There are a lot of VPNs out there and there are a host of “great offers” tempting you to pay for this service or get that subscription. However when it comes to a VPN I beleive you need to know what it is you are getting for your money, or if you aren’t paying, for free.
I personally am a big fan of the TunnelBear. A great service from a company prepared to put its reputation on the line and to offer itself up for inspection. They do a really great free offering too – and if your needs are occasional or light the 1500MB per month you can use on their service free may be perfectly adequate for you. If it is then go get it. You won’t regret it.
What if you want to have more than 1500MB and you don’t want to, or can’t really afford a paid service? Let me introduce you to ProtonVPN. ProtonVPN comes to you courtesy of Proton Technologies AG who also provide the encrypted email service ProtonMail.
ProtonVPN has several levels available from the free level all the way up to the Visionary Account at $24 US pm via the Basic ($4 US pm) and Plus ($8 US pm). With each level adding more benefits and services.
Installing as setting up ProtonVPN isn’t perhaps the most straightforward of jobs, especially for the free account but it is worthwhile (even if you just want to try the service out) and I am going to walk you through the set up.
Set up a Proton Account
Go to the account creation page and choose the free plan. If you already have a ProtonMail account use that. If you want to use both ProtonMail and ProtonVPN sign up for the ProtonMail first – it works better that way trust me. Once you have Proton account you will be asked to verify it, then you can log in and download the necessary software. A native ProtonVPN client is in the works they say but for now Macs connect using OpenVPN and the TunnelBlick Client.
First of all log in to your Proton account and set up your Open VPN log in, this will be different from your Proton account itself.
Download the software you will need
Go to the page here which has the instructions. You will find yourself being directed to TunnelBlick. Download and install it. Return to the ProtonVPN account page, select the downloads on the left panel and then scroll down to the Server Configs and click that wording to open the individual servers list.
I will save you time here: the servers that you can use on Free plan are in USA, Japan and Netherlands. Look for the ones helpfully tagged FREE#1 etc (believe me that makes life so much easier than when I first did it and finding out which servers you could use was way more complex) Download the configs for as many of the free servers as you want.
Configure the Tunnelblick
Open the Tunnelblick software and either press the plus button bottom right and select the config files or drag them from downloads into the window.
Connect to one of the free servers
Tunnelblick should now be open in the menubar. Click it and select a free server. Enter your log in details (probably wise to tell it to keychain the login) and you should be on your way. If the first one you try decides to reject you try another.
Once it is set up and working you can basically forget about it and connect / disconnect from the VPN servers at will. A native client would be nice – because then most of what I have just explained to you won’t matter any more. It will be a case of get the app and off you go. Until then though I am afraid we have to jump through a few hoops.