After spending 5+ years in cybersecurity working on commercial VPNs, I revisited my favorite VPN providers to collate the very best VPN browser extensions.
Having tested hundreds of providers, ExpressVPN comes out on top.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN browser extension available and supports various browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and more.
It offers fantastic customer support, a considerable number of server locations, and ensures the highest encryption standards.
Check out ExpressVPN’s exclusive deal here.
Top 3 VPN Browser Extensions
Surfshark is the only provider on this list to offer unlimited simultaneous downloads to allow you to use the browser extension on as many devices as you need. It gives you access to 14 countries and unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, and more without any hassle.
ExpressVPN includes five simultaneous connections, so you can use its service from several devices at the same time, no matter whether it’s on Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or almost any other browser. It also has some useful advanced security features such asHTML5 geo-spoofing and a WebRTC blocker.
NordVPN’s browser extension allows access to every server location available in its native app. There are some excellent plans available, and speeds are generally great across all servers. The extension support Chrome and Firefox browsers and includes adware blockers and additional helpful privacy features.
NordVPN and Surfshark are my second and third VPN browser extension picks as they include a range of valuable features and competitive pricing.
ExpressVPN might not work for everyone, so I’m tasked with finding the right VPN browser extension for you.
Read on to find out which providers made my list.
The Best VPN Chrome Extensions At a Glance
Short on time? Here’s a quick roundup of all the VPN browser extensions and some reasons to consider them. If you want to learn more about each provider, you can find out more further in this article.
- Express VPN’s browser extension is packed with privacy-shielding features to hide your online identity and can unblock the world’s best content effortlessly.
- NordVPN’s browser extension is affordable, allows access to all of its server locations, and boasts excellent customer support.
- Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections at a budget price and bypasses most geo-restricted websites.
- Private Internet Access’s VPN browser extension has added features like auto-form filling and microphone/webcam blocking and has servers in over 77 countries.
- Hotspot Shield’s VPN browser extension has great speeds across a generous selection of servers and includes unlimited bandwidth.
- CyberGhost’s free VPN browser extension protects your privacy and has servers available in four countries, perfect for remaining anonymous online.
ExpressVPN - Best Overall VPN Browser Extension
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi.
ExpressVPN is my top pick VPN browser extension because it is packed with advanced features and supports the most extensive range of browsers of all the extensions I tested.
It offers access to every one of its server locations worldwide, thanks to the link between the browser extension and the VPN app.
The ExpressVPN browser extension requires the native VPN app to run, and although that seems like a bad thing, it means your entire device is protected, not just your web browser.
The Downside to the Native App Requirement
For the most part, having ExpressVPN’s browser extension and native app running in tandem is great, but that can become frustrating if you want an on/off VPN switch that only works with your browser.
In other words, it’s all of your internet traffic or nothing.
Although the browser extension is not as lightweight as other providers on the market, you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference with connection speeds as ExpressVPN’s servers are pretty rapid.
Advanced Features That Protect You and Bypass Content Restrictions
One of the nifty features that come with the ExpressVPN browser extension is HTML5 geo-spoofing which stops browsers from identifying your physical location as it blocks the use of HTML5.
Because of HTML5, many browser extensions fail to get past geo-restrictions in place with websites like Netflix or ITV Hub.
ExpressVPN will have no trouble in smashing through content restrictions, and that includes US Netflix plus a large number of other content libraries from across the globe.
Express VPN also uses a feature called HTTPS Everywhere, which sends a redirect request to your web browser to display the HTTPS version of a page. This is useful when or if you are accidentally taken to an insecure version of a website that uses standard HTTP.
You cannot ignore the fact that ExpressVPN is the priciest VPN browser extension on my list, but seeing as you’re getting full access to the browser extension and its app, I think it’s a fair deal.
It may be worth you considering a VPN browser extension that’s more affordable if ExpressVPN is too expensive – there’s plenty more on this list!
NordVPN - Great VPN Browser Extension With Excellent Customer Support
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge
The NordVPN browser extension is a lightweight version of the native VPN app, but that doesn’t mean it’s less useful. NordVPN is the only other provider alongside ExpressVPN to allow access to its full list of servers, rather than limiting you to only half or less.
A lightweight browser extension with access to all its servers
Nord’s native VPN app is loaded with several features unavailable in its browser extension, but that’s not to say it doesn’t protect your privacy or unblock streaming sites.
The browser extension is simple to set up, meaning your identity is hidden from the moment you click connect.
After you install the extension, you’ll see two buttons; one connects you to the nearest server, the other allows manual server selection.
You’ll have access to NordVPN’s privately owned DNS servers in 59 countries, although you cannot select a server location, so the browser extension will choose the fastest server for you.
Protection From Malicious Sites and Opens a World of Streaming
NordVPN’s browser extension is basic but includes some helpful protection features you’ll be glad of.
CyberSec is the most interesting feature as it prevents adware (pop-ups etc.), blocks phishing attempts, and notifies you if you are about to enter a malicious website.
It offers a Bypass list that is a little like whitelisting sites that you don’t want to use the VPN with and WebRTC leak protection.
At times, I encountered the Netflix US proxy error when attempting to use a non-US server, but wiping your cookies and cache seems to fix this quickly.
It would be nice to select a server manually and have more of the features included with the desktop app, but for now, it does everything you could need it to.
Surfshark - Best Budget VPN Browser Extension
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge
Surfshark’s VPN browser extension combines affordability with a great feature set to protect your browsing activity and ensures your online safety is paramount.
Surfshark operates out of the Virgin Channel Islands, which is out of the jurisdiction of the five eyes, so you have the assurance that their zero-logs policy is water-tight, and they’ll never expose your activity.
Reliable Server Locations That Bypass Geolocation Censors
Once Surfshark is downloaded and installed to your chosen browser (Chrome or Firefox), you’ll see a small ”S” icon.
Assuming you’re logged in and click this icon, you will have access to 14 countries, many of them having multiple IP addresses.
Popular countries like the US do not have any bandwidth or speed limits.
Unlimited Simultaneous Connections and Excellent Server Coverage
Unlike other VPN browser extensions that cap the number of simultaneous device connections you can have, Surfshark gives you as many connections as you want – totally unlimited.
This means you can hook up all of your devices with a single login.
You could even share your details with another household you trust, and they can connect at the same time without it impacting your connection.
I’m yet to find another provider that offers unlimited simultaneous connections without compromising connection speeds or stability, which is why Surfshark gets a strong vote.
Private Internet Access - A Solid VPN Browser Extension With Extra Features
Supported browsers: Chrome, Opera, Firefox and Edge
Private Internet Access (or PIA) is a great VPN browser extension choice as it comes bundled with lots of valuable features that far outweigh the subscription fees.
Great Server Speeds and Bypasses Geolocation Blocks
PIA does unblock the BBC iPlayer, and it can also successfully access regional Netflix content such as Netflix US, Hulu, and Disney Plus.
Download speeds and connections are pretty reliable thanks to its 35628+ Servers in 77 Countries, way above the average compared to other providers.
Added Features That Prevent Unsafe Browsing
Private Internet Access is an affordable VPN browser extension that goes to extra lengths to ensure your online safety.
PIA uses 256-bit encryption technology, which aligns with the other providers on this list, but the extension goes beyond basic encryption to allow auto-form filling, and it also blocks third-party cookies and protects your microphone and camera access.
The browser extension goes even further by disabling access to Flash content, audits hyperlinks before you visit a site, and prevents WebRTC leaks.
PIA offers some excellent added extras which is great value for money, in my opinion.
Hotspot Shield - Best VPN Browser Extension For Beginners
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge
Hotspot Shield offers many of the great features in its browser extension that you’d typically see in its native app, making it a strong contender on this list.
It has both a free and paid version of the browser extension, but you can access most of the premium version’s features in the free extension, which is ideal for those that don’t require the added extras.
Hotspot Shield Free Versus Premium
One of the significant differences between the free and paid plans for these browser extensions is the available servers.
The free plan allows access to just one server location in the US, while the paid subscription gives you nine. The paid locations are as follows:
Compared to the other providers on this list, Hotspot Shield is undoubtedly lacking in server locations, but none of them returned poor speeds.
Hotspot Shield states on their website that “Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Hydra VPN protocol is verified by experts as the fastest, most secure on the market” which is used in their Chrome extension.
A Range of Great Features But Lacks Netflix Unblocking
Hotspot Shield’s paid and free versions have no trouble in unblocking Netflix US. However, if you want to get access to other Netflix libraries, then you’re out of luck.
Netflix Canada is the only other content library the remaining eight premium servers can unblock.
Feature-wise, Hotspot Shield excels as its browser extension includes WebRTC protection, a cookie, malware, and an ad blocker as standard.
It uses something called ”Sword” which diverts trackers from your browsing by issuing fake data to it rather than attempting to block the request.
If you’re only interested in unblocking Netflix US while protecting your privacy, then the free browser extension is all you need.
CyberGhost - Best Free VPN Browser Extension
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Edge
CyberGhost is a well-known brand in the VPN space, and although CyberGhost no longer offers its fully-fledged VPN service at zero cost, its VPN browser extension is completely free.
Simple Setup With Essential Protection
The CyberGhost VPN browser extension does not require the native VPN app installation to function. It’s totally bespoke.
Although it doesn’t have the same horsepower as the paid VPN app, the browser extension is lightweight and hides your IP address from your ISP to safeguard your internet activity.
A Small Number of Server Locations That Perform Well
The free CyberGhost browser extension provides access to eight servers in four locations. These include the US, Romania, Germany, and the Netherlands.
It’s not a great selection of servers, but it outweighs some of the availability other VPN browser extensions give you.
The CyberGhost browser extension can unblock BBC iPlayer and US Netflix with ease, but if you want to access other content libraries, you might wish to upgrade to the paid subscription.
If hiding your online identity and watching iPlayer or US Netflix is all you need, then the free CyberGhost browser extension is well worth checking out.
How I Tested and Ranked The VPNs On This List
VPN browser extensions and native VPN app testing require an entirely different process to gather a list of the best results. Not every provider has an app and a browser extension, so checking out positive reviews about each provider is not the way to produce a “fair” list.
Check out the following factors to understand how I tested the worthiness of each VPN browser extension:
- Is there a good selection of servers available? The big-name VPN providers usually have the most significant number of servers available. Still, some limit the available number for their browser extension versus having the entire catalog for native app users. NordVPN, for example, offers its full server listing in both its app and VPN browser extension.
- Does it provide added extras? Although shielding your identity online is the primary purpose of a VPN browser extension, many providers on my list contain useful extras like timezone spoofing or ad blockers.
- Does it use modern encryption? All of the providers listed use 256-bit encryption, ensuring your data is never visible to your ISP. Anything below that I’ve kept off this list.
Each of the VPN browser extensions on my list is hosted by some of the largest brands in the VPN world, so you can be sure they are from a reputable source and can be trusted.
Read Also: Privacy Guides & Tutorials
How to Choose a VPN Browser Extension?
Selecting the right VPN browser extension is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It depends on individual requirements. The problem is, with so many providers, how do you know which browser extension is right for you?
- First, understand which browser you are using, whether it’s Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, or another provider. For each VPN provider on this list, I’ve highlighted which browsers are supported.
- Extensions should be easy to download, install and use, and should have you connected with just one or two clicks.
- You’ll want to choose a provider that can shield your privacy while you surf the web, so your choice should use a minimum of 256-bit Encryption. All providers listed above use this technology.
- The VPN browser extension should unblock at least some geolocation restrictions such as US Netflix or BBC iPlayer, especially if you intend to stream content.
- Robust performance is essential to avoid a slow connection, especially if you’ll use the browser extension for large downloads or torrenting.
- Do you need added features? Extras like ad blockers, auto-form filling, etc., are nice to have, but consider whether these are worth any added costs.
Any of the options on this list should tick almost every consideration above, although some of the free providers may have more limitations than paid subscriptions.
How to Install A VPN Browser Extension?
Installing a VPN browser extension is straightforward, and you’re often connected in a few clicks. Here’s how:
- Open your Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge browser, etc., and head to the web store for your browser provider. Chrome would be https://chrome.google.com/webstore/ and Firefox is https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/.
- Type the name of your VPN provider into the search bar, Surfshark for example.
- Locate your provider on the results page and select it.
- Add to Firefox.
- Each web store is slightly different, but the process remains the same. Once you have completed the above steps, your extension is installed and will appear in your browser window’s upper-right. You may then be prompted to log in, and once you do, you’ll be able to connect.
VPN Browser Extensions Versus VPN Apps, What’s The Difference?
While VPN browser extensions provide some of the most sought-after features from a VPN provider, they lack some of the capabilities that come as standard with native VPN apps.
Most Chrome extensions are proxies, meaning the only data covered by the VPN encryption over your connection is via your web browser. That means anything outside of Chrome is visible to your ISP. This includes apps for online gaming like Steam, P2P file sharing via apps like uTorrent, emails you send via Outlook, and much more.
A native VPN application installs onto your Operating System (Windows 10, for example). It works in a way that ensures all of your internet traffic is rerouted via a virtual VPN tunnel.
Many of the VPN providers I’ve listed in this article have both a native app and a browser extension, so if you require complete protection, this might be the best way to go.
Do VPN Browser Extensions Work?
In short, yes, VPN browser extensions work to hide your identity while surfing the web using a browser. Many providers allow you to unblock geo-restricted content, but the capabilities are limited compared to a full VPN suite.
In other words, a VPN browser extension limits you to anonymous browsing within a browser window instead of encrypting all your internet traffic.
Some VPN browser extensions are better than others in terms of speed and connection stability. The vast majority will have full support for Chrome browsers, while some only support Firefox or Microsoft Edge.
Does Chrome Have a VPN Extension?
Many browsers now include a VPN without the requirement of an extension. Unfortunately, Google Chrome is not one of them. Be aware, though, free web browsers bundled with VPNs should be used with caution, much like the safety of free browser extensions as mentioned above.
Are Free VPN Chrome Extensions Safe?
All of the providers on this list, both paid and free, have been vetted as safe to use. However, there are also lots of free VPN browser extensions out there that claim to secure your connection and safeguard your privacy. In reality, that’s not always true.
An initial indicator of whether a VPN browser extension is legit or not is if it asks you to sign in before you can use it. If an extension lets anyone login without authenticating, it leaves the software open to attackers and hackers on the hunt to steal your data.
Free VPN browser extensions often have terrible connection speeds due to having a low number of servers. Servers require some manpower to maintain them, and that means money needs to come from somewhere.
Free VPN Chrome extensions often rely on harvesting data without your permission to sell on to third parties or advertisers, so never handle sensitive data if you are unsure who has visibility of it.
From my perspective, ExpressVPN is the best overall of the VPN browser extensions I tested, with NordVPN and Surfshark coming in as runner-ups.
ExpressVPN has several notable advanced features, and although it comes at a premium, it has the widest variety of servers among my top 3 providers.
ExpressVPN seamlessly unblocks your favorite streaming services, provides fantastic customer support, and works on both Chrome and Firefox browsers.
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