VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, were once considered the preserve of hardcore techies and online ne'er-do-wells. But that’s no longer the case in 2019 as more and more internet users look to surf the web with the knowledge that their personal information is protected. And as the most popular web browser around, there are a dizzying number of options when it comes to Chrome VPN extensions.
But before you shell out a fair chunk of change for a paid VPN – which we recommend doing, as premium VPN options are considerably more fully-featured, reliable, and easy-to use – you may well be wondering: do VPN extensions for Chrome actually work?
The answer is yes – but there are also some limitations and distinctions you should be aware of.
- Discover the very best VPN service
- 5 things to look for with a free VPN
- Our guide for how to enable a VPN extension
Installing a VPN plugin or extension for Chrome will protect all your activity and data whilst using that browser – but nothing else.
Any other apps you may use on your network at the same time as using Chrome – a UC platform like Skype, or Microsoft’s Office productivity suite, for example – will not be protected by the VPN. To seal off your entire network, you need to install a VPN app directly onto your computer, not just in your browser.
Fortunately, our pick for the best Chrome VPN gets around this by ensuring you install it as an app first before providing you with a Chrome VPN extension for added convenience.
It’s called ExpressVPN and represents the easiest and most reliable way to enable a VPN in Chrome right now. While it does charge a small subscription fee to support its infrastructure, this small outlay means you get a VPN that practically installs itself and offers a stable, encrypted connection that we’ve yet to see bettered.
Where a free VPN will often cut-corners, resulting in slow VPN connections that cut out all too-often; or in some extreme cases, even sell on user logs and IP addresses to third-parties to cover their overheads – ExpressVPN is the real deal and can be setup in a matter of minutes.
Once you’ve got the main ExpressVPN app, all you need to do is enable the corresponding Chrome extension, which is a straightforward process just like enabling any Chrome add-on.
Then the simple magic of ExpressVPN really starts to shine. The small ‘V’ icon next to your Chrome address bar (top-right) is where the extension lives, and it’ll show a green tick when you’re connected and browsing securely.
Connecting is a doddle, too, thanks to the large ‘Power’ button that dominates ExpressVPN’s Chrome extension – turning it on and off again has scarcely been this easy!
Read our detailed ExpressVPN review for a detailed explanation of why it’s the best VPN for most users right now.
- Read more: our guide to the best Chrome VPN options you can get
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James is a technology journalist with nearly 10 years experience and currently Sports and TV Streaming Editor at Future, where he works across TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide. He is here to help you find the best ways to watch sports, TV shows and movies online. Previously, he was News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, Editor of Lifehacker UK, and Senior Staff Writer at ITProPortal.