The use of VPN services has become exponentially popular during the last decade or so. This type of service allows for better security and privacy online by rerouting your online traffic through a network of servers to help hide your real IP from both hackers and governments. Using a VPN also allows users to access content that is restricted to certain users based on their geographical location. There are indeed many different benefits to using a VPN and since this type of service is currently so popular, there are lots of options to choose from. It can oftentimes become difficult to figure out which VPN service would be the best for you, especially if you have never tried a VPN before. Because of this, we’ve decided to make a list of the 10 best Free VPN services for Mac in 2021 so that our readers can quickly learn about the different aspects of each of the listed options and choose the one that would best suit their needs. Note that the VPNs from this list aren’t put in any particular order – each of them has its pros and cons, so it is up to you to decide which has the most of what you need in a VPN.
Best Free VPNs for Mac in 2021
First on the list – Surfshark. While the rest on the VPNs on this page are completely free, SurfShark only has a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can essentially use it for a month and a week and still get your money back. We are putting it here mainly for reference so you can understand and distinguish what you are losing by only using free VPNs. If you ever want to actually make a comparison whether a paid subscription is a good investment on your part, Surfshark is definitely a solid one to choose as it strikes a great balance between features and price. This is a very important point we are making here. The financing model free VPNs use unfortunately makes them susceptible to the latest and greatest vulnerabilities. They always lag behind commercial VPNs because they lack research and development funding to improve fast enough, not to mention they sometimes have to use shady tactics or use adverts in-app in order to generate revenue.
On the flip side we completely understand why someone wouldn’t want to pay for a VPN if they only want the bare-bones ability to connect through a proxy. This is exactly why we propose you give Surfshark a try, so you are at least educated what you’re losing. For its price (their website says $2.49/mo but this can always change), Surfshark offers an ad and cookie blocker on unlimited devices and on an unlimited bandwidth, which is actually great if, for example, your entire family plans to use it. You can check more details on the download page we linked at the beginning of this section.
The nice thing about Windscribe is its Free plan that offers a sizeable amount of 10 GB of bandwidth per month to its free users and another 5 GB (every month!) if you tweet the Windscribe company. It must be noted, though, that you’d have to provide your email address if you want to get the 10 GB free bandwidth per month. If you want to stay anonymous and still use Windscribe, you’d be limited to only 2 GB monthly bandwidth. This is still a pretty decent deal considering you aren’t paying anything, besides, there’s always the paid “Premium” variant that comes with unlimited bandwidth as well as some other perks.
The free version offers servers across 11 countries which is okay for casual browsing but in peak hours your connection speed and quality is likely to suffer. On the other hand, the Premium subscription plan gives you access to servers located in 110 cities, across 63 countries.
In terms of what this VPN can do, it has some unlocking potential as it can give you access to BBC iPlayer and HBO GO, but no Netflix US or Hulu so that’s a minus and must be considered by users who want to get a VPN to unlock those exact services.
For users seeking P2P connections, Windscribe has you covered and the 15 GB free bandwidth per month (if you have tweeted the company) gives you the option to torrent even larger files without needing to subscribe to the paid plan. Another feature we like in Windscribe is its split-tunneling, which was added fairly recently.
What surprised us about Windscribe is the addition of an automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection to its free plan. Those features are expected in the paid plans of most VPN services, but it is a rare thing to see offered for free.
Despite the several nitpicks we mentioned here, Windscribe is still a solid VPN service that has a lot to offer and has an impressive free plan. There’s even a 24/7 customer support via a chatbot for both paid and free customers and if the chatbot is unable to provide useful information, the user gets referred to a human customer support agent.
The free offering from VPNBook surprised us nicely with a couple of different things that most other free VPNs lack. Firstly, you have unlimited data which is already a significant plus. The downside is that you are only granted access to servers in six locations, including the UK and the US. However, tests show reliable speeds which is perfect because VPNBook can unlock Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming services – a rare feat among free VPNs. In other words, this is the perfect video streaming VPN due to its unlimited data allowance, its good connection speeds, and its ability to unlock some of the most popular streaming services.
However, if torrenting is what you are after, VPNBook, unfortunately, doesn’t support P2P, so you’d have to look elsewhere for that.
Something else that must be mentioned here is that the installation and setting up process of this VPN is a bit more complicated compared to the other entries on this list. First, you must go to the App Store and download the OpenVPN app, open it, choose a server, and then load its corresponding configuration file in the console of the OpenVPN app. To connect to UK servers, you will need to install a VPNBook proxy. The good news is that there’s detailed information and guidance on the official VPNBook site, and you can also send an email if you have any additional questions that weren’t answered by the provided information.
In terms of data logs, VPNBook does log some information, including your IP address. This data gets stored only for a week, but it must be noted that if during this week VPNBook is presented with a court order that requires it to hand over those records, the owners of the VPN would have no other choice but to comply (unfortunately, there have been some instances of this).
A major thing that is lacking in VPNBook is a kill switch, so you must keep this in mind when you want to keep your connection hidden – if suddenly the VPN starts working, your traffic would become public and your connection to the Internet wouldn’t stop in order for you to stay hidden.
TunnelBear Free offers an impressive number of server locations – 26! However, of course, there’s a catch – you only get 500 MB of bandwidth per month and not per day (as it is with Hotspot Shield). This really isn’t a lot of data so use it sparsely. It is really only viable to use TunnelBear Free if you need a VPN on rare occasions for light browsing. To give you a general idea of how much 500 MB of bandwidth is, it can last you for about 90 minutes of streaming YouTube videos on lower picture quality (480p or lower). If you tweet TunnelBear, you’d get an additional 500 MB of monthly bandwidth, so we strongly suggest you go ahead and do that if you are considering using TunnelBear Free as your main VPN.
If you are looking for a VPN that unlocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, or other geo-restricted streaming services, TunnelBear isn’t the VPN you are looking for as it won’t give you access to those or other such services. This is not a huge loss, though, seeing as how the data limit already makes TunnelBear a pretty bad option for video streaming.
P2P is supported by TunnelBear Free but, again, the bandwidth limit doesn’t allow for too much torrenting.
Security and privacy is where TunnelBear shines. It is protected by 256-bit encryption and its no-logs policy has been confirmed by three separate independent third-party auditors – something that we very rarely see among VPN providers which comes to show just how committed the owners of TunnelBear are to show be as transparent as possible to their customers.
We also like the bonus perks of the service. There is a kill switch, an ad-blocker for Chrome, and a Ghost Mode feature that hides the fact that you are using a VPN and makes the encrypted data that you transfer seem like regular data that’s not protected by a VPN. One thing you could use the Ghost Mode for is to access content in China – a country notorious for its extremely isolated and well-guarded online space.
The customer support of TunnelBear comes in the form of a tickets system which isn’t perfect and is the only option for both free and paid customers.
Like Windscribe, hide.me comes with a free plan that provides its users with 2 GB of free monthly bandwidth without requiring any sort of registration and personal details from the user and, of course, if you want more bandwidth, you can always go with the paid subscription plan.
With the free plan of hide.me, you can unlock Netflix Canada, but not the US version, and you also cannot access any UK streaming services such as BBC iPlayer because free users cannot use UK-based servers (paid users can). Using the free version of hide.me for watching shows on streaming services isn’t particularly effective anyway, considering the rather limiting 2 GB of monthly bandwidth.
As a far as the features are concerned, there’s a kill switch, split-tunneling, and protection against IP leaks.
hide.me also has the no-logs policy we’ve come to expect from most VPN vendors and in this case this has been confirmed by an independent auditor which significantly rises our trust in this VPN vendor – as we mentioned earlier, not that many VPN providers go this extra mile to verify the claims they make about their privacy policies.
What we also like about hide.me is the 24/7 live chat as its customer support service which is much preferable over a chatbot or a ticket-based customer support.
Hotspot Shield takes a bit of a different approach when it comes to its free offering. Rather than giving its users a monthly bandwidth limit, it instead provides 500 MB of bandwidth each day. Depending on your needs, this may be better or worse than then having a monthly bandwidth limit. If you need a VPN for casual browsing every day, Hotspot Shield’s offering is perfect because you’d get your free megabytes reset on the next day. However, if you want to use the VPN for torrenting or video-streaming, the other VPNs on this list may be better suited to your needs.
One major downside of the free offering of Hotspot Shield is that it limits you to only one server in the U.S. While the connection speed and latency are boosted by the unique Catapult Hydra protocol of Hotspot Shield, having access to only one server is bound to affect your connection quality, especially during peak hours.
In terms of unblocking, Hotspot Shield Free isn’t perfect. While it can give you access to geo-restricted YouTube videos and Kodi add-ons, it doesn’t unlock Netflix US, HBO GO, or Amazon Prime. If you want to get those unblocked, you’d have to go for the Premium version of the VPN. As far as torrenting is concerned, Hotspot Shield does support P2P, so you can use it to get torrents but do not forget that you’d still be limited by its 500 MB daily bandwidth.
In terms of features, Hotspot Shield Free delivers on most fronts – it comes with the all-so-important kill switch, and it also has some malware protection that blocks suspicious sites, and it is secured by military-grade encryption.
The main cons of this VPN is that it is ad-supported and that it collaborates with Google to show you targeted ads. Its creators state that Google never learns your real IP and only has access to the VPN server’s IP address. Still, the ads are not particularly welcome. Also, there’s no live customer support for the free users, and you are limited to only one device with the free version of this VPN.
The main draw of ProtonVPN is its unlimited bandwidth with its free plan. This may sound great at first but there are quite a few drawbacks you should consider here.
Firstly, there are only three server locations that can be used with the free plan- Japan, the US, and the Netherlands.
Secondly, torrenting is not an option here and neither is unlocking geo-restricted streaming services. ProtonVPN does unlock restricted YouTube videos and Kodi add-ons but that’s about it in terms of unlocking content.
In addition, the connection speeds of ProtonVPN are not perfect. It is okay for YouTube on lower resolution or for loading regular websites but can still get annoying at times.
Something we liked about ProtonVPN is its built-in ad-blocker that helps keep your browsing undisturbed by most forms of web ads.
Opera VPN isn’t exactly a standalone VPN service but rather an extension for the Opera browser which is already quite limiting because you cannot use it with another browser. The service itself has no data limit which is very welcome but restricts you by the number of server locations that you can access – there’s only three of them (Europe, Asia, and the Americas).
As far as content unlocking is concerned, Opera VPN is a mixed bag – it can grant you access to Netflix in certain countries (Sweden) but doesn’t unlock Netflix US or Canada. Also, you can unlock restricted YouTube content and even gain access to HBO GO but you won’t be able to unlock BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or ITV Hub. Still, for a free VPN with unlimited data bandwidth, this is quite impressive and would make Opera VPN a viable option for video streaming from the services that it can unlock weren’t it for the service’s rather low speeds. Still, if you can get a decent speed, video streaming is definitely an option.
One important thing to note here is that, while your traffic will be encrypted while using Opera VPN, this only applies to your traffic through the Opera browser. All other Internet traffic would not be hidden by the VPN or protected by its encryption.
In terms of customer support, there’s an information base on the official Opera VPN site but no actual support option – not even a ticket-based one or a chatbot.
With Speedify Free, you get 2 GB of data per month which isn’t a whole lot but you can still watch some YouTube videos with it or do some light browsing. The number of servers in its network is a bit modest – a little over 500, spread across 34 countries – but it is nice that Speedify gives you access to all of them with its free version.
A channel bonding feature that Speedify has allows for significantly faster connection speed and decreased latency by simultaneously sending data over your Wi-Fi and mobile data. This, of course, is only an option for your iPhone and not your Mac and, unfortunately, Speedify only allows you to connect one device to its network, so you’d have to choose which one you wish to use with the VPN.
If you want a VPN that is good at unlocking geo-restricted content, Speedify is not a perfect pick – it can’t unlock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and most other popular streaming services. Thus far, it only seems to unlock BBC iPlayer, and it also gives access to geo-restricted YouTube videos. If you are interested in torrenting, there is P2P support but you must take into consideration the data limitation of 2 GB.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a kill switch feature for the Mac version of Speedify free and only for its iOS version. This means that if your connection to the VPN fails for some reason, your traffic will get exposed, and you will have to disconnect from the Internet manually if you don’t want your traffic to be publicly visible.
Avira Phantom VPN
Avira Phantom VPN Free, like TunnelBear comes with modest 500 MB of monthly free data if you want to use the VPN without registration. If you register with your email, your monthly data allowance is increased to 1 GB. The good news here is that you aren’t limited by the number of devices that you connect to the VPN.
Another nice ting about Avira Phantom VPN is that it does a good job at unlocking streaming services. The VPN grants access to Netflix US, Disney+, and geo-restricted YouTube videos. However, it failed to unlock BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime.
Technically, Avira Phantom VPN does support P2P connections, but it seems to keep quiet about it as you’d find no mention of it on the VPN’s website. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a VPN that is good for torrenting, Avira Phantom VPN free isn’t really the best option due to the very small monthly data allowance.
The network of this VPN is rather modest – there are only 150 servers spread across 37 locations. The good thing is that you get access to all of them even as a free user.
According to the website of the VPN, there are no data logs other than information about how much data is used and diagnostic data to help fix bugs with the app. However, we’d like to see this confirmed by an independent auditor which has not yet been done.
Two important things lacking with the free version are customer support and a kill switch – both of those you can get if you are a premium user. The good news is that both free and paid users get are provided with DNS leak protection for improved security on the web.
Betternet, like Hotspot Shield, gives you 500 MB free data per day so maximum your data allowance per month could get as high as 15 GB but, of course, you’d have to wait for the next day to come once you have exhausted your 500 MB for the current day. This amount is okay for light browsing but not for video streaming, torrenting, or gaming. A significant downside of Betternet free is that it only gives you access to a single server which is located in the US. What’s a nice surprise here, however, is that the connection speeds are still quite reliable although all free users of Betternet are using the same server.
If you’re looking for unlocking streaming services, you’d have to upgrade to the Premium version of Betternet – whenever you try to access a geo-blocked streaming service with Betternet free, you get prompted to get the paid version of the VPN. You can still access geo-blocked YouTube videos with Betternet free, though, which is a plus.
This VPN does support P2P so torrenting is, in theory, an option. However, with a 500 MB free data limit per day, you won’t be able to download any big files in one go.
In terms of data logging, this VPN doesn’t collect information about what you do online, but it logs your approximate location and some information about the device that you are using. Also, we should mention that there hasn’t been an independent audit of this VPN which is something we’d like to see from VPN services that want to be taken seriously.
Another thing we really don’t like in a VPN is when it uses ads and, unfortunately, Betternet has ads and, furthermore, it shares whatever information it has about you with the third-party advertisers – really not something we’d like to see from a VPN provider.
For free users, the customer support option is via a ticket system while the paid ones get access to support over email.
Those were our top 10 picks for the best free VPN services for Mac in 2021 – obviously, there are some serious limitations to using a free product instead of a paid one, so you cannot expect premium functionality from any of the suggestions we’ve included in this article. That said, if you don’t need a VPN for casual browsing or to access some geo-restricted content, we are sure that you can find a VPN that would meet your requirements in the list above. Also, if you are thinking about upgrading to a paid VPN service, trying out the free version first is a great way of getting to know the VPN better and figuring out whether it is worth upgrading to its paid variant.