Chances are, you’re reading this from the world’s most popular web browser, Google Chrome. According to StatCounter, almost 65% of internet users access the web through Chrome or a Chromium-based browser.
Chromium open-source software also powers new arrivals to the browser scene, such as Brave, which means that all the VPN extensions we’ll be looking at here are also compatible with any other Chromium based browsers.
This guide is also going to be relevant to Google Chromebook users – but with one important distinction.
If you’re a Chromebook user, all of the browser extensions below will only encrypt your internet traffic while you’re inside a Chrome browser session. You’ll need to download the Android client for each of these VPN’s to use it on your Chromebook.
Why do you need a VPN extension for Chrome?
You might think that having a VPN application installed and running from your desktop will give you complete privacy – but you’d be wrong.
Although VPN applications reroute your traffic through a private server and mask your IP, there are still certain ways that you can be tracked through your browser session.
To show you local recommendations and services, many websites will track your session through HTML5 geolocation, which reveals your approximate location – with greater accuracy if you’re using a GPS enabled device.
It’s a little-known way that websites can see your approximate location without tracking your IP, and it’s especially annoying if you’re making an effort not to be served ads, or get tracked as you navigate the web.
Most quality VPN extensions for Chrome will spoof your location, which prevents HTML5 geolocation from establishing your location.
Traditional location tracking through your IP will use ‘web real-time communication’, or WebRTC, to track you during your session. Most VPNs will block this even through their desktop apps, but you can ensure your session is private through a browser extension.
Often, VPN providers will refer to their Chrome extensions as ‘proxy extensions’, because of the extra security they afford their users. Here, we’re going to look at the best VPNs for both the Google Chrome browser, and the Google Chromebook.
Established in 2009, ExpressVPN has been providing military-grade traffic encryption and privacy protection for over a decade, and in May 2019 they launched the latest iteration of their Chrome extension.
One of the highest-rated VPN browser extensions on the market, the ExpressVPN Chrome extension offers serious browsing protection for users of all levels. The extension was last updated in March 2020.
To install the ExpressVPN Chrome browser extension, you’ll first need to have the desktop app (full client) for Windows, Mac, Android (and also Chromebook), or Linux, and an active ExpressVPN subscription. You can sign up here.
The ExpressVPN app for Chrome has a 4.2 star rating from over 650 users, and 800,000 downloads. Users can also download an Android client for ExpressVPN to protect their Chromebook.
ExpressVPN for Chrome features
There’s a lot of crossover between the ExpressVPN desktop app and their Chrome extension, however there’s a few extra features to keep you safe while browsing, which include:
- Location spoofing – Prevents HTML5 geolocation code embedded in websites from revealing your true whereabouts.
- One-click connection – Once you’ve installed the extension, you can turn it off or on in seconds using the icon in the top right corner of your browser. You’ll automatically connect to the last place you connected to on your desktop app.
- WebRTC blocking – ExpressVPN ensures your location is obfuscated through changing your IP address.
- HTTPS upgrade – If you connect to a site which doesn’t have HTTPS protection, the ExpressVPN extension will automatically connect you to a more secure version of the site, which helps to protect your personal data.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the extension, it’s added to your Chrome toolbar (in the top right corner next to your user profile by default), and you can open the extension to change settings like server location, HTTPS settings, and more.
Is ExpressVPN reliable?
As one of the best-established and most trusted VPN services, ExpressVPN has gained a good reputation for providing reliable and safe internet privacy.
Over the years, they’ve built a huge network of dedicated servers and infrastructure to provide a stable service to users, which includes:
- Unlimited bandwidth – Some smaller VPN operators place restrictions on bandwidth, but with ExpressVPN’s network of over 3,000 servers across 94 countries, you can enjoy unlimited use of your VPN.
- Streaming services – ExpressVPN works hard to keep support open for streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime, allowing users to bypass geo-restrictions.
- Anonymous browsing – Together with their HTML5 and WebRTC blocking, ExpressVPN uses TrustedServer technology to encrypt browsing data as you surf Chrome.
- Multi-device support – Whether you’re browsing Chrome from a Windows, Android, Iphone, Mac, or Linux device, you can install ExpressVPN. Chrome extensions are only available to desktop users. Chromebook users are supported via the Android client.
Does ExpressVPN support streaming services?
ExpressVPN does provide guarantees that it’s users will be able to bypass most major streaming services, for instance if they’re trying to watch American Netflix from Europe.
This is known as bypassing ‘georestrictions’, and whilst some VPNs provide this dedicated service, many do not.
ExpressVPN is well known for its support of geo-restriction bypassing on all devices, including inside the Chrome browser and Chromebook, and they also offer a 30-day money back guarantee if the service happens not to work for you.
How much does ExpressVPN cost?
As we mentioned, you’ll need a subscription and the desktop app to use the ExpressVPN browser extension.
To download the ExpressVPN client to your desktop, you’ll also need to first have an active subscription, so make sure you’ve visited ExpressVPN’s website and signed-up before you try to add their Chrome extension, because it won’t work otherwise.
ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive VPN providers, but we think their reputation, security, and customer service makes up for this somewhat.
Subscription costs $12.95 per month billed on a month-by-month basis, reduced to $8.32 per month if you subscribe and pay up front for a year’s service.
ExpressVPN Chrome extension verdict
Since their update in May 2019, ExpressVPN’s Chrome extension is one of the most downloaded browser extensions of any VPN provider, trusted by almost a million users.
Their high rating on the Chrome web store is a good indication of how well the extension performs.
We particularly like how easy it is to install and connect to the service. If you’re an ExpressVPN desktop user, it takes literally seconds to install and use the extension – and we really recommend you do.
It’s not intrusive either, there’s no annoying notifications or pop-ups while you’re browsing – it simply sits on the toolbar and does its job.
Overall, ExpressVPN is a great choice for both Chromebook and Chrome browser users who want an extra layer of protection.
Another of our regularly featured VPN providers, we’ve previously highly recommended NordVPN for both it’s affordable subscription prices, and consistently reliable service.
One of the VPN industries biggest names, NordVPN launched in 2012 out of Panama, and has grown into a behemoth of the VPN space – serving over 12 million users worldwide.
Their Chrome extension, first launched in 2017, is a great way to ensure NordVPN’s privacy extension extends to every part of your browsing experience. Downloaded by half a million users, the extension generally has good reviews, with a three-star rating overall.
It’s worth mentioning here that NordVPN also has an incredibly useful password manager Chrome extension called NordPass. This is a fairly new service by NordVPN and it offers a single secure place to store passwords and login information. All passwords are encrypted using XChaCha20 – the latest encryption technology.
NordVPN’s Chrome extension was recently updated in December 2019, and the team publishes regular updates to the service.
NordVPN for Chrome features
We’ll take a look at some of NordVPNs wider VPN features below, but there’s several unique services included in their Chrome extension which makes it well worth considering:
- HTTP encryption – All traffic moving through the NordVPN Chrome extension is encrypted using the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS 1.2), which provides an extra layer of privacy to your web inputs and activity.
- WebRTC leak protection – Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN’s browser extension prevents WebRTC leaks while you’re inside a browser session, which could reveal your true location even while your desktop VPN application is running.
- Malware protection – A unique feature we love about NordVPN is their ‘CyberSec’ protection, which actively protects users from intrusive auto-play adverts, pop-ups, and unauthorized downloads while you’re browsing the web.
- Unique IP’s – It’s well-known that NordVPN has one of the largest ranges of servers of any VPN service, but they also provide access to over 1,100 unique IP addresses in over 60 countries that users can connect to through their Chrome extension.
- Ranked Num 1 – Ranked our num 1 best VPN overall, as well as the best for torrenting, gaming and much more.
Is NordVPN reliable?
As one of the most used VPN providers in the world, NordVPN is generally trusted for its reliability and safety.
We previously found that NordVPN consistently ranks near the top, or in leading position, for virtually every category in VPN performance, but here’s a few overall features which make NordVPN a great choice:
- Special servers – NordVPN have developed a number of special servers which offer added browsing protection, including ‘Onion over VPN’, double VPN connection, and more. These features aren’t available via the Chrome extension, but you can still connect through your desktop app while receiving added security from your extension.
- Streaming – Slow streaming over VPN is a thing of the past with NordVPN, who use their thousands of servers to provide fast and reliable access to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, with unlimited bandwidth and bypassing geo-restrictions.
- No-log policy – User data, browsing history, and access information are never stored by NordVPN, and they don’t comply with requests for this data. Their no-logs policy is independently verified by third-party auditors.
Does NordVPN support streaming services?
If you’re watching Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or any other major streaming service through your Chrome browser, you’ll be pleased to know that you can use NordVPN to bypass geo-location restrictions.
The NordVPN team works hard to keep these services available, and their huge network of servers let’s most users slip past restrictions every time.
If you’re just watching shows in your Chrome browser, then the NordVPN extension may be all you need to manage your VPN connection – without launching the full client.
How much does NordVPN cost?
Like most other providers, it’s cheaper to sign-up to NordVPN with a longer subscription than paying monthly – and NordVPN offers some of the largest savings for long-term subscribers of any provider.
NordVPN offers a few different pricing plans. From least to most expensive, these are Standard, Plus, and Complete. Each plan provides more features as they get more expensive.
For a two year complete subscription, users pay just $134.73 in one lump sum. This may sound like a lot, but this equates to just $5.61 per month – a saving of over $200 compared to paying a monthly subscription at $14.99 per month.
That’s three years protection for less than one year’s subscription when paid monthly. This hugely affordable price has definitely contributed to NordVPNs success, and it’s proof that you can get a professional product at good prices.
Once you’ve subscribed, you can download the Android client if you’re using a Google Chromebook, then install the Chrome extension – you’ll be logged in automatically, and connected to your last used VPN server.
NordVPN Chrome extension verdict
Design wise, the NordVPN Chrome extension is very user friendly, easy to install and use, and doesn’t obstruct your browsing experience.
The NordVPN icon sits in your browser’s toolbar, displaying a small green block of text showing the country you’re connected to – a useful feature if you regularly access services in different jurisdictions.
CyberSec protection is a really interesting feature by NordVPN, and their inclusion of it in their Chrome extension provides yet another layer of protection against all sorts of malware and attacks, pop-ups, and auto-play adverts.
As a result the NordVPN Chrome extension is one of the few VPN extensions that doubles up as a basic ad-blocker and anti-tracker in one, making your browsing experience more pleasant.
It does have a lower score on the Chrome web store than ExpressVPN, but we found the functionality quite similar and just as good overall.
If you’re looking for an affordable Chromebook VPN with plenty of features, and a well designed browser extension, then NordVPN is a great choice.
The only VPN which promises to ‘put a bear in your browser’, TunnelBear is a Canadian VPN provider, owned by cyber-security firm McAfee. The service claims to have 20 million users – more than other leading brands NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
There are full Android clients available for Chromebook users, and the Google Chrome extension takes just a few seconds to download.
TunnelBear really started coming into their own following their acquisition by McAfee in 2018, but their Chrome extension is already one of the most downloaded on the web store, and has incredible reviews from its users.
Of 700,000 users, there are almost 33,000 reviews of the TunnelBear Chrome extension, with an amazing 5-star rating – the highest on our list. The last update of their extension was released in October 2019.
Compare this to just the few hundred reviews by users of NordVPN and ExpressVPN, and it’s easy to see that TunnelBear must have something worth shouting about. Let’s find out what it is!
TunnelBear for Chrome features
Remember, when you’re using the Chrome extension for TunnelBear, you’re only protected whilst you’re inside that browsing session. We strongly recommend downloading the Android full client to protect your entire traffic.
That said, TunnelBear has built a robust VPN Chrome extension which works well as stand-alone protection for lightweight tasks like browsing the web on the go. These include:
- Tracking protection – If you simply want a VPN service to stop annoying ads being served that track your whereabouts, then the TunnelBear extension works great. It blocks your IP by tunneling through their VPN servers.
- Avoid regional blocking – If a website is blocked to users from your jurisdiction, the TunnelBear Chrome extension is a really easy way to bypass these restrictions. You can do this without downloading the full client for your device.
- Public WiFi protection – Connecting to public WiFi without VPN protection is dangerous. It’s easy for attackers to gain access to your device, and lift personal information about your browsing session – such as payment info. If you only use public WiFi occasionally, then TunnelBear’s Chrome extension is an easy way to get basic protection.
The TunnelBear Blocker is a standalone extension for Chrome, but it works alongside their VPN service really well. The extension blocks all ads like a traditional ad-blocker, but it also prevents email tracking, browser fingerprinting, and more.
Users can also use the TunnelBear Blocker to prevent Adobe Flash applications from running automatically within Chrome, as well as prevent third-party tracking as you navigate between sites.
If you’re thinking of installing the TunnelBear VPN extension, we also recommend you use the TunnelBear Blocker, for complete protection.
Does TunnelBear support streaming services?
Unfortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t currently guarantee users will be able to bypass geo-restrictions that many major streaming services enforce.
That’s not to say no streaming services will work while using TunnelBear, and it’s possible that many might, and there could be certain workarounds.
However, with their fairly limited range of servers, many TunnelBear VPN connections have already been identified and blocked by streaming services.
How much does TunnelBear cost?
There’s no extra cost for downloading and using the TunnelBear Chrome extension, and in actual fact, you can even use 500 MB of data over the VPN service for free.
However, to use the full client for Android on your Chromebook past your free allowance, you’ll need a subscription.
TunnelBear is one of the most affordable VPN services, at just $3.33 per month – with no hidden costs or lengthy subscription services. You can even pay for your subscription in Bitcoin at no extra cost!
First 500 MB
TunnelBear for Chrome verdict
If you’re a casual user, who simply wants a VPN Chrome extension to limit intrusive adverts, and encrypt your traffic, then you’ll likely love the simplicity and 500MB of free data from TunnelBear.
However, we can’t recommend only using the TunnelBear browser extension, or free data, if you need a high level of protection. If you need to protect your privacy and encrypt your traffic, for instance doing business work over a public WiFi network, then we recommend you download a full Android client for your Chromebook.
TunnelBear is definitely aimed at a more casual range of users than ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or CyberGhost – which we’ll look at below. For instance, there’s no specific access to specialty servers, and the level of protection and server locations are limited compared to competitors.
Nevertheless, as a basic VPN for front-line protection on public networks and while bypassing geo-restrictions, TunnelBear’s full client for Chromebook and their Google Chrome extension is a great choice – and a very affordable one too.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access, often abbreviated to ‘PIA’, is a veteran VPN provider who have been in business for almost 20 years, providing its users with exactly what it says on the tin – greater privacy while browsing the web.P
Although it’s not as well known as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, PIA has a lot of features to offer, and it’s also compatible with Chromebook – albeit with a little advanced setup that might not be suitable for beginners.
The PIA Chrome extension has over 100,000 downloads and a 4-star user rating.
PIA Chrome extension features
Like other extensions, the PIA Chrome extension sits in the top right corner of your browser, and doesn’t show you unnecessary alerts or pop-ups. Turning it on only takes one click, and there’s a huge range of countries and servers to choose from.
We like the red lock icon, which indicates you’re not connected to one of PIA’s VPN servers, so you can tell at a glance whether you’re protected or not. The Chrome extension also includes:
- WebRTC blocking – Prevent your location data reaching the sites you browse through PIA’s WebRTC blocking, which obfuscates your IP address and stops third-party tracking.
- Latency priority – A feature we haven’t seen advertised with other services, PIA’s server gateways are sorted by latency – the time it takes to communicate with the server – so you’ll always get the best possible connection, and the best possible browser experience.
- URL whitelist – Another nice feature that PIA allows is manual whitelisting of websites you regularly visit, or those you don’t mind sharing your personal information with. An example of this may be an email login, or a forum you frequently log in to.
- P2P supported – PIA also allows peer-to-peer downloading, perfect for sharing or transferring files and using torrent sites.
Is PIA secure?
As one of the longest serving VPNs in the world, PIA is trusted by millions of users, and recommended by multiple companies including Forbes, Wired, and Business Insider.
The VPN provider uses 3,332 servers worldwide, located in 45 different countries, and it also offers users the opportunity to perform a range of privacy tests, such as DNS leak tests, IPv6 leaks, and email leaks via their website.
PIA is definitely a secure VPN provider, with a focus on maintaining users rights to privacy online – which they regularly publish thought-leadership on, and donate to a number of internet freedom’s groups.
Does PIA support streaming services?
PIA does support certain streaming services in some locations, however for the vast majority of streaming services they can’t guarantee access to all users.
This is mainly because PIA has focused on providing streaming access to the most popular geolocations, and as a result some users from certain countries have reported difficulty accessing streaming services through PIA.
How much does PIA cost?
Before we get into cost, let’s have a look at the ways you can pay for your PIA subscription.
Being leaders in privacy, PIA let their users pay in Bitcoin, and also a huge range of popular gift cards and store cards – so you don’t have to reveal your payment data or personal information.
If you’re really interested in totally preserving your privacy, you could buy a gift card in cash at your local store, and redeem it for your subscription. This is a feature we really like, as it shows PIA go above and beyond in protecting their user’s private data.
They’re pricing is attractive too. Their cheapest subscription starts at just $39.95 per year, or the equivalent of $3.33 per month, which puts PIA on par with TunnelBear.
If you want to pay monthly, it’s $9.95 per month – so buying a yearly subscription will save you 67%, paying for itself in just four months.
PIA Chrome extension verdict
Overall, PIA can definitely attest to being one of the most secure and privacy conscious VPN services, and their commitment to preserving individual internet freedoms says good things for their approach to keeping user logs and protecting your information.
Their Chrome extension is good, it’s got all the features you’d expect including HTTPS upgrade and WebRTC blocking, which is active even when there’s no VPN connection established.
We also like the fact that PIA allows users to pay in Bitcoin, or through gift cards bought with cash from many major retailers, which basically enables users to make every single part of their account completely private.
However, PIA will probably appeal to the more advanced user, especially for Google Chromebook users, who will have to manually configure some information to connect to a server, rather than simply downloading a full client.
Nevertheless, if it’s total privacy and anonymity you’re looking for online, look no further than PIA.
Established in 2011, CyberGhost has grown to be one of the most popular VPN providers, and have attracted a large and dedicated user base through their commitment to transparency and customer service.
Unfortunately, there’s no full client currently available for Chromebook users. However, CyberGhost do have a totally free Google Chrome extension with limited server options which is worth a look, and there are ways to connect to their servers from a Chromebook if you’re more experienced.
CyberGhost’s Chrome extension has 200,000 downloads and a 4.2-star user rating on the Google web store.
CyberGhost Chrome extension features
CyberGhost’s tray icon is a small ghost in the top right hand corner of your browser – but it’s actual browser extension window is the largest and one of the best looking that we’ve reviewed here.
With a huge power button to turn the VPN on, and a quick drop-down menu to choose your VPN location, CyberGhost’s Chrome extension is one of the easiest to use and activate.
You can connect for free to Germany, the U.S., the Netherlands, and Romania, with unlimited bandwidth – but do bear in mind that it’s only your Chrome session that’s protected, not your entire connection.
You don’t need to download a client for your Chromebook to use the CyberGhost Chrome extension, but nevertheless we recommend you configure a separate connection anyway for full protection – although there’s some technical know-how needed for this.
Is CyberGhost secure?
To ensure the security and stability of its network, CyberGhost has invested in some of the best infrastructure in the world, including:
- Thousands of servers – CyberGhost has the most servers of any VPN provider we’ve reviewed here, with over 6,400 dedicated VPN servers in 90 countries worldwide, providing stable and uninterrupted service.
- Military-grade encryption – All traffic passed through CyberGhost’s servers, including that which passes through their Chrome extension, is protected with AES 256-bit encryption, making it impossible to intercept.
- Bitcoin subscriptions – Like PIA, CyberGhost lets users pay in Bitcoin for their VPN subscription. Using a throw away email to sign-up and paying in Bitcoin provides complete anonymity.
The service also has a number of other innovative features, such as NoSpy servers which are controlled completely by the CyberGhost team, no logs policies, and multi-device support. Some of these features are not available through their Chrome extension.
Does CyberGhost support streaming services?
CyberGhost’s full VPN does support all major streaming services, and they guarantee that their users will be able to access the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and even regional services like the BBC through their VPN.
However, it’s not clear if this same support also extends to their free Chrome extension. It’s unlikely that all streaming services are available through the extension, as there’s only a limited number of servers to choose from.
How much does CyberGhost VPN cost?
Even though you can access the Google Chrome extension for free, we highly recommend purchasing a subscription for more complete protection and access to premium features.
CyberGhost are one of the cheapest VPN providers, with subscriptions from just $2.75 per month – although you’ll need to purchase a three-year plan worth $99 to get this price.
Monthly subscriptions cost $12.99, or a 1-year plan is just $71.88, equivalent to $5.99 per month.
CyberGhost Chrome extension verdict
It’s free, but is it any good? It’s certainly a decent service for a freemium product. Naturally, CyberGhost encourages users to subscribe to their service, and as a result their Chrome extension is quite limited.
There’s only a few servers to choose from, which might not suit people who put their privacy first, and it’s got a limited choice of country location.
For those who aren’t sure if they need a Chrome VPN extension, it’s a good way to get to know how these add-ons work, but it’s certainly not comparable to NordVPN or ExpressVPN’s premium Chrome extensions.
It’s a shame that CyberGhost doesn’t currently have a full client for Chromebook users, and while this may change in the future, at the moment you’ll need to be a fairly advanced user to set up this VPN on your Chromebook device.
What is the best VPN for Chrome in 2020?
There’s always a winner in all walks of life – and VPN services for Chrome are no different. Some are definitely better than others, either with more in-browser utility or simply better access to servers.
However, all of the VPNs we’ve looked at here have their own unique features, and we would gladly recommend them all for protection while you’re using a Chromebook or navigating the web inside the Chrome browser.
But there’s a clear winner that not only offers the most for your money, but also has some of the best technical features of any VPN on the market, and looks great while doing it.
NordVPN, a service we’ve previously given great reviews of in the past and it is currently ranked our best VPN overall. It also takes the number one spot for Chromebook and Chrome browser VPN providers.
It’s Chrome extension makes it easy to see where your most recent connections were and reconnect to them, it’s not intrusive and it doesn’t show unnecessary alerts, and it’s useful to see where you’re currently connected to on their icon.
The other feature we like about NordVPN’s Google Chrome extension is that you’re logged in automatically if you have the full client for desktop, which saves time when you open a new Chrome session.
NordVPN has a dedicated full client for Android, which is also configured to work with Google Chromebook devices, so you can cover both your device and browsing session if you need to.
Despite scoring fairly low in their reviews, NordVPNs latest Google Chrome extension, released just four months ago, has some great new features which we think will push its ratings up.
Overall, we highly recommend Google Chromebook owners and Chrome browser users to use NordVPN to protect their privacy while they browse the web!