So you need a VPN for your Mac – here's what to look for

Apple devices on a desk
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You may already be aware of just how useful and effective a Windows 10 VPN can be, but a Mac VPN can be equally powerful. VPN technology can benefit users in numerous ways, from providing an extra layer of security whilst browsing on a public Wi-Fi network to giving you the ability to access geo-restricted content, so having one is a no-brainer on any operating system.

To find the best VPN for your needs, you have to choose a service that enables you to perform as many different tasks as possible. Instead of opting for a provider that specializes in one specific area, like torrenting, go for an all-rounder. In this article, we’ll explain the traits that make a good VPN so you can decide on the best service for your requirements.

  • Setup VPN: our comprehensive guide for all devices

Advanced privacy features

When it comes to viruses, although a Mac is less susceptible than a Windows machine in general, there are still numerous cyber threats that can put your data at risk. One of the most common scenarios where your Mac may be at risk from cybercriminals is when logging on to a public Wi-Fi network.

Even though your Mac’s internal security features can protect you from internet-based viruses, it can’t stop someone from hijacking your browsing session and stealing sensitive information. A good VPN will encrypt your data, enabling you to operate with anonymity and making it very difficult for a malicious actor to intercept your traffic.

Streaming sites

We all want to be able to stream the latest TV shows – regardless of where we’re based – and a good streaming VPN will enable you to do just that. Some sites, and consequently shows, are only available in certain jurisdictions, so you’ll usually have to wait until they are available in your own area before you can enjoy them.

However, by rerouting your internet traffic through a server based elsewhere in the world, a VPN can make it appear as though you are accessing content from a valid jurisdiction. For example, it could enable you to watch a show on US Netflix whilst in the UK, or catch up on a series from BBC iPlayer when stateside.

Man paying for a product on a MacBook

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Super speeds

Not all VPNs perform as quickly and efficiently as others. When deciding on a VPN, you need to take into consideration whether or not your internet speed will be affected.

A VPN sends your web traffic to multiple servers through encrypted pathways, and that can result in latency. Opt for a proven fast VPN service and you can mitigate this issue altogether and browse at the speeds you’re used to.

Torrenting performance

Torrenting involves sharing files peer-to-peer, and because you’re often dealing with unknown users and content, it can be somewhat perilous. However, with a torrenting VPN you can avoid the risks by encrypting your data and keeping your identity secret.

In fact, if you do decide to download any files via a P2P torrent, we would recommend never doing so without a reliable VPN running in the background.

Stay connected whilst traveling

Just as it’s possible to access geo-restricted sites from home with a VPN, when you’re abroad, you can access the sites you usually visit. Beyond streaming sites, this means that whilst away from home, you can still check sites that may be restricted in the country you're visiting.

Many countries have internet censorship procedures in place, but a good VPN will enable you to circumnavigate these restrictions. Just make sure you are aware of any local laws before doing so.

A good example of this is accessing VoIP calling apps like WhatsApp, and this is one of the biggest reasons for users to get a UAE VPN. The state has a monopoly on telephone networks in the UAE, and blocks free services to maintain the profits of the government-invested networks.

A VPN allows visitors and residents alike to use these free services and save money – especially useful for the millions of migrant workers from countries like India and Pakistan who have very little disposable income to spend on overpriced phone plans.

Which VPN do we recommend for Mac?

The top-rated VPN service available today

The top-rated VPN service available today
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?

Kieron Allen

Kieron is a freelance science and technology journalist with more than a decade of experience writing for magazines in print and online. Today, his focus is on cybersecurity, blockchain, and emerging tech. He also has a passion for social affairs, arts and culture and travel writing, and recently launched a new publication covering social activism and the volunteering sector.