As the world’s most popular browser (and by a large margin, too), Chrome offers plenty in terms of versatility. Its user-friendly setup, stability and security are some of the reasons why many of us opt to use Google’s browser for navigating the worldwide web.
Add in the endless number of customisation options to be had by using various extensions and you can really turn Chrome into a personal browser tuned to your exact preferences. Of course, among this bewildering array of potential add-ons for Chrome are extensions from VPN providers, but how do you pick out the best one?
- Check out the best VPN
The best Chrome VPN in 2018
Best all-round VPN for Chrome
Number of servers: 2000 | Server locations: 148 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3
ExpressVPN routinely delivers on the software front, and its Chrome extension is no exception. It’s easy-to-use and has some neat features which are worth noting like DNS leak prevention and a kill switch.
However, one thing to bear in mind here is that you cannot use the ExpressVPN browser extension without having the appropriate ExpressVPN desktop app installed.
ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a free trial, sadly. There are three available subscriptions which come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s a bit more expensive than the average provider, with the yearly plan giving you the best value for money. The packages available are:
- [$12.95 a month] 1-month
- [$9.99 a month] 6-months - $59.95
- [$6.67 a month] 12-months (plus 3 free months) - $99.95
2. Hotspot Shield
Number of servers: 2500 | Server locations: 25 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
After downloading the Hotspot Shield extension from the Chrome store, it only takes a couple of clicks before you’re up and running. You’re automatically assigned to the optimal server with the fastest connection speed. There’s not much here in terms of configuration options, but the extension is free – albeit with a limited choice of four locations (although on the plus side, you aren’t bombarded by ads).
Performance-wise, with this provider, our upload and download speeds proved to be a tad higher than what we’d normally see, with only a slight increase in latency. Hotspot Shield uses 256-bit encryption and frequently updates its browser add-on.
As mentioned, there is a location-limited free version, and a 7-day trial which you can use to thoroughly test the service for full access to all virtual locations and additional options.
Do note, though, that Hotspot Shield is not cheap (although the 2-year plan is a good deal) with three pricing plans available. As mentioned, the 2-year plan provides the most bang for your buck. The packages available are:
- [$12.99 a month] 1-month
- [$8.99 a month] 6-months - $53.94
- [$2.99 a month] 2-year - $71.76
- Download Hotspot Shield for Chrome here
Best balance of performance and price
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 34 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 2-5
SaferVPN’s Chrome extension boasts single-click connection which grants access to over 30 server locations. The extension is free, but if you’re not a paying subscriber, there’s a 500MB per month data limit (you’re also required to sign up for free usage).
The provider manages its global server network in-house, which doubtless helps on the performance front, and indeed we enjoyed good speeds and a stable connection in our testing.
There’s no P2P support (unless you use Netherlands location), though, and the service records a great deal of session data – things like connect and disconnect times, bandwidth used and so on. While there’s no logging of actual traffic data, on an overall level, SaferVPN collects more data than we’d ideally like to see.
You have three price plans at your disposal with the 2-year plan offering the best value for money. There’s also a free 24-hour trial with unlimited access to the full service. The packages available are:
- [$10.99 a month] 1-month
- [$5.49 a month] 1-year - $65.88
- [$3.29 a month] 2-years - $78.96
- Download SaferVPN for Chrome here
Best for ad and malware-free browsing
Number of servers: 4875 | Server locations: 62 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
NordVPN doesn’t offer a free Chrome extension, so you’ll need to set up an account with the provider. Some of the major benefits here include the firm’s CyberSec feature which is designed to block adverts and prevent you accessing malware-laden sites, making your browsing a more streamlined and safer experience. The extension is also lightweight and user-friendly with just a simple couple of clicks needed to get things going.
The service offers a three-day free trial but it’s hidden on the website (find it here). There are four available plans which come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. With the exception of the monthly subscription, the plans are reasonably affordable with the limited three-year plan being particularly good value. The packages available are:
- [$11.95 a month] 1-month
- [$9.00 a month] 6-months - $54.00
- [$6.99 a month] 1-year - $83.88
- [$2.75 a month] 3-years - $99.00
Best for beginners
Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 10 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 1-5
Blockless will please any novice VPN user out there, as it’s very easy-to-use indeed. It offers a simple point-and-click experience, automatically detecting the fastest server available to you based on your region. The service has a free plan, as well, but you’ll have to sign up and create an account to use the Chrome extension.
The free plan does have its limitations: you can only connect one device and it’s not possible to change your region. On top of that, there are only 10 server locations and the extension has no advanced features. On the plus side, there are no adverts thrown at you here, so your browsing won’t be interrupted.
In our testing, Blockless gave a good account of itself on the performance front, with some fairly fast download speeds – although it was rather inconsistent at times.
The VPN’s Premium plan is reasonably priced and comes with full access to all regions, five simultaneous connections and an advanced ad blocker, among other goodies. The packages available are:
Best free VPN
Number of servers: ~1,000 | Server locations: 20 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
This Canadian provider is very user-friendly with some great performance, although longer distances can take a hit. The service is very simple to use and to use the extension, all you need is an email address.
TunnelBear offers a free plan with a limitation of 500MB per month, which isn’t that much but it’s still better than nothing. That being said, you can get an extra 1GB if you tweet about TunnelBear, and there is an exclusive TechRadar deal (available here) that will get you an additional 5GB of data.
If you want more protection, the service also has a blocker add-on (blocks various tracking) for Chrome which works great with the VPN extension. There is good news on the privacy front, as the provider doesn’t record any information (apart from your email address) nor does it log any of your activities.
If you want to try out the paid service, you have a choice of only two plans. As usual, the yearly plan offers the best value and the packages available are:
Best for families
Number of servers: 530+ | Server locations: 100 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
The Canadian provider has some great features that really make them stand out. First, an unlimited number of devices is supported which is a huge boon for families, and, you have a free plan with a whopping 10GB of monthly data if you register with an email (2GB if you don’t).
The Chrome extension is very simple to use and you can set it up in no time. The extension also has a built-in ad blocker. As mentioned, you can use the extension for free but of course, there are some restrictions. Mainly, you can only use it on one device and you only have access to 10 locations.
Unfortunately, the performance is a bit lackluster and in our testing, we recorded only average speeds, especially at longer distances. On the security and privacy front, the provider doesn’t lack with its 256-bit encryption and no-logging policy. The default security protocol is OpenVPN and there are also some additional features like a killswitch.
Apart from the free plan, you have a choice of three paid plans, with the 2-year plan offering the best value. The packages available are:
- Pro: Monthly plan - $9.00
- Pro: Yearly plan - $4.08 per month, billed 49$ annually
- Pro: 2-year plan - $3.70 per month, billed 89$ biennially
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN
How to choose the best Chrome VPN
For a Chrome VPN extension, you’ll doubtless be looking to protect your privacy while surfing, and to bypass censorship or unblock geo-restricted content. And as always, you’ll want strong encryption and protocol support for tight security.
Performance levels are also important, especially if you’re keen on using Chrome to access streaming services. And for obvious reasons, the browser extension should be easy to setup and use.