VPNs are an easy and effective way to hide your internet traffic, access region-blocked streaming content, and get around network controls. While most of the best VPN services charge a monthly or annual fee, there are also free VPN services available for both Mac and Windows.
However, while a free Mac VPN might be a good choice for casual users, there are many reasons to consider upgrading to a paid VPN. In this article, we’ll take a look at key drawbacks of most free options currently available on macOS.
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Many free options are not as secure
Staying private is one of the top advantages of VPNs compared to direct internet connections, but this relies on your VPN provider being secure. Unfortunately, most free services simply lag behind paid VPNs when it comes to keeping your browsing activity safe.
It’s difficult to verify the security practices of any particular VPN provider, but many paid providers do have clear privacy policies that match the serious nature of online security. On the other hand, it’s common knowledge that the privacy policies of free services aren’t nearly as comprehensive.
Data caps and speed restrictions
Like other “lite” or “free” versions of apps, many unpaid VPNs rely on data caps, speed restrictions, and other measures to push users to upgrade to the paid versions. These limits significantly reduce the VPN’s utility, especially if you’re using it to stream video content.
They rely on ads or selling data to make money
Paid VPNs get income directly from users, but unpaid VPNs need to find other ways to make money. As mentioned above, ads are one of the most common alternative sources of income.
Some free services even extract browsing data from their users and sell that information to third parties. Keeping your data secure is one of the main reasons to use a VPN in the first place, so this essentially defeats the purpose of downloading a VPN.
They can’t unblock streaming sites
Getting around region blocks on streaming sites is another popular use case for VPNs, Windows, iOS, and Android. Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer, and other platforms have taken steps to block this type of restriction over the last few years, making it significantly more difficult to access content that’s only available in other locations.
That being said, a few paid VPN providers have found ways to circumvent region controls. While there are a few free Netflix VPN options out there, most free services will have trouble consistently connecting to streaming sites and giving you access to the content that you’re looking for. Being able to access more streaming content is one of the best reasons to upgrade to a paid Netflix VPN.
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Which VPN do we recommend for Mac?
The top-rated VPN service available today (opens in new tab)
Simply put, ExpressVPN is the best service, and has been for a long time. With super-simple apps and easy connections for the newbies, but serious power and configuration under the hood for those that want to tinker, it offers the best of both worlds without compromise.
You'll get unlimited access to over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, and you'll also be able to access pretty much every streaming service wherever you are. If you're not sure, Express also offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, and Tom's Guide readers can claim three months absolutely FREE when signing up to a 12-month plan. What's not to like?