User-friendly setup, stability, and security are some of the reasons why Chrome is the world’s most popular web browser. It adds a touch of versatility with its endless number of extensions available for you to install. With this, you can easily customize and tune your Chrome browser according to your preferences.
One of the most frequently installed chrome extensions is – of course – VPN extension for Chrome. A good VPN extension helps to encrypt your browser traffic so others cannot access or hack into your accounts. In addition to securing your connection, a Chrome VPN extension can mask your IP location to unblock and bypass many geo-restricted media content from anywhere in the world.
Advantages and Disadvantages of VPN browser extensions
A VPN extension is an easy, integrated program that adds a layer of protection to your internet connection through your web browser. However, the VPN extensions come with their own pros and cons listed below.
- They are free or much cheaper than VPN apps
- Easy installation and user-friendly setup
- VPN browser extension is merely a proxy server and most of the extensions do not encrypt your data
- A VPN extension with encryption protocols only protects your browser traffic and not any other data.
- Many reports of free VPN extensions that have malicious intents. They were proven to sell user’s sensitive information to third parties without the user’s consent.
Factors in Choosing a VPN for Chrome
Although Chrome VPN add-ons are mainly proxy extensions, they still need to adhere to the core principles of VPN, which are privacy, security, and speed.
With so many choices available online, it might get overwhelming to narrow down the one that’s most suitable Chrome VPN extension for you. However, I’ve listed below a few important factors that you need to look into that may help you differentiate between your extension choices:
- Company reputation
- Performance of the product
- Type of encryption used
- How easy it is to access
Most VPN services offer a free trial option which you should make full use of. This will let you test drive your shortlisted VPN extensions without needing to commit financially. However, there are a handful of VPN providers that do not have that option. In this case, you may want to start out with a short-term subscription to make sure you’re happy with the speed and capabilities before you want to commit to a long-term contract with them.
Top 7 VPN for Chrome
Best all-round VPN for Chrome
ExpressVPN has over 3,000 VPN servers strategically located in 160 different locations to open up access to plenty of content. Based in the British Virgin Island (BVI), it is located in one of the safest countries for users’ online privacy. BVI does not have any kind of data retention laws, meaning the company is legally permitted to hide your online activity from the government.
The VPN service provider routinely offers great performance on the software front, including but not limited to its Chrome extension. On top of its user-friendly navigation, this easy tool is jam-packed with neat features, like DNS leak prevention and kill switch to keep your internet activity private.
The VPN extension is very snappy and offers many more features than the other providers available in the market right now. With that being said, ExpressVPN does require you to install the necessary desktop app before you use their browser extension.
For avid Netflix streamers, ExpressVPN will be the perfect choice as it works fast to unblock US Netflix content. They even have amazing features like to help you select and connect to the fastest connection from the 31 servers that they have in the US. Furthermore, ExpressVPN even supports other major streaming services like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Kodi, and Amazon Prime.
With an AES 256-bit military-grade encryption to protect your connection, privacy will never be your concern anymore as it keeps all your online activity across all your device activities undercover and undetected. The VPN providers do not access your personal data or collect your activities log, and even accepts Bitcoin as subscription payment to ensure all your information is completely incognito.
As mentioned earlier, this VPN extension features a kill switch which they call “Network Lock” to help users secure their data in the unlikely event of when their VPN gets disconnected suddenly without any reason. This service will protect all your internet traffic as long as your online security is not restored.
The company manages all your DNS requests through their own private servers that do not log queries when you access any site. Their Zero-Knowledge DNS feature will make sure that none of your online activities can be linked back to you.
The price plans for this chrome extension may not be the cheapest on the block, but all its added benefits may be worth every penny. If you’re undecided, you can even test it out yourself with their 30-day full-service free trial with a money-back guarantee if you end up deciding it isn’t for you.
- Super fast connection speeds
- Well-encrypted, kill switch-protected connections
- Accepts Bitcoin as payment
- Keeps no user logs
- 24-hour live chat support
- More expensive
- Only permits 3 simultaneous connections
Best for ad and malware-free browsing
Although NordVPN does not offer a free Chrome extension, it offers affordable subscription plans come with some major features including the CyberSec feature which is specifically designed to block out any advertisement and prevent malware. This lightweight and user-friendly extension is just a few clicks away to make your browsing a more streamlined and safer experience.
With over 5,600 different servers spread out across 59 different countries, NordVPN is one of the largest server networks to unblock plenty of geo-blocked content. It allows you access to Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and restricted Netflix libraries with no time wasted on buffering.
Not only does NordVPN extension come with an impressively large amount of P2P and torrenting servers, but they even feature unlimited usage bandwidth, which makes this extension one of the best reasons to love NordVPN as you will never have to suffer through throttled internet speed again.
The VPN provider is headquartered in the data retention-free jurisdiction of Panama on top of employing a strict no-logs policy. In addition to their military-grade encryption, NordVPN routes your connection through two separate VPN servers to grant you double data encryption along with other major security protocols to ensure your online activity always stays protected.
With standard VPN encryption, your internet traffic travels through a single VPN server. However, with the Double VPN feature, NordVPN routes your traffic through two hops to grant you an extra layer of protection. While it does make your data much more secure, your internet speed could take a hit and suffer a bit.
On top of that, NordVPN offers two different kinds of Kill Switch, one for desktops and another for mobile devices. You can choose to activate either the app kill switch or the internet kill switch to disable your entire internet connection when anything goes wrong.
NordVPN offers 4 different plans, all of which are very reasonably priced, especially for so many amazing features packed with it. Aside from the 7-day free trial, the VPN service provider even has a hassle-free full 30-day refund policy in case you decide that it’s not the right fit for you.
- Double-VPN servers
- Fast connection speeds
- No-log policy
- Accepts Bitcoin as payment
- Speeds are sometimes volatile
- Unable to specify individual servers you want to connect to
3. Hotspot Shield
Best for Speed
The Hotspot Shield Chrome VPN extension only takes a couple of clicks to get you up and running. It will automatically assign you to the optimal server with the fastest connection speed. The free extension does not allow much configuration options and Hotspot Shield offers a limited choice of four locations only, whereas their premium subscription plan lets you gain full access to their servers in over 70 different countries
In terms of performance, their upload and download speeds are proven to be slightly better than the other providers. So, you can expect an instantaneous connection to stream geo-locked media content without any need for buffering time.
On the other hand, Hotspot Shield is a brainchild of a US-based company called AnchorFree. Being part of the Five Eye Country means the company needs to abide by the country’s mandatory data retention rule and have to hand over any data upon request from the authority.
This Hotspot Shield is safe to use as they will not expose your original IP address, DNS, or WebRTC information while you’re connected to their service. However, the company’s logging policy is a little confusing. Hotspot Shield claims that they do not keep logs of your online activity, yet there are a few areas where they access customer data for a variety of purposes.
If you use the free version, you may expect to see some advertisements as the company teams up with a few third parties. Nonetheless, you need not worry about your privacy as the service provider will only hand out anonymized IP addresses and they will not sell user browsing history to the advertisers.
The paid version of Hotspot Shield lets subscribers connect to five different devices at the same time with just a single account. This means users do not need to pay extra for securing their entire household with only one VPN service.
While Hotspot Shield’s subscription plans may not be the most affordable, they do come with a 45-day refund policy for you to get your money back in case you do not fancy their services. You can also make a free Hotspot Shield account to test out their paid services with their 7 days free trial. But you do need to remember to cancel the free trial before the time’s up, otherwise, they will automatically start charging you for their monthly service.
- Free and simple Chrome extension
- No logging
- Up to five simultaneous connections
- 45-day refund policy
- 7-day free trial
- Part of the Five Eyes country
- Questionable logging policy
- Free version comes with advertisement
Best balance of performance and affordability
CyberGhost is a Romania based VPN provider with more than 5,000 servers globally spread among 90 different countries. Romania is based far away from the reach of the Fourteen Eyes and does not share its users’ information to any other country.
Their Chrome extension is small, simple, and completely free. However, you need to remember that you don’t get a lot for nothing. The extension provided has very basic features with a selection of four server locations: Germany, Netherlands, Romania, and the U.S.
With its main aim of allowing you to gain access to geo-restricted content, CyberGhost’s chrome extension lets you seamlessly switch between locations with super fast connection speeds. However, the service provider does warn that the free extension on Chrome’s Web Store does not come with security benefits.
If you do decide to pony up for a full CyberGhost account, their desktop app offers one of the most secure VPN services in the industry. The protocols that this VPN service provider supports are L2TP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN. And as far as encryption goes, CyberGhost delivers military-grade encryption to protect all your critical information.
Other than that, the Kill Switch feature allows you to remain anonymous even when your VPN service suddenly stops working. If and when your VPN connection drops abruptly, your internet connection will stop as well. This is a win-win situation to ensure your privacy is safely secured.
One downside about CyberGhost worth mentioning is its ad-blocking feature. CyberGhost does not block advertisement pop-ups on HTTPS websites. However, the ad-blocking feature is workable on Windows, Mac, and iOS devices, which is more than sufficient for general users looking to stream content online.
Unfortunately, CyberGhost does not have a free trial and the monthly plan can be quite pricey. On the other hand, the VPN service provider does have a 45-day money-back guarantee and their longer-term plans are much most cost-friendly.
- Simple and free extension for basic usage
- Affordable subscription plans with streaming speeds
- Permits up to 7 simultaneous connections
- Great choice for first-time VPN users
- Free extension does not include security features
- Ad-blocking feature needs some improvement
5. TunnelBear VPN
Best for Limited Information Gathering on Chrome
TunnelBear is a fairly renowned VPN service provider that stood out thanks to its cute, childlike interface that is very welcoming especially for first-time users. This easy to use Canadian provider offers a free plan with a limitation of 500MB per month, although it is not much it’s still better than nothing.
Despite having 23 servers around the world that supports torrenting, the download speed is rather sluggish and you may experience multiple connection drops. TunnelBear does not work to unblock U.S Netflix, but it does unblock other geo-restricted streaming services like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Disney plus. However, due to the below-average connection speed offered, the performance will be quite laggy.
TunnelBear is located in Toronto Canada, making it under the surveillance of the Five Eyes alliance. Despite the provider’s no-logging claim, TunnelBear does collect and store information listed below:
- Operating system version
- TunnelBear app version
- Activity this month
- Total data used this month
On the security front, TunnelBear offers 256-military grade encryption plus a comprehensive list of tunneling protocols like OpenVPN, IPsec, and IKEv2. Aside from that, the company also includes a Kill Switch feature which they call VigilantBear. This feature is designed to detect both IPv6 and DNS leaks and to immediately kill your connection in order to protect your sensitive information.
If you’re living in countries with strict online censorship like China or the Middle East, TunnelBear has a wonderful GhostBear feature that will come in handy. It will obfuscate your encrypted VPN connection so that it is undetectable by the government and ISP.
In addition to the VPN extension, the company offers a TunnelBear Blocker tool for Chrome. It does not just function like an ad blocker, but it holts most forms of tracking including email, ultrasonic, and fingerprinting. It even allows you to manage your flash player for higher efficiency.
TunnelBear offers three different plans: free, unlimited, and team plans. The TunnelBear is actually free, you don’t need to key in any credit card details to use the service. Nevertheless, it does come with a monthly 500MB cap. Also, unlike other VPN providers, TunnelBear’s paid versions do not come with any refunds.
- User-friendly interface
- Free extension
- Does not require credit card details to use
- GhostBear feature ensures your VPN connection is not detectable
- TunnelBear Blocker holts most forms of tracking
- Free version comes with limited bandwidth
- Slow and laggy connection
- Part of the Five Eyes alliance
- Logs user data
Best VPN for Streaming on Chrome
Windcribe is another Canadian VPN service provider that offers both free and paid plans. Being part of the Five Eyes alliance means that this company will have to surrender all your personal information should it be requested by the authorities. However, the company’s logging policy states that they do not store connection and session logs, IP timestamps, nor do they monitor your online activity.
On top of its 256-bit military-grade encryption, Windscribe comes with many other privacy features that you can fully use to your advantage such as static or dedicated IP, internet kill switch, port forwarding, double hop, timezone spoofing, split personality, and so on.
Windscribe’s Chrome extension’s greatest strength is that it consistently unblocks many major geo-locked contents streaming websites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. However, it does not only work to bypass geo-restrictions, it even works to block off ads and online trackers to keep your online connection much more secure and safer.
Windscribe VPN has over 450 P2P supported servers scattered across more than 60 different countries. Though it may not be a large number, the VPN covers all prime regions of the world. It is one of the fastest VPN that you can choose to conduct your torrenting tasks securely.
The service provider has a handy browser extension available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. It provides the user with one-touch access to thousands of blocked sites on top of its ad-blocking feature to get rid of annoying third-party advertisements.
Windscribe segregated into free and paid versions. Other than their monthly and annual subscription, they offer a special “Build A Plan” option which starts from $1.00 per month for a single location. Each location comes with 10GB of monthly data with one-month validity.
The company goes one step further by providing another pricing plan called ScribeForce which allows you to secure all the online activities of your whole family under one package. Additionally, you can opt to pay for your subscription through credit cards, PayPal, Paymentwall, and also Bitcoin.
- User-friendly, easy navigation
- Very fast connection speed
- Consistently unblocks geo-locked media content
- Customizable Build A Plan subscription
- Easily control privacy for the entire family through ScribeForce
- Part of the Five Eyes alliance
- Short money-back guarantee period
SurfShark is headquartered and operates from British Virgin Island (BVI) that has no data retention laws and is not part of the 5, 9, or 14 eyes countries. SurfShark started from humble beginnings with 100 servers to now more than 1,000 servers across the globe in just over a year.
SurfShark easily unblocks major streaming sites such as Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Fire TV Stick. But the best part about it is that the company offers unlimited device connection with a single account. This VPN service provider also runs with an impressive speed that is perfect for both streaming and torrenting.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most secure Chrome VPN available in the industry. This provider offers an unbreakable AES 256-bit encryption to keep you safe and secure. It features a CleanWeb function that ensures you can access the internet with no ads, trackers, nor malware.
SurfShark has a Multihop feature that allows you to establish a chain of VPNs to take IP masking to a whole new level. You have the option to connect to two servers in two different countries simultaneously and virtually appearing in both locations without experiencing a speed drop.
They even have a Whitelister which lets you exclude specific apps or websites from connecting via the VPN. That is great if you prefer to secure certain sensitive apps and websites while excluding others that you might use for super fast streaming and general browsing.
Their user-friendly chrome extension not only provides a proxy for you to hide behind, but it also contains an ad-blocking function with its CleanWeb feature. it can even block out trackers, malware, and phishing attempts on your connection.
SurfShark offers one of the most affordable Chrome VPN plans out there. In fact, the service provider offers three different package plans at amazing discounts. With their extensive 30-day money-back guarantee offer, you will be able to get a complete refund if you do end up not satisfied with its service.
- Unlimited device connection
- Multihop Feature
- Whitelister Feature
- Unbreakable military-grade encryption service
- User-friendly app
- Requires permission that may be dangerous for your privacy
ExpressVPN is one service provider that needs no introduction, it is a favorite among privacy enthusiasts. Being one of the best VPN services available in business, it is no surprise to find that their Chrome extension provides a similarly exceptional experience. The extension offers a simple and easy-to-use method to manage the basic features that you use most regularly.
With servers in over 90 countries, ExpressVPN delivers punchy performance along with numerous features like unblocking Netflix, reliable torrenting, tunneling protocols, more than 3,000 super fast servers, 30 days refund, Bitcoin Payments, and an extremely powerful encryption system to keep all your online activities safe and secure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of using VPN extensions?
Adding a VPN extension to your Chrome browser opens up a wide array of benefits to keep your connection secure. While it is not the same as installing a VPN app, these proxies have niche uses as well. Below are a few scenarios where of installing a VPN extension comes in handy:
Special Case Uses
Proxies tend to be lighter on system resource usage due to their limited functionality. This is great, especially for those who use a less powerful laptop and do not want to drain system resources.
Specialized Risk Control
Internet browsers are one of the most vulnerable targets to get hacked by external parties – all browsers are prone to security risks. If you don’t want a full-fledged VPN application that takes up the majority of your resources, it is also easy to defend your information and hiding your identity through a VPN proxy extension specifically for your browser.
Some VPN extensions come with additional features like ad blocking, tracker avoidance, and cookie management. This helps to remove the junk out from the net before it reaches you, however, it may cause some web pages to look funny.
Preventing WebRTC Leaks
Firefox and Chrome browsers have a security vulnerability whereby your IP address could easily be leaked. Some VPN extensions now even have a built-in WebRTC leak prevention to ensure this type of incident will never happen to you.
Are browser extensions the same as VPN applications?
Browser extensions only take care of online traffic on the browser while the application takes care of any and all online connections.
VPN browser extensions are proxy service extensions that redirect your online traffic to other servers. This method comes in handy when you need to access geo-restricted content or want to access a website from a different IP address.
VPN applications work in a similar manner. They redirect the user’s traffic to one of their server locations. However, one thing VPN applications do differently is that they encrypt and redirect user’s traffic to ensure no one is able to get their hands on the encrypted traffic.
Chrome extension is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other malicious activities on the internet. None of your sensitive information will be safe, and you will still be open to all sorts of cybercrimes when you’re using the proxy service.
VPN applications offer full-on protection services with their military grade-encryption. But this type of heavy usage does take a toll on your internet speed. You may experience a significant drop in connection speed while using the VPN application compared to the proxy extension.
Is it legal to use a VPN?
Yes, using a Chrome VPN is completely legal. This easy tool is in your right to protect and encrypt all your internet connection to protect your personal data. It is the same concept as using an envelope to cover your letters. Some information is better kept private to ensure you’re not vulnerable to all kinds of malicious cyber-attacks.
How to use a Chrome VPN extension?
It is easy to get started with a VPN extension. Below is a straightforward guide to installing a Chrome VPN:
- Sign up with your chosen VPN extension
- Download and install the extension from your browser’s official store or from the VPN provider’s website
- Open the Chrome extension and login
- Select a server and connect to access
Am I anonymous when browsing through a VPN?
While a VPN greatly increases your security and privacy, it doesn’t make you anonymous. By subscribing to their services, you essentially expose yourself and your online activities to the VPN provider.
You also need to take note of where your VPN service provider is based. Many countries have a data retention law that compels a company to log user activity that they are required to hand over to the authorities. VPN companies that focus on privacy will accept gift cards, cash, or Bitcoin as your subscription payment. You will also not be required to submit your real name, phone number, address, or banking details in order to use their services.
Am I still safe when I’m using public Wi-Fi hotspots with a VPN extension?
In most cases, it is safe to use public Wi-Fi hotspots with a VPN extension. VPN encrypts the traffic between your device and VPN servers. This way hackers won’t be able to access your data. Even if they somehow are able to intercept your traffic, all they will really see is useless encrypted gibberish.
As a Master Degree graduate in the Internet Technology field, Stefan is highly dedicated towards improving the overall web security so internet users can browse freely without having to be afraid of technical loopholes. With over 15 years in the internet security industry, you should definitely take his advice seriously.