Virtual private networks (VPNs) are more popular than ever. They’re an important weapon in the ongoing fight against cyber-snooping and can even unlock some geo-blocked apps and websites.
Different VPN providers specialize in different areas; it can be difficult to choose the right supplier for your needs. But once you’ve selected your provider, you still have decisions to make. Specifically, how do you know which VPN client to use? Should you use your VPN provider’s proprietary app, or a flexible solution that can connect to several different services?
If you’re not sure where to turn, keep reading for the best free Mac VPN clients you can use right now, plus a few other options you might not have considered.
Let’s start with some open source VPN software for Mac. TunnelBlick is a free VPN client that works on macOS and iOS with any VPN provider that offers OpenVPN support. There is no Windows or Linux version.
Because the app is open source, you can be confident it’s not secretly tracking your internet usage in other ways and thus negating the benefit of using a VPN. It’s thus more transparent than proprietary apps.
Interestingly, TunnelBlick logs all your session data by default. This is not out of the ordinary—all OpenVPN clients do the same. If you want to turn off session data logging, all you need to do is add verb 0 to the app’s config file. Remember, this is not linked to whether the VPN provider itself is logging your data.
Finally, the app has a vibrant support community. If you encounter difficulties, head to its Google Group discussion forum, and someone will quickly step in to assist.
Download: TunnelBlick (Free)
The OpenVPN project began back in 2002 and is probably the most well-known of all free Mac VPN clients. In addition to the Mac version, the app is also available on iOS, Windows, and Android.
The app supports lots of different VPN configurations, including remote access, site-to-site VPNs, and enterprise-scale deployments.
OpenVPN isn’t as easy to use as proprietary apps—or even some other OpenVPN clients—but it’s established a name for itself thanks to its feature-rich menus and unflinching reliability.
The main criticism of OpenVPN is its VPN configurations limit. By default, you cannot have more than 50 saved. It’s possible to recompile the app to remove the limit, but that’s a complicated process beyond the scope of this list. It’s also important to be aware that the OpenVPN app only supports the OpenVPN protocol.
Download: OpenVPN (Free)
3. SoftEther VPN
SoftEther VPN is one of the leading multi-protocol VPN apps. It runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The open source offering is entirely free, regardless of whether you use it in a personal or commercial environment.
The app supports almost all VPN protocols, meaning not only is it one of the best OpenVPN clients on Mac, but you can also hook it up to L2TP/IPsec, MS-SSTP, L2TPv3, EtherIP, and most impressively, VPN-over-HTTPS connections.
If you use the developer’s own SoftEther VPN protocol, you can expect faster surfing speeds than OpenVPN. In testing, the SoftEther server was 103 percent faster than Microsoft’s Windows implementation of L2TP/IPsec, and up to 117 percent faster than OpenVPN.
Additional features include support for packet filtering, dynamic DNS, and UDP hole punching.
Download: SoftEther VPN (Free)
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