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VPN clients for macOS worth a buck

Dmitry Yedin

Dmitry Yedin is an analyst and author, a part of the “multimedia” crew of ThinkMobiles. Don’t even start with him on games, graphics, video content or messengers.

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Web security is becoming as relevant as real-life security. Various applications for protection are available to users – from antivirus software to anonymous browsers. The first step for a beginner, though, is to use a VPN – virtual private network. It provides an entry-level data protection as well as a certain level of anonymity. Still, keep in mind that nothing is 100% safe. Today, we’d like to peak into VPN for Mac users, and we’ve selected 10 apps.

Structurally, we’ll present it in three key aspects: objective summary on each VPN client, brief test review, comparison table at the end. All applications come from the App Store, some are entirely free and others with a paid subscription. In our opinion, whether it is a free app or a trial version, it should have all the features of a reliable VPN – since users must be confident when making a choice. Therefore, our tests will be focused on free and trial versions.

Among these tests are the following:

  1. Internet speed test (Fast.com)
  2. IPv4 data leak test (Whatismyipaddress + IPLeak)
  3. DNS and IPv6 security (Browserleaks + IPv6leak + DNSleaktest)
  4. Access to streaming services with geolocation restrictions (Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, HBO Go, Hulu).

For each program, we will attach a table with test results. All data has been collected during multiple checks. Values in tables will be of 2 basic forms:

– verification successful, data secure, IP change, no leaks.
– verification failed, data not secure, no IP change, data leaks.

Developer: CyberGhost macOS: 10.12 or later.
Size: 64 MB. Version: 7.2.0. License: $14 monthly.

CyberGhost VPN Premium version includes approximately 6,200 servers in 88 countries. We were surprised by how flexible country selection is: one can add countries to favorites, select the least loaded servers for better speed, see locations where deserted content is accessible. Extra features enlist ad blocker, malicious websites blocker, data compression, online tracking blocker, HTTPS Redirect.

cyberghost vpn for mac

We also made a couple of simple tests to make sure this VPN is safe for casual users. The impact of CyberGhost on Internet speed is negative – down by 44%. This is the only unsatisfactory result we received, because the VPN coped with other tests successfully: no leaks of personal info, location or real IP address. Drawback: only 1 day of trial, account signup required.

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC

Developer: Private Internet Access, Inc. macOS: 10.13 or later.
Size: 83 MB. Version: 2.5.1. License: $13.5 monthly.

A pleasant and easy to use VPN, anyone will figure it out in seconds. The app itself is implemented in a menu bar and application window is compact yet informative. You see traffic, Internet speed, quick-connect list. Servers in 73 countries are offered. To select the fastest, there’s Auto mode, or select one manually – up to you.

private internet access VPN

PIA successfully passed all security checks and during the test we didn’t notice any user data leaks, i.e. location, IP address, provider address. Unfortunately, the Internet speed with VPN connection is slowed down by 46%, though simple web browsing won’t be affected much by it. Drawback: no free version, paid account sign-up, speed drop.

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC

Developer: Avira Holding GmbH. macOS: 10.12.2 or later.
Size: 29 MB. Version: 1.19. License: Free.

Avira Security combines three tools at once: VPN client, Mac optimization, and file scanner. It has a modest interface with only a few parameters (auto-launch, background, select active features). If one only needs a VPN, it is possible in Preferences.

best VPN for Mac

The program is notable primarily for simplicity and reliability. It will be suitable for users who do not want to get into professional concepts and features. As for testing, Avira VPN has passed each one, and impact on the Internet speed is +12%. Drawback: no choice of countries/locations.

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC
04 of 12

Touch VPN

Developer: TouchVPN Inc. macOS: 10.12 or later.
Size: 26 MB. Version: 1.2. License: Free.

Touch VPN is a completely free application, that can be a VPN for Mac along with versions for Windows, Chrome and Firefox. It is straightforward, stylish and unambiguous. In the main application window we see the input/output traffic counter, total connection time, country selection. By the way, you can choose from 27 countries, or leave the Optimal default option.

touch vpn for macos

There are no specific settings, just a few – light/dark theme, connect an account, leave feedback. According to the test results, Touch VPN checks all the boxes. We also haven’t found a single hint of our real location or any other clues that can reveal anything without special technologies. The speed of Internet connection is down by an average of 16%.

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC

Developer: Lemon Clove PTE.Ltd. macOS: 10.12 or later.
Size: 37 MB. Version: 2.4.1. 
License: Free / $12 monthly.

This VPN client is free for 7 trial days, works fast and without ads. In this mode, the connection is set to go through the most optimal route. The main window contains traffic counters, country of connection, and the status. In total, 22 locations, however in the Premium version only. 

VPN clients for mac

The application has successfully passed all the checks – it changed the IP address, and there were no leaks over IPv4, IPv6, DNS protocols. At the same time we were somewhat perplexed by the fact it significantly slows down connection, almost by 50%. Drawbacks: daily traffic limit of 500 MB in the trial version, Internet speed drop.

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC
06 of 12

Betternet

Developer: Betternet LLC. macOS: 10.11 or later.
Size: 32 MB. Version: 2.1.0. License: Free / $12 monthly.

A popular VPN service with the unlimited free version and different platforms support: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows. There is no registration and the connection is carried out with a single click. Connection status is visible in the main window, where one also can select a country and enable/disable a connection. In tests Betternet proved to be worthy despite the fact that this was a free version. Unfortunately, it also decreased the speed.

VPN client for macOS

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC

Read also: Betternet full review.

07 of 12

VPN Plus

Developer: TigerVPNs Ltd.  macOS: 10.11 or later.
Size: 9 MB. Version: 19.12.0. License: Free.

VPN Plus is a simple app that does not require much space and connects quickly. Yet there is one unpleasant detail – contrary to vendor description stating unlimited traffic, in fact, there is a 500 Mb limitation per session. There are 3 available locations to connect from. VPN Plus did an excellent job of encrypting data: no data leaks and no information on the actual location. However, and once again with most VPN for Mac clients, connection speed suffers.

vpn plus free

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC

Developer: AnchorFree Inc. macOS: 10.12 or later.
Size: 49 MB. Version: 3.2.3. License: Free / $5 monthly.

This VPN has a considerable variety of settings. There are 85 countries to choose from, but only in the Premium version. The trial version connects to the optimal spot, depending on user location, by default. The interface is not much different from other VPN clients for macOS, simple and straightforward.

hotspot shield

Even in its basic configuration, HotSpot Shield copes with tasks assigned to it. Having analyzed the results of verification, we did not find any leaks of important data. Also, we were pleasantly surprised by the trivial impact on web traffic speed with a connected VPN.

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC

Developer: Kaspersky Lab Switzerland GmbH. macOS: 10.12.6 or later.
Size: 150 MB. Version: 2.4. License: Free / $5 monthly.

A VPN client from the company that created a popular (yet controversial) antivirus. In settings we’ve found a peculiar option – independent enabling of secure connection when detecting a threat from unreliable wi-fi. Design is in a classical style, nothing superfluous. This Mac app has successfully passed all security checks, although the 200 Mb limit is barely enough for any use. It is too tiny even for a trial version, for sure.

kaspersky vpn for mac

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC
10 of 12

VPN Lite

Developer: Keep Solid Inc. macOS: 10.13 or later.
Size: 24 MB. Version: 1.10. License: Free / $5 monthly.

The advantage of VPN Lite Without Registration (props to creativity) is the unlimited trial version, both in features and traffic. Unfortunately, as many similar clients, it has only one default location. To access 55 countries, one has to buy Premium, billed monthly or annually. According to the test results, we can conclude this VPN for Mac is able to protect user anonymity online.

mac vpns for free

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC
11 of 12

VPN Master

Developer: Bucket Technology Ltd.  macOS: 10.11 or later.
Size: 2 MB. Version: 1.0.2. License: Free / $12 monthly.

A terrific VPN program with 10 available servers and no traffic restrictions in the trial version. Visual display of elements will help inexperienced users quite a lot. Great functionality and excellent security, as proved by tests. Connection is always stable. Drawback: trial active for 3 days only.

vpn master trial

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC
12 of 12

X-VPN

Developer: Free Connected Ltd. macOS: 10.11 or later.
Size: 27 MB. Version: 59.0. License: Free / $12 monthly.

Let’s get straight to the point: a great set of features here. Kill Switch function automatically disconnects the device from the Internet when X-VPN shuts down. Protocols feature has several templates for speed and/or security priority, i.e. a type of data encryption and connection speed options. For example, in Multimedia view mode the speed stays the same while security settings change.

vpn to hide ip address

In general, bright color design is pleasing to an eye and arrangement of elements is coherent. Test results are positive, proper connection and data security are preserved. Drawback: 500 Mb traffic limitation.

IP Address IP location IPv4 IPv6 DNS WebRTC

Summary

Firstly, all ten VPN for Mac clients have passed checks for anonymity, DNS and IP security. To sum up other factors, such as trial limitations, locations, etc., we’ve arranged the following table. In the second one we’ve collected data on access to popular streaming services that are, in most cases, not available in other countries. Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon TV, etc.

Security Internet speed Licence Trial limits Available countries macOS compatibility
CyberGhost +44% Paid No 88 10.12 +
PIA +46% Paid No 73 10.13 +
Avira Security +12% Free No 1 (optimal) 10.12.2 +
Touch VPN +16% Free No 27 10.12 +
Proxy Master +48% Paid 500 Mb daily 22 (Premium) 10.12 +
Betternet VPN +46% Paid 1 country 10 (Premium) 10.11 +
VPN Plus +90% Free 500 Mb / session 3 10.11 +
Hotspot +18% Paid 1 country 85 (Premium) 10.12 +
Kaspersky SC +20% Paid 200 Mb daily 24 (Premium) 10.12.6 +
VPN Lite +95% Paid 1 country 55 (Premium) 10.13 +
VPN Master +20% Paid No 10 10.11 +
X-VPN +40% Paid 500 Mb daily 50 10.11 +

Streaming services access

Netflix US BBC iPlayer HBO GO Hulu Amazon Prime Video Sling TV
CyberGhost
PIA
Avira Security
Touch VPN
VPN Proxy Master
Betternet VPN
VPN Plus
Hotspot Shield
Kaspersky SC
VPN Lite
VPN Master
X-VPN

Read next: 8 best free VPN services.

About author

Dmitry Yedin
Dmitry Yedin

Dmitry Yedin is an analyst and author, a part of the “multimedia” crew of ThinkMobiles. Don’t even start with him on games, graphics, video content or messengers.

Dmitry Yedin is a self-motivated and goal-oriented guy, a technology geek throughout his life, interested in computers, music, photography, and tech trends. Through diligence, analysis and care for detail he assists people in picking the best available options.