Google Chrome is the most used web browser in the world, with a global market share of over 65%. There are countless reasons why it continues to dominate over other competitors like Safari and Microsoft Edge—it’s fast, secure, versatile, familiar, but probably most important of all, it’s simple. It’s not cluttered with ads, options, and news feeds, and it gets the job done.
So if you’re an avid Chrome user, you’ll likely want a VPN that has similar characteristics. Something quick, reliable, secure, and uncomplicated. But with hundreds of different VPNs on the market, each promising the same thing, how do you figure out which one works best with your favorite browser?
It’s simple: you read this article. Below, we’ve outlined our top 3 VPN picks for Google Chrome.
Our top VPN pick for Google Chrome: ExpressVPN
When it comes to the best VPN for Google Chrome, we’ve got to hand it to ExpressVPN. Most VPNs will only offer a proxy, which means your IP address may be hidden, but your privacy isn’t protected. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, offers full VPN, securing and encrypting all your activity for added security and privacy.
Not only is it secure, but it's also incredibly simple and straightforward to set up and use. As soon as you’ve downloaded ExpressVPN on Chrome, your entire device gets full protection.
ExpressVPN is a popular choice for Chrome users. It has a 4.7 star rating on the Chrome Web Store, and over 3,000 servers to choose from across 94 countries.
The only downside of ExpressVPN for Chrome is that you have to download the desktop app in order to use the VPN. If you’d rather just a Chrome extension, you’re better off with another option on this list, such as Windscribe.
Top 5 features
- Feature-packed Chrome extension: ExpressVPN offers a full VPN extension, and not just a proxy. As soon as you download and set up the VPN, the protection extends to your entire device, and not just your Chrome browser.
- Extremely secure: ExpressVPN uses military-grade encryption to secure your internet connection and protect your online activity, including location spoofing, WebRTC blocking and HTTPS Everywhere. It also has a strict no-log policy, which means that it does not keep any records of your online activity.
- Fast & easy to use: ExpressVPN in general is known for its fast connection speeds, which makes it ideal for streaming and even online gaming, and the same goes for when you’re using Chrome. Setting it up is a breeze, and its user-friendly interface makes it easy to connect to a VPN server and browse the web privately.
- Wide network of servers: ExpressVPN has a large network of over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, which gives you the ability to unblock and access content from around the world.
- 24/7 customer support: ExpressVPN offers 24/7 customer support through live chat and email, so you can get help whenever you need it.
The best part? ExpressVPN offers a 30-day free trial, so you can try it out before paying a penny.
Best free option for Chrome: Windscribe
If you’re looking for a free Chrome VPN extension, we recommend Windscribe. Free extensions are usually risky, because they don’t often do much in terms of protection, and at worst, they could sell your data to dodgy third-parties. That’s why it’s crucial to go with a reputable brand, such as Windscribe.
Windscribe’s free option serves as a taste of what you’d get if you upgraded to the paid version, and it seems to be well-loved, with over 20,000+ reviews on the Chrome Web Store and an average rating of 4.8 stars.
Reasons to choose
If you opt for the free Windscribe VPN, you’ll be able to hide your IP address, block ads and trackers on websites, get 2 GB of data use (which gets upgraded to 10 GB if you provide your email address), and access blocked content from about 10 different countries, including US, Canada, and the UK. It also offers some bonus privacy features that most proxies don’t offer, like location and timezone spoofing, and WebRTC blocking.
The premium version comes with over 100 different servers across 60 countries, and offers protection to your entire device, and not just Chrome.
Reasons to skip
The only downsides of Windscribe is that you don’t get live 24/7 chat support—there is a live chat support feature on its website, but it’s basically just a chatbot. Also, for a paid app, you don’t get nearly as many servers as you would with other paid VPNs, like ExpressVPN.
Curious about some of the other best free VPNs? Click here to see our top picks.
Best for unique security features on a budget: Private Internet Access (PIA)
Private Internet Access (PIA) is another great affordable option for Chrome, with high-quality and unique security features.
Reasons to choose
PIA offers the most number of servers than any of the other options in this list, with over 35,000 servers across 84 countries.
For the most affordable deal, you can opt in for PIA’s 3-year plan. The best part of PIA is that it comes with tons of bonus security features, like WebRTC blocking, IP cloaking, preventing websites from accessing your camera or microphone, and blocks or prevents third-party cookies, credit card autofilling, and plenty more.
Reasons to skip
Although PIA offers a ton of great features at an affordable price point, it only has a 3.4 Chrome Web Store rating, mainly due to connection issues. PIA does have slower speeds than other VPNs, so if you’re looking for something more robust and smooth, you’re better off with ExpressVPN.
Does Chrome have a built-in VPN?
No, Google Chrome does not have a built-in VPN. However, it’s easy to install a VPN extension on Chrome (like ExpressVPN, Windscribe or Private Internet Access) to add the perks of VPN functionality to your browser.
To use a VPN extension with Chrome, you will need to install the extension from the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, you can turn the VPN on or off and choose the server location you want to connect to. Some VPN extensions may also have additional features and settings that you can customize. And while free VPNs can be tempting, it's important to choose a reputable VPN provider to ensure that your data is being handled responsibly.
What are Chrome VPN proxies?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding VPN proxies and how secure they actually are. Aren’t VPN proxies still VPNs? Why can’t they secure my data like a VPN should?
A VPN proxy reroutes your web traffic through a remote server to make it look like your online activity is coming from a different location. This offers a thin layer of protection to your online privacy and security, and can help you access websites that may be blocked in your region. Many Chrome proxies are free, but even the paid ones aren’t nearly as secure as VPN providers like ExpressVPN, for example.
The main difference between a proxy and a VPN is that proxies only work within the Chrome browser, whereas a VPN would protect your entire device, regardless of which browsers or apps you’re using. Most proxies also don’t secure and encrypt all your activity, and don’t support HTTPS data transfers, either.
What is a Chrome VPN Extension?
A Chrome VPN extension allows you to secure your internet connection and protect your online privacy while browsing the web through the Google Chrome web browser. When you use a VPN extension, your internet traffic is routed through a secure server, which encrypts your data and hides your IP address. This can help to protect your data from hackers, ISPs, and other third parties, and can also allow you to access websites that may be blocked in your location.
VPN extensions for Chrome are available from a variety of different providers (like ExpressVPN, Windscribe and PIA) and they can be easily installed and configured through the Chrome Web Store.
Our takeaway: ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Chrome
Overall, if you’re an avid Chrome user and you’re on the hunt for the best possible VPN money can buy, we recommend checking out ExpressVPN. It’s ultra-speedy, ultra-secure, offers plenty of servers to choose from, and most importantly, offers a full VPN extension, and not just a proxy. As soon as you download and set up the VPN, the protection extends to your entire device, and not just your Chrome browser.
However, if you’re looking for a free VPN, we recommend the Windscribe extension. You’ll be able to hide your IP address, block ads and trackers on websites, access blocked content from about 10 different countries, and benefit from some added bonus privacy features. Plus, you won’t need to download a VPN app on your desktop, you could just stick with a Chrome extension.
If you’re looking for something down the middle, which offers unique security features but is still affordable, PIA is a great option. Although it has slower connection speeds than its major competitors, it makes up for it by offering over 35,000 servers to connect to, which is much higher than what most VPNs offer.
Tara Khudairi • Author
Tara Khudairi is a freelance content writer and copywriter based in Toronto. Since 2014, she has contributed to brands and blogs alike to tackle popular topics relating to technology, personal finance, entertainment, travel and lifestyle. Whether it’s the latest streaming service or cryptocurrency, she’s passionate about making the complex simple. When she’s not busy typing away, you’ll find Tara watching Netflix’s latest true crime doc or a classic 90’s horror flick.
Desiree Wu • Editor
Desiree is a full-time Honours Business Administration student at Ivey Business School at Western University. She also served as an Editorial Intern at Flixed. Desiree is based in London, Ontario.