Best VPN for Chrome

There are many things to take into consideration when choosing a VPN service. Although our list of the best VPN providers is a great place to start, it focuses on VPNs, in general, rather than which ones offer the most solid integration with Google Chrome. 

A lot of the same criteria apply when looking for the best VPN for Chrome, but here we’ll focus on the dedicated browser extensions.

If you’re not sure what a VPN is, it stands for virtual private network. In essence, a VPN encrypts your traffic and routes it through an intermediary server before reaching the website you’re visiting, which hides your identity and location. 

There are countless reasons to install a VPN. Whether you live in a country with rampant internet censorship, such as China or Turkey, or you’re a fan of torrenting and worried about being watched. Additionally, if you frequently use public WiFi, a VPN is crucial to ensure that others on the same network can’t listen in.

Furthermore, net neutrality is under fire in many countries, and a VPN is one of the few ways to make sure your ISP isn’t restricting your speed based on what website you’re visiting. 

There are plenty of free VPN extensions in the Chrome web store, but more often than not these are dodgy in terms of privacy and security, if they even work at all, as we covered in our article on the worst free VPN services.

Although this list focuses specifically on VPN extensions, there’s much more you can do to ensure you’re using the most secure web browser, such as downloading one of the best browser security extensions.

If you want to skip straight to the winner, that would be Private Internet Access. It is a great all-around VPN that also sports an excellent Chrome browser extension, which offers you plenty of settings to adjust, as well as an easily navigable server list.

Furthermore, net neutrality is under fire in many countries, and a VPN is one of the few ways to make sure your ISP isn’t restricting your speed based on what website you’re visiting. 

There are plenty of free VPN extensions in the Chrome web store, but more often than not these are dodgy in terms of privacy and security, if they even work at all, as we covered in our article on the worst free VPN services.

Although this list focuses specifically on VPN extensions, there’s much more you can do to ensure you’re using the most secure web browser, such as downloading one of the best browser security extensions.

If you want to skip straight to the winner, that would be Private Internet Access. It is a great all-around VPN that also sports an excellent Chrome browser extension, which offers you plenty of settings to adjust, as well as an easily navigable server list.

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The Best VPN for Chrome 2019

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$ per month
top features
  1. 1
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 10 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit Private Internet AccessPrivate Internet Access Review
  1. 2
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit ExpressVPNExpressVPN Review
  1. 3
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • Unlimited Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit Windscribe Windscribe Review
  1. 4
  2. /month
    • Credit card
    • 6 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit NordVPNNordVPN Review
  1. 5
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • Simultaneous connections
    • 2GB free, 75GB on plus Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit Hide.meHide.me Review

What Makes a VPN Best for Chrome?

For the most part, our criteria for judging VPNs for Chrome are the same as those we use in all of our VPN reviews. However, we’ll be focusing on how these apply to each VPNs browser extensions for Chrome, ignoring dedicated desktop applications as much as we can (though not entirely).

ExpressVPN-Desktop-Application

The most important requirement for a good VPN is that it keeps no logs. Using a VPN is all about privacy, so a company keeping detailed logs of your traffic is, at best, counterproductive and, at worst, makes the software essentially useless. Although a company might keep logs but claim to never share them with third parties, it can still be forced to do so by the authorities if the logs exist.

Next up is speed. If a VPN is too slow or limits your connection too heavily, it quickly becomes frustrating to use. This is where many free VPNs fall short, as the only way they can feasibly offer their services for free is by limiting how much bandwidth the users have available.

A good VPN also needs plenty of server choices. The servers need to be located all over the world in many different countries, preferably with several options for each location. ExpressVPN is a great example of a VPN with a solid server list, as it offers more than 3,000 options spread across 94 countries.

Because one of the primary tasks of a VPN is to encrypt your traffic, this is another important metric. Not all types of encryption are equal, with some being far more secure than others. If you’d like to learn more, check out our description of encryption.

Besides encryption, there are some other security features that we like to see in a VPN. These include protection from DNS leaks, WebRTC blocking and solid IP cloaking to protect your identity while browsing the internet. 

Streaming is another area where VPN performance varies wildly, with those on the best VPN for streaming list able to crack the Netflix VPN ban and other geoblocking measures.

The Best VPN for Chrome: Private Internet Access

As we mentioned in our Private Internet Access review, PIA is a solid VPN provider, despite a few flaws. In fact, it’s one of the fastest VPN services, with only ExpressVPN beating it in terms of speed. Unfortunately, while the speed is excellent, the latency certainly isn’t, which keeps PIA out of our best VPN for gaming guide.

One of its flaws is the annoying location of the desktop application, as it’s confined to your system tray. This isn’t much of a problem if you’re just going to use the browser extension, but there are a few features that you won’t be able to access there.

Although the main PIA desktop application comes with a kill switch with three modes, there is no way to turn this on through the browser extension, but this is a fairly common limitation for browser VPNs.

The main control panel of the extension lets you connect and disconnect from the VPN, as well as access a quick-connect menu with a few selected servers. You can also see your subscription status here and add websites to your whitelist.

Unlike some other VPN browser extensions, PIAs lets you connect to all 53 of its servers in 33 countries. It includes a good number of options for Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Americas, but the only option in Africa is a single server in South Africa. You can sort the servers either by country name or latency, which is a nice touch.

If you open the settings, you’re presented with a whole lot of options to fiddle with. First are the security settings, which include blocking Flash, WebRTC IP detection and forced upgrades to HTTPS.

Then there’s the privacy controls, which give you the option to disable the browser’s access to your camera, microphone and location. You can also make the VPN force the browser to turn off various features that compromise your privacy, including safe browsing, network prediction and autofill for addresses and credit cards.

Under tracking, you find MACE — a malware- and ad-blocker — as well as the HTTP referrer, which stops Chrome from sending the current URL to another website when you click on a link. You can also disable various types of trackers, including third-party cookies and Facebook parameters.

You can also change a few of the VPN settings directly in the extension’s main panel, but these quick settings are limited to blocking website’s access to your microphone and camera, changing between the light and dark themes, and enabling MACE, the HTTP referrer and debug logging.

Other Reasons We Like Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is available across every major operating system and even tops our list of the best VPN services for Linux. Although the company offers apps on both Android and iOS, and PIA achieved third place in our list of the best VPN services for iPhone, it didn’t make it onto our best VPN for Android list.

Private Internet Access doesn’t keep any logs of your traffic, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the company is based in the U.S., which is the country behind the infamous PRISM program and a member (and primary beneficiary) of the Five Eyes spy network.

Unfortunately, rather than the standard 30-day refund period, Private Internet Access only gives you a week to change your mind, if you’re not happy with the service.

Pros:

  • Excellent Chrome extension
  • No logging
  • Fast

Cons:

  • U.S. based
  • Poor customer support
Starts from $ 333 per month
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ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our number-one pick for a VPN, and a quick glance at our ExpressVPN review will show that we had very few complaints with the service.

Unlike the other VPNs on this list, ExpressVPN requires you to install the desktop application for it to function at all, as the browser extension is not capable of operating on its own. 

This is a bit of a minus in this list, but at the end of the day you should really be installing the desktop apps for all of these, regardless, as features like a kill switch or split tunneling are rarely included in the extensions.

As expected, there’s not much you can do in the extension itself. In the settings you can enable location spoofing, WebRTC blocking and HTTPS Everywhere, but that’s it. More advanced features, such as a kill switch, speedtest and split tunneling, are restricted to the native desktop application.

Speed is one of the most important factors when choosing a virtual private network, and ExpressVPN performs excellently in this regard. In fact, it topped our list of the fastest VPN providers, beating all of its competitors.

Not only is it the fastest VPN, it’s also the best VPN for streaming. Although it struggles a bit with Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, connecting to and streaming video with Netflix and BBC iPlayer is a breeze.

For security, ExpressVPN offers four different protocols — OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP and PPTP — but the service warns against using the latter two because of serious security concerns. OpenVPN is the default choice, which is excellent, and encryption is set to AES 256-bit.

There’s a lot to like with ExpressVPN, but its rather sparse browser extension and the fact that it requires the desktop app to function makes it fall just short of the top spot on this list.

Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN gets a perfect score on privacy. The company keeps no logs whatsoever of your activity, and only a tiny amount of personal information is collected to maintain your subscription, all of it impossible to tie back to a specific individual user.

Customer support is excellent, and ExpressVPN offers both live chat and email support, as well as an extensive knowledgebase filled with common questions and answers.

On the pricing side of things, ExpressVPN is somewhat expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. You can also pay via bitcoin, which is an excellent choice if you want to ensure maximum anonymity in your subscription details.

Pros:

  • Fastest VPN
  • Best VPN for streaming
  • Great privacy & security

Cons:

  • No ad or malware-blocker
  • Expensive
  • Requires the desktop application to function
Starts from $ 666 per month
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Windscribe

Windscribe is our pick for the best free VPN. As you can tell from our Windscribe review, we like it a lot, even if it doesn’t quite make it into our list of the best VPNs, in general. The “pro” plan offers 148 servers in 62 different countries, but if you don’t want to pay the subscription fee, you’ll be left with just 10 countries to choose from.

This certainly isn’t bad for a free VPN, though, and the 10 countries include seven in Europe (France, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Romania and the UK) as well as Canada, the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Although this provides good coverage in Europe and North America, it’s a bit lacking for other continents. The “pro” plan gives you access to the remaining 52 countries, though. Otherwise you can build your own plan, paying $1 per location per month.

The free plan also limits you to 2GB of data per month, which can be further upped to 10GB by confirming your email. However, there’s no speed caps, and you can connect as many devices as you want to the VPN simultaneously, even without paying the subscription.

For encryption, Windscribe uses AES 256-bit, which is excellent. The VPN supports the OpenVPN, IPSec, Stunnel and IKEv2 protocols, but if you want to change your encryption from the default, which is IKEv2, you need to install the desktop app. This is a bit of an issue, as IKEv2 is often recognized as a proxy and blocked by many websites.

Windscribe’s R.O.B.E.R.T system can block all sorts of website elements, including malware, ads, trackers, social media, porn, gambling, other VPNs, cryptominers, fake news and clickbait. However, if you’re on the free plan, you’ll only have access to the malware blocking, as the rest are only available to “pro” users.

There are several privacy features built into the Chrome extension, including several blockers. These can block ads, malware, trackers, cookies, social media content and notifications. 

Additionally, you can make the VPN block WebRTC IP identification and further protect your identity by having it mimic the GPS location and time of your chosen proxy server, as well as routinely rotate your user agent, which protects you from fingerprinting.

Although Windscribe does have a kill switch (or a “firewall,” as it calls it), you can’t activate it from the browser extension, meaning you’ll need to download the stand-alone client to do so. This is a commonality between all of the VPNs on this list, though, so it’s not very surprising.

Because of its dedicated Netflix servers, Windscribe really shines when it comes to video streaming, in general, and Netflix in particular. We didn’t encounter a proxy error when connecting to Netflix, and the VPN was one of our top picks for the best VPN for Netflix.

Unfortunately, there’s no split tunneling, so Windscribe is a poor choice if you need to be able to simultaneously connect through the VPN and your ISP. This, combined with the poor latency and upload speed, means Windscribe ends up as our number-three pick for the best VPN for Chrome, rather than higher up on the list.

Other Reasons We Like Windscribe

Windscribe also offers excellent customer support. The DIY articles offered in its help center are great, and the AI assistant is surprisingly decent. 

There’s also a dedicated subreddit with more than 10,000 subscribers, which is great if you need help with a specific problem. Finally, you can also reach out via email, and customer support usually gets back to you within a few hours to a day.

Pros:

  • Best free VPN
  • Unlimited connections
  • Malware & ad-blocker

Cons:

  • Poor latency and upload speed
  • No split tunneling
Starts from $ 417 per month
Free plan available

NordVPN

NordVPN is another excellent VPN provider, and it received great scores across all categories, barring speed, in our NordVPN review. Its inconsistent speed holds it back, though, which is what caused it to lose our NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN comparison.

Nevertheless, it’s our second favorite VPN, and the service comes with some great features. In the extension itself, you can enable CyberSec — an anti-malware and ad-blocking feature — as well as WebRTC blocking.

Unfortunately, there is no split tunneling, even with the desktop app, but there is an unusual feature called “app kill,” which lets you designate what applications should circumvent the kill switch. This doesn’t quite replace the need for split tunneling, but it does allow you to start a backup without worrying about it being cancelled halfway through.

Besides the kill switch, the desktop app also gives you access to NordVPN’s special servers. These include P2P servers, which are optimized for torrenting; onion servers, which connect through the Tor network (read our Tor review for an explanation of what this is); and double-hop servers, which bounce your connection across two locations, doubling your security.

As we mentioned briefly, NordVPN’s speed can be described as inconsistent, at best. Although it’s certainly possible to get good speeds, it requires manually testing out servers to find a fast one. 

NordVPN has a huge server network of more than 5,000 servers in 62 different countries. Unfortunately, as we mentioned, the recommended server algorithm is terrible, so you usually have to test a few out before you find an optimal one.

It can be similarly tricky to find the optimal server for streaming, but once you do, you can stream from Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video with no problems. 

A huge limitation with the browser extension is that you cannot choose a specific server to connect to, as you’re only given a list of countries, rather than the servers themselves.

Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is a top-notch VPN with a fairly basic Chrome extension. The fact that you can’t pick a specific server directly in the extension is a serious flaw and is why the VPN service isn’t higher up on this list.

Other Reasons We Like NordVPN

NordVPN keeps absolutely no logs of your activity and collects only a miniscule amount of personal information for payment purposes. To make yourself even more anonymous, you can pay with bitcoin and use a burner email (though you need to be able to access it for the verification).

Pricing is also excellent, particularly when you pay upfront for two or three years. We also found the customer support to be top-notch, with the live chat usually responding within a few minutes. You can also contact NordVPN by email, and you should receive a response within a few hours.

Pros:

  • Fast on some servers
  • Great for streaming
  • Huge number of servers

Cons:

  • Inconsistent speed
  • No split tunneling
  •  Can’t connect to specific servers in browser extension
Starts from $ 349 per month
Save 71 %

Hide.me

As we covered in our Hide.me review, this VPN comes with a lot of features packed into its desktop application. Unfortunately, much of this functionality is not present in the Chrome extension, which pushes it to the bottom of this list.

When connecting through the Hide.me VPN, your traffic is protected using 128-bit AES encryption, but if this isn’t enough for you, it can be changed to the even more secure 256-bit AES, which would take billions of years to crack through brute force.

For its VPN protocol, Hide.me only offers OpenVPN. Although we like to see some alternatives in this regard, OpenVPN is a solid choice and a great VPN protocol. 

WebRTC blocking is included, which is a plus. Although Hide.Me does support split tunneling, you need the dedicated desktop application to activate it. However, as you can probably tell by now, this limitation is pretty standard.

Although Hide.me gives you access to 55 servers across 34 countries when using the desktop application, you are much more limited when only using the Chrome extension. In fact, 55 countries turn into three, with servers only in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands available.

This, combined with poor performance when streaming, makes it a subpar choice as a VPN for Netflix or similar streaming services and relegates Hide.me to the bottom of this list.

Other Reasons We Like Hide.me

You can choose between a free and a paid plan, and unlike a lot of VPNs, the free plan is actually decent. You’re limited to one device and 2GB of data per month if you don’t pay, but there’s no throttling, so speed shouldn’t be a concern. Although Hide.me isn’t among the fastest VPNs, it certainly isn’t slow, either.

Finally, as we covered in our review, we’ve had excellent experience with the company’s customer support. Billing and sales support is available 24/7 through live chat, and technical support will generally get back to you within a day of your email inquiry.

Pros:

  • Good free plan
  • No logs, certified by a third party
  • Solid encryption

Cons:

  • Several features missing in the browser extension
  • Only three countries available in browser extension
  • Poor streaming performance
Starts from $ 500 per month
Free plan available Save 50 %

Final Thoughts

With that, we conclude our list of the best VPNs for Chrome. While there’s certainly some overlap with our list of the best VPNs, in general, several of our top picks there are somewhat lacking when it comes to their browser extensions.

This is the case for ExpressVPN and NordVPN, which top our list of the best VPNs, but here come in at second and fourth place, respectively. Meanwhile, Private Internet Access shoots to the top of the list owing to its excellent Chrome extension full of settings you can adjust. 

Windscribe also does well, due to the extensive privacy settings found in the extension. Finally, Hide.me brings up the rear because of its very limited server choice outside of its desktop application. 

What do you think of our ranking? Did we miss your favorite VPN? If so, let us know in the comments below which one and why you think it deserves a place on our list. Thank you for reading.

 

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