Our life revolves around the Internet. Everyone, as far as I know, has 24 hours each day and out of these 24 hours, we spend a minimum of 8-12 hours online. It may be browsing, stalking your crush, or liking random cat videos. Everything we do takes place on the Internet.
And just like you there are millions of online people. These millions of people also include a subset of people that watch all your online activity (No it’s not your crazy boyfriend/girlfriend or even your parents).
These so-called people can be either the cyber-criminals, govt or even your Internet Service provider. So how do we make sure our data is secure and essentially hidden next time you’re browsing on your Mac.
The answer is the Internet’s favorite superhero – VPN.
VPN works like a special filter that converts all data that passes through it to an unreadable mess AKA gibberish. This data will be useless even if someone were to get their hands on this.
So by now you must be wondering how to set up a VPN on your Mac.
Well let’s read on to find out more…
How To Set Up A VPN On Mac
Before we delve into how to setup and configure a VPN on your Mac, let’s look at how VPN works, the benefits from using a VPN and the how to pick the right VPN for your Mac.
What is a VPN and how does it work?
VPN which is also known as “Virtual Private Network” is a way of establishing a protected network connection when using public networks.
VPNs encrypt your internet traffic in real-time and also disguise your online identity which makes it more difficult for third parties to track our online activities and steal our data. A VPN hides the IP address by letting the traffic through a specially configured remote server run by a VPN host.
This means if you surf online with a VPN enabled, then the VPN server itself becomes the source of data, and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and other third parties cannot see which websites are visited by you or what data is sent and received online.
In simple terms, VPN works like a special filter that converts all data that passes through it to an unreadable mess AKA gibberish. This data will be useless even if someone were to get their hands on this.
Why is VPN Required and What are its Benefits?
Whenever you connect to the Internet, the process is handled by the ISP. As this data is routed through ISP’s server, it keeps track of everything you do online via your IP address.
Even though your ISP might be trustworthy or may even secure there are still chances that it may share your browsing history with advertisers, the police or government, and/or other third parties.
Hackers can even see your online activity if they’re able to get into the network and steal all information from your device including passwords, personal data, payment information, or even your entire identity.
This might be very important in the case where you may decide to use a public Wi-Fi network.
Still not convinced? Let me share few benefits of using VPN:
- Secure Encryption: As mentioned above a VPN connection encrypts your internet traffic online and protects it from external access. To read this data, you need a decryption key. So even if a hacker gets into your network and tries to read your data online, they will require a decryption key. Without a decryption key, one might take millions of years to decipher the data in the event of a brute force attack.
- Hiding your Whereabouts: VPN servers work by acting as your proxies on the internet. And because your data flows through a VPN server your actual location cannot be known as the VPN server will be present in a different location. In addition to this, most VPN services do not record your activity online or maintain any logs of any sort. Even if they do they will not pass this information to any third-parties. This means all your activity will be invisible online.
- Access to Regional Content: Most websites restrict the content to certain parts of the world, which means you will always see the content that is specific to your home country. So if you’re traveling to a different country then you might not view your home country’s content or in case you’re at home, you will not be able to view any international content. With a VPN enabled, you can switch your country thus spoofing your location and enabling all access to regional content.
- Secure Data Transfer: Most companies allow their employees to access the important files on the company’s network only if they’re connected to a VPN. This ensures that all data is encrypted and there is a minimal chance of data being leaked.
How to choose a VPN?
After reading all this, you might be convinced about buying a VPN for your beloved Mac. But how do you decide which is the best VPN in the ocean full of VPNs? Let me help you here, So when buying a VPN you have to look mainly for the following six factors:
- Pricing – If you have researched VPN’s you might be thinking of going for free VPNs which are available online. These VPNs, no matter how tempting, always have a catch. In most cases, free VPNs sell your data to advertising companies. So if online privacy and security are the reasons you decided to switch to VPN then it is better to go for a paid version. And when it comes to paid one make sure it is worth the price for the features included.
- Location of Servers – As mentioned above VPNs will be very useful in spoofing your country which can also give you the benefit of accessing region-specific content. So always make the VPN which you’re planning to buy has multi-location support. These servers can also aid you in online gaming by providing no-lag, responsive connections.
- Encryption – Encryption is by far the must-have factor you need to look for when buying a VPN service. A VPN with very low-level encryption can be hacked by anyone with the required knowledge and a working computer. Most well-known paid VPNs do come with encryption protocols like Open VPN or IKEv2 protocols which keep the data secure. Few VPNs also pass the internet data through multiple servers to provide additional layers of security thus protecting your precious data from cyber-criminals.
- Speed and Performance – Streaming movies or playing online video games, no one likes slow speeds. What good is a VPN if it provides a lower speed than your ISP? So when choosing a VPN make sure it provides high-quality speeds so that your experience is either enhanced or the same.
- Support for Additional Devices – Even though you’re choosing a VPN for your Mac, who says your phone or tablet or even your gaming PC should be left out. Don’t they all deserve some (secure) love too? Most VPNs come with multi-device support so make sure you go for those when buying one.
- Customer/Tech Support – Ultimately, every product needs to have good customer/tech support. A VPN service provider that ensures that their buyer gets 24/7 customer service is a boon to mankind. You may never know when you run into any problems. So it is always good to have someone who will clear your questions/doubts.
Setting Up a VPN on your Mac
Now that you have made up your mind or already purchased a VPN, it is time to set it up on your Macbook.
Using the Built-In Settings in your Mac
Mac has inbuilt support to enable VPN.
You can use the VPN configuration to import or manually set up the credentials based on the information provided by your VPN service provider or network administrator.
Importing a Configuration File
If you have received the configuration file (supported by Mac) then you can follow these steps:
You can directly import the settings by double-clicking on the configuration file.
Alternatively, you can choose
- Apple Menu -> System Preferences
- Click Network and click on the Action pop-up Menu
- Choose Import Configurations
- Select the file, then click Import
Entering the Settings Manually
If you’re planning to enter the settings manually then you can follow these steps:
- On your Mac, select Apple Menu – > System Preferences and then click on Network
- Click the Add button on the left, select the Interface pop-up menu, then select VPN
- Click the VPN Type Pop-Up Menu and depending on the type of VPN choose either L2TP, IPSec, or IKEv2.
- Enter the server address and the account name for the VPN connection
- Click Authentication Settings, then enter all the information that is provided by your VPN service provider or network administrator
In case your VPN service provider or network administrator has provided additional information such as session options, TCP/IP settings, DNS servers, and proxies, the same can be added by clicking on Advanced.
- Click Apply, then click OK
Using a Third-Party VPN App
Setting up a VPN on a Mac using a third-party app is a straightforward and rather easy process.
All you have to do is visit the VPN providers site and do the below things:
- Download a Mac-compatible VPN App – First and foremost you need to download the application. The links for download are present in the download section.
- Provide payment information – Depending on the VPN provider you may pay for the service before or after downloading the application. Most VPN’s come with a trial period so that you can try out all the features before buying. Do make sure to check that there is a money-back guarantee if in case the service doesn’t work and you need a refund.
- Install and set up the VPN on your Mac – Once the application is downloaded you may proceed to install it by following the installer instructions. Depending on the type of product you may require to give additional permissions to install different parts of the application.
- Launch the VPN service on your Mac – Once installed, launch the application and set up the account by using the credentials sent by the VPN service provider. You can now begin connecting to the VPN server by choosing the location or by using quick connect.
Once you’re connected, you can browse with peace of mind as all your data is now encrypted and secure.
If in doubt you can verify the status of the VPN by checking the connection status on the main Application screen. If it’s enabled it will show on or connected. You can also check your newly masked IP address by visiting What is My IP Address.
Top VPN Apps for Mac
To help with the process of selecting a VPN I have mentioned 3 VPNs that are considered the best VPNs as per the reviews given by millions of users including mine.
Please note that all these VPNs are paid versions as I don’t recommend any free VPNs when it comes to data.
|NordVPN for Mac||Starts at $3.71 per month||Click here to download|
|Express VPN for Mac||Starts at $6.67 per month||Click here to download|
|Hotspot Shield for Mac||Free (In-App Purchases)||Click here to download|
NordVPN for Mac is a well known VPN application that provides you with access to over 5,400 servers that are spread across 59 countries. It comes with excellent security features like 256-AES encryption, DNS leak protection and includes two kill switches. You also get double VPN and even Onion over VPN.
ExpressVPN is by far the best VPN app you could have on your Mac. It offers brilliant speed and comes with a 24/7 live chat support. With ExpressVPN you have a choice of numerous protocols such as OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSec so you can have a tailored experience. It comes equipped with over 3000 servers and can support up to 5 devices simultaneously.
Hotspot Shield offers one of the fastest VPN connections on the planet with declared speeds of over 400Mbps. It comes with over 1,800 servers and is capable of unblocking services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and so on. This simple and easy to use VPM service is perfect for your Mac and while there’s a free version, only with the paid membership are you guaranteed high download speeds.
To summarize, our data is very valuable and when we’re browsing online we don’t know who might be lurking on the web so it’s always better to keep our data secure by using a VPN.
Hopefully, by now you have installed a VPN and are now browsing with peace of mind.
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Daniel Moore is the Founder & Editor-in-chief of Private-Spy, an experienced hacker, lecturer and an all-round fun guy! A writer by day and reader by night, he holds a Master’s degree in Computer applications and believes that privacy is our god given right. Daniel has been known to have published in-depth guides and tutorials that have been used by millions of people across the world.