Best VPN for Chrome: TOP 5 Extensions
Whether you want to surf the Web more securely or stream content from abroad, only a few ways exist for doing so that don't involve a VPN. As if the sheer number of providers didn't make things hard enough, each offers different services and features, including browser extensions.
But aren't VPN clients and browser extensions the same thing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the latter? And which VPN extension is the best for Google Chrome? Below, we'll answer all of these questions for you.
Top 5 VPN Extensions for Google Chrome
Google Chrome is the most widely used browser in the world, a fact attributable, at least in part, to its flexibility and adaptability. Most VPN providers offer Chrome extensions, however, their performances are not always uniform. The list below shows the advantages and disadvantages of each of our Top 5 VPN extensions for Chrome, and how they compare with one another.
ExpressVPN - The Safe Bet
ExpressVPN made a strong showing in our comprehensive evaluation of VPN providers, securing second place. Its browser extension for Chrome also impressed us. Before continuing, we should mention that ExpressVPN's browser extension is not a stand-alone piece of software, but can only be used in conjunction with the provider's client. As such, it is much more an integrated 'remote control' for the main client than a browser plugin that creates proxy connections to the client (the difference is explained at the end of this article).
This has the disadvantage that it cannot be used independently of the program's client. However, in our eyes, its advantages far outweigh this solitary shortcoming: ExpressVPN's Chrome extension unifies desktop and browser, offering not only protection for the latter, but also the rest of your data traffic, and that at high speeds with the strongest-possible OpenVPN encryption. In other words, you can use your browser's VPN connection to shield P2P programs or other apps on your system.
ExpressVPN's Chrome extension comes with additional security features such as "HTTPS Everywhere", which ensures that, when possible, you automatically connect to a website's secure HTTPS version.
ExpressVPN's browser extension offers location spoofing, WebRTC blocking, and "HTTPS Everywhere."
The extension's interface is identical to that of its desktop counterpart. Next to the big "Connect" button, you can scroll through server locations or recommended servers. It's also possible to set the extension to automatically connect to a VPN whenever you start Chrome. For any other options or settings though, you'll need to head over to the desktop client.
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN providers, and its Chrome extension doesn't fall short of this mark, with its comfort, speed, and security making it the best all-arounder.
Windscribe - The Freebie
Windscribe staked out a respectable place in the upper half of our sample, scoring highly, at least in part, thanks to its excellent free version. Its Chrome extension also left a good impression, but in contrast to ExpressVPN's offering, only encrypts what goes on in your browser. With that said, you can see the desktop client's VPN connection in its interface.
Should you activate both simultaneously, you'll engage "Double Hop" mode. This routes your data traffic through two separate proxy servers, ensuring even greater security.
Windscriber's Chrome extension comes with a number of additional features.
That isn't all though: Windscribe's extension also includes an integrated ad blocker and a variety of features that aren't limited to paying subscribers. With "Location Warp" and "Time Warp", for example, it's possible to take control over your proxy connection's GPS and time settings, respectively. "Split Personality" rotates Chrome's user agent, minimizing your susceptibility to browser fingerprinting.
Windscribe offers an excellent Chrome extension, and owing to its low cost (free) is more than worth taking a look at.
NordVPN - No Nonsense
NordVPN took first place in our evaluation and its Chrome extension was one of the best we assessed. Particularly in terms of security, epitomized by the "CyberSec" feature, NordVPN's extension also serves as an ad and malware blocker, to say nothing of the protection it offers against WebRTC leaks. With "Quick Connect", you can establish an instant VPN connection to a specific country, or choose a server from a list of the last three countries you've connected to.
Settings are somewhat limited, however: Alongside "CyberSec", and "Block WebRTC", you're only able to add sites to a whitelist ("Bypass List"), which your proxy should circumvent.
NordVPN's browser extension doesn't offer as many settings as those of the rest of our Top 3.
NordVPN's Chrome extension creates HTTPS-encrypted proxy connections in a matter of seconds and operates independently from the desktop client, which doesn't even need to be installed. As noted above, the downside to this is that only your browser traffic is secured when using the extension.
The service is one of the fastest VPN services on the market, and its Chrome extension doesn't disappoint. For those who want to establish a proxy connection in the shortest time possible, look no further.
Surfshark: Top Price-Performance Ratio
Surfshark doesn't only offer one of the best VPN packages out there, but also, one of the most affordable, especially if signing on for 2 years. The provider isn't short on features either: You'll get everything needed, including split tunneling, as well as a few additional security tools, like an adblocker and email leak check.
The provider also performed well in our speed test, staking out fourth place overall.
Surfshark's Chrome extension is almost identical in appearance to its desktop app.
Surfshark's Chrome extension is proxy-based and works even if you don't have the service's desktop counterpart installed. It affords access to Surfshark's entire server network and its multi-hop feature, which allows you to route your connection through multiple VPN servers.
For an additional fee, you can unlock additional features, data leak monitoring, antivirus tools, or anonymous searching with reliable, organic results.
Private Internet Access: Useful Security Features
Private Internet Access impressed us with its module-based, customizable VPN app, combining a wide variety of features with user-friendliness. Rounding things out were its large server network and solid support.
In terms of performance and speed though, Private Internet Access was somewhat the mark, taking a place in the middle of our sample. Similarly, we weren't too thrilled about its parent company, Kape Technologies, which in the past has been accused of being a malware/adware slinger. The same company also owns ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and ZenMate.
Private Internet Access scores with its extra security features.
PIA's Chrome extension made it onto this list primarily for the handful of extra security features it provides. For example, you can completely block autofill for credit card information, restrict access to your integrated microphone or webcam, and really clamp down on tracking. Taken together, this makes PIA's Chrome extension a very useful digital companion.
Most VPN providers offer browser extensions for Google Chrome. Owing to its global popularity, the browser is often the first for which developers design extensions. Detailed reviews of 22 of the best VPN services can be found in our exhaustive and authoritative comparison.
Below, we've provided a list of all of the services from our sample that offer Chrome extensions:
Among these Top 5, similarly to our exhaustive VPN comparison, only premium and freemium providers were considered. However, in your own search for a VPN provider, you'll most likely happen across "free" services, especially as mobile apps or browser extensions. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes "If you're not paying for a product, the product is you", and most of these use the data you supply to support and expand their operations.
Particularly in a software segment that emphasizes security and privacy, we've made a conscious decision to only focus on those services which must be paid for or offer freemium (limited versions) of their software. Should you still opt for a "free" service, we recommend carefully reading up on the provider, as well as what is installed on your device or operating system when taking advantage of their service.
Differences Between a VPN Client and Browser Extension
In contrast to a VPN client, a browser extension doesn't establish a 'true' VPN connection. Accordingly, a number of services (particularly free ones), which advertise "free VPNs" are misnamed.
VPN clients (or programs) work on the level of your operating system, routing all of your Internet traffic through a secure VPN connection. On the other hand, a VPN browser extension creates a proxy connection. Such proxy servers only relay data from your browser, meaning that all traffic occurring outside of your browser uses your regular Internet connection.
Beyond that, there's also a difference in terms of the degree of encryption: VPN programs use VPN protocols like OpenVPN or WireGuard, in order to encrypt a device's entire data traffic. Browser extensions don't usually have such powerful encryption, relying instead on HTML, which only works on the browser level.
Summing up: A VPN client protects all of a device's data traffic with powerful encryption, whereas a browser extension only guards your browser traffic, and, even then, with comparably weaker encryption.