A Chrome VPN extension is essential for keeping your data safe when using Google's browser. However, while it's a no-brainer that you should have one, there are so many available that it can be difficult picking which is the best one for you.
As the world's most popular and configurable internet browser, Google's mighty Chrome offers a perfect environment to use a VPN extension. Primed for add-ons, it's super stable, and it's easier than ever to encrypt your traffic with a Chrome VPN.
In some cases, a dedicated Chrome VPN extension will allow you to access the features of the VPN in Chrome. This means changing features like where your device appears to be without ever leaving the browser – which is ideal for banking, secure email access, watching geo-restricted content like Netflix and more.
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However, just like their full-fat standalone brethren, not all Chrome VPN extensions were created equal. In fact, they vary quite widely with some offering full powers when using the VPN with Chrome, and others simply working as proxies – essentially on/off buttons for your VPN in Chrome. With so many on offer, how do you pick the right one for you?
To choose, you'll have to consider what you need from your Chrome VPN – do you want to explore streaming media from around the world, or do you just want a quick and easy way to check your emails and banking in privacy?
To help you decide, we've put together this list of the five best Chrome VPNs available today. Topping the list is ExpressVPN – it's easy to use, swift and powerful – but there are other options that are worth exploring. So, read on to find the five best browser VPNs compatible with Chrome available today.
The best Chrome VPN extensions in 2020
Best all-round Chrome VPN and beyond
Dedicated chrome extension: Yes | Chrome Web Store rating: 4/5 | Servers/countries: 3,000+/90+ | Maximum devices supported: 5
ExpressVPN is the best VPN available, period, so it makes sense that you get an absolutely stellar Chrome VPN extension, too. And yes, it's a full extension, not just a proxy like some others offer.
That means you can get access to over 3,000 servers across 94 countries, right there from within your browser. Fire up the VPN, pick a location and even change in-depth settings – all without leaving Chrome.
Whatever server you pick, you can expect top-notch security with a great selection of anonymity features in place. From HTML5 geo-location blocking to hide your location, to HTML5 Everywhere which auto-forces connections to secure websites as you browse, Express's extension provides pretty much all you could need.
Find your way onto a streaming service site through Chrome while abroad and Express will have you covered, as it unlocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, YouTube and more – impressive when you consider these streaming services are constantly trying to actively block VPNs.
If you want to give the best Chrome VPN a test run, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, but we think you'll find it'll meet – if not surpass – your expectations of what a browser-based VPN can offer.
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2. Private Internet Access
Best for tons of Chrome features
Dedicated chrome extension: Yes | Chrome Web Store rating: 4/5 | Servers/countries: 3,300+/45 | Maximum devices supported: 10
Private Internet Access – or PIA – is an affordable option that offers a huge amount of features in its Chrome VPN extension for the price. It also does this while remaining very easy to use, making this an ideal option for VPN newbs.
There are some great security features you get with its browser VPN extension including a third-party cookies blocker, Flash blocking or disabling, WebRTC leak protection, hyperlink auditing, credit card auto filling and more.
Of course, PIA will also take care of the big stuff like blocking your location from websites as well as camera or microphone access, and download speeds remain above average with the VPN running. Also, in our testing we reported that PIA can access Netflix and Hulu – although it does struggle with iPlayer.
While PIA doesn't offer the amount of server locations of ExpressVPN and support is somewhat lacking, it's a genuinely useful Chrome VPN extension available at a great price, and it's an option worth exploring.
Sign up now on the Private Internet Access website.
Best Chrome VPN for simplicity and ease
Dedicated chrome extension: Yes | Chrome Web Store rating: 4.5/5 | Servers/countries: 1,000+/23 | Maximum devices supported: 5
TunnelBear is a great option if you want a Chrome VPN extension that's simple and easy to use. There is a free to use TunnelBear option, but to access the Chrome extension you'll need a full account which offers over 1,000 servers across 23 countries.
The Chrome VPN extension for TunnelBear allows you to add an icon by the address bar. Tap it and you'll get a list of countries you can connect to with an On/Off button – it's that simple. Don't expect things like WebRTC or tracker blocking like some VPN extensions offer, but there are some neat features like a keyboard shortcut for a quick connection which make it even faster and simpler to use.
For a simple day-to-day Chrome VPN extension that'll keep you anonymous and secure, TunnelBear is a great option – but if you're looking for in-depth features, it might not offer the power you're after.
Sign up now on the TunnelBear website.
4. Hotspot Shield
Best for speed and a decent free option
Dedicated chrome extension: Yes | Chrome Web Store rating: 4/5 | Servers/countries: 3,200+/80+ | Maximum devices supported: 5
Hotspot Shield is a great Chrome VPN extension option if you want something that's simple to use, runs fast and is free. Yup, the free version works with very few strings, although it is basic with only four location choices.
The reason Hotspot Shield is so simple is that when you fire it up with a single click, it automatically picks the fastest server based on your location – you'll be connected and using maximum download bandwidth immediately. That means faster than average speed both for downloads and uploads – all thanks to the dedicated Catapult Hydra protocol.
For security you have a 256-bit encryption looking after you across the 3,700 servers spread over 80 countries. If you're looking for a quick, simple Chrome VPN, Hotspot Shield is a good choice – and with a 45-day money-back guarantee, it's definitely worth giving a go if you're even remotely interested.
Sign up now on the Hotspot Shield website.
Best for unlimited connections
Dedicated chrome extension: Yes | Chrome Web Store rating: 4/5 | Servers/countries: 400+/60 | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Windscribe is a really great option if you want to try a free VPN that offers a healthy 10GB of data per month – albeit with a limit of 10 locations. Go for the full version and you'll get 110 locations to choose from alongside an option to get unlimited data. While speeds might not be as fast as some and the server number, at around 400, is limited, it's still a very compelling option.
The Chrome VPN extension is a simple proxy, which means it's easy to install and use but won't offer you much beyond turning on and off within the browser. If that's all you need and that 10GB limit is fine, then this is an excellent free option, and sits on our best free VPN list – it'll even get around geo-restrictions, allowing you to watch the likes of US Netflix abroad.
Sign up now on the Windscribe website.
What makes a good Chrome VPN extension?
A good Chrome VPN extension is one that's not only simple to install and use but also, ideally, offers some in-depth features too. While there are basic proxy versions which simply turn on and off within Chrome – and that's useful – we prefer more feature-rich options.
The option to pick the location you want to connect from is a really basic but helpful feature – perfect if you're looking to watch geo-restricted content in a tab and need a certain location selected.
Security features are also really helpful with blocking your location from websites, and blocking camera or microphone access are basic necessities. Extras we like to keep an eye out for are third-party cookie blocking, Flash blocking or disabling, WebRTC leak protection, hyperlink auditing and credit card auto-filling. Being able to use the VPN for Netflix unblocking is also useful.
Whichever option you go for, a VPN Chrome extension is only ever as good as the VPN behind – it so going for a fully fledged and feature-rich standalone VPN is always a good idea.
Does Chrome have a VPN?
While Chrome is very well-featured, it doesn't offer a built-in VPN. However, that's not a problem as there are a huge number of browser VPNs to pick from – not least the top five above.
Thankfully, Chrome is also the perfect environment for a browser VPN to work in – it's stable, simple, easy to use and incredibly customisable, so there are some great Chrome VPNs that will work just as reliably as their standalone counterparts.
Is there a free Chrome VPN extension?
A free Chrome extension is a tempting prospect – browsing anonymity and data security for nothing sounds great. However, in practice these free services aren't as great as they seem.
The first thing to consider is where the free VPN is making its money. It's likely that you'll be seeing ads, or, more sinisterly, it could be skimming your data and selling it for profit. If that's happening, you're better off using no VPN at all.
There are some good free Chrome VPNs out there – like Windscribe at number 5 on this list – but in truth you'll never be able to get a truly good VPN experience unless you pay.
However, that doesn't have to break the bank. Surfshark, for example, offers a totally secure and fully-featured VPN service for less than $2 a month. While its Chrome VPN isn't powerful enough to feature on this list, it works well as a lightweight proxy extension – and at a price you'd barely notice, we think it's worth the investment.
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