5 Best VPN Chrome Extensions in January 2021 (FAST & RELIABLE)

Last updated: January 22, 2021

Looking for a fast and reliable VPN extension for Chrome? You’ve come to the right place. Many so-called Chrome VPN extensions don’t offer near the performance of a true VPN. They carry IP leaks, record activity logs, provide slow speeds, and often place data caps on downloads, limiting your internet freedom. I’m here to help you stay clear of such plugins. This guide will walk you through the best VPN extensions for Chrome that are fast, reliable, and secure. We’ll also discuss what you can expect when using a VPN for Chrome.

Strapped for time? Here are my top five VPN picks for Chrome

  • ExpressVPN – The only Chrome VPN plugin that works as a fully functional VPN. It’s a paid service with stable servers, capable of spoofing your geo-location along with your IP address.
  • Surfshark – One of the cheapest VPN Chrome extensions on the market. It offers robust HTTPS encryption and built-in ad blocker.  
  • NordVPN – A light VPN extension for Chrome. It requires a subscription and provides lightning-fast connectivity with no restrictions. 
  • PureVPN – An easy-to-use, almost free VPN extension for Chrome. It comes with a dedicated list of streaming servers and WebRTC leak protection.
  • Ivacy VPN – Another almost free Chrome VPN extension, effective at bypassing government censorship. It also works with Netflix US, Disney plus, BBC iPlayer, and other major streaming platforms.

What is a VPN extension and what you should know about it?

Google Chrome is the most widely used web browser in the world, having more than 2 billion active installs on desktop and mobile devices. People use Google Chrome for browsing, streaming, playing games, shopping online, sending emails, and everything internet-related you can possibly think of. 

All this traffic flowing through Chrome pipelines remains unguarded at large. This presents an opportunity for hackers to intercept communications and steal important and sensitive information.

To keep yourself safe from such man-in-the-middle attacks, experts recommend using a VPN extension on Chrome.

A Chrome VPN extension is a type of Google Chrome plugin that encrypts your web traffic, and then routes it through the servers, making it virtually impossible for anyone to decipher your browsing data. In addition to that, a VPN extension also hides your real IP address. This allows you to access geo-blocked sites and content from anywhere in the world.

So, if we put it simply, a VPN extension is a dedicated VPN solution for your Chrome browser. 

Of course, that does not mean a Chrome VPN extension can fully replace a VPN app in features. At the end of the day, a VPN app will always be superior to its extension, offering a higher level of security, control, and usually more servers for connection. Unless the extension is synced with the main VPN app, like in the case of ExpressVPN, it will always have a few components missing compared to its bulkier counterpart.

Moreover, almost all VPN Chrome extensions only secure HTTP traffic on the Chrome browser. They don’t protect you if you are on a different browser or running some other app. In contrast, VPN apps provide system-wide protection.

This begs the question:

Why use a VPN extension and not a VPN app?

There can be several reasons why you may want to use a VPN extension over a VPN app:

  • VPN extensions are easier to set-up and use
  • A VPN extension consumes less resources than a VPN app, making it perfect for low-spec or high activity systems 
  • You may want to hide your IP or secure your traffic only on the Chrome browser

Now that you know the Chrome VPN extension basics and the limitations and usefulness of these smart tools, let’s take a look at the best VPN extensions for Chrome.


Best Chrome browser VPNs selection criteria

I’ve selected VPN extensions based on the following criteria:

  • Speed
  • Security and log policy
  • Network coverage
  • Ability to unblock streaming platforms (Netflix US, Hulu, HBO Now, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus)
  • Affordability

Best Paid VPN Chrome Extensions (January 2021 Updated)

1) ExpressVPN (The best fully-synced Chrome VPN extension)

ExpressVPN is a British Virgin Islands based VPN service. It operates more than 3000 servers in 90+ countries worldwide and is one of my go-to VPNs in Australia for everything online.

ExpressVPN supports a variety of platforms, including Chrome. It offers a Chrome extension, which you can download and access using your ExpressVPN subscription. To operate the extension, you must have the ExpressVPN app installed on your system. Without it, the extension doesn’t work.

ExpressVPN app extension for Chrome dashboard

ExpressVPN extension for Chrome dashboard

Synced with the main app, the ExpressVPN Chrome extension provides all the features and functions of a true VPN. That means you get to choose from the complete range of tunnelling protocols, which includes OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec. You can adjust other security settings too as per your preference. Furthermore, you can access all the servers available under ExpressVPN network. These attributes are unique to the ExpressVPN extension, making it a one-of-its-kind Chrome VPN solution on the market.

ExpressVPN extension for Chrome security settings

ExpressVPN extension for Chrome security settings

Besides boasting the conventional features, ExpressVPN Chrome extension also offers some additional features that are not part of the original app. For instance, it has an option that stops HTML5 geo-location from revealing your physical whereabouts. This can come in handy against the more advanced websites that use Google’s geo-location API along with your IP to track your real location.

ExpressVPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS and WebRTC leak protection

As far as logs are concerned, ExpressVPN maintains a strict no-logs service. All of its servers run solely on RAM, independent of hard-drive. 

Streaming on ExpressVPN extension is a breeze. You can watch your favourite shows and movies on US Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, BBC iPlayer, and Disney Plus without any problems. Following are the speed test results recorded while streaming Netflix on an ExpressVPN US server:

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
Control Ping22 (ms)
Control Upload24.3 (Mbps)
Control Download64.7 (Mbps)
US Server Ping312 (ms)
US Server Upload18.8 (Mbps)
US Server Download56.5 (Mbps)

Verdict: ExpressVPN extension for Chrome is one fine VPN browser plugin. It is capable of acting as a full-fledged VPN service. The only downside is it is a little bit expensive compared to other VPN extensions on the market. You can get ExpressVPN for $12.95 on a monthly plan or $99.95 on a yearly plan.


2) Surfshark (The best cheap Chrome VPN extension)

Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark is also a British Virgin Island-based VPN service. It operates 3200+ in 62 countries worldwide. It is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market.

Surfshark makes clients for a wide variety of platforms, including Chrome. The Surfshark Chrome VPN extension is a standalone browser extension and can be used with an active Surfshark subscription. You don’t need to install the Surfshark VPN app to run the extension.

Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome dashboard

Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome dashboard

The Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome works as a proxy, meaning it only covers the traffic on your Chrome browser. It provides plenty of useful security features, including a built-in ad and malware blocker (CleanWeb), HTTPS encryption, and leak protection.

Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS and WebRTC leak protection

Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS and WebRTC leak protection

The extension allows you to connect to all sixty-six countries available under the Surfshark network. However, unlike the app, you can’t select specific servers in a country; the extension automatically chooses the server that’s best for you. While this compromises your control over your connections, it also makes the job more convenient for you. Other missing features from the Surfshark Chrome VPN extension include multihopping, split tunnelling, and the kill switch.

Surfshark VPN extension settings for Chrome

Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome ad-blocker settings

Let’s talk about privacy. Surfshark maintains a strict zero-logs privacy policy. The company’s location certainly helps it with that. This policy extends to its Chrome extension.

The Surfshark app has always been one of my go-to VPN apps for streaming. And I’m glad its extension offers the same level of support. In fact, I would argue that the Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome offers even faster connections than the app for streaming.  Following are the speed test results recorded while streaming Netflix on a Surfshark US server:

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
Control Ping21 (ms)
Control Upload23.3 (Mbps)
Control Download67.8 (Mbps)
US Server Ping316 (ms)
US Server Upload15.0 (Mbps)
US Server Download50.1 (Mbps)

Verdict: The Surfshark VPN extension for Chrome is a solid VPN plugin. It is cheap, fast, reliable, and secure. It supports streaming and makes browsing a breeze. The only downsides are it does not offer P2P servers and lacks some of the advanced functionalities present in the app. Rest assured, it is one of the best Chrome VPN extensions on the market. You can get Surfshark for $59.76 on a 2-year plan.


3) NordVPN (The best light-weight Chrome VPN extension with fast connectivity)

NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN service. It operates 5000+ servers in 59 countries worldwide. It is one of my favourite VPNs for torrenting.

NordVPN offers a standalone browser extension for Chrome. That means you don’t need to have the NordVPN app installed on your system to use the extension. However, you must have an active NordVPN account.

NordVPN extension for Chrome dashboard

NordVPN extension for Chrome dashboard

The NordVPN extension for Chrome uses TLS v1.2 encryption protocol to secure your Chrome browser traffic. This is the same protocol used by e-commerce stores and other shopping sites to protect your online credit card transactions. The extension also provides full-proof protection against WebRTC leaks. WebRTC leaks are a common problem in Chrome and Firefox browsers. They can reveal your IP if not addressed.

NordVPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS and WebRTC leak protection

NordVPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS and WebRTC leak protection

Compared to the app, the NordVPN Chrome extension comes with a few limitations. For example, it doesn’t allow you to choose specific servers in a country and automatically connects you with the one best optimized for performance. Likewise, you can’t use the kill switch either. However, it does offer you the function to block ads, a feature I prefer to have in my Chrome VPN extensions.

NordVPN extension for Chrome security settings

NordVPN extension for Chrome security settings

NordVPN is a 100% no logs VPN service. It doesn’t store your activity or connection logs, which is impressive from a privacy standpoint.

As far as streaming is concerned, you can watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, and other major streaming services on the NordVPN extension for Chrome without any problems. Following are the speed test results recorded while streaming Netflix on a NordVPN US server:

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
Control Ping21 (ms)
Control Upload24.7 (Mbps)
Control Download61.3 (Mbps)
US Server Ping306 (ms)
US Server Upload17.0 (Mbps)
US Server Download56.2 (Mbps)

Verdict: NordVPN Chrome extension is a powerful VPN plugin for the Chrome browser. It’s incredibly light-weight and doesn’t slow your system down. You can literally connect to a server within a second–no exaggeration. The only downside is it lacks some features otherwise available in the app. You can get NordVPN for $119.76 on a 2-year plan.


Best “almost” free VPN extensions for Chrome

In this section, I’ll talk about VPN extensions for Chrome that are almost free. These extensions all cost less than $1. The catch? You only get to use them for a week, after which you either need to renew your plan or purchase a full-term subscription.

1) PureVPN (The best Chrome VPN extension for streaming)

PureVPN is a Hong Kong based VPN service. It operates more than 6500 servers in 140+ countries worldwide. It’s one of the best VPNs if you want to get a dedicated IP in the UK, US, or Australia.

PureVPN offers a versatile VPN extension for Chrome, which you can download from the web store. It is easy to set-up and can run without the app. However, it needs an active PureVPN account with a subscription to work.

PureVPN extension for Chrome dashboard

PureVPN extension for Chrome dashboard

The PureVPN Chrome extension provides browser-level protection, meaning it only secures your traffic on the Chrome browser. All other apps remain unprotected. It uses the standard TLS encryption to keep your data safe during transit. Additionally, you get a WebRTC protection toggle, which you can activate to prevent leaks.

PureVPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection

PureVPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection

The company has done a brilliant job with the design of the extension’s UI. You have two tabs, one for normal connections, and the other for popular websites. The latter contains marked servers for different streaming services to make the server selection easier for you. I really like this feature and hope other VPN providers can adopt it.

Of course, there are some limitations that come with the extension. For example, there are fewer servers available compared to the main app. Likewise, there is no kill switch. However, the privacy policy remains the same, where no activity or connection logs are stored.

PureVPN extension for Chrome has fewer servers than the app

PureVPN extension for Chrome has fewer servers than the app

I tested the streaming servers and found them all to be working fine. In fact, the streaming speed was one of the best, especially for Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Below are the speed test results recorded while streaming Netflix on a PureVPN US server:

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
Control Ping24 (ms)
Control Upload24.5 (Mbps)
Control Download62.5 (Mbps)
US Server Ping322 (ms)
US Server Upload14.2 (Mbps)
US Server Download50.0 (Mbps)

And here is a list of all streaming services that work with PureVPN Chrome extension:

  • Netflix US, UK, AU
  • Amazon Prime US
  • BBC iPlayer UK
  • Channel 4
  • ITV Player UK
  • Hulu US
  • SonyLive IN
  • Nine
  • Foxtel Now
  • ProSieben
  • ESPN US
  • Fox Sports US
  • HBO Now
  • YouTube TV
  • Hotstar, and more

Verdict: PureVPN extension for Chrome offers all the features you expect from a top-notch VPN browser plugin. It is fast, secure, reliable, and unblocks almost all major streaming services. The best part is it costs $0.99 on a 7-day plan, making it virtually a free solution. (Important: Make sure to cancel the plan before the end of the 7th day to avoid getting charged for the year). That said, it’s not perfect and could do with server optimization
.


2) Ivacy VPN (The best Chrome VPN extension for bypassing censorship)

Ivacy VPN is a Singapore-based VPN service. It operates 1500+ servers in over 70 regions around the world. It is one of the best low-cost VPNs for Australia.

IvacyVPN supports a great variety of platforms, including Chrome. It offers a proxy Chrome extension that functions independently of the VPN app. The extension is easy to set-up and use and requires an active subscription to work.

Ivacy VPN extension for Chrome dashboard

The IvacyVPN extension for Chrome is known for its impressive security features. You get a military-grade 256-bit end-to-end encryption and a robust WebRTC leak protection. Unfortunately, it does not provide ad-blocking.

Ivacy VPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection

Ivacy VPN extension for Chrome provides IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection

While the Ivacy VPN app gives you access to the full list of servers that fall under the Ivacy network coverage, the extension allows you to connect to just forty-four locations. However, you get servers in almost all major countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. It also provides servers in the Middle East and Asia, which helps with bypassing censorship. In fact, Ivacy is my top-choice VPN whenever I want to access content in regions where internet laws are highly regulated.

Ivacy VPN extension for Chrome is good at bypassing censorship

Ivacy VPN extension for Chrome is good at bypassing censorship

As far as the logging policy is concerned, the Ivacy VPN Chrome extension keeps no activity or connection logs. This is essential for keeping your online privacy intact.

Streaming support is fairly decent. You can watch US Netflix, Disney US, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Hotstar without any problems. Following are the speed test results recorded while streaming US Netflix on the Ivacy VPN extension:

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
Control Ping21 (ms)
Control Upload24.8 (Mbps)
Control Download63.4 (Mbps)
US Server Ping326 (ms)
US Server Upload11.0 (Mbps)
US Server Download46.4 (Mbps)

And here is the list of some other streaming services that work with Ivacy:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Voot
  • Yupptv
  • BT Sports
  • Sling
  • HBO Now
  • YouTube TV

Verdict: Ivacy VPN extension for Chrome is a reliable and secure solution to protect your Chrome browser traffic and mask your IP. It does a really good job of beating censorship. That said, I’d prefer the connections to have improved speeds and more servers. You can get its 7-day plan for just $0.99. However, make sure to cancel the plan before the end of the 7th day to avoid getting charged for a full-year subscription.


Does Google Chrome have its own native VPN extension?

While it would have been perfect for the competition if Google had offered its own VPN extension, the company doesn’t offer VPN services in any form. Thankfully, it does support the use of dedicated VPN plugins developed by other providers, which provides peace of mind knowing how crucial online security is these days.

How do you add a VPN extension to your Chrome browser?

Adding a VPN extension to Chrome is simple, and you can do that easily, even if you are not a tech-savvy person. Since almost all extensions follow the same installation process, I would like to give a demonstration using the Surfshark VPN extension as an example.

Step #1: Find the Chrome extension download page

Head over to Chrome Web Store and search for the VPN extension you want to download (we’ll use Surfshark as an example for this demonstration).

Step #2: Download the Chrome extension

Click “Add to Chrome”. This should start the download process. Wait for a few seconds for the download to complete.

Step #3: Log into the extension and connect to a server

Once the download is complete, you should see the VPN icon appearing at the top right corner of your Chrome browser window, just next to the URL bar. Click on it to open the extension. Make sure you have already subscribed to a plan. Enter your account credentials.

And voila, you can now use the VPN extension with your Chrome browser. Happy private browsing!

Why I don’t recommend completely free VPN extensions for Chrome

You might be wondering I’ve talked about paid VPN extensions, almost free VPNs for Chrome, but what about the free extensions that are available out there? Why have I not covered them? 

The answer is simple: I don’t trust free VPN extensions for Chrome.

Free VPN Chrome extensions almost always impose severe limitations. They throttle your bandwidth, place unreasonably low data caps, and usually provide minimal security–if any

What’s worse, some free VPN providers log your data and sell it to third-party services, completely negating the purpose of a VPN.

Simon Chandler, tech journalist for Forbes and other major publications, perfectly sums up the problems with free VPNs in one of his articles:

“A large number of free or cheap VPNs may be doing the exact opposite of what we expect from them, collecting and exposing our data rather than hiding it.”      

Why would you even want to use such a VPN extension?

Okay, maybe that’s enough on the explanation front, let’s actually look at some of the free VPN extensions and how they limit (or harm) you.

Free VPN extensions for Chrome

  • DotVPN: Logs your IP address
  • SetupVPN: Keeps extensive records of your online activities, including the websites you visit
  • Hola: Re-routes traffic via your IP address, leaving your online security at risk
  • Hotspot Shield: Restricts you to 500mb data-limit per day
  • Turbo VPN: Doesn’t even have a proper professional website
  • RusVPN: Vague privacy policy
  • Touch VPN: Invasive privacy policy, and on top of that, it is located in a Five Eyes jurisdiction

Are VPN extensions safe, overall?

It really depends. VPN Chrome extensions are only as safe as their VPN providers. So, if you are using an extension of a reliable and secure VPN service, you can expect the extension to be safe as well. All five VPN extensions for Chrome I’ve listed offer top-notch security.

Conclusion

Google Chrome is a great browser. It is simple and easy to use, provides stable performance, has good speed, and offers plenty of integration features. However, like any other web browser, it can be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. That’s why you should always use a reliable VPN extension with it to secure your online communications. 

Stay safe, stay secure, and keep browsing anonymously!

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