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The 10 Best VPN for Mac (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? Unfortunately, the internet has become a gold mine for data collection. Without a Virtual Private Network (VPN), your browsing habits and online purchase can be tracked and even exposed to hackers. Here are a few reasons why you need a VPN:

  • Stay safe from identity theft: When you use public networks, hackers can steal and abuse your sensitive data. A VPN helps you keep your login credentials and other personal data safe.
  • Keep your browsing private: Unless you use a VPN, nothing you do on the internet is private. Advertisers can track the sites you visit and files you download.
  • Access any media: Streaming services sometimes limit their shows per country. You can overcome these limitations by using a foreign VPN server.

A VPN means safety and anonymity on the internet. So every internet user who is conscious about their privacy needs to use the best VPN for Mac.

CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN

CyberGhost VPN

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  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

CyberGhost is the best affordable VPN of 2023. It’s ultra-fast, private, and secure. And it temporarily offers deep discounts.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 45-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 91 countries
✓ Protect: 7 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN - The most advanced VPN

NordVPN

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  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN of 2023. It has the best privacy technology (RAM-Servers and Double VPN) and a beautiful design.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 30-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 59 countries
✓ Protect: 6 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Ranking of the best VPN services of 2023

We have tested cybersecurity software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 4 from 30 paid and free VPN services (Virtual Private Networks).

Click the links or scroll down for more.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN Review

Ranked #1 out of 30 VPNs

CyberGhost VPN Review

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CyberGhost VPN Review

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test. It also has the lowest price and the biggest server network. It's one of the best VPN services you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix US, Disney, Amazon, HBO Max, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on P2P servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 9,000 Servers in 91 countries
  • Connections: 7
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.64
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 45 days

Streaming

CyberGhost has dedicated streaming servers for Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and more.

Torrenting

CyberGhost has optimized P2P servers. It is an excellent VPN for torrenting, thanks to its kill switch, IP- and DNS-leak protection, and no logs policy.

Privacy

CyberGhost has a strict no-logs policy: It does not monitor or record what you do online, and it does not store your IP address. Therefore, you are completely anonymous when using CyberGhost.

Ownership

CyberGhost is owned and operated by CyberGhost S.A. from Romania. Its parent company is Kape Technologies from the UK, which also owns ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN services:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

CyberGhost applies the most important security and privacy features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling (on Windows and Android)
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP

But it lacks RAM-only servers and Double VPN, which NordVPN does offer.

Censorship

CyberGhost does not use obfuscation technology, which hides your VPN usage. Therefore, it is not the right VPN for high-censorship countries like China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, or the UAE.

Servers

CyberGhost has a huge number of servers: 9,000 in 91 countries.

60 Countries have physical servers within their borders, while the other 31 are virtual servers. Although virtual servers are not located within the indicated country, they will give you a local IP address from that country.

It also offers specialized servers:

  • Servers optimized for P2P
  • Servers optimized for streaming
  • Servers with static IP addresses
  • Servers with dedicated IP addresses
  • Fully owned NoSpy servers

Devices

You can install CyberGhost on 7 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and a range of routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Prices

CyberGhost has the lowest 1-year price in the industry.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is CyberGhost VPN the best VPN software of 2023?

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test and has the most affordable 1-year contract. On top of that, it is secure, private, and has one of the largest server networks. It's excellent.

You can try CyberGhost risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN

NordVPN Review

Ranked #2 out of 30 VPNs

NordVPN Review

NordVPN Review

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service you can buy. It uses the latest privacy technology, like RAM servers and double VPN, and works in China. It's one of the best VPN providers you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on 80% of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 5,600 Servers in 59 countries
  • Connections: 6
  • 1-Year Price: € 52.68
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

NordVPN unblocks Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Torrenting

NordVPN allows torrenting on most of its servers. On top of that, it has optimized P2P servers for extra high download speeds.

Thanks to its no-logs policy, kill switch, DNS- and IP-leak blocking, it is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

NordVPN has a strict no-log policy. So it does not record your IP address or online activities. It was the first VPN company to subject its privacy policy to an independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ownership

NordVPN is owned and operated by NordVPN S.A. from Panama. Its parent company, Nord Security, merged with the parent company of SurfShark to form Cyberspace BV in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN providers:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It includes both the mainstream security features and the highly advanced ones:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Meshnet (on Windows and Linux)

NordVPN is also available in a bundle, including NordLocker (encrypted cloud storage) and NordPass (password manager and data breach scanner).

Censorship

NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that work in highly censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. This is thanks to its obfuscation technology that hides your VPN traffic.

Servers

NordVPN has an extensive VPN server network, with 5,600 servers in 59 countries. They are all physical servers, meaning every server is located within the country's borders.

It also offers specialty servers:

  • P2P servers
  • Streaming servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers
  • Onion over VPN servers
  • Obfuscated servers

Devices

You can install NordVPN on 6 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Considering that NordVPN is the most advanced VPN, it is a bargain.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is NordVPN the best VPN service of 2023?

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN software you can buy, thanks to its RAM servers, double VPN, Onion over VPN, and obfuscated servers.

You can try NordVPN risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

SurfShark VPN

Surfshark VPN Review

Ranked #3 out of 30 VPNs

SurfShark VPN Review

Surfshark VPN Review

Surfshark offers the best value for money. It is fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. It's one of the best VPN programs you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 3,200 Servers in 95 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.88
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

Surfshark can stream Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.

Torrenting

Surfshark allows P2P file-sharing on all of its servers and offers optimized P2P servers for higher download speeds. Due to its kill-switch, no-logs policy, and leak-blocking, Surfshark is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

Surfshark has a clear no-logs policy. It does not track what you do online and does not store your IP address. In 2021, Surfshark underwent an independent server audit by Cure53, a German cybersecurity firm.

Ownership

Surfshark BV from the Netherlands owns Surfshark. In 2022, its parent company merged with Nord Security, creating the holding company Cyberspace BV, also located in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN programs:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

After NordVPN, Surfshark is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It covers all mainstream and advanced features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Rotating IP
  • Override GPS Location on Android

Next to its VPN service, Surfshark also offers antivirus software, personal data breach alert, and a private search engine. These features are sold separately or together with the VPN in SurfShark One.

Censorship

Thanks to its Camouflage and NoBorders Mode, Surfshark works well in censored countries like Russia, the UAE, Turkey, and Iran. However, it does not consistently work in China.

Servers

Surfshark has an extensive network, with 3,200 servers in 95 countries. However, some of these servers are virtual. That means that although you get a local IP address from the country of your choice, the physical server is located in a different country.

Surfshark also offers specialized servers, including:

  • P2P servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers (Multihop servers)

Devices

Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Surfshark's price is excellent. Especially considering that you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is Surfshark the best VPN service of 2023?

Surfshark offers the best value for money in the VPN industry. It is advanced, affordable, and allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices. It is one of the best VPN deals out there.

You can try Surfshark risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

IPVanish VPN

IPVanish Review

Ranked #4 out of 30 VPNs

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish: Temporarily get 61% OFF  🔥

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish is an excellent VPN. It's fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. However, it's not as advanced as the others in this list and has a smaller server network.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 2,000 Servers in 50 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: $ 47.89
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

IPVanish is not the best VPN service for streaming. Although it works with Netflix in the United States, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, it has problems with streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max.

Torrenting

IPVanish allows torrenting on all its servers. And thanks to its no-log policy, kill switch, and no DNS leaks, it is a safe option to do so. The kill switch is necessary because it will block the internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.

Privacy

IPVanish has a clear no-logs policy. However, in 2018, it handed user data to the US government. Data it wasn't supposed to have, according to its log policy. Since then, it has changed owners twice, but the reputation remains.

Speed

We test every VPN service on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN connection set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the fastest VPN connections:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

IPVanish is the only VPN in our comparison that owns all of its servers and doesn't rely on third-party server parks, which is excellent. That said, it is not the most advanced VPN in our test.

It includes the following mainstream features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling

But it misses many of the advanced features:

  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers

Censorship

IPVanish does not work in censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Turkey, or Russia.

Servers

IPVanish has 2,000 VPN servers in 50 countries. All servers are physically located within the country and entirely owned by IPVanish. Because it doesn't rely on third-party server providers, it has complete control over the hardware and software, which theoretically should increase its security.

Devices

IPVanish allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. But it has no browser extensions.

Prices

IPVanish has a very attractive price, especially as you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is IPVanish the best VPN provider of 2023?

IPVanish is fast, secure, and affordable. It owns its entire server network and allows you to install the software on unlimited devices. But it's not the most advanced VPN in our test and not the best option for streaming.

You can try IPVanish risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Comparison table of the best VPN services 

CyberGhost
NordVPN
Surfshark
IPVanish
Icon
CyberGhost VPN Icon
NordVPN Icon
Surfshark VPN Icon
IPVanish VPN Icon
Ranking
#1 / 30
#2 / 30
#3 / 30
#4 / 30
Logging Policy
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
Operating Company
CyberGhost S.A. (Romania)
NordVPN S.A. (Panama)
Surfshark BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
Holding Company
Kape Technologies PLC (UK)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
VPN Protocols
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, NordLynx (WireGuard)
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
Encryption
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
US Netflix




Torrenting




VPN Kill Switch




Split Tunneling




Ad & Tracker Blocker



No
Smart DNS



No
First-Party DNS


No

Dedicated IP


No
No
Double VPN
No


No
RAM Servers
No


No
Works in China
No


No
Countries
91
59
95
50
Servers
9,000+
5,600+
3,200+
2,000+
Speed on WireGuard or proprietary protocol
825-850 Mbps
725-800 Mbps
700-800 Mbps
700-725 Mbps
Comptatible Devices
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Number of Connections
7
6
Unlimited
Unlimited
1-Month Price
€ 12.65
€ 10.49
€ 12.95
$ 10.99
1-Year Price
€ 47.64
€ 52.68
€ 47.88
$ 47.89
2-Year Price
€ 74.88
€ 69.36
€ 59.76
-
3-Year Price
€ 82.29
-
-
-
Customer Support
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
Free Trial
1 Day
7 Days
7 Days
No
Money Back Guarantee
45 Days
30 Days
30 Days
30 Days

How we test the best VPN for Mac

We selected 30 of the best VPN providers. Next, we thoroughly tested them using the 16 criteria below on various platforms, including Windows 11, Windows 10, macOS, iOS, and Android.

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

Although the goal of using a VPN is to ensure privacy, not all VPN providers have the same level of protection.

When you use a VPN service, your traffic is routed through their servers. Therefore, the company can see your approximate location through your IP address. They can also track what you’re doing online, including the sites you visit.

Unfortunately, many free solutions, such as Hola VPN, take advantage of this and collect and sell users’ data. Your information ends up being a commodity, which defeats the purpose of using the service in the first place. About 30% of VPN services store users’ IP addresses, while 5% even keep track of their browsing habits.

Knowing what the VPN provider is going to do with your sensitive information is essential. This is where their logging policy comes into the picture. You can find out whether a VPN provider logs your data by reading this document. Admittedly, these policies are often written in difficult language, which is why we already went through them for you.

What do we test for?

Not all the data that VPN services collect is sensitive. Some of it helps providers improve their services and provide a better user experience. However, storing personal information is unacceptable, and you should avoid VPNs that didn’t pass our privacy test.

We read each provider’s policy carefully to learn which ones you can trust to keep your information safe. The collection of the following data is a major red flag:

  • Your originating IP address: This piece of information shows not only your location, but also the internet service provider you use.
  • Your browsing habits: A good VPN should not keep track of which sites you visit, what you stream, and what you download.

Reputable VPNs will only log information about bandwidth usage and server load.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

The ownership of a VPN service goes well beyond the name of the provider. The service is owned by a company, which is often owned by another company. The higher up this hierarchy goes, the more businesses have access to your data, possibly without your knowledge.

And that’s not all. Where the businesses in question are registered also affects how your data will be handled since every country has its own data retention laws. Even if the VPN service may be based in the U.S., their parent company could be anywhere in the world. Learning about who owns the service and where they are actually based is therefore crucial.

Although a Google search returns numerous VPN services you can choose from, the selection isn’t as wide as it may seem. In fact, most of the popular services are owned by the same companies. Here are some examples and the services they own.

  • CyberSpace (Netherlands) – Atlas VPN, Surfshark, NordVPN
  • Aura or Pango (U.S.) – TouchVPN, Hotspot Shield, JustVPN, and offers VPN technology for Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Panda, etc.
  • Kape Technologies (U.K.) – CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, ZenMate, Private Internet Access
  • Gaditek (Pakistan) – Ivacy VPN, PureVPN, Unblock VPN
  • Ziff Davis (U.S.) – Buffered VPN, Encrypt.me, IPVanish, SaferVPN, StrongVPN, Perimeter 81, etc.

What do we test for?

It’s important to know who has access to your data. We checked the owner of each VPN service and where the companies are registered. We analyzed the data retention laws that apply to the jurisdiction in question. In addition, we did a background check on each company to see if they have a history of scandals.

Companies often rebrand after such incidents, so users often aren’t aware of their provider’s notorious history. A good example is Kape Technologies, which used to operate under the name Crossrider. Their development platform for browser extensions was abused by malware creators and ad injectors, which naturally resulted in a bad reputation. The company ended up changing its name in 2018 to mitigate the damage caused by the incident.

Data mishandling isn’t a rare occurrence either. For instance, IPVanish got tangled up in a scandal in 2016, when it was revealed that they sold user data to Homeland Security. Since the company wasn’t supposed to store this data according to its logging policy, the repercussions were even greater.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

It’s easy for VPN providers to make stellar claims in their marketing campaigns. But how can we be sure that big words like “Zero-Log Policy” are actually true?

When a VPN company wants to assure its customers that their claims are valid, they hire an independent auditor. The auditor will review the VPN provider’s operations to give credibility to their claims. Some of the most frequently audited areas are the provider’s privacy policy and server infrastructure.

Here are a few examples of independent audits popular VPN providers underwent in recent years:

  • Deloitte audited Private Internet Access (PIA) in 2022 to see whether their server environment corresponds to the privacy policy of PIA.
  • Cure53’s 2021 audit investigated SurfShark’s server infrastructure.
  • PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) conducted a thorough audit of NordVPN’s infrastructure, technical logs, and configuration in 2020. PwC also interviewed the employees of NordVPN.
  • In 2019, PwC also investigated whether ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology truly wiped all data at every server reboot.

What do we test for?

We examine whether the VPN service providers were subjected to an independent audit. If so, we check what aspect of their service was audited, how well the company performed, and its flaws.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

A VPN protocol allows a VPN app to communicate with the VPN server. It determines everything from how the two sides identify each other to how the data is transferred and encrypted.

VPN services typically use one of the following common protocols:

  • PPTP – An obsolete VPN protocol that has security issues.
  • L2TP/IPSec – An older and slower VPN protocol.
  • IKEv2 – A VPN protocol made by Cisco and Microsoft. Although secure, this protocol is still not the fastest today.
  • OpenVPN – A fast, secure, and popular open-source VPN protocol.
  • WireGuard – A notable new contender that delivers high download speeds.

Most VPN services use OpenVPN today, but many offer WireGuard and IKEv2 as well. In addition, some providers have their own proprietary protocols:

  • NordLynx – NordVPN’s WireGuard-based VPN protocol
  • Lightway – ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol
  • Catapult Hydra – Hotspot Shield’s own VPN protocol

What do we test for?

While there’s no right answer to the question of which VPN protocol is the best, it’s important to know what each provider offers.

We investigated which protocols are available at the VPN providers included in our review. We also verified whether the protocols are available on all operating systems or not.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

Every VPN service needs to use reliable encryption to keep customers’ data safe. An encryption standard is what determines how this will be achieved.

The first encryption standard was developed in 1977. The Data Encryption Standard (DES) is a symmetric key algorithm that uses the same key for both encryption and decryption. This encryption standard was used by the government but is outdated today. Nevertheless, it served as an important basis for the further development of cryptography.

Since 2002, the government has been using a more reliable encryption standard. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a version of Rijndael encryption. It uses a block size of 128 bits and a key size of 128, 192, or 256 bits.

Today’s VPNs typically use AES-128 or AES-256 (GCM or CBC version).

What do we test for?

Data encryption is key for a secure VPN service. For that reason, we checked the default encryption standard each provider offers. Ideally, they should use either AES-256 or AES-128 (GCM).

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

In addition to offering privacy, a VPN should have strong security. VPNs are designed to keep you safe online and how secure it is depends on several factors, including encryption and VPN protocols. Every service provider should offer the following basic security features:

  • A reliable VPN protocol: The most commonly used and best open-source protocols are OpenVPN and WireGuard.
  • Secure encryption: AES-256 encryption is the most reliable encryption standard no cyberattack can penetrate.
  • Split tunneling: This feature allows certain programs to connect to the internet directly, bypassing the VPN. Split tunneling gives you the option to decide which apps use the VPN and which ones don’t.
  • A kill switch: If the VPN tunnel encryption fails, the kill switch automatically blocks the internet connection.

What do we test for?

We verified whether each VPN provider offers all of these security features. In addition, we also tested whether the split tunneling and kill switch features work as they are supposed to.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

The security features mentioned above are the bare minimum. Advanced security features provide added layers of protection. Here are some of the most important advanced security features to look for in a VPN.

  • Providing a dedicated IP address – A unique IP address can come in handy in many situations. You can access restricted servers, prevent getting blacklisted, and avoid issues that a constantly changing IP address can cause.
  • Blocking ads, trackers, and malicious websites – This feature keeps the user safe from tracking cookies, suspicious URLs, disruptive ads, and more.
  • Double VPN feature – Routing your data through two VPNs instead of one provides ultimate privacy. Your encryption will double, and your IP address will be under two layers of protection.
  • Overriding GPS location – This VPN feature changes your GPS location to that of the VPN server. By spoofing your location this way, apps that track your GPS location will no longer have access to this information.
  • Obfuscated VPN servers – Some sites try to block VPN traffic. An obfuscated server encrypts your data in a way that hides the fact that you’re using a VPN.
  • RAM-only servers – These special VPN servers only store information in the server’s Random Access Memory. This means no one will be able to get a hold of user data by confiscating the server. As soon as the server is restarted, all the data on it will be wiped.

What do we test for?

We checked whether VPN providers offer these added security features. We also tested the features to ensure they actually work.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

The main goal of using a VPN is to keep our IP addresses private. If your IP address is visible despite using a VPN, we are talking about an IP leak.

Your devices have two IP addresses: a private and a public address. They use the former to communicate with each other, and the latter to communicate over the internet. Your public IP address is the same for all your devices. Your Internet service provider (ISP) allocates you with this address, and it’s either an IPv4 or IPv6.

Your IP address should be kept private since it indicates your location. Based on your browsing habits, this piece of information can be used to identify you personally.

You can prevent this scenario by using a VPN. A VPN will encrypt your data and change your visible public IP address to that of its server. With your real IP address hidden, apps and websites won’t be able to track you. In addition, your ISP won’t see what you do on the internet. All they will know is that you’re using a VPN.

What do we test for?

We verify whether the VPN provider can effectively hide your IP address. We connect to their server and conduct an IP address lookup. If the results show our real IP address, it constitutes an IP leak, which is a serious issue.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

Websites all have their own IP addresses as well. However, we don’t need to remember these. All we need to know is the domain of the site we want to visit, and we’ll be taken to the right address. This is possible thanks to the DNS protocol.

The job of a Domain Name System (DNS) is to translate domain names into IP addresses of websites. This is done through a DNS server. Therefore, we use DNS servers every time we type a web address into our address bar.

The problem is that DNS servers are typically operated by ISPs. This means that your ISP will see each IP address you visit. Your entire internet history is at their disposal unless you use a VPN with its own DNS servers.

Good VPN services offer their own dedicated DNS servers to ensure your ISP can’t spy on you. But even this solution isn’t always foolproof. If your DNS query ends up going to your ISP’s DNS servers instead of the VPN’s, we’re talking about a DNS leak.

What do we test for?

Not all VPNs have their own DNS servers, but these servers are key to ensure your browsing history will remain private. Accordingly, we checked for DNS leaks at each provider by connecting to their server and running a DNS server lookup.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

Streaming live feeds poses yet another security problem when trying to keep your IP address private. To deliver live video and audio streams, your browser needs to communicate with websites in real-time. It creates special communication channels for this purpose. This mechanism is called WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication).

As you’re streaming, various pieces of data travel through this channel, including your IP address. Preventing this from happening isn’t easy, and many VPNs don’t offer WebRTC protection. If your IP address is visible through WebRTC despite using a VPN, you’re looking at a WebRTC leak.

What do we test for?

A good VPN allows authorized WebRTC connections without letting your IP address leak. We checked whether the VPNs in our review protect against WebRTC leaks by connecting to their service and running a WebRTC lookup. The VPN should send its own IP address through the channel.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

VPNs use a VPN protocol to communicate. One of the most reliable VPN protocols today is OpenVPN. This protocol is open-source and has been continuously improved over the past two decades, making it fast and secure. It’s also compatible with all common desktop and mobile operating systems.

The OpenVPN protocol has two versions:

  • OpenVPN UDP (User Datagram Protocol): Offers the highest download speeds
  • OpenVPN TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): Provides superior data transmission control but slower download speed

Since OpenVPN UDP provides the fastest download speed, it is usually the default option.

Recently, WireGuard was introduced as a faster and more advanced VPN protocol alternative. Nevertheless, the best VPNs still use OpenVPN, while some offer WireGuard as well.

What do we test for?

Using the Windows version of the VPN, we compared the download speed each provider offers while set to the OpenVPN protocol. We used a 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) internet connection to find out how fast the VPN can operate.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is a new contender among VPN protocols. It’s an open-source protocol that is simpler and faster than earlier iterations like OpenVPN and IPsec.

While OpenVPN and IPsec have nearly 500,000 lines of code, WireGuard does the job with only 4,000. The latter is much easier to debug and audit with lesser lines of code, making this protocol more efficient. Our tests also suggest that this protocol tends to be about 60% faster than OpenVPN.

WireGuard was originally designed for Linux, but today it’s available on all of the common desktop and mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS.

What do we test for?

We used the Windows app of each VPN provider to test their download speed when set to the WireGuard protocol. A 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) internet connection was used in the process to test the limit of each service.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

VPNs require software to create encrypted VPN tunnels with VPN clients. The VPN server hosts this software, which sometimes has specialized hardware as well. For example, Surfshark and NordVPN have RAM-only servers that were designed specifically for VPN services.

VPN servers can be physical or virtual, but most are physical and located across various countries in the world. When you launch your VPN app and choose a country to tunnel to, you’re technically picking the location of the VPN server you’re going to use. Your internet traffic is then routed through these physical servers, lending you a local IP address from the country in question.

But not every country has this local server infrastructure for a physical server. This is where virtual servers come in. For example, Andorra doesn’t host any physical servers, but you can still use an IP address from this country at certain VPN providers. In that case, the virtual server is located in Andorra, while the physical server behind it might be in a neighboring country.

These virtual servers are servers not physically located in the country but will get you a local IP address from, even when the physical server is actually situated somewhere else. Usually, a VPN provider has physical servers in up to 60 countries, so a number higher than this indicates virtual servers.

What do we test for?

We evaluate each VPN provider’s availability of servers and locations offered. Additionally, we also look at the servers whether it’s physical or virtual and whether these servers can be chosen based on a country or city level.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

A lot of content on streaming services is only available in specific countries. A VPN can help users override these geo-blocks and access any show they want – at least in theory.

Some streaming services such as Netflix don’t like this practice and try to block traffic coming from a VPN. If you’re going to use your VPN for streaming, therefore, finding a compatible provider is key. Unfortunately, only some VPN providers are able to stay ahead of the VPN-blocking efforts of streaming apps.

What do we test for?

We tested whether each VPN service is capable of unblocking streaming services. Our tests included the U.S. version of the following services:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Disney Plus
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • BBC iPlayer

In addition, we checked whether the VPN works for Netflix with the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the UK.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrenting is the act of downloading content through a decentralized network that relies on peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing. Using a torrent client, users can share content without the need for servers. This often makes torrenting more efficient for downloading large files.

While torrenting isn’t illegal, it’s often used to share copyrighted content, which is illegal. Hence, many people associate this sharing method with piracy.

What do we test for?

Not all VPNs are compatible with torrenting. We tested whether the providers in question allow the use of peer-to-peer sharing networks, and whether they do so on all their servers.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

Most VPN services offer various payment plans, including monthly and annual plans. Naturally, the longer the subscription period, the lower the price will be per month.

To make an accurate comparison, we checked the price of a one-year subscription at each VPN provider. We concluded that most services have a similar price tag. ExpressVPN is an exception that costs considerably more than other similar solutions.

In addition, we also looked at how much their services cost per device. Some VPNs, like IPVanish and Surfshark, don’t limit the number of devices you can use with their service. This makes them a great option if you have many devices or are sharing your subscription with friends.

What do we test for?

We compared the price of an annual subscription at each VPN provider on our list. We also calculated the price per device for each plan by dividing the price by the number of simultaneous connections the contracts allow.

What VPNs for Mac have we tested?

We have tested 30 paid and free VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Proton VPN is the best free VPN service. But if you have the money, we recommend getting a paid VPN service.

In the best case, the free version allows you to protect only one device and doesn’t offer you unlimited bandwidth / unlimited data. And in the worst case, the free VPN providers show you ads or secretly sell your browsing history to advertisers and your internet service provider.

And should you be strapped for cash, don’t opt for an expensive VPN like ExpressVPN. Instead, get a cheap VPN, like Surfshark, that allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices and share the cost with a friend.

  • Astrill VPN
  • Atlas VPN
  • Avast SecureLine VPN
  • Betternet VPN
  • Bitdefender VPN
  • CactusVPN
  • CyberGhost VPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • HideME VPN
  • HMA VPN (HideMyAss VPN)
  • Hola VPN
  • Hotspot Shield VPN
  • IPVanish VPN
  • Ivacy VPN
  • IVPN
  • Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
  • McAfee Safe Connect VPN
  • Mozilla VPN
  • MullVad VPN
  • NordVPN
  • Norton Secure VPN
  • Private Internet Access VPN
  • PrivateVPN
  • Proton VPN
  • PureVPN
  • StrongVPN
  • Surfshark VPN
  • Tunnelbear VPN
  • VyprVPN
  • Windscribe VPN

The best are: CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark.

Frequently asked questions

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects your online privacy. It creates an encrypted VPN tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This tunnel hides your IP address, restores your anonymity online and makes you safe on public Wi-Fi networks.

Why do you need a VPN?

You need a VPN to restore your online privacy and security. Without a VPN, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and advertisers can track everything you read, watch and download online. On top of that, if you don’t use a VPN, hackers will be able to steal your data on public Wi-Fi networks, which can lead to identity theft.

How does a VPN work?

A VPN creates an encrypted connection, called a VPN tunnel, between your devices and a VPN server. This hides your IP address and what you do online. As a result, your ISP won’t be able to see what websites you visit, and advertisers won’t be able to know what your IP address is.

What is the best VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the best VPN services of 2022. NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service. CyberGhost has the highest download speeds and the lowest one-year price. And Surfshark allows you to install the software on unlimited devices.

What is the fastest VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the fastest VPN services of 2022. Although CyberGhost is slightly faster than the other two, the difference is not noticeable for most users.

About the author

Tibor Moes

Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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