Finally! With all the security issues on the Web these days I finally decided to bite the bullet and get a VPN (Virtual Private Network). I have a link to an article about how VPN’s work. If you have not read that post yet, you should do so before reading this article.
Why a VPN?
Let’s face it, you can take all the precautions you want as far as online security on your Mac, but you just can’t beat some of the clever hackers today (not to mention the NSA and a few other folks right?). Here is the bottom line when it comes to your computing: Privacy Is Freedom! As far as I am concerned, the more Privacy you have, the more Freedom you have. I think that 99.9% of Mac users are not doing anything nefarious on their computers. However, what we do is no one else’s business!! So, we use web search engines like DuckDuckGo and we tweak our browser and Mac settings as much as possible to maintain some type of online privacy, but you just can’t cover it all. Enter the very handy personal VPN.
The VPN Solution
In the last year or so VPN’s have become super popular for maintaining online security. There are tons of different VPN’s out there to choose from. Just do some research on the companies. After doing my homework, I have chosen NordVPN. The price was right and it gets good reviews, so I bought two years of their service. Their software is installed on my Mac. Now, all my web activity goes through their VPN servers; it is private!
So, this may be overkill for a home machine, but privacy is privacy right? What I do at home is just as important to me as what I do at work, maybe even more so. Lets take a look at the NordVPN app, I am sure other VPN app’s will be similar.
Once you have installed the NordVPN app and booted it up it asks you to login:
You may have to click on this image to see the “Login” link in the menubar of the window. When you buy the app on their website you have to create an account. So, you need to save your credentials. After you have logged into your account it asks you to select a country. You can select from a very extensive list, of course I chose the United States:
If you click on the menu symbol in the upper left corner of the app window, it pops out the “Settings” area:
You can view some information on your connection, but as far as I am concerned, the Advanced Settings area is what is most important here:
I made sure “Start on Boot” was selected. I pretty much left the other settings alone with the exception of limitting my NordVPN app connection to just the Menu Bar. By the way, here is what you get if you click on the Menu Bar icon:
Here. you can Disconnect NordVPN for whatever reason. You can access other countries and open the main window to the app. That is good enough for me, I really do not need the app to reside in my already crowded Dock.
The NordVPN people have several tutorials and FAQ’s on their website. You might want to give those types of things a look before purchasing a VPN service. Here is one rather important FAQ I discovered while looking around on the NordVPN website:
What bandwidth can I expect from your service?
It depends on various criteria. If you connect to the closest server you may expect around a 30% loss in bandwidth speed.
– via nordvpn.com
Now, that got my attention. Before you start to panic, check this out. After installing NordVPN I ran some speed tests. This is about what I was getting at Speedtest.net:
Previous to NordVPN I consistently got 119 Mbps. I would say that was about a 15% decrease in speed. But, the bottomline is my web surfing experience is relatively unchanged. The pages I go to draw the same as before, I cannot discern any difference. Google Chrome is still very fast! If you have a decent web speed from your ISP, you really do not have to worry about NordVPN changing things too much. However, if you have a slow web speed, I would recommend contacting them about it first.
There are lots of other features in NordVPN. I may cover some of them in a future article. Oh, I almost forgot. I had a question about something so I put in a Help Ticket. They responded within 20 minutes!! Whoa! They interacted with me through a series of emails over a period of 45 minutes or so. Their responses were very timely, no waiting a whole day or two for an answer. Their support is excellent.
If you are in the market for a VPN, by all means search the Internet on the myriad of companies out there. I think I can recommend NordVPN with a clear conscience. And, they are having a sale right now. Head over to their website to see what OS’s and devices they support.