Best Free VPNs for Mac

NordVPN on Mac

Since the development of VPN and the discovery that its use may not be limited to corporations and organizations, VPN use has exploded. And in response to the demand for more providers, more apps and sites that organize individual usage of VPN have become widespread.

Finding the perfect VPN that is compatible with your business needs and budget can be a chore. It can be especially frustrating for a Mac user because you have to consider the compatibility of the VPN with the device. Below, we have listed some VPNs and their advantages and disadvantages, so you can make an informed decision on what VPN to subscribe to if you use a Mac.

But first we must ask the question:

What is a VPN, and why do you need one?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that connects your device to another network securely. In essence, it allows you to surf the internet without leaving digital footprints or any information that might be traced to you. It does this by encrypting your IP address and rerouting it through its servers in another location. So, for example, if you are browsing from your home city of Houston, TX, using a VPN can make those monitoring your IP address believe you’re in Hong Kong.

Using a VPN provider can also help you:

  • Stream videos and play games without your Internet Service Provider slowing you down.
  • Bypass geo-restrictions: Some content is restricted based on the geographical location on your IP address. A VPN can easily bypass such censorship.
  • Use public Wi-Fi without worrying about your data being stolen.
  • Conceal your real location or fake your location by encrypting your IP address.
  • Securely communicate without fear of eavesdroppers.

Do free VPNs work with Mac?

Not really. Most free VPNs do not, in fact, work with MacOS. Some work only on Android, Windows, MacOS, and Linux, but most are suited for Android and Windows.

But there is almost always a catch when using a service for free. This is why it is recommended to buy full-featured VPN packages. This is not to say the free VPNs are bad. Some of them are quite amazing, considering the fact that the provider receives no payment.

We’ve shortlisted six VPNs that manage to be free, still have some great features, and work on Mac devices.

ProtonVPN

Features

  • P2P support? Yes
  • 30-day money-back guarantee? Yes
  • Country of origin? Switzerland
  • Servers: 600+ in over 40 countries
  • Simultaneous devices: 5

Pros/Cons

  • Professional support
  • Modern interface and apps
  • AES-256 encryption
  • Lesser known provider

This VPN company is based in Switzerland. The ProtonVPN free version has one massive advantage over its competitors – it actually works with no hidden drawbacks. It’s not the only one, but it’s pretty huge. The capabilities of its free version are:

  • Has unlimited broadband; there is no data cap.
  • ProtonVPN has software for Android, MacOS, Windows, and iOS.
  • Kill switch is entirely automated. You cannot turn it off.
  • The interface is pretty user-friendly. The main interface shows a map of the world, your present IP, possible connection servers, etc.

Disadvantages relative to its paid version:

  • Slow speeds.
  • It only has 3 server locations to choose from; the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan.
  • Pros: Professional support; Modern interface and apps; AES-256 encryption
  • Lowest price: Free

Hotspot Shield

Features

  • Unlimited data? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 5
  • Military grade encryption? Yes
  • Servers: Over 3200 in 80+ countries

Pros/Cons

  • Unlimited HD streaming
  • Blocks malware
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Unreliable support

Hotspot Shield has one of the best free VPN services on the internet today. It’s capabilities are:

  • You get up to 500MB per day if you’re a registered user, which tallies up to around 15GB per month. Pretty hefty for a free VPN version.
  • It can access some geo-restricted content like Netflix.
  • Hotspot Shield is much faster than the average free VPN.
  • It’s easy to use.
  • The setup is quick.
  • Encryption is military-grade.

The disadvantages relative to its paid version include:

  • Only one location —the U.S. — is available in free mode, which is particularly terrible compared to the over 70 countries available in the premium version.
  • Ads are supported.
  • You can only connect one device.
  • There is no 24/7 tech support.
  • Pros: Unlimited HD streaming; Blocks malware; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $7.99

WindScribe

Features

  • Browser extension? Yes
  • Unblocking of all websites? Yes
  • Pricing options: 3
  • Locations: Servers in 60 countries
  • Free trial: No

Pros/Cons

  • Military grade encryption
  • Available on all major platforms
  • App for mobile devices
  • Lesser known provider

Windscribe is a relative newcomer on the internet security market, but it is one of the best VPN providers around. If you use WindScribe’s free version, you’ll enjoy the following:

  • It provides a generous 10GB of bandwidth every month and is extremely dedicated to securing your privacy.
  • While encrypting your IP address, Windscribe also blocks ads, malware, trackers, etc.
  • It is also supported on a wide range of operating systems.
  • It does not keep logs, and it hides your browser history from your Internet Service Provider.
  • There are browser extensions available for Firefox and Chrome.
  • It gives unrestricted access to geographically blocked content.
  • It has customizable subscription plans.
  • It allows an unlimited number of connections.

Now, for the downsides of this free VPN compared to its premium version:

  • You only get about 10 countries to choose from, when encrypting your IP address.
  • Customer support leaves a lot to be desired with no live chat or phone support.
  • Speed is around average.
  • Pros: Military grade encryption; Available on all major platforms; App for mobile devices
  • Lowest price: $4.08

Hide.Me

Hide.Me’s free VPN is pretty serviceable. Its features are:

  • It has a privacy check function that allows you to examine your connection and check other details like where your internet connection is, if your location is concealed, etc.
  • It has a wide array of VPN client software.
  • You can use a wide selection of VPN protocols.
  • The free version also has full access to the tech support team.

The disadvantages relative to its paid version:

  • The speed is mediocre.
  • Data is restricted to 2GB per month.
  • The free plan limits you to four locations only – the Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, and the United States.

TunnelBear

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes, bitcoin
  • Simultaneous connections: 5
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Locations: 28 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Unlimited browsing
  • Account manager
  • Military grade encryption
  • Free version allows only 500MB data

TunnelBear’s whole concept for their webpage is, quite frankly, adorable. But the bear might just be one of the few bright spots of this VPN’s free version. The advantages are:

  • The user interface is lovely and easy to use.
  • Free version users can connect to any of the over 1,700 servers in 20 countries.

The disadvantages are:

  • Low data allotment – only 500MB per month, but can be increased to 1.5GB if you tweet about them.
  • Spotty connection.
  • Slow speeds.
  • Pros: Unlimited browsing; Account manager; Military grade encryption
  • Lowest price: $4.99

Betternet

Betternet VPN service fell under the critical eyes of the public when a 2016 academic study listed it as one of five Android VPN applications that had the most third-party tracking software. Ever since then, the company has tried to clean up its act a little by making some changes and adding a paid premium plan to its free service. It has a little more merit now, but some things still haven’t improved. The advantages are:

  • It has an optimal location feature that connects you to the closest server for maximum speed.
  • Free users can torrent.
  • No DNS leaks.

The disadvantages are:

  • Slow speed
  • The privacy policy may not be up to par.
  • There are ads.
  • The free version can only access U.S. servers
  • There is no access to a 24/7 support team.
  • 500MB data cap
  • The free version can only be used on one device at a time.

The bare bones of free VPNs

A VPN is a fantastic idea. It provides privacy, security and can give you access to content that would ordinarily be restricted to you. Looking at this from this angle, a free VPN probably sounds fantastic. But there’s always a downside.

There are dangers in using a free VPN. To use a VPN service, you must have a certain degree of trust in the company. A few things a free VPN provider can do which they are not meant to are:

  • Log and track content, your IP address and the sites you visit, etc.
  • Deliberately slow your browsing speed.
  • Use obsolete encryptions.
  • Place unreasonable data usage restrictions on your browsing.
  • Your data can even be sold.

Best “risk-free” VPNs

Most of us certainly appreciate free things, but for a matter as important as your online security, it may be better just to bear the cost.

Of course, you don’t have to rush in and buy the first or highest rated VPN plan you see. There are VPNs that are risk-free. They give you time to use their VPN plan and to make a decision on whether to continue using it after the time has elapsed or to look for something else. Most of them have a money-back guarantee. We have created a list of the best five of these VPNs. These providers are also at the top of the data security market, and it is displayed in their features and reviews.

ExpressVPN

Features

  • Number of servers: More than 3,000
  • Speeds: Unlimited
  • Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
  • Maximum devices supported: 5
  • 24 live chat: Yes
  • 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Pros/Cons

  • Fastest VPN out there
  • Strict no logs policy
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Few discounts

This VPN service has received a lot of praise, and as far as we can tell, it is well deserved.

ExpressVPN is located in the Virgin Islands, which has strict laws guarding the privacy of individuals that have dealings there. There are no compulsory data retention policies or surveillance as in some other countries. ExpressVPN is in an excellent privacy jurisdiction, which is not involved in the 5/9/14EyesSurveillanceAlliances.

The company has over 3000 servers in over 160 locations in 90+ countries worldwide. All the servers are run in RAM mode. This means that nothing is saved, and all information is lost when the power is turned off. There are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers.

ExpressVPN reviews boast of much including:

  • Excellent speed throughout the server network
  • Unbelievable bypassing of geo-restrictions, even in countries such as Japan and China!
  • ExpressVPN doesn’t log any information, nor does it have any DNS or IP leaks. This means that you cannot be caught torrenting copyrighted resources.
  • Has an inbuilt kill switch, which is a feature that prevents traffic from exiting your device in case your connection drops. This feature is especially useful if you’re connected to an unsecured public network.
  • There is another feature offered by ExpressVPN called split tunneling. It allows you to keep some sites unencrypted and view regular or local content, rather than transmitting all your traffic into the VPN and accessing content from abroad only.
  • ExpressVPN allows for 5 simultaneous connections.
  • This provider offers dedicated, user-friendly, and reliable apps that are supported on all devices.

These are only a few of the features that make ExpressVPN touted as the best VPN provider. The service has three plans. Each of them has a 30-day money-back guarantee. The monthly plan is billed at $12.95/month. The 6 months plan is $9.99/month but billed at once. And, the one year plan is $6.67/month with a bonus of an extra 3 months (also charged at once).

  • Pros: Fastest VPN out there; Strict no logs policy; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $8.12

NordVPN

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: 5342 in 58 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Lots of pricing options
  • Netflix support kept up to date
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Slow app

This rival VPN provider is neck ‘n’ neck with the features provided by ExpressVPN. It’s a huge company operating out of Panama. It’s safe to say that this is another behemoth of a VPN. Features of NordVPN include:

  • Excellent security and privacy. The company is located in Panama, which is a good privacy jurisdiction. There are no laws in Panama that require data retention.
  • Has a kill switch feature
  • No DNS leakage.
  • Double VPN protection: This feature encrypts your data and routes it through two VPN servers.
  • It uses SmartPlay technology, which allows you to access over 400 geo-restricted streaming networks such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, etc.
  • No logging of data. It is stated very clearly on their website that they do not log data.
  • It works for torrenting.
  • 24/7 live chat is available to help with any inquiry you might have.
  • It has a pretty decent and stable speed.
  • NordVPN offers over 5000 servers in 60+ countries.
  • It can support more than six simultaneous devices at a time.

NordVPN provides some of the cheapest but most full-featured VPNs around, but it does come with some commitment. There are 4 plans to choose from when using NordVPN:

  • One month plan – $11.85/month
  • 1-year plan – $6.99/ month
  • 2-year plan – $4.99/month
  • 3-year plan – $3.49/month.

Each of these plans still has a 30-day money-back guarantee if the VPN does not meet your criteria.

  • Pros: Lots of pricing options; Netflix support kept up to date; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $2.99

CyberGhost

Features

  • Connected devices at once: 7
  • One click connect: Yes
  • Automatic kill switch? Yes
  • Servers: 5900 worldwide

Pros/Cons

  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Apps for mobile devices and routers
  • No free option

This VPN supports torrenting and has optimized servers for quick and safe P2P file sharing. It is able to bypass geo-restricted applications and content such as BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Netflix.

CyberGhost has over 5,900 servers in 90+ countries, and it allows simultaneous connections of up to seven devices. The applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android are user-friendly and straightforward. The service also has the kill switch feature, a useful tool that stops your data from entering the wrong hands when it senses an unplanned VPN connection failure.

The service has an extremely strict no-logs policy, and to prove itself, it has been issuing transparency reports.

CyberGhost has provided for customer care in almost every conceivable way. There are sizeable and searchable FAQs, troubleshooting articles, and instruction manuals. There are also live chats, email support, and their blog called Privacy Hub.

This VPN has excellent value at only $2.75 per month for a 3-year plan. The alternatives are the 1-month option of $12.99 per month, 1 year for $5.99 per month, and the 2-year plan of $3.69 per month. CyberGhost also offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.

  • Pros: No logs policy; 24/7 live chat; Apps for mobile devices and routers
  • Lowest price: $2.64

IPVanish

Features

  • One click connect? Yes
  • Bandwidth cap? No
  • Servers: 100+ superfast servers
  • Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, Android, Routers

Pros/Cons

  • Firewall
  • Apps for all devices
  • 40,000+ shared IPs, 1,300+ VPN servers in 75+ locations
  • Not the cheapest out there

What makes IPVanish stand out from the rest of the VPNs is its remarkable speed. This VPN offers unlimited data. It has excellent speeds all through its global networks, but especially in the U.S., where the company is established.

But in the matter of security, IPVanish uses OpenVPN protocol, has DNS leak protection and a kill switch, all of which amounts to some pretty high security.

You can also use IPVanish to stream geo-restricted content and download torrents. This VPN can take up to 10 simultaneous connections. It has over 1,300 servers in 75 countries and has a strict no-logging policy on their website.

IPVanish’s prices are $5 per month for the one month plan. The 3-month plan is $4.50 per month, and the 1-year subscription plan is $3.25 per month. There is a 7-day money-back guarantee peradventure you are not satisfied with their service.

  • Pros: Firewall; Apps for all devices; 40,000+ shared IPs, 1,300+ VPN servers in 75+ locations
  • Lowest price: $6.49

PureVPN

Features

  • 24/7 support? Yes
  • Simultaneous logins: 5
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: over 2000

Pros/Cons

  • Port forwarding
  • Servers located all over the world
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not the cheapest

PureVPN has a long list of features to its name. It’s not surprising since it’s been around for over a decade now. It has earned itself a good reputation over the years as a flexible, security conscious, and affordable VPN.

PureVPN allows 5 simultaneous device connections, but it can be extended to 10 if you switch on your VPN hotspot. The user interface is friendly, and the set up is easy. PureVPN is able to stream geo-restricted channels such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer.

Security features are military-grade (AES-256). As of now, recent tests conclude that the essential security features, such as the kill switch, app blocking, and intrusion detection, are well in place. A third-party audit was administered to the company in 2018 by Altius IT to confirm all of these.

PureVPN supports torrenting, and it has ad-blocking features. Excellent 24/7 customer service and very affordable pricing, along with a 31-day money-back guarantee, give this VPN an edge.

  • Pros: Port forwarding; Servers located all over the world; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $3.33

In conclusion

All of the above VPNs are enabled on Mac and iOS platforms. Some lay emphasis on torrenting, others on streaming and bandwidth, and others on security and privacy.

As the user, you must decide on what features are most important to you and your budget to help guide you when choosing a VPN plan. You should also read the privacy policy of any VPN provider you want to choose to avoid any unwelcome surprises.