sending personal information to a server. But there is one gaping security hole – the destination server could be anywhere in the world. \
As your data is transmitted across the Internet, it can be intercepted and read by:
Regardless of the operating system you use. Information sent across the vast digital ocean know as the internet has no allegiance to any OSs.
Whether you use a Mac or a PC, data has to travel great distances through physical cables before reaching its destination. And there’s no telling how many different countries, borders, and geographic boundaries the data will cross, making your data vulnerable to interception during the long journey.
As we all witnessed from the information made public by Edward Snowden, governments are always on the prowl for domestic and foreign communications data. But guess what? It isn’t their business to know what you say in emails, Skype calls, or what websites you visit.
Would you really want to take the risk of personal communications, phone calls, instant messages, or pictures ending up on some government’s servers (especially if you live under a fascist regime)? Of course not – that would be a huge invasion of privacy.
Government surveillance makes most people feel like their personal information has been invaded, but you can easily protect data with an online VPN tunnel.
Security, Anonymity, and Censorship Circumvention for Mac Users
Fortunately, there is good news for Mac users.
You can easily secure data from the prying eyes of governments, browse the web privately and anonymously, and unblock content if you use one of the best VPNs for Mac OS X.
The sad truth is that the average Internet user doesn’t know how to protect themselves online, so let’s take a brief look at the security advantages of using a VPN tunnel.
First of all, a VPN tunnel adds an encryption layer to your data.
To put it simply, a VPN scrambles data you transmit across the Internet so that it can’t be read by third-parties.
Even if a hacker or eavesdropper was able to successfully capture said data, they would be powerless to decipher your mess of a message.
Secondly, VPN technologies help boost privacy by letting people browse the web anonymously.
When you browse the web without a VPN or make a DNS request, it is incredibly easy for ISPs, governmental authorities, and web administrations to track your activity via your IP address.
They have the power to see what websites you visit, and can even log session information that shows what time of day you visited a website and the duration of that visit.
A VPN tunnel will prevent others from seeing this information by masking your personal IP address.
Instead of accessing a website or Internet resource with the IP address given by your ISP, you’ll be able to ‘borrow’ one temporarily from the VPN’s service provider.
Last but not least, VPNs work in a similar manner to a proxy services. Often times you’ll find that streaming video and audio services like:
Express VPN is easily one of the best VPNs for Macs. They frequently rise to the top of the best VPNs and they are a clear leader in the industry due to their incredibly fast network of VPN servers spread out across 78 different countries.
People seem to like them more than other providers because they have a well-rounded service complete with a 30-day money back guarantee and reliable 24/7 customer support. Their service uses the latest and greatest security algorithms to ensure that your data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, and they even provide a detailed and easy to use guide to setup their client on a Mac.
The only real downside to their service is that they cost a little bit more per month than most other providers, but the quality of their service easily justifies the nominal increase in monthly price.
Express VPN Pros:
24/7 customer support
30-day money back guarantee
Fast and reliable servers in 78 countries
Great step-by-step guide for Mac users
Express VPN Cons:
Costs a little more per month than most other providers
Only allows simultaneous connections between 1 computer and 1 handheld device
AirVPN is an obvious choice for Mac users as well, and one thing many people like about their service is how transparent they are.
Few other competitors offer the real-time server capacity data that Air VPN makes available on their website, and they don’t filter protocols such as P2P mechanisms like some of their competitors.
Another handy feature of their service is that they route data to servers on their internal network to obfuscate (i.e. scramble) the origins of your data. This technique functions in a similar manner to Tor, and though you might think it adds unreasonable latency to your connection, it is still incredibly fast.
And Mac users that have multiple Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads don’t need to worry – they allow up to 3 simultaneous connections per user account.
They provide a client download for Mac users, and they are reasonably priced as well. With an annual subscription, the monthly cost of their service plummets to €4.50.
Air VPN Pros:
Fantastic connection speeds without bandwidth throttling or data limits
Strong server presence throughout Europe
Real time server capacity that allows you to choose the best connections
Data routing to obfuscate the origins of your data to boost anonymity
3 simultaneous connections per account (some providers allow as many as 6)
Weak server presence in Asia, though they do have Hong Kong connections
Routing can introduce a little extra latency overhead
IPVanish is our third alternative for Mac users. Their setup guide is in the form of a slideshow, and they have step-by-step screenshots that make the configuration process easy for the most technologically illiterate users.
Currently, they operate over 400 servers in 60 countries, so you will have plenty of flexibility when choosing global connection options. This is critical if you want to unlock content or terminate your VPN connection in a country that doesn’t have governmental surveillance capabilities. Furthermore, their network of VPN servers are extremely fast and reliable, so you won’t have to worry about your Internet connection becoming bogged down.
The only small exception is when you connect to a VPN server on the opposite side of the world can introduce a fair degree of latency, but this shouldn’t be a problem as long as you have a solid Internet connection.
Last but not least, they aren’t too expensive. When you opt for a 1-year plan, the monthly cost is only $6.49.
IPVanish VPN Pros:
Fantastic setup guide for Mac users
Decent amount of global connection options
Fair pricing – neither the most expensive nor the cheapest
No user activity logs
VPN kill-switch feature to stop downloads if the VPN tunnel disconnects
IPVanish VPN Cons:
Logs session data (i.e. start and end times of established connections)
Private Internet Access deserves an honorable mention on any list of the best VPNs for Mac and iPhone. There are plenty of reasons to love their service, but most people are enamored with them because they are one of the cheapest providers on the market. However, even though you can get their service for as little as $3.33 per month, they’re still a quality provider.
Their setup guide for Mac users is adequate, and they have a seven day money-back-guarantee to ensure that you are pleased with the quality of their connections. But one of the most interesting things about their service is the adoption of a different network strategy.
Instead of spreading themselves thin by placing one or two servers in each country, they concentrated a lot of servers within a few geographic areas. With 3,100+ servers in 24 countries, they have tremendous capacity to make sure users don’t run into busy server issues. Lastly, they are fantastic for users with a lot of devices they wish to secure because PIA VPN allows up to 5 simultaneous connections per account.
PIA VPN Pros:
Allows up to 5 simultaneous connections per account
One of the most affordable VPNs
High server capacity per country (approximately 3,100 server total)
Last but not least is VyprVPN, and which is owned and operated by their parent company, Golden Frog (based out of Switzerland). Because they are based out of Switzerland, they’re not under government pressure to keep detailed logs of user activities. To date they run 700+ servers in over 50 countries, and they have a strong presence in Europe (like AirVPN).
Their pricing model is a little different than most other competitors, because they have different package tiers. However, you can purchase the pro version of their service for only $6.25 per month. Note that they do have a free trial option, but this really only serves as a way for users to test out their service.
The free trial has monthly data limits that don’t make it feasible for long term use, but it is a great way to test the waters.
Though Vyper’s Mac setup guide leaves far too much to be desired, their service has unique features such as a kill-switch mechanism and the ability to dynamically choose which of your applications send data over the VPN tunnel.
Vypr VPN Pros:
Free trial to test their service
Servers in 50 countries
Based out of Switzerland, so they aren’t influenced by governmental surveillance
Vypr VPN Cons:
Free trial has monthly data limits
Only 2 simultaneous connections per account with the pro version
From blogging about human rights under fascist governments to surfing Facebook at work (when you’re not supposed to), VPNs are the bread and butter of keeping the internet rooted in its one true principle–freedom of expression and information sharing.
Alongside the obvious security and privacy related benefits, getting to terms with a VPN service is something every Mac user should get acquainted with in 2016.
So, have you ever used a VPN or are planning to? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.