As a browser user, you are subject to the same online perils as any other online users, including having your online activities tracked, blocked, and filtered. Plus, you don’t have access to geo-blocked content in multiple areas around the globe.
How Can a VPN Protect My Browser Activity?
This is where a Virtual Private Network (VPN) comes in handy. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, preventing outside observers, like your ISP, the government, and hackers from monitoring or blocking your online activities.
A VPN also routes your internet connection through a server in a different country, making it appear as if you’re connecting from that country, opening up access to geo-blocked content located in that country.
While a VPN app is an excellent tool for protecting your computer, it encrypts all of your internet traffic, while making it appear as if you’re in another part of the world. If you’re only browsing the web, you may not need full-blown VPN protection. Instead, just encrypting your browser traffic is really sufficient.
Many VPN providers offer web browser extensions that allow users to protect only their browser sessions, without needing to add to the overhead brought by a VPN app. Other apps, utilities, games, and other processes will still use your normal, unencrypted internet connection.
While there will be plenty of times that you’ll need a full-blown VPN app, a VPN browser extension provides easy-to-enable VPN protection when all you need to do is protect your browsing activity from prying eyes.
Below, I assess the top five VPN service providers that offer browser extensions for popular browsers on the Linux, Mac, and Windows platforms.
Best VPNs That Offer Browser Extensions
The five providers listed below offer reliable VPN browser extensions. Here’s a quick summary.
My best VPNs that offer browser extensions:
- NordVPN: Top VPN browser extensions. This top VPN provider offers browser extensions for the Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browser platforms. It provides fast, well-protected connections.
- Surfshark: Great budget-priced VPN. This fast-growing provider offers extensions for the Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browser platforms. My top budget choice, this provider offers excellent VPN protection for a low price.
- ExpressVPN: Premium VPN services. ExpressVPN delivers fast connections, top-notch privacy, and comprehensive security. It offers browser extensions for the Chrome, Edge, and Firefox platforms.
- CyberGhost: Easy-to-use VPN protection. This easy-to-use provider offers VPN protection for both Chrome and Firefox users, delivering one-click access to an encrypted connection.
- Private Internet Access (PIA): Reliable Browser VPN protection. PIA provides VPN extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. (The only one to provide an Opera browser extension.)
I evaluated and ranked the top VPNs for browser extensions using the following criteria:
- Browser extensions availability
- Security and privacy protections
- Connection speeds
- Global server network
- Customer support
Here are my top five picks for the best VPN browser extensions.
NordVPN is my top choice for the best VPN browser extensions. The provider’s extensions provide efficient online security and privacy.
The provider offers browser extensions for the Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox platforms.
In addition to those extensions, NordVPN also offers native app support for most desktop and mobile devices. The provider offers apps for Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS (with M1/M2 Mac support), Windows, and Linux. It also offers comprehensive router support.
The provider allows up to six simultaneous connections on a single account.
NordVPN protects your online travels using military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch protection, IP/DNS leak prevention, and the ability to disable WebRTC (which can reveal your real IP address even with the VPN enabled), and CyberSec protection, which allows users to avoid ads and protect against malware, phishing, and other threats.
Any worries about privacy violations should be alleviated by the provider’s no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option.
The provider’s owned-and-operated servers keep contractors away from your personal information. Plus, all NordVPN servers are run 100% from volatile RAM, never writing any data to an actual hard drive. This ensures that all server data will be fully wiped every time the server is shut down or rebooted.
NordVPN’s connection speeds are some of the fastest around. The provider offers plenty of bandwidth for all of your favorite online activities. There are never any data caps or bandwidth restrictions to worry about with this provider.
The provider has nothing to be ashamed of in the global server network department, with 5,500+ servers located in nearly 60 countries. This provides above-average access to geo-blocked content in most areas of the world.
NordVPN’s around-the-clock support includes email support, 24/7 chat, and a searchable support library.
- Firefox and Chrome extension availability
- 5,500+ servers in close to 60 countries
- CyberSec blocks ads, malware, and more
- Super fast connection speeds
- You can’t select specific servers
BEST VPN BROWSER EXTENSIONS:NordVPN delivers top-notch VPN protection for Chrome and Firefox users. The service delivers above-average connection speeds and top-notch privacy protections, along with around-the-clock customer support. A risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark offers an excellent budget-friendly VPN option for users who are looking to save a bit of money on their VPN protection.
The provider offers Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browser extensions, as well as native app support for most popular device platforms and support for numerous router models. Apps are available for Android, Fire TV, iOS, macOS (with Apple Silicon support), Windows, and Linux device platforms.
The provider offers an unlimited concurrent connections allowance.
All Surfshark browser extensions use banking-level AES 256-bit encryption, IP/DNS leak prevention, and a CleanWeb option that provides ad and tracker blocking, as well as malware and phishing protection.
Surfshark keeps no server logs and accepts multiple forms of cryptocurrency, protecting your privacy.
It provides fast connections and can easily handle HD video streaming, gaming, and much more. Plus, no data caps or bandwidth limitations to worry about when using this VPN.
The provider offers a fast-growing global server network, with 3,200+ servers stationed in 99+ countries. That’s more than double the number that the provider offered a year or so ago.
The provider offers around-the-clock support, including a 24/7 chat option, searchable support documents and FAQ section, and a support contact form.
- Reliable VPN protection for browsers
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Comprehensive online security and privacy
- Speedy connections
- Streaming servers are not labeled
BEST BET FOR BROWSERS ON A BUDGET:Surfshark is an excellent low-cost VPN option for Chrome and Firefox browser users. The provider keeps your online antics undercover, while also protecting you from ads, trackers, and malware. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
ExpressVPN is admittedly expensive, but it provides top-notch VPN protection, offering an excellent return on investment.
The provider offers browser extensions for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge platforms.
You can also protect your other favorite connected devices, as the provider offers native app support for most popular device platforms (iOS, Android, Android TV, Fire TV, macOS (including M1/M2 Mac support), Windows, Chromebook, and Linux), along with comprehensive router support.
The provider offers a somewhat limited five simultaneous connections allowance.
ExpressVPN’s browser extension offers full access to the provider’s global server network, as well as a smart location feature that protects your browsing with a single click.
The provider keeps your browsing incognito thanks to its government-grade AES 256-bit encryption, WebRTC blocking, and the ability to load secure versions of websites by default. Your privacy is protected just as well thanks to the service’s no-logs policy and Bitcoin subscription payment option.
ExpressVPN uses proprietary “TrustedServer” technology to run its server farms. This tech runs all servers 100% only from RAM, writing no data to a physical hard drive. This means that all data is totally wiped from an ExpressVPN server whenever it is rebooted or completely shut down.
In recent testing, ExpressVPN delivered uber-fast connections. So if you play fast-moving games in your browser, stream video, or enjoy any other browser-related pastime, you’re all set.
ExpressVPN provides impressive global server coverage, with 3,000+ servers located in 94+ countries.
The service’s customer support department offers 24/7 live chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system, and a searchable support library.
- Offers browser extensions for three platforms
- Fastest connections on this list
- Comprehensive privacy and security protections
- Fast-expanding global server network
- More expensive than other providers
- Doesn’t label streaming servers in extension
RELIABLE VPN PROTECTION FOR BROWSERS:ExpressVPN provides comprehensive, if expensive, VPN protection for your browser sessions. The provider also offers fast connections, high-end encryption, and excellent privacy protections. A 30-day money-back guarantee makes it a no-risk option.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost is usually my “best for newbies” VPN choice, and this time around is no exception.
The provider’s Firefox and Chrome extensions continue the provider’s tradition of easy-to-use apps, while offering the added benefit of being free and not requiring a CyberGhost account. However, the extension limits global server access to eight servers in four countries (Germany, Romania, the Netherlands, and the United States.)
CyberGhost also offers native app support for most popular device platforms, including Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux devices. The VPN also offers compatibility with numerous router makes and models.
The provider offers a seven concurrent connections allowance.
CyberGhost’s browser extensions encrypt your browser activity using banking-grade AES 256-bit encryption, WebRTC leak prevention, and more. Unfortunately, it does not offer kill switch protection.
Its users’ privacy is maintained thanks to its strict no-log-collection policy and its acceptance of Bitcoin for subscription payments.
CyberGhost connections provide plenty of speed for gaming, streaming audio and video, and more. No worries about data caps or bandwidth restrictions ruining the fun with this VPN.
The provider’s global server network includes 8,900+ servers, which are stationed in more than 90 countries around the world. Unfortunately, the provider’s browser extensions don’t offer designated streaming servers like its apps do.
The VPN provider offers a live chat option, a searchable support library, and a trouble ticket tracking system.
- Offers Chrome and Firefox extensions
- Well-encrypted connections
- Fast connections
- Extensions are free to use
- No kill switch protection available for extensions
- Only eight servers in four countries
BEST VPN EXTENSIONS FOR NEWBIES:CyberGhost offers easy-to-use Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. The provider delivers fast connection speeds, making it a good choice for streaming content through your browser (although your access to geo-blocked content is limited to four countries). A 45-day money-back guarantee makes trying this provider a no-risk proposition.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
Private Internet Access (PIA) provides browser extensions for three browser platforms, providing reliable protection for your browsing sessions.
The provider offers Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browser extensions. (The only provider on this list to offer an extension for the Opera platform.)
PIA native app support is also available for Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux device platforms. The provider’s router features can be used to keep all of your connected devices well-protected.
Up to 10 devices can be simultaneously connected to PIA servers by a single user.
The PIA global server network includes 3,300+ servers stationed in nearly 85 countries. The provider delivers access to geo-controlled content in most regions of the globe.
This provider’s download speeds are the slowest on this list. That said, the provider’s connections can easily handle streaming of HD and 4K content, online gaming, and other popular online pastimes. No data caps or bandwidth throttling to worry about when using Private Internet Access.
All PIA-provided connections are protected with banking-grade encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. Ad, tracker, malware, and dangerous website blocking are also available.
The provider never saves any user logs recording your online antics and the provider also accepts Bitcoin as subscription payment. If you sign up with a disposable email address, you’ll gain added anonymity.
A live chat option, a trouble ticket system, and a searchable support library make up PIA’s customer support options.
- Offers Opera extension
- Comprehensive online security and privacy
- No data cap restrictions or bandwidth throttling
- No streaming or downloading-optimized servers
- Has issues working in some overly-restrictive countries
RELIABLE BROWSER VPN PROTECTION:Private Internet Access provides reliable VPN protection for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. The provider’s fast, well-protected connections can easily handle your favorite online activities. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Methodology for Assessing VPN Browser Extensions
Not all VPN providers offer browser extensions for popular browser platforms. You need to investigate to be sure that a VPN offers support for your favorite browser. Keep in mind that there are other features to keep in mind as well.
Here are the most important features to keep in mind when thinking which VPN browser extension to use:
- Browser compatibility: Whichever browser you use (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Opera) check with the VPN you’re considering to confirm that it does support your favorite browser platform.
- Ease of use: A VPN should offer a collection of easy-to-use apps for popular device platforms, like the VPNs on my lists do. Support for multiple device platforms allows you to protect your favorite online activities on all of your devices.
- Connection speeds: The speed of a VPN provider’s connections is always an important factor to mull over. Slow connections can be frustrating when you’re online. All of the VPN providers on my list offer speedy connections.
- Server network: However, the more servers a VPN has stationed around the world, the better the access to geo-fenced content in other countries. Also, look for a provider with a high server count in each country, because that helps prevent a single server from being overloaded with users.
- Value: Any VPN worth considering will offer great value. A VPN needs to offer the features and functionality you need. Every VPN on my list offers an excellent return on investment.
- Security and privacy: It’s important to keep your online activities safe and undercover. A VPN should (at the very least) provide banking-level encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. Additional features are always a plus. Strict no-logs policies are a must to protect your online privacy.
- Streaming: Reliable access to various streaming services is an important consideration. The VPNs on my list offer reliable access to streaming services around the globe, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
This all seems like a lot to mull over. However, my in-depth research does not end here. In fact, this list makes up just a portion of my comprehensive VPN testing methodology. This data-driven approach provides a better understanding of VPNs and their services, allowing me to recommend providers that are a good fit for my reader’s needs.
How to Use a VPN Browser Extension
To protect your web browsing with a VPN, do the following:
- Subscribe to a VPN provider on this list (NordVPN is my top pick).
- Download and install the provider’s app and its browser extension in your favorite browser. (Using the link from the provider’s website for safety.)
- Click on the browser extension and log into the VPN.
- Select a VPN server and connect to it.
- Enjoy your incognito browsing.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option for My Browser?
I simply in good conscience cannot recommend a free VPN in any possible scenario, and when it comes to browser extensions, my anti-free VPN stance remains.
Free VPNs just put too many limitations on your online activities, including convenience, performance, and privacy issues.
Most freebie VPNs will throttle your connection speeds and subject you to daily or monthly data caps. They do this to preserve their available bandwidth for use by their paying customers.
You’ll also find that the “private” portion of “Virtual Private Network” is missing. Many free VPN providers make their money by tracking their users’ online travels, logging that info, and then selling it to advertisers and other nosy parties. Some providers have even been caught injecting unwanted tracking cookies and ads into their customers’ browser sessions.
A month of paid service from a reliable VPN provider will cost you less than a first-run movie ticket. Don’t make the free VPN mistake.
A Note About Using VPN Browser Extensions
While using a browser extension comes in handy, allowing you to quickly protect your internet browsing, there’s one important caveat to keep in mind.
When you’re using a VPN browser extension, only your browser session is protected by encryption. That means your other apps’ internet activities can still be monitored by outsiders.
However, when you use the full-blown VPN app for your computing platform, all internet activity is protected from prying eyes.
If you’re only concerned about your browsing activities, then a browser extension could be right for you. But if you want comprehensive protection, be sure to download the provider’s full-blown app.
I would advise online users who are searching for a reliable way to protect and enhance their browser-based online activities to investigate the advantages that a Virtual Private Network offers.
In addition to keeping your online activities undercover, a VPN browser extension can also enable access to content and services that may normally be unavailable in your region.
NordVPN is my #1 choice for protecting my browser activities. The provider delivers reliable online protection, while its global server network enables me to access my favorite content, no matter where it’s located. Fast speeds are a staple.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the NordVPN website.
VPN Browser Extensions FAQs
Is there a free Chrome VPN browser extension?
Yes! Most of the top VPN providers offer free VPN browser extensions as part of their service. The CyberGhost VPN browser extension is the exception and is free to use without a paid account. It's one of the best VPN extensions available but is limited to a small number of servers unless you take their full VPN service.
Are VPN Chrome extensions safe?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the safety of VPN Chrome extensions will depend on your specific extension. However, it is generally advisable to only use trusted and reputable VPN Chrome extensions, as these are less likely to contain malware or other security risks. Only use VPN or other extensions if you can confirm that the extension is from a genuine, safe source.
Can Google track me if I use a VPN?
Google can track you, even if you’re using a VPN, especially if you’re using the Google Chrome browser and are signed in to your Google account. If you are signed into Google, it can track your visits to websites that report back to Google, which is arguably most of the websites on the web. Use a private browser, like Brave or for more anonymity, use the TOR Browser.
- How Can a VPN Protect My Browser Activity?
- Best VPNs That Offer Browser Extensions
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. Private Internet Access
- Methodology for Assessing VPN Browser Extensions
- How to Use a VPN Browser Extension
- Is a Free VPN a Good Option for My Browser?
- A Note About Using VPN Browser Extensions
- VPN Browser Extensions FAQs
- Is there a free Chrome VPN browser extension?
- Are VPN Chrome extensions safe?
- Can Google track me if I use a VPN?