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Best VPN for Chrome

Are you on the hunt for a VPN that works well with Google Chrome? You’re in luck: Thanks to Chrome’s dominance as the world’s most popular browser, nearly every major VPN player makes sure their service offers maximum compatibility with Google Chrome. So if Chrome is your browser of choice, you can breathe a sigh of relief. All the top picks on our main list of the best VPNs also have been hand-on tested for use with Chrome. 

We tested and ranked the three leading VPN services below for speediness, general browser compatibility, and any potential security issues that might arise. Not only did they pass with flying colors, but each of these VPN providers offers a Chrome VPN extension that can be installed directly in your web browser if you want to try using a lighter version of the VPN client to lose less speed.

Below, you’ll find our top recommendations for the best VPN for Chrome, ranked in order of their security strength, overall performance on speed tests and value for your money. You can also check out our picks for the best mobile VPN, the fastest VPN and the best cheap VPN. And here’s why we strongly recommend avoiding a free VPN and instead use a tried-and-true paid VPN whenever possible.

Editors’ note, Sep. 9, 2023: The VPN industry has undergone significant change in the past few months, with all three of our top VPN choices announcing major changes in corporate ownership. In December, ExpressVPN announced that it had officially joined Kape Technologies, a company that already owns several other VPNs and has raised privacy concerns in the past. In February, NordVPN and Surfshark announced the two companies were merging, though they’ll continue to operate autonomously. We’re in the process of re-evaluating all of our top picks in light of these changes. We will update our reviews and, if necessary, our rankings to account for this new competitive landscape.

ExpressVPN

Blazing speeds, proven privacy


ExpressVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 30,000
  • Number of servers: 3,000-plus in 160 locations
  • Number of simultaneous connections: 5
  • Country/jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • 94-plus countries
  • 3 months free with 1-year plan, plus a free year of Backblaze cloud backup (limited-time offer)

ExpressVPN tells us its network is powered by TrustedServer technology, which ExpressVPN built to ensure that there are never any logs of users’ online activities. In the privacy world, ExpressVPN has a strong track record, having experienced a VPN server seizure by authorities which proved its zero-log policy true at the time. We also like the quality of the VPN’s setup guides and the detailed information in its FAQ. And it offers a full-featured dedicated Chrome extension.

While its speeds consistently compete with heavy-hitting competitors, our 2020 speed tests saw ExpressVPN produce a 52% overall loss of our normal internet speeds, representing a significant slowdown compared with its 2019 score of 2% speed loss.

Like the rest of the top five VPN services we’ve reviewed, ExpressVPN offers a useful kill-switch feature that prevents network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails. Unlike the others, though, ExpressVPN gained points from us for its support of Bitcoin as a payment method — something not all of our favorites offer, but which adds an additional layer of privacy during checkout.

The VPN provider has been in business since 2009, and ExpressVPN has a substantial network of fast VPN servers spread across 94 countries. Its best plan is priced at less than $7 a month for an annual package, which includes three months free.

Read our ExpressVPN review.

ExpressVPN

  • Competitive speeds
  • Solid security suite
  • Company is based in privacy-friendly jurisdiction.

$6.67/mo for 1-yr plan + 3 mo free
See at ExpressVPN

Surfshark

A speed leader, packed with features


Surfshark

  • Number of servers: 3,200-plus
  • Number of server locations: 65
  • Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • $2.30 a month (82% discount) for a 2-year plan

While Surfshark’s network is smaller than some, the VPN service makes it up on features and speed. Let’s start off with the biggest win it offers: unlimited device support. If you want to run your entire home or office on Surfshark’s VPN, you don’t have to worry about how many devices you have on or connected. It also offers anti-malware, ad-blocking and tracker-blocking as part of its software.

And it’s fast. With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, we lost less than 17% of average internet speed during our most recent speed tests. That’s faster than the 27% speed loss we saw in previous tests, and pushes it ahead of ExpressVPN to be the current front-runner in our speed comparisons.

Surfshark received generally high marks when its Chrome extension was audited for privacy by German security firm Cure 53 (PDF link of full report) — though that audit was commissioned by Surfshark.

The VPN provider has a solid range of app support, running on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Fire TV and routers. Additional devices such as game consoles can be configured for Surfshark via DNS settings. We particularly like the feature that allows you to whitelist certain apps and websites to automatically bypass the VPN. For some business uses, this can be critically important.

Surfshark also offers three special modes designed for those who want to get around restrictions and more carefully hide their online footsteps. Camouflage Mode masks your VPN activity so your ISP doesn’t know you’re using a VPN. Multihop jumps your connection through multiple countries to hide your trail. Finally, NoBorders Mode “allows [you] to successfully use Surfshark in restrictive regions.” Just be careful. Doing any of these three things could be illegal in your country and could result in severe penalties. During our testing, we didn’t see a single IP address or DNS leak, and had no trouble accessing Netflix.

Unlike many of the other VPN providers, Surfshark doesn’t offer a one-year plan. Its best offer right now is $2.30 a month for its two-year plan (you pay about $60 up front). A six-month plan is $6.49 a month (about $39 up front), and month-by-month plans are $13 a month. Definitely take advantage of its generous 30-day trial to decide if you like this service and Chrome VPN extension (and if you choose the two-year plan, maybe set a reminder in 23 months to see if you can talk the company into a continued discount rate).

Read our Surfshark VPN review.

Surfshark VPN

  • Market-leading speeds
  • Doorbuster pricing
  • Multihop VPN

24 months + 2 months free for $2.30/mo
See at Surfshark

NordVPN

Best VPN for reliability and security


NordVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 5,000
  • Number of servers: 5,200-plus servers
  • Number of server locations: 62
  • Country/jurisdiction: Panama
  • 62 countries
  • $4.13 a month (65% discount) for a 2-year plan
  • NordVPN in-depth review and hands-on testing (ZDNet)

NordVPN is one of the most recognized brands in the VPN field. It offers a generous simultaneous connection count, with six simultaneous connections through its network, where nearly all other providers offer five or fewer. NordVPN also offers a dedicated IP option, a kill-switch feature and the ability to VPN into Tor. We detected no privacy leaks during our tests.

In our most recent speed tests, NordVPN‘s performance was on par with many of its competitors, reducing our speeds by 53% on average (which is slower than the 32% loss measured in previous speed tests). We found NordVPN’s speeds were reliably fast. There were never any sudden dips or service interruptions, and where we expected the VPN to underperform, it still proved itself up to the task.

The company’s two-year VPN subscription plan costs $4.13 a month ($99 billed at once). That price is lower than most contenders, but creeps up for the one-year plan ($4.92 a month or $59 total) and the monthly plan ($11.95 a month). But it does have a full 30-day refund policy.

While NordVPN has lived on this list for a long time, we moved it to the penalty box in October 2019 to re-evaluate our recommendation after a report emerged that one of its rented servers was accessed without authorization in 2018. Nord’s actions following the discovery included — eventually — multiple security audits, a bug bounty program and heavier investments in VPN server security.

While we’d have preferred it if Nord had self-disclosed the issue much earlier, the fact that the breach was limited in nature and involved no user-identifying information served to further verify that NordVPN keeps no logs of user activity. As a result, Nord remains on this list as a recommended VPN service.

Read our NordVPN review.

NordVPN

  • Reliable, competitive speeds
  • RAM-disk servers
  • Feature-rich software

$3.49/mo for 2-yr plan
See at NordVPN

Chrome VPN FAQs

What’s the best VPN for Chrome right now?

  • ExpressVPN received a CNET Editors’ Choice Award for best overall VPN. We evaluate VPNs based on their overall performance in three main categories: speed, security and price. Express isn’t the cheapest, but it’s among the fastest and, so far, is the most secure. (Note that we’re currently re-evaluating ExpressVPN based on the news mentioned above.)
  • Surfshark, with its lower price, is a close second among our picks, thanks to its impressive performance and unlimited devices.
  • NordVPN, our third choice, is a die-hard heavy hitter. It costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, has an enormous network that’s constantly getting faster and more secure and is easily the most reliable service we’ve tested.

What is a VPN?

A commercial virtual private network is technology that allows you to create a private connection over a less private network by creating an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the internet. You can install a VPN just like you would any other app or program on your smartphone or computer. A VPN can let you get around censorship in your country or access georestricted media content from another country — and prevents your internet service provider from being able to intrude on your privacy by snooping on your web browsing. VPNs do this by allowing you to appear as though you’re connecting from a different location or country.

A VPN is great for anyone using public, unprotected Wi-Fi, such as what’s offered in airports, bars or coffee shops. Your VPN protects your sensitive information — from your work projects to bank account login information — from being seen by malicious actors who trawl public Wi-Fi networks. For more beginner-focused VPN help, we’ve demystified some of the jargon in our guide to all the VPN terms you need to know.

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