The Top 3 VPN Extensions for Google Chrome

Martin Gschwentner

Whether you want to surf the web more securely or stream content from abroad, there are few ways around using 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 browser plugins? And which VPN extension is the best for Google Chrome? Below, we'll answer all of these questions for you.

In contrast to a VPN client, a browser extension does not create a VPN connection, meaning that those services which claim to be doing so aren't exactly being upfront.

VPN clients are programs installed on your computer, specifically, your operating system, which, when activated, route all Internet traffic from your computer through a secure VPN tunnel to the Internet. This contrasts with browser extensions, which create a proxy connection between your browser and the VPN server (or client, if installed on your computer).

Beyond differences as regards functionality, the types of encryption used by clients and browser extensions also vary. For example, VPN clients make use of protocols like OpenVPN or WireGuard, which encrypt all data traffic sent by your device or computer. On the other hand, a browser extension typically doesn't offer such robust encryption, relying instead upon HTML, again, only on the browser level.

Put briefly: A VPN client protects all data traffic sent by your computer or device, doing so with more powerful encryption, whereas a browser extension only encrypts traffic from your browser using (comparatively) weaker encryption. Of course, there are exceptions, but for most clients and extensions, this generally holds true.

Without further ado, we give you our Top 3 VPN extensions for Google Chrome:

Top 3 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 3, and how they compare with one another.

1.

ExpressVPN - The Safe Bet

ExpressVPN Test
ExpressVPN
(419,490)
3000+ Server
160 cities in 94 countries
Excellent performance
Saves no logs
30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN impresses with strong performance, a huge server network and excellently designed applications, but this quality also comes at a higher price.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
3
Protocols
7
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
ExpressVPN 12 Months
$8.33
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent

ExpressVPN made a strong showing in our comprehensive evaluation, securing second place, with its browser extension impressing us as well. 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.

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. This means that you can also shield P2P programs or other apps with your browser's VPN connection.

ExpressVPN's Chrome extension also comes equipped with additional security features such as "HTTPS Everywhere", which ensures that, when possible, you automatically connect to the secure HTTPS version of a website.

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, it's possible to select from all server locations or recommended servers. You can also 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-rounder.

Review Score
4.7 / 5
04/2021
excellent
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.7 / 5
Server Network
4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.7 / 5
Installation and Features
4.3 / 5
2.

Windscribe - The Freebie

Windscribe VPN Test
Windscribe VPN
(95,170)
500+ servers in 60+ countries
Free version with 10 GB limit
Connect unlimited devices
Good for video streaming
Headquarters in Canada
Data volume
10 - ∞
Devices
unlimited
Protocols
2
Contract Period
0 - 18 months
Windscribe Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Download for free
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good

Windscribe staked out a 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, 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 browser extension offers users a number of additional features.

That isn't all though: Windscribe's extension also comes with 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. "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.

Review Score
3.9 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Performance
4.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Server Network
3.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
3.0 / 5
3.

NordVPN - The Speed Demon

Best Overall 2021
NordVPN Test
NordVPN
(750,580)
5400+ servers, 60 countries
Excellent performance
No logs
6 devices simultaneously
Inexpensive 2-year package
NordVPN combines speed, user-friendliness and functionality into a coherent overall package that is also fairly affordable.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
6
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.30
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Best Overall
4.7 / 5
excellent

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 its "CyberSec" feature, the extension also serves as an ad and malware blocker, to say nothing of its protection against WebRTC leaks. With "Quick Connect", you can establish an instant VPN connection to a specific country, or choose one 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 given 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.

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPN services on the market, and its browser extension doesn't disappoint. For those who want to establish a proxy connection in the shortest time possible, look no further.

Review Score
4.7 / 5
04/2021
excellent
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.7 / 5
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.7 / 5
Server Network
4.3 / 5

Alternatives

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 services from our sample which offer Chrome extensions:

TunnelBear VPN Test
TunnelBear VPN
(310,418)
Offers free plan
Independent security audit
Low price
Small server network
Headquarters in Canada
Data volume
0.5 - ∞
Devices
1 - 5
Protocols
2
Contract Period
0 - 36 months
TunnelBear Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
3.5 / 5
good
Hotspot Shield VPN Test
Hotspot Shield VPN
(1,641,534)
3200+ Server
70+ countries
Offers free plan
Below-average performance
Headquarters in the USA
Data volume
0.5 - ∞
Devices
1 - 25
Protocols
5
Contract Period
0 - 12 months
Hotspot Shield Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good
CyberGhost VPN Test
CyberGhost VPN
(183,096)
6400+ server
90 countries
Saves no logs
45 days money-back guarantee
Reliable Streaming
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
7
Protocols
6
Contract Period
1 - 36 months
CyberGhost 3 Years
$2.25
monthly price
Visit Website »
45 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good
hide.me VPN Test
hide.me VPN
(21,687)
1900+ servers
75+ locations in 47+ countries
Saves no logs
14-day money-back guarantee
with free plan
Data volume
10 - ∞
Devices
1 - 10
Protocols
7
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
hide.me Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.2 / 5
good

Among these Top 3, 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 choice to only focus on those services which must be paid for or offer freemium, or 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 using their service.

Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
Translator & Editor: D Bare
Other languages:
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