Connecting your Mac to a VPN

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for a virtual private network. It gives the user online privacy by creating a private network separate to the public internet connection. Your IP address is blocked from view so your data including location is untraceable.

Why would I use a VPN?  

There are many reasons why you might want to use a VPN. Maybe you are in a public place like a coffee shop and you don’t want your data to be available to either the shop or the network provider. Even when you are at home your internet provider has the right to sell your anonymous data, however if you are using a VPN this data would not be available.

One of the most common reasons for using a VPN is to connect to a server with restricted access. Many work servers, for example, will only allow access via the VPN rather than directly from your computer.

How to set up a VPN connection on a Mac 

There are 2 main ways of setting up a VPN connection on a mac. 

  1. Through your network administrator
  2. Use a third-party VPN provider

1.  Using your network administrator 

  • Request a VPN settings file from your network administrator.  
  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Network, click the Action pop-up menu, then choose Import Configurations. Select the file, then click Import. 

See further details from Apple here

2. Using a third-party VPN provider 

  • There are many third-party VPN providers that will offer you their services for a fee.  
  • These are often used by individuals who are just using the VPN recreationally.  

VPN drawbacks

Whilst using a VPN blocks your data, it could still be affected by malware on your computer and companies can still track your internet usage through cookies. VPN’s are also unlikely to work with smart devices that usually rely on the local network connection, so please check compatibility before making any purchases.