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The Ultimate MAC VPN for Bypassing Firewalls: Latest Tested Results of April 2024

Last Updated on 2024年6月30日 by wallzhihu

In an era where internet security and privacy are increasingly concerning, knowing how to install and use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on a Mac system becomes particularly important. Apple's Mac operating system, alongside Windows and Linux, ranks among the most widely used computer operating systems globally. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you install and use a VPN on Mac, whether you need to bypass restrictions domestically or connect to your home country while abroad. Additionally, each VPN mentioned will be accompanied by evaluation images to assist you in making a well-informed decision.

Firstly, I will recommend several excellent VPN services suitable for Mac. These recommendations will be based on VPN performance, stability, user-friendly interface, and compatibility with Mac systems. I will pay special attention to VPN services that run smoothly on Mac and are easy to operate.

Secondly, this article will offer detailed instructions on installing and using a Mac VPN. From downloading VPN software to creating accounts, configuring settings, and connecting to VPNs, each step will be presented in a clear and understandable manner to ensure even less tech-savvy users can easily follow along.

Furthermore, considering that some users may have concerns about paid VPN services, I will also introduce some reliable free VPN options. Although free VPNs typically come with limited features, they can still meet basic needs in certain situations.

Next, the article will explore common issues faced by Mac users when using VPNs, such as the impact of VPNs on system performance, differences between various VPN services, and how to choose the most suitable VPN for individual needs.

Lastly, I will summarize the advantages and potential challenges of using VPNs to bypass restrictions on Mac. The goal of this article is to provide Mac users with a comprehensive and practical guide to using VPNs, helping them browse information securely and freely in the globalized network world.

With the guidance provided in this article, you will be able to confidently use VPNs on your Mac, whether it's to protect personal privacy, bypass geo-restrictions, or simply enjoy faster internet speeds. Let's explore how to efficiently use VPNs on Mac, enhancing your network experience with richness and security.

Mac VPN Recommendations (VPN for Mac to Access China or Go Abroad)

Below, I recommend a few VPNs that can be used in China. Among them, Strong and FlowVPN support Alipay payment. First, let me talk about the features I look for in a VPN software. In my opinion, a good VPN software should include the following characteristics:

In contrast to many bloggers who randomly recommend VPNs and write articles after receiving money from various vendors, sometimes promoting unreliable VPNs that disappear shortly after users pay for them, resulting in losses. Therefore, I recommend only European and American VPNs here. These VPN providers have a certain scale and number of users, and they are all registered as businesses. This makes it easier for users to have evidence in case of any issues in the future. I will provide my personal insights and speed tests below for each one. Additionally, I will include usage instructions and download tutorials for each VPN. If you're interested, you can read them.

Recommended Mac VPN: Speed Test and Value-for-Money Conclusion

When choosing a VPN, we typically consider core factors such as security, stability, speed, and cost-effectiveness. Many recommendations on the market may exaggerate facts, but each VPN I recommend is based on actual testing conducted by myself. In order to provide valuable information directly and succinctly, here are my test results and recommendations without excessive padding.

Why Can You Trust My Tests?

  • I always adhere to principles of objectivity and fairness in testing.
  • My tests are based on real-world usage scenarios, not theoretical maximum speeds.
  • Despite limitations in my WiFi speed, I ensure that the VPNs tested meet satisfactory speed standards and effectively bypass censorship.

VPN Cost-Effectiveness Analysis:

  1. To clearly illustrate the cost-effectiveness of different VPNs, I have created a chart where the horizontal axis represents the subscription duration and the vertical axis represents the monthly price (in US dollars).
  2. One-year subscription: StrongVPN is the most economical choice, with an average monthly cost of around $3.
  3. Two years or longer subscription: Surfshark offers the best value, with an average monthly cost of around $2.
  4. Monthly subscription: FlowVPN is the lowest-cost option at $6 per month.

From a long-term perspective, I personally recommend that if you plan to purchase for a year, then StrongVPN undoubtedly offers the best value for money. However, if you plan to purchase for more than two years, then Surfshark will be your best choice.

Wallzhihu-VPN speedtest 2024 July

In this year's on-site testing in Shanghai, I conducted detailed evaluations of StrongVPN, ExpressVPN, and several other VPNs. To ensure the fairness and objectivity of the results, I specifically selected multiple nodes from different countries for repeated testing. Here are the observations and conclusions I drew based on these tests:

  1. Testing in the United States:
    • In the United States, especially in California nodes, ExpressVPN performed significantly better than StrongVPN, demonstrating its high-speed connectivity capabilities.
    • I plan to conduct comprehensive testing on more nodes in the United States in the future to provide a more comprehensive assessment.
  2. Testing in Asia:
    • In tests conducted in Japan, StrongVPN's average speed was slightly higher than ExpressVPN, demonstrating its superior performance in Asia.。
  3. Testing in other regions:
    • ExpressVPN has more global nodes, particularly in Oceania and some other regions, and its performance generally surpasses that of StrongVPN.。

Overall Comparative Analysis:

  • Taking everything into consideration, both have their strengths. In terms of pricing, StrongVPN demonstrates a higher value for money.
  • For gamers who prefer playing games on US servers, ExpressVPN might be the preferred choice.
  • For users who need to regularly access the Asian region (such as Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) or frequently use platforms like Facebook and YouTube, StrongVPN might be more suitable.

Speed Comparison Overview:

  1. In Europe and the US: ExpressVPN > StrongVPN
  2. In Asia: StrongVPN > ExpressVPN
  3. In other regions: ExpressVPN > StrongVPN

Application Recommendations:

  • For gamers who frequently play games on US servers, ExpressVPN may be the better choice.
  • For users who browse Facebook, YouTube regularly, or need to connect to Asian regions such as Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, StrongVPN would be more suitable.

1 VPN Speed Comparison Across Different Countries (including North America, Europe, Oceania, Asia, Canada, South America, Africa)

VPN Speed Comparison Across Different Countries (including North America, Europe, Oceania, Asia, Canada, South America, Africa)

2 VPN Speed Comparison in the Asia Region (Japan VPN speed test, Singapore speed test, Taiwan region speed test, South Korea region speed test)

2 VPN Speed Comparison in the Asia Region (Japan VPN speed test, Singapore speed test, Taiwan region speed test, South Korea region speed test)

3 VPN Connection Success Rate Comparison Across Various Regions to Bypass the Great Firewall (including North America, Europe, Oceania, Asia, Canada, South America, Africa), conducting 1000 tests per VPN with randomly selected nodes, with a confidence interval of 95%.

3 VPN Connection Success Rate Comparison Across Various Regions to Bypass the Great Firewall (including North America, Europe, Oceania, Asia, Canada, South America, Africa), conducting 1000 tests per VPN with randomly selected nodes, with a confidence interval of 95%.

4 ExpressVPN, FlowVPN, Surfshark, and StrongVPN's success rates in connecting to Netflix across major continents globally.

This chart provides a detailed overview of the success rates of four VPN services – ExpressVPN, FlowVPN, Surfshark, and StrongVPN – when connecting to Netflix across major continents globally. Each small graph in the chart corresponds to a VPN service, where the horizontal axis represents the continents (Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, and South America), and the vertical axis represents the percentage of successful connections. It can be observed that these VPN services perform better in Asia, Europe, and Australia, with higher success rates, while the success rates in Africa and South America are relatively lower. This may reflect differences in network conditions and infrastructure across different regions. Overall, this chart provides users with a clear visual reference to help them choose the appropriate VPN service based on their geographical location and needs.


VPN for MAC Recommendation 1 StrongVPN【The best price and support Alipay】

strong logo
free trialAlipayAccess without the need for circumvention toolsChinese customer supportDevice compatibilityUnconditional refund policy

StrongVPN is among the recently emerged VPN services from Europe and America. Compared to the largest player in Europe and America, ExpressVPN, StrongVPN is considerably cheaper, starting at just $3.5 per month (12-month package – $3.5 per month, totaling $43.99). ExpressVPN, on the other hand, costs close to $6 per month. Additionally, StrongVPN supports Alipay, while ExpressVPN does not. Moreover, both have engineering teams continuously updating and repairing nodes. If you're primarily looking to browse YouTube or Facebook, I personally recommend using StrongVPN. The StrongVPN website claims it is the “best multimedia VPN” and recommends services like Netflix, Hulu, ABC, HBO, and Sky Go.

StrongVPN offers applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV, as well as Chrome browser extensions and setup guides for routers, Fire TV, Kodi, and more. With over 950 P2P-friendly servers in 46 cities across 35 countries/regions, StrongVPN allows connections through L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and even the latest WireGuard protocol. They provide 24/7 customer support via email and live chat, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee. While nothing extraordinary, the specifications are decent enough and should suffice for most users.

StrongVPN Review – July 2024 Testing

In addition to conducting our own tests, we have provided actual screenshots of our testing results (connecting to Japan) for reference. Unlike many bloggers who make exaggerated claims, we present concrete evidence to prove that StrongVPN can indeed access the internet in China (speed test screenshots from 2024).

strongvpn speed test

StrongVPN's Features Overview:

  1. Extensive Platform Support
  2. Up to 12 Simultaneous Connections
  3. Ability to Unlock Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus
  4. 250GB SugarSync Storage with Annual Plan
  5. Over 8000 Servers
  6. Connectivity through L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and even WireGuard Protocols
  7. 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  8. 24/7 Customer Support
  9. StrongVPN's Robust Privacy Policy: Your data is not tracked or stored while using the VPN service
  • The pricing of StrongVPN is cheaper compared to ExpressVPN and Surfshark, along with other European and American VPN services. In recent speed and node quantity tests, StrongVPN has surpassed ExpressVPN. It supports Alipay payment, ensuring convenience for users. The stability of StrongVPN is highly commendable.

With a starting price of just $3.5 per month (12-month plan – $3.5 per month, totaling $43.99), StrongVPN offers competitive rates. For just $43.99 per year, it provides better speed than ExpressVPN, as evidenced in the evaluation below.

strongvpn 购买方式
Support Alipay

StrongVPN Troubleshooting and Common Issues for Chinese Users

In addition to specially designed nodes for the Great Firewall of China, StrongVPN also provides detailed troubleshooting and solutions for common issues frequently encountered by Chinese users. You can refer to the following webpage for more information:

StrongVPN Troubleshooting and Common Issues for Chinese Users

StrongVPN Summary:

StrongVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) provider established in 2005, renowned for its security and privacy protection. Here is a detailed overview of StrongVPN:

  1. High-level Encryption: StrongVPN utilizes state-of-the-art 256-bit AES encryption technology to ensure the security and privacy of user data. Additionally, it supports various encryption protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and WireGuard to cater to different user needs.
  2. Servers and Locations: StrongVPN boasts over 950 servers in more than 30 countries and regions, allowing users to easily connect to servers in different countries to access region-restricted content.
  3. High-speed Connections: StrongVPN offers high-speed and stable connection speeds, ensuring smooth browsing, video streaming, and file downloading experiences for users.
  4. No-logs Policy: StrongVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy, meaning it does not record user network activities, ensuring user privacy is protected.
  5. Simultaneous Device Connections: StrongVPN supports connections for up to 12 devices simultaneously, allowing users to use VPN services on multiple devices.
  6. Cross-platform Support: StrongVPN supports various operating systems and devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Additionally, it provides browser extensions for browsers such as Chrome and Firefox.
  7. Customer Support: StrongVPN offers 24/7 customer support, including live chat and email support. They also have a detailed help center providing various tutorials on VPN setup and usage.
  8. 30-day Money-back Guarantee: If users are unsatisfied with StrongVPN's service, they can request a refund within 30 days of purchase.

In conclusion, StrongVPN is a VPN provider focused on security and privacy protection, making it suitable for users with high demands in network security and privacy protection.

VPN for MAC Recommendation 2: ExpressVPN【Purchase One Year, Get Three Months Free】

expressvpn logo
VPN technologyFree trialAlipayVisit in ChinaChinese supportDevice supportUnconditional refund policy

ExpressVPN as the world's largest VPN company, leverages its extensive resources to provide real-time updates. With a massive network consisting of over 3,000 servers, ExpressVPN offers fast, secure, and reliable services. It can unlock Netflix and almost all overseas content, support torrents, and absolutely does not keep user logs, all while being user-friendly. In short, it's a top-quality VPN that excels in almost every aspect.

Whenever the firewall is blocked, ExpressVPN is quick to repair nodes. Currently, its success rate for bypassing censorship in China stands at an impressive 95%. Being a European and American company, it boasts exceptional stability and is considered a top-tier VPN, albeit with a slightly higher price tag. Its features include:

  • Presence in over 94 countries/regions with at least 160 locations worldwide
  • Large user base
  • Quick repair of nodes whenever the firewall is blocked
  • Free refund within 30 days
  • 24/7 customer service available for 7 days a week
  • Applications available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and other operating systems
  • Compatibility with devices like Apple TV, Fire TV, PlayStation, Chromebook, and Kindle
  • Multiple payment methods, including Bitcoin
  • Industry-standard encryption

・ExpressVPN offers dedicated nodes exclusively for users in China.

ExpressVPN 中国节点

ExpressVPN In the China region, there are four to five dedicated nodes optimized for firewall updates. Whenever the firewall undergoes updates, ExpressVPN prioritizes updating the server IP settings of these nodes to counter firewall blocks.

ExpressVPN demonstrates excellent speed performance, as evidenced by the ExpressVPN review conducted in July 2024.


Welcome: ExpressVPN China Real Test [Includes 2024 Latest Offers and Speed Test Videos] >>> Click here to go to ExpressVPN <<<

VPN Split Tunneling

VPN Split Tunneling is a VPN connection feature that allows users to maintain connections to both their VPN and local network simultaneously. This enables users to differentiate and manage traffic that needs to go through the VPN connection from traffic that requires direct access to local network resources.

Through VPN Split Tunneling, users can selectively route specific network traffic through the VPN connection to external networks while routing other traffic directly through the local network. This helps improve network efficiency while reducing the impact of VPN connections on network speeds.

The implementation of VPN Split Tunneling involves splitting traffic routing tables. Users can configure specific applications or traffic to pass through the VPN connection, thereby ensuring privacy and security, while allowing other traffic to pass directly through the local network.

However, it's important to note that using VPN Split Tunneling also comes with some risks. Routing critical network traffic through the local network may pose security risks. Therefore, when using VPN Split Tunneling, users need to carefully assess the risks and benefits and selectively choose which network traffic needs to be routed through the VPN connection. Additionally, it's essential to ensure that the VPN service provider offers adequate security and privacy protection measures to mitigate the risks of network attacks and data leaks.

VPN for MAC Recommendation 3: Surfshark【Save 81% Now + Unlimited Devices】

VPN technologyfree trialAlipayVisit in ChinaChinese supportnumber of deviceunconditional redemption

Surfshark is a relatively new player in the VPN market, having rapidly gained traction over the past two years and achieving significant exposure. While it offers lower prices compared to ExpressVPN, Surfshark's advantage lies in allowing an unlimited number of devices to connect simultaneously. This makes it suitable for families or groups of friends who wish to bypass geo-restrictions to watch Netflix together. In contrast, other providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN typically limit connections to five devices. Whether you're looking to save money, have moderate VPN usage, or wish to share the service with friends or family, Surfshark could be your top choice.

In addition to conducting our own tests, we provide actual screenshots of our testing results for reference. Unlike many bloggers who make exaggerated claims, we present concrete evidence to prove that Surfshark can indeed access the internet in China.

Surfshark's performance is excellent – Surfshark Review: July 2024 Testing

surfshark 測速
  • With over 3,200 servers spanning across 160+ locations in 65 countries, Surfshark boasts an extensive network.
  • It offers applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux, as well as extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
  • While Surfshark's prices are cheaper than ExpressVPN, its node speed and quantity may not match up.
  • The most economical option is the two-year plan, priced at $2.30 per month.
  • Payment options include credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay.
  • As a European and American VPN provider, Surfshark offers greater stability compared to domestic VPN vendors.
  • Moreover, it allows an unlimited number of devices to connect simultaneously.
  • Although Surfshark does not support Alipay, it does provide Chinese-language interfaces and customer service.
  • Pricing and plans depend on individual usage needs.
  • Customer service is available 24/7.

Welcome: Installation Guide for Surfshark VPN in China [Includes 2024 Latest Offers and Speed Test Videos]

Mac VPN recommendation :Flow VPN【Alipay and Free Trivial with two days】

flowvpn logo
VPN technologyfree trialAlipayVisit in ChinaChinese supportDevice supportunconditional redemption

Due to continuous updates to the Chinese firewall and whitelist policies, many VPN services such as PandaVPN, LanternVPN, and LightyearVPN have become ineffective. With numerous domestic VPN software competing, various new software and techniques for bypassing censorship are emerging. Flow VPN has recently emerged as a standout performer. Based on my testing, it currently allows successful bypassing of the firewall, supports Alipay, offers a two-day free trial, and, like other common VPN services, supports simultaneous connections for up to five devices. It provides multiple nodes to choose from, offers 24/7 customer support, features a Chinese interface, and comes at an affordable price. However, its stability does not match that of ExpressVPN or Surfshark and StrongVPN

Excellent Speed Performance: FlowVPN Review – July 2024 Testing

  • As a Chinese VPN, its stability slightly lags behind VPN providers from Europe and the United States.
  • Supports Alipay for online payment, offers Chinese interface and customer service, and provides a two-day free trial.
  • Prices and plans vary depending on individual usage needs.
  • Cost-effective and user-friendly, suitable for students.
  • Two-day free trial available.

FlowVPN also offers an additional feature besides the two-day free trial:

FlowVPN also offers an additional feature besides the two-day free trial: FlowVPN provides complimentary OpenAI artificial intelligence image creation. Simply input any prompt, and it will generate an image for you. Access to this content requires logging in.

flowvpn chat gpt logo

FlowVPN can be used for AI image creation. For example, suppose you want to create an image of a dog playing baseball on the moon. FlowVPN can generate it instantly, which is quite impressive. If you were to purchase OpenAI software separately, it would cost you extra. By purchasing FlowVPN, you not only get the latest VPN service but also access to the latest OpenAI services. Additionally, it can help streamline sentences, providing a two-in-one solution.

flow chat gpt

Apple TV with Flow VPN

FlowVPN is the first VPN application released specifically for Apple TV! Now, you can enjoy secure private internet access on your Apple TV and access servers in over 60 countries/regions. Watch FlowVPN on Apple TV on YouTube.
YouTube demonstration on Apple TV with FlowVPN

The latest version of tvOS (17) has added support for VPN services, and it's now available! The first beta version of FlowVPN for Apple TV has been released through Apple's TestFlight app. You can download it today onto your Apple TV running the tvOS 17 beta.

  1. Open the TestFlight app.
  2. Click on “FlowVPN.” Tap “Install.”
  3. Once installed, you can find the FlowVPN app icon on your home screen.

Welcome Flow VPN China Real Test [Includes 2024 Latest Offers and Speed Test Videos]

Mac VPN Installation (Tutorial)

Now, let's provide installation tutorials for different Mac VPN software.

Mac – StrongVPN Installation Tutorial

Step 1: Go to the official website of StrongVPN。create an account, and enter your email. No need to worry about information leakage. Click “SAVE 65% On STRONGVPN”.

strong page

Step 2: Choose the plan that suits you. You'll find that StrongVPN is very affordable, costing less than $4 a month, compared to over $100 a year for ExpressVPN. So, I highly recommend StrongVPN, and it supports Alipay.

strong vpn price 加上支援支付保付款

Step 3: After navigating to the StrongVPN official homepage, download StrongVPN according to your different needs (including macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android). Click “DOWNLOAD APP FOR WINDOWS” (I'm using Windows 10). Unzip and install, then select Mac.

strongvpn 封面照片

Step 4: After installation, enter your username and password to start using StrongVPN. Before connecting, you can see your IP address and current location. Click the red “Connect” button to establish a connection.

strong connect

If you click the red “Connect” button, the system will help you find the best connection location. Click “Best Available” to choose the connecting country. Click “Save,” and you'll be able to connect to that country later.

strong vpn country list

Mac ExpressVPN Installation Guide

In addition to the Mac version, ExpressVPN also offers a top-notch VPN browser extension for easy protection of all online activities compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can directly install the browser version without downloading it to your personal computer. After completing your purchase, you can go to the ExpressVPN Chrome website to download it. Below, I'll introduce the benefits and process of using the Chrome version (as well as the IE and Firefox versions).

Mac VPN-Surfshark

Step 1: Go to the Surfshark VPN VPN official website and click “Buy Now”.

Mac VPN surfshark 封面

Step 2: Choose the appropriate plan. Opting for the yearly plan saves 81%, and there's a 30-day money-back guarantee, costing only $2.49 per month.

surfshark price

Step 3: Create an account by entering your email address. No need to worry about your information leaking.

surfshark 创建帐户

Step 4: Select a payment method, including Mastercard, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, or cryptocurrencies. After payment, you'll receive your account details and can set up a password.

surfshark 付费方式

Step 5: Next, go to the Surfshark official page and download Surfshark according to your needs (including macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android). Open and install the macOS version.

surfshark 设备选择

Step 6: After installation, enter your account credentials, and you're ready to use Surfshark smoothly.

surfshark login

Mac VPN install -FlowVPN

Step 1: Go to the official website of Flow VPN and create an account. Fill in your email address, and rest assured that your information is secure.

flow login

Step 2: Once you're on the Flow VPN official homepage, download Flow VPN based on your specific needs (available for macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android). Choose the Flow VPN Mac version, unzip the file, and proceed with the installation.

flow login second step

Step 3: After installation is complete, enter your account credentials, and you're all set to use Flow VPN. You'll have various servers to choose from, such as connecting to the US through Singapore nodes. Enjoy the flexibility of selecting different servers for your needs.

flow login second page

Introduction to Free VPNs for Mac

In this article, I'll provide an overview of the pros and cons of free VPNs. For more details, you can refer to: “The Potential Threats of Free VPNs.” Most free VPNs have the following characteristics:

Considering even paid VPNs like Lightyear VPN have shut down, can you still trust Chinese-owned VPNs?

  • Most are Chinese-owned VPNs, with few users. Even if they have users, most of them are from China.
  • VPN origins are unclear, with no clear company address or contact information provided.
  • They pose other risks such as mining cryptocurrencies or displaying advertisements.

Risks of Chinese-Owned or Small VPN Providers

I've talked about this in my article about Lightyear VPN. It used to be popular among internet users and was a favorite of many bloggers. Compared to other VPN providers, Lightyear VPN was super affordable and even offered a free trial for a day. But one day, Lightyear VPN shut down. Many people trusted the recommendations from bloggers, paid money, but couldn't access the internet. As I mentioned before, if you want to bypass the Great Firewall and go abroad, try to avoid using any Chinese VPNs. Due to legal issues, if something goes wrong and you get blocked, there's no one to turn to for help. It's a loss with no recourse. That's why I almost always recommend using VPNs developed in Europe and America, especially those from larger companies, as they offer more reliability.

Keep in mind, when I talk about Chinese providers, I don't mean companies based in China but rather those created solely for bypassing the Great Firewall. These providers mostly cater to users in China. So, if they suddenly shut down, according to Chinese law, it's illegal to use any VPN to bypass the firewall. You're left with no options. VPN providers with a majority of users in China can easily escape and avoid any legal consequences. On the other hand, if you're using European or American VPNs like ExpressVPN, StrongVPN, etc., many of their users are not within China. So if these big companies shut down, there will be countless affected users outside China. Using VPNs abroad is completely legal, so these companies are likely to face legal actions and compensation claims. Simply put, try to use VPNs that aren't solely designed for bypassing the firewall, as they have a lower risk of shutting down unexpectedly.

Using VPNs with unknown origins, lacking clear company addresses, and without visible contact information poses significant risks to users

Using VPNs of uncertain origin, without clear company addresses or contact information, poses significant risks. Most small-scale VPN providers lack the user base and credibility to withstand governmental or corporate pressures, making them prone to sudden shutdowns. Compared to established VPN providers like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, the websites of most free VPNs lack essential information such as contact details or company information. So, if you encounter connectivity issues with such VPNs, whom can you turn to for assistance?

It's not about discouraging the use of all free VPNs but rather highlighting incidents like those involving “光年VPN” as cautionary tales. Given the “光年VPN” incident, it's prudent to exercise caution and perhaps invest in slightly pricier VPN services from reputable European or American companies, rather than risking your hard-earned money on dubious alternatives.

Now, some might accuse me of fearmongering in favor of European or American VPNs. So, let me list a few examples of such sacrificial VPNs, which were rendered unusable: PandaVPN, NordVPN, ProtonVPN, AstrillVPN, Lantern VPN, AuroraVPN, “光年VPN,” Galaxy VPN, Winscribe VPN, among others.

In China, many free VPNs are designed primarily for encryption purposes and are not optimized for bypassing the Great Firewall. Consequently, there's an abundance of phishing software disguised as free VPNs. An example is the classic case of Lantern VPN, where two individuals were arrested in 2020 for using it. (Note: Lantern VPN is no longer usable in China.) Here are some drawbacks of free VPNs:

1 Too Many Ads:

Since it's a free VPN, advertisements are necessary to generate revenue. Without them, there wouldn't be enough funding for engineers to maintain the nodes, resulting in a poor user experience.

2 No Security Guarantee:

Because it's free, there's no guarantee of security. If your personal information, like email accounts or credit card passwords, gets leaked, you'll be left to deal with the consequences on your own. Unlike paid VPNs from reputable companies in Europe and the US, there's no legal protection. If you happen to get caught, you're on your own.

3 Potential Harm to Your Computer (Phishing Software, Mining):

Since it's free, there's no assurance of safety. You can't know for sure if there are hidden programs running while the VPN software is in use, such as phishing software or secretly using your computer's resources for mining. Remember, if there were effective free VPNs, why would so many paid VPNs still be thriving? Free VPNs struggle to survive in the ever-evolving VPN market, so they resort to selling users' personal data or engaging in mining and phishing schemes. It's best to avoid downloading cracked versions of VPNs in pursuit of a cheap deal.

Common Questions About VPNs on Mac

Is Hosting a VPN Yourself Cheaper?

Many budget-conscious users may consider self-hosting a VPN because high-quality Mac VPNs usually require payment. Using free VPNs from unknown sources has led to numerous instances of arrests by authorities in the past.

Many users then think, “Why not set up our own VPN?” Below, we'll discuss how to set up a VPN, the costs involved, and common issues with self-hosted VPNs.

How to Set Up Your Own VPN

The most challenging aspect of setting up your own VPN is having a server overseas available for connection. There are two ways to establish an overseas server: one is by residing abroad for some time, allowing you to purchase and set up your own router; the second is by renting a server online. Below, we'll use Amazon's AWS, as referenced by ExpressVPN, as an example:

  • Go to the EC2 page and choose the country you want to use.
  • Select the operating system and specifications for the host.
  • Review and launch.
  • You must now select a key to log in to the virtual host.
  • Launch instances.
  • Afterward, you can log in to your rented host from EC2.

Cost of Self-hosted VPN

For a self-hosted VPN, taking the example of renting AWS servers, the price depends on usage and server specifications. If you frequently stream videos and have high traffic, it would cost around $0.7 per hour. Calculated for a month, it would amount to over $500.

Common Issues with Self-hosted VPN

Firstly, there's the expensive cost of maintaining overseas servers. Furthermore, self-hosted VPNs may lack professional encryption systems, so their ability to bypass restrictions is questionable. The most concerning aspect is the potential risk of user information leakage. To self-host a high-quality node similar to ExpressVPN would cost around $500 per month, whereas using ExpressVPN costs less than $15 per month. From my personal perspective, if your sole purpose is to bypass restrictions, opting for a reputable VPN provider with high-quality nodes is the better choice.

Mac VPN Conclusion

Using a Mac VPN is much simpler compared to iOS on mobile devices because most VPN providers, especially ExpressVPN and Surfshark, offer downloadable versions specifically for Mac VPN. You can install them directly with ease. It's much cheaper and safer compared to setting up your own VPN, especially as firewalls continue to evolve, making self-hosted VPNs increasingly difficult. I hope this article proves helpful to everyone.

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