10 Best FREE VPNs for Mac in February 2020 – Which One Is Right for You?

It’s tough to find a free VPN with a MacBook app that is safe and reliable. I’ve tested 37 VPNs on my MacBook Pro, and have found 10 that are secure, fast, and totally free.

Free VPNs can be unreliable, slow, and – at worst – unsafe. Most don’t work on macOS, either.

I always recommend using a premium, low-cost VPN like NordVPN for guaranteed safety and reliability. It can unblock 140+ streaming services, allows torrenting, and it works with Tor. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it risk-free.

Although they are limited, the free VPNs on my list are safe, fast, and don’t have any hidden costs. Ready to dig in? Let’s find your perfect free VPN!

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Short on time? Here’s a summary of the best free VPNs for Mac

  1. NordVPN: My top recommendation has high-level security features, fast connections, and unlimited data. You can use it temporarily with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Windscribe: A free VPN with 10GB of data per month. Premium security features and high-speed connections, but no Netflix access.
  3. hide.me: Secure and fast VPN with 2GB of free data per month. That’s enough to stream in standard definition for two hours, but there are no UK servers, so you can’t’ watch BBC iPlayer.
  4. Hotspot Shield: Popular VPN with one free US-based server and built-in malware protection. Data limit of 500MB per day is fine for browsing, but it’s not suitable for streaming.
  5. ProtonVPN: A reliable VPN with unlimited free data and premium security features. There are no P2P-friendly servers, and poor connection speeds could slow you down.

The Best Free VPNs for Mac (Updated 2020)

So, is it possible to find a safe, free VPN? Yes, but remember, though, free VPNs are always limited.

I’ve tested 37 free VPNs to find the best services to keep your Mac secure. Even though they are limited, the free VPNs I recommend are secure, fast, and macOS-compatible. 

1. NordVPN

  • Over 5,000 lightning-fast servers in 59 countries
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth
  • Lightweight, smooth macOS app
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Built-in ad and malware blocker
  • DNS leak protection
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Sling TV
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, browsers

NordVPN is a premium service that you can test using its 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s my top recommendation because of its excellent macOS app, high-end security, and unlimited data.

You can connect to over 5,000 servers in 59 countries. You can use NordVPN to access geoblocked content from all over the world. And, there’s always a server closeby when you’re traveling.

It’s lightning-fast, so you can stream and browse without buffering and lag. I tested servers in several countries and experienced a reliable, quick connection in each location. 

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NordVPN’s SmartPlay DNS can bypass geo-restrictions and VPN blocks. With it, you can watch Netflix US, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and most popular streaming sites.

You can use NordVPN’s P2P-optimized servers to torrent safely, too. I tested them by sharing a file with some friends. These servers are quick, and I was able to send large video files easily.

NordVPN protects your MacBook with 256-bit AES encryption, an automatic kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy. DNS leak protection stops browser security flaws from revealing your DNS requests to your internet service provider (ISP).

NordVPN’s built-in Tor functionality lets you use the Onion network with any browser. 

The built-in CyberSec feature blocks ads, trackers, and malware. I used it to block ads on streaming sites like CWTV and YouTube and was able to watch without any interruptions.

Because it allows up to six simultaneous device connections, you can protect all the devices in your household with just one NordVPN account.

If you have any issues using the macOS app, you can use NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat to contact technical support.

Want to know more? Explore our NordVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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2. Windscribe

  • 10GB of free data every month
  • High-speed servers in 10 locations
  • Supports torrenting
  • Military-grade encryption, kill switch, and zero-logging
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, and YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox

Windscribe has a secure and straightforward macOS app that comes with 10GB of free data per month – as long as you don’t mind signing in with your email address. You can get an additional 5GB of data by tweeting the company.

If you want to keep your account completely private, you only get 2GB of free data. That’s enough to watch just a couple of hours of TV or a film in SD, while 10GB is enough data to stream a couple of movies in high definition.

Windscribe offers free servers in 10 countries, including the US. All of its free users connect to these locations, so the servers are often overloaded. My connection speeds dropped during peak times, but streaming and browsing were hassle-free once the congestion eased.

You can use its UK server to unblock BBC iPlayer. The US server can unblock HBO GO, but not Netflix US or Hulu. Its Netflix-optimized servers are only available to premium users.

Windscribe supports P2P connections, and its generous data allowance makes it ideal for downloading large files.

Windscribe uses 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS leak protection. It doesn’t store your browsing activity, either.

Kill switches and DNS leak protection are usually only available with premium VPNs, so I was impressed to see Windscribe offers them with the free version.

It took me less than five minutes to download and install the macOS app. It’s easy to use, and it offers unlimited simultaneous connections. You can protect all of your devices at once without having to register for multiple services.

Its 24/7 live chat is available to free and premium users. If the chatbot, Garry, can’t answer your question, it refers you to a human support agent. There’s also a ticketed support system on the website.

Want to know more? Explore our Windscribe review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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3. hide.me

  • 2GB of free data every month
  • Five server locations
  • Split tunneling
  • Military-grade encryption, kill switch, and IP leak protection
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Works with: Netflix Canada, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, Sky Go, YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and browsers

hide.me offers 2GB of free data every month and access to servers in the US, Canada, Singapore, and the Netherlands. 2GB is enough to check your emails and stream in standard definition for two hours, but it isn’t enough to torrent or watch a movie marathon.

Because you don’t need to register to use the free plan, there is no risk of your information falling into the wrong hands.

It offers excellent security features, including 256-bit AES encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and the all-important kill switch. It uses multiple VPN protocols, including OpenVPN. hide.me is compatible with Tor, so you can access.onion sites without exposing your browsing activity to Tor’s exit nodes.

There’s also IP leak protection. Sometimes, device and software malfunctions reveal your actual IP address to websites and apps. hide.me’s built-in IP leak protection keeps your IP hidden, even if there’s a problem.

You can configure hide.me to connect as soon as you start your Mac, so you don’t have to worry if you forget to connect. However, this uses your data very quickly if you don’t enable split tunneling.

Split tunneling is one of hide.me’s stand-out features. You can route some of your traffic over your VPN, and the rest through your local IP address. This preserves your data because only websites that you access through your VPN count towards your usage.

Split tunneling also allows you to access local websites and wireless devices on your local network without disconnecting your VPN. Only a few premium VPNs offer this, and it’s not something I often see with free VPNs.

I was able to unblock Netflix in Canada, but not in the US. You can’t stream UK-based streaming services like BBC iPlayer because hide.me’s UK servers are only available to premium users.

There are no ads, and you can access its friendly customer support service 24/7 via live chat.

Want to know more? Explore our hide.me review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Start FREE with hide.me!

4. Hotspot Shield

  • 500MB of free data per day
  • Reliable speeds and one free server in the US
  • Military-grade encryption, kill switch, and malware protection
  • Works with: YouTube and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and browsers

Hotspot Shield’s easy-to-use, dedicated Mac app uses the unique Catapult Hydra protocol, which is designed to improve your connection speed and latency. You can stream for about 30 minutes a day with 500MB of data, but the free plan limits you to just one server in the US.

You can’t use Hotspot Shield to unblock Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, or HBO GO. Still, it can access geoblocked YouTube videos and Kodi add-ons. When I tried to watch Netflix, Hotspot Shield displayed a premium payment wall telling me I had to upgrade to access streaming services.

I was able to browse with minimal lag. But, because all of its free users connect to the same server, it’s often overloaded. During peak times, your connection speed can drop.

The free version provides the same high-level protection as the paid subscription. There’s military-grade encryption and a built-in kill switch. If the server fails, the kill switch disconnects your internet temporarily so your activity stays hidden from your ISP.

Its built-in malware protection blocks suspicious websites to protect you from potential malware infections and phishing scams. This is a great first line of defense, but you still need to install a full anti-malware program on your MacBook.

Hotspot Shield is ad-supported. Its privacy policy states that it shares your approximate location and device identifiers with Google to help create targeted ads. It’s only your city-level location, however. Because your real IP is masked, Google can only see the VPN server’s IP address.

You can only connect one device with the free plan, so you can’t protect any other devices when you’re using your MacBook. You have access to its extensive FAQ section, but there’s no option for live support with the free plan.

Want to know more? Explore our Hotspot Shield review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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5. ProtonVPN

  • Unlimited free data
  • Servers in three countries
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Built-in ad blocker
  • Works with: YouTube and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, and Linux

ProtonVPN offers unlimited free bandwidth and data. There are no restrictions on how long you can browse. However, it can’t unblock any streaming sites, and it doesn’t allow torrenting.

You can connect to servers in the US, Holland, and Japan. It can only access geoblocked sites that are available in these countries. If you want to unblock YouTube, Google, or your social media accounts, ProtonVPN is a good choice.

ProtonVPN doesn’t allow simultaneous connections, so you can only use it one device at a time. If you want to protect your cell phone or tablet as well as your Mac, you need to upgrade to the premium plan.

Be prepared for slow connection speeds, too. During my tests, I found that my connection was deliberately throttled, which I found frustrating. It was still fast enough to load websites, but it was too slow to watch HD YouTube videos.

ProtonVPN has excellent security features. It uses 256-bit AES encryption and a choice of IKEv2/IPSec or L2TP/IPSec to keep your data safe. There’s a strict no-logs policy, which means none of your data or online activity is stored or shared elsewhere.

ProtonVPN also includes a built-in ad blocker with its macOS app, which makes for breezy browsing with no interruptions.

If you have questions or need further support, you can get in touch via ProtonVPN’s ticketing system. They’ll respond to you by email, usually within 24 hours.

Want to know more? Explore our ProtonVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Start FREE with ProtonVPN!

6. TunnelBear

  • 500MB of free data every month
  • Severs in 23 countries
  • Allows torrenting
  • Super-secure encryption, kill switch, and GhostBear mode
  • Works with: YouTube, Google, Kodi, and HBO GO
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera

TunnelBear’s macOS app is perfect for beginners because of its easy-to-use interface. Even if you’ve never used a VPN before, you will be able to install TunnelBear without any problems.

There are high-speed servers in 23 countries, including the US and the UK. You can connect to all of them with the free plan, but you only have 500MB of data per month. 

That’s enough data to watch just over 90 minutes of your favorite YouTube channel in standard definition, but you can’t watch movies. You can earn an extra 1GB by tweeting TunnelBear.

Unfortunately, you can’t use TunnelBear for streaming. I wasn’t able to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, or ITV Hub. It does allow torrenting, but you can’t download large files because of the data limit. 

TunnelBear uses 256-bit encryption to keep your Mac safe. Its no-logs policy means that your data and browsing activity is completely anonymous and never recorded. There’s a built-in kill switch, called Vigilant Mode, and a free ad blocker for Chrome.

Its GhostBear Mode can bypass censorship and deep packet inspection (DPI). It makes your encrypted data look like regular, non-VPN traffic to surveillance agencies and firewalls. This means you can use it to bypass the Great Firewall of China without anyone knowing you’re using a VPN. 

Its ticketed customer support system is accessible to both free and premium users.

Want to know more? Explore our TunnelBear review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Start FREE with TunnelBear!

7. Opera VPN

  • Unlimited free data
  • Three server locations
  • A lightweight browser extension for the Opera browser
  • Works with: Netflix Sweden, YouTube, and HBO GO
  • Compatible with: macOS, Windows, Android, and Linux

Opera VPN isn’t a full VPN; it’s a browser extension for Opera. There are no desktop apps, and you need to install the Opera browser on your MacBook to use it.

Because it’s a browser extension, only your Opera traffic is encrypted. Anything you do outside of Opera uses your local IP address and isn’t encrypted.

You can choose from servers in Europe, Asia, or the Americas. You can’t select specific countries within these regions, which means you can’t use Opera VPN to bypass geoblocks.

When I tried to access Netflix US and Canada, it automatically diverted me to Netflix Sweden. You can watch this library with no problems.

I couldn’t access BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub while connected to the European server. I also had no luck with Hulu. However, I could access HBO GO and YouTube.

Its Optimal Location feature connects you to the fastest available server, but it’s still pretty slow.

Opera VPN is compatible with all of Opera’s other extensions, including the ad and tracker blocker and Facebook Messenger extension.

There is a FAQ section on the Opera VPN website, but no other form of customer support.

Want to know more? Explore our Opera VPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Start FREE with Opera VPN!

8. Speedify

  • Servers in 37 countries
  • 2GB of free data every month
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Allows torrenting
  • Works with: HBO GO, Kodi, and YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android

Speedify offers 2GB of free data each month. This is enough for you to listen to 400 songs, or browse for about 30 hours. It has free servers in 37 countries but only lets you connect on one device at a time.

You can use its channel bonding feature to increase your connection speed and lower your latency. Channel bonding combines your cellular data and WiFi, sending your data over both connections. It does increase your speed but, because it’s sending twice as much traffic, it uses twice as much of your internet data allowance. You can go over your WiFi or cellular data limits pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, Speedify can’t get around Netflix’s geoblocks. I wasn’t able to access BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, or Hulu, either.

Speedify offers ChaCha encryption, but its kill switch is only available with the iOS app. Your MacBook is not protected if your VPN connection fails. Unless you notice the dropout immediately, your data is transmitted without encryption using your local IP.

Its website states it has a no-logs policy. Further digging into Speedify’s privacy policy shows that it keeps partial logs. Speedify stores information about your approximate location, bandwidth usage, and the duration of your connection. It doesn’t log your activity or IP address.

Speedify provides a Knowledge Base and support via email and social media, but there’s no live chat feature. 

Want to know more? Explore our Speedify review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Start FREE with Speedify!

9. Betternet

  • 500MB of free data per day
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • High-speed connections
  • Works with: YouTube and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and Chrome

Betternet offers 500MB of free data per day. You can browse for around seven hours, but it’s not enough data to torrent or play online games. It also only offers one free server, and it’s in the US. You can’t access geoblocked sites that are based outside the US with Betternet.

Betternet’s speeds were surprisingly reliable during my tests. With so many users connected to just one server, the network can be congested. Still, I was able to browse with minimal loading times. 

Betternet doesn’t unblock Netflix US or Hulu. I faced a premium payment wall when I tried to access any streaming sites, except for YouTube. It does allow torrenting, though.

Its 256-bit encryption keeps your internet traffic secure. It doesn’t record your online activity, but it stores information about your approximate location and device.

Betternet shows you ads while you’re browsing. It shares the information it stores with third parties so that it can tailor the ads to you.

It’s worth noting that Betternet’s headquarters are within the jurisdiction of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. But, because it doesn’t log your browsing activity, it can’t share your internet history with the government.

Free users can get support via Betternet’s ticket system, but it reservers the 24/7 email support for premium users only. There is no live chat or phone support.

Want to know more? Explore our Betternet review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Start FREE with Betternet!

10. VPNBook

  • Unlimited free data
  • Eight server locations
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Works with: Netflix US, Hulu, HBO GO, BBC iPlayer, and ITV Hub
  • Compatible with: Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Ubuntu (all via OpenVPN)

VPNBook offers unlimited free data, and you don’t need to register an account to use it. You’re completely anonymous. There are servers in eight locations, including the US and the UK.

Unlike many free VPNs, it can access Netflix US, Hulu, and HBO GO. You can connect to the UK server to unblock BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, too. You can’t torrent with VPNBook, though. 

During my tests, I experienced reliable speeds and I was able to stream with little buffering.

Installing VPNBook is a little more complicated than it is with other vendors. You need to download the OpenVPN app from the App Store. Then, you have to choose the server you want to connect to and load its config file into the OpenVPN console. If you’re after a UK server, you need to install the VPNBook proxy instead.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of help on the VPNBook site to get started. You can also email them directly if you have questions.

It offers military-grade encryption to guarantee your security while streaming and browsing.

Digging into its privacy policy revealed that it stores partial logs, including your actual IP address. It audits these logs and deletes them weekly.

Want to know more? Explore our VPNBook review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Start FREE with VPNBook!

How I Tested and Ranked These Free VPNs

I downloaded each VPN on my MacBook to make sure that it is compatible with macOS. I looked for essential features like encryption, leak protection, kill switches, and zero-logs policies.

I explored each app to find out if it is user-friendly and suitable for beginners as well as advanced users. I’ve only recommended VPNs with reliable macOS apps that you will find easy to install even if you’ve never used a VPN before.

Once I familiarized myself with the app, I used speedtest.net to measure my connection speed. I eliminated VPNs that are too slow to watch YouTube videos in high definition.

Then, I checked to see if the service supports streaming and torrenting. I also noted whether they offer P2P-friendly servers to free users and whether they were reliable enough to guarantee anonymous torrenting.

What’s the Catch With Free VPNs?

Most free VPNs limit your data and bandwidth. When you exceed the data allowance, you can’t browse or stream. Limited bandwidth slows your connection down, and causes buffering and lag. Even if it’s quick enough to stream, very few free VPNs can access streaming services like Netflix. 

The free VPNs I recommend are safe to use, but most aren’t as secure. Some free servers even endanger your privacy by selling your data to third parties.

During my research, I discovered that most of the free macOS VPN apps available on the App Store are outdated, glitchy, and frustrating to use. Many free services don’t offer macOS apps at all. Because of this, I tested each VPN’s macOS app before recommending it.

FAQs

Will these VPNs work with my version of macOS?

All of the VPNs on this list are compatible with the most recent versions of macOS.

Over time, most VPNs cease support for older operating systems. If you’re using a version of macOS that’s no longer supported, you may be able to use the OpenVPN app to configure a free VPN with your Mac manually.

Will a VPN impact my speed?

It’s normal for your connection speed to drop slightly when you connect to a VPN. Your traffic has to travel farther, and it takes extra time to encrypt your data. With a premium VPN, this loss is not noticeable. 

However, I can’t say the same for free services. Many free VPNs throttle your bandwidth to slow your connection down. Usually, this is to encourage you to upgrade to a premium plan.

How do I know how much data I need?

If you just want a VPN for quick, secure browsing, 500MB of data per month may be enough.

However, if you want to stream or play online games, you need 10GB per month or more.

You don’t need to worry about data caps when you use a premium VPN because they offer unlimited data.

Bottom Line

Most free VPNs can’t be trusted. Some don’t work on macOS, and others can compromise your security. They may even sell your personal information for profit.

The free VPNs on my list are trustworthy and safe to use, but they are limited.

If you’re looking for an unlimited short-term solution, I recommend trying NordVPN. You can test it risk-free because of its 30-day money-back guarantee.

My budget-savvy colleagues have compiled a list of the best VPN deals and coupons to save you money. Check out our coupons page to explore the latest offers.

New to VPNs and not sure where to start? You can read everything you need to know in our comprehensive VPN guide.

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