Chromebooks are a nice alternative to Windows laptops if you want to do only simple tasks. They’re lightweight, simple to use and inexpensive. Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS, and that has pretty good security. Still, Chromebooks are susceptible to online threats through the network, but using one of our best VPN for Chromebook picks can help.
If you’re not big on reading, we’ll tell you now that ExpressVPN is the top Chromebook VPN. It’s not only one of the easiest-to-use VPNs on the market, but it’s also fast, great for streaming and has excellent security. You can use either the Android app or set it up manually with L2PT. Plus, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s nothing to lose.
Choosing a VPN for Chromebook isn’t quite as simple as finding out if the VPN is compatible with a Chromebook. There are no native options for Chromebook, but there are three ways you can install one.
If your Chromebook supports the Google Play store, you can download the Android app, which is the best way. If not, you can either use a Chrome extension or set it up manually via L2TP.
Our how to set up a VPN on Chromebook article will guide you through the different steps. In this article, we’ll go through what to look for in a Chromebook VPN service, why Chromebook users should use a virtual private network and why using a free VPN for Chromebook isn’t always a good idea.
The Best VPN for Chromebook
- ExpressVPN — Android app and L2TP support; easy to use, secure and fast
- NordVPN — Android app and Chrome extension with full experience on both
- CyberGhost — Android app, but no proper Chrome extension or L2PT support; cheap
- Windscribe — Android app and Chrome extension; no L2PT; free and cheap plan
- VyprVPN — Android app and L2PT support; no Chrome extension
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Chromebook. You can install it using either the Android app or manually with the L2TP VPN protocol. ExpressVPN is easy to use on any device, and its Android app is streamlined, making it a perfect match for Chromebooks. It also came first in our best VPN for Android roundup.
The Android app provides a quick-connect button, which will connect you to your nearest server. It’s also easy to change servers, and anything else can be found in the hamburger menu. It has a shortcut feature that lets you launch apps straight from the VPN app, too. Read our ExpressVPN review for more.
If you’re unable to download the Android app, you can use ExpressVPN’s L2TP setup guide. Although ExpressVPN does have a Chrome browser extension, it won’t function without the desktop application. If a Chrome browser extension is what you want, then you’re better off with our second pick, NordVPN.
ExpressVPN has great security and will shield you from online nasties, while also keeping you hidden. It’s an excellent all-round service that offers the fastest speeds available. You also get unlimited bandwidth, and it’s capable of accessing pretty much every streaming service there is, making it our best VPN for streaming.
When it comes to price, ExpressVPN lets us down. It’s one of the most expensive VPNs available. That said, you get a top-rated service. Plus, if you choose a long-term plan, you’ll save money in the end. A 30-day money-back guarantee is included, though, in case you change your mind.
- Easy to use
- Android app & L2TP support
- Chrome extension functions only with the desktop application
Our second pick for Chromebook is NordVPN. You can install it via the Android app or the Chrome browser extension. NordVPN doesn’t support manual configuration for L2TP, so you’ll have to pick another VPN service if that’s what you need.
The good thing about NordVPN, though, is that you’ll get the same user-friendly experience whether you’re on the app or browser extension; this earned it a spot on our best VPN for Chrome list.
Because the browser extension is the full version, it even includes CyberSec, which is NordVPN’s free malware and ad blocker. Its only downside is that you can’t choose a specific server; you can only choose from a list of countries.
NordVPN’s security is top notch, so you’ll be protected from any online threats. It also gives the option of double-hop encryption, which adds another layer of protection to the VPN tunnel.
Its speeds are good, but they are inconsistent. Connecting to a server far away can mean you see slower speeds, as you can read in our NordVPN review. It does come with unlimited bandwidth, though, and it’s a good choice for streaming because it can get into all of the major services.
NordVPN’s price is much more manageable than ExpressVPN’s. The monthly plan isn’t great, but longer plans make it a lot cheaper. There’s also a 30-day refund period, in case you don’t like it.
- Full experience on Android app & Chrome extension
- Includes CyberSec malware & ad blocker
- Excellent security
- No L2TP support
- Can be slow
Up next is CyberGhost, which is a good choice if you can access the Google Play store to download the Android app. You could have used L2TP connections via a manual configuration, but CyberGhost recently stopped supporting L2TP due to its vulnerabilities, which we’ll mention later.
CyberGhost has a Chrome browser extension, but it’s not the same as having the paid app. It offers only a free proxy, which isn’t a good option, as you can read in our VPN vs proxy vs Tor guide. It also means that you can’t control the VPN from the extension.
Although you only have the option of downloading the Android app, CyberGhost still deserves a mention due to its many features and affordability. Its interface is easy to use on all devices, and even though the Windows version has additional features, there’s still enough included for you to not feel like you’re missing out.
CyberGhost’s Other Features
CyberGhost’s security is great, and it comes with a permanently enabled kill switch. A kill switch will basically sever your connection if the VPN service fails, making sure you stay safe. Most good VPNs have one, but CyberGhost’s is unique because you can’t turn it off. Read more in our CyberGhost review.
It also has good speeds, though they can slow down over long distances, similar to NordVPN. Plus, it comes with unlimited bandwidth, and it can get into most streaming services with its specialty servers.
Pricing is where CyberGhost really shines, though. Like with most VPN services, the monthly price isn’t great. However, if you sign up for a lengthier plan, you’ll see some savings. Android users benefit from a seven-day free trial, too. There’s also a money-back guarantee, the length of which will depend on the plan you choose.
- Good security & features
- Automatic kill switch
- No L2PT support
- Chrome extension offers only a free proxy
We’ve given Windscribe a spot in our roundup because it’s probably the best choice if you’re looking for a free VPN for Chromebook. Although Windscribe doesn’t support L2TP connections, you can get either the Android app or the Chrome browser extension, both of which are good.
Along with Windscribe’s good security, its Chrome extension also has a feature called R.O.B.E.R.T that blocks ads, malware, trackers and more. The app has a no-frills interface that is great for beginners, but techies can tinker with the settings, too. Its speeds are decent, even if they’re not the fastest.
Where Windscribe really shines, though, is with its dedicated streaming servers, called Windflix servers. They’re built for streaming Netflix, and they’re good. They’re available for the U.S., the UK, Canada and Japan, but they’re not included with the free plan. You can read more about them in our Windscribe review.
Windscribe’s free plan is one of the best free VPN services you can get, but it gives you access to only 10 of its country servers. Plus, you’ll be limited to 2GB of bandwidth per month — unless you provide a valid email at sign up, and then you’ll get another 10GB. The free plan isn’t bad, and if you jump to the full paid Pro version, it becomes quite pricey.
That said, Windscribe has a “build-a-plan” option. With that, you can choose a server — even a Windflix server — for just $1 per month. Each server you add will get you a further 10GB of bandwidth, but you can add on unlimited bandwidth for just $1 extra per month. That means you can get all of Windscribe’s features, minus its other servers, for just $2 per month.
If you decide to go with one of Windscribe’s paid plans, be aware that there’s no official refund policy. However, you can request a refund within three days of purchase.
- Free plan & cheap build-a-plan option
- Windflix servers
- Malware & ad blocker
- Expensive Pro plan
- No L2PT support
Our last entry is VyprVPN. It has a great Android app, and it supports L2TP connections, too. There’s no Chrome extension, though. VyprVPN is easy to use, especially since its recent redesign, as you can see in our VyprVPN review. Most of all, though, it comes with excellent security, including its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which adds even more protection.
VyprVPN is at the bottom of our list, though, due to its mediocre speeds. It can get into streaming platforms with ease, but its slow speeds mean that a pleasant streaming experience is not guaranteed. Still, it comes with unlimited bandwidth.
Its price will depend on the package you choose. The Standard plan comes with three connections, and the Premium plan comes with five connections and the use of its Chameleon protocol. You can then choose from a monthly or yearly plan, the latter being more affordable. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Great Android app & support for L2PT
- Easy to use
- Good security
- No Chrome extension
- Mediocre speeds
How We Chose the Best VPN for Chromebook
You could simply pick a good VPN provider, but you need to make sure it’s a good fit for Chromebook. There are a few criteria you should consider before jumping in, so we’ll quickly run through them now.
The first factor you need to look at is whether you can install the VPN on your Chromebook. Because there’s no native option for a Chromebook VPN, you’ll need to check your model to make sure you choose a compatible VPN.
If your Chromebook supports Google Play, you can simply download the Android app. Most VPN providers support Android, and it’s the best option for a full and smooth experience.
If you can’t get the Android app, many VPNs have a Chrome extension. Be aware, though, that a browser extension may not include all the features of the full app or function on its own.
Lastly, you can manually set up a VPN on your Chromebook. OpenVPN is an option, but the configuration for that is difficult. Many VPN services support L2PT connections, and you’ll often find dedicated setup instructions on the VPN’s website.
All of our entries support at least one of these methods, so you just need to check which is best for your Chromebook model.
Ease of Use
Chromebooks provide a streamlined experience, so you’ll want a VPN that carries that on. Choosing a VPN that offers a fluid experience is best. Plus, if you’re a beginner, you’ll want one that doesn’t complicate the setup or use.
Although Chrome OS has good security in itself, Chromebooks are vulnerable through the network. That’s why Chromebook users need a VPN that has good security so that you’re protected from online threats.
One thing to note, though, is that L2TP — short for Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol — is not great security-wise. L2TP is a tunneling protocol that doesn’t provide encryption. It’s often paired with IPSec for encryption, but it’s still weak compared to other protocols. You can read more about that in our VPN protocol breakdown.
To get the best experience, you should pick a VPN that has good speeds. A slow VPN means you’ll experience longer loading times, though how badly that affects you will depend on the type of tasks you’re doing.
If you like to stream, a slow VPN can mean you end up stuck on a loading screen or have an experience plagued with constant buffering. That’s no fun, so investing in a fast VPN is essential.
While we’re on the topic, depending on how much you stream, it can be a bandwidth-hungry activity, so it’s a good idea to check the VPN’s bandwidth allowance. Unlimited bandwidth is best because you won’t need to keep an eye on your limit. Plus, you’ll want to make sure the VPN can get into your desired streaming service. Certain ones, such as Hulu, are tough to crack (read our best VPN for Hulu).
Although we look at what value the VPN brings, rather than the cost, you should make sure that you can afford it. There’s usually a monthly plan you can choose, but longer plans often have heavy discounts applied, making the overall cost much easier to swallow.
Why You Need a VPN for Chromebook
Although you’re less likely to come across malicious software on a Chromebook than a Windows device, that doesn’t mean your Chromebook is completely safe from it. The Chrome operating system is secure, but once you open it up to a network, then it’s a different story.
Chromebooks are no different in the way they connect to a network, and if that network is not secure, you’re at risk. By using a VPN (as well as an antivirus), you can avoid online attacks and snooping, especially on public WiFi. The VPN will encrypt your connection, which means your true IP address is hidden. You can’t be tracked, and your traffic can’t be seen.
On top of that, using a VPN gives you the advantage of bypassing geoblocks. That means you can access region-locked content, including with certain streaming platforms.
Take Netflix, for example. It has a library in almost every country, but each one is different. To get into a particular country’s library, you simply connect to a server in that location.
One thing to note about Netflix, though, is that not all VPNs are capable of getting past its VPN ban. Netflix has some of the best VPN detectors in the world, so you’ll need to choose a VPN that can break through the wall unseen, such as those in our best VPN for Netflix roundup.
Can I Use a Free VPN for Chromebook?
If you’re able to use Google Play on your Chromebook, you’ll notice that there are a ton of free VPN apps available. Although they’re tempting, we recommend that you stay away from them. Many of these “free” VPNs are not quite what they claim to be, and by downloading one, you may put yourself more at risk than if you didn’t have a VPN at all.
Our worst free VPN providers list will give you some insight into the workings of these apps, but as a general warning, we’ll go through some of the reasons why they can be so bad. You have to understand that although they may not charge you actual money to use them, they’re most likely earning money in another way.
Some VPNs are just filled with ads. These VPNs get their revenue from advertisements, and although that might not seem bad, you could be left with constant pop-ups. Plus, if the company behind it is only bothered about its ad revenue, you can’t be sure of its true intention in keeping you safe. Some may not secure your connection at all.
Then there are the VPNs that make money by selling your data to third parties. Good VPNs will have a solid no-logs policy, which basically means it respects your privacy by not keeping a record of your activities. Those services that sell your data to marketing companies must be keeping some sort of logs, otherwise they’d have nothing valuable to sell.
We should note, though, that there are some reputable VPNs that offer a free plan alongside a paid one, such as our fourth entry, Windscribe. Most of those services aren’t in the same category as just a free VPN, though, because they’re backed by a provider that offers a decent service.
Even though Chrome OS is secure, you should still arm yourself with a VPN when you’re online. A Chromebook’s built-in security won’t be enough to keep away hackers and other online dangers. Plus, you’ll be able to use the VPN’s other features, too, such as accessing geoblocked content.
Before picking a service, you need to check what your Chromebook is compatible with: an Android app, a Chrome browser extension or whether you’ll need to manually install it. After that, you should choose one that’s easy to use, has good security and is fast.
ExpressVPN is our top pick for Chromebook. You can install it via the Android app, and it has full support for L2TP. It’s also user-friendly for both beginners and techies, and it has great security and ultra-fast speeds. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for extra peace of mind.
Have you installed a VPN on your Chromebook? Let us know how you got on in the comment section. Check out our other VPN articles, too. As always, thank you for reading.