Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a more and more frequently discussed tool as internet users are becoming increasingly aware of the behaviors (and new legal rights) of the ISPs in the United States. The market is growing rapidly, which means that some companies are coming in to earn a buck without considering the short- and long-term needs of their customers. Below are some of the more reliable and established VPN services available today.
The number one criteria for making these selections is privacy, which is based on both the rules of the country where people are located and the logging activities that their location or company policies describe. Second to privacy concerns, we consider technical aspects (chiefly, does it keep a reliable connection?) and then we look at their business practices (fair pricing, ease of account management, and usefulness of its apps). Finally, we considered our MacUpdate Community members and their recent experiences with the services.
Editor Pick: Mullvad
Mullvad is our best all-around VPN available today. It scores nearly perfect for privacy concerns (the company is based in Sweden) and they boast zero logging. Plus, they ask for absolutely no information about who you are (no email, and you can pay in cash!). The only downfall is the lack of simple support on mobile. This may be a significant drawback for those that want to just download an app on their Android and iPhone devices and push a button. There is a bit of setup required, which involves downloading a configuration file on your computer and then transferring it to your device. Otherwise, Mullvad is the best VPN out there!
Best Value: WindScribe
Technical superiority, easy-to-use apps on all platforms and a good price all add up to Windscribe being one of the top VPNs available. Our comMUnity has had great things to say about this tool for years. A common theme in those reviews is that both the app and the server connections provided are secure and reliable. Although none of these services are free for unlimited use, most will limit you to a half or up to 3 GB of data in a month. Windscribe goes well beyond that with 10 GB/month for free! If you are looking to try your first VPN service on any of your devices, then look no further.
Best Features: NordVPN
NordVPN provides a high-quality experience for users at any level of technical proficiency. This was the top rank for us when it comes to privacy concerns, and it ranked in the top 3 here in regards to the availability and reliability of its connections. A few of our users were not as excited about NordVPN as we are though – they offer reports of some dropped connections, but our experience has been more positive with many in our office keeping it as their first choice for a number of years.
Crowd Pleaser: TunnelBear
Though it’s not the best option in terms of privacy, TunnelBear is the crowd favorite in our comMUnity. It’s easy to sign up and use, and the app looks clean and works well. If you are looking for an app that will let you change your location (to avoid barriers to particular services) then our users will tell you that this is a useful tool. We would agree – the price is fair, the apps are easy to use, and the service is reliable.
The Rest of the Best
VyprVPN is a bit lower on our (short) list when considering privacy and price, but they are the absolute top VPN in terms of server security and reliability. We also admire that VyprVPN has been a top provider in this space for over a decade, and they are actively advocating for improving online privacy rules in the United States so they are well aware of what they should and should not be doing to secure your online traffic. We recommend VyprVPN for anyone that is willing to pay a bit more for guaranteed secure connections to any location in the World, even at peak times.
AirVPN is based on OpenVPN and has demonstrated with words and actions that they are committed to private connections and keeping governments out of your internet history. They provide their own app for macOS (10.9+) but they will point you to outside OpenVPN clients for using their service on mobile devices. The website and app look like they are second-rate, even though their privacy and connection quality are near the top.
ExpressVPN looks nice and provides reliable connections. It is more private than most in this category but not the most private among those included on this list. ExpressVPN is often highlighted as a top-quality provider when they are reviewed elsewhere, and with good reason – they have a slick interface and a good-looking website. However, they are one of the more expensive options (though they boast a 30-day money-back guarantee).
CyberGhost has consistently good-looking apps on every platform, and they’re also easy to use. They are among the top VPNs for privacy, and their costs have come down fairly significantly with some perpetual discounts available for longer subscriptions. Although 2 to 3 years is quite a while to commit to one particular VPN service, you can still get it at a good price and it is my personal backup VPN.
IPVanish: This is a reliable contender for a top VPN, but issues of compatibility with some services (like Netflix) can leave users unsatisfied. We can recommend IPVanish as a good backup VPN that you can grab for a decent price.
Speedify: More than just a VPN, Speedify will actually let you combine multiple slower connections to create one faster overall network using their proxy servers. They have added a VPN service in their apps for over a year now, and they have done it pretty well for a newcomer to this area. If you need a backup VPN, this one is a good value, though it doesn’t receive very high scores for privacy and technical quality.