A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS as its operating system. The device uses the Google Chrome browser to perform laptop-like tasks, including word processing, web browsing and much more.
As a Chromebook user, you’re susceptible to the same online perils as are users of other devices. Perhaps more so, as many activities performed on a Chromebook either require an internet connection or offer an enhanced experience when connected to the internet.
This means that you could be subject to online phishing attempts, man-in-the-middle attacks, online monitoring and more.
Thankfully, there is a way to protect your online activities while using your Chromebook: a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A Virtual Private Network protects your online activities from prying eyes by encrypting your internet connection, making it impossible for outside observers to monitor your online travels or steal your personal information.
A VPN can also aid you in accessing content you might not usually have access to, such as geo-blocked content from streaming services, websites and other services.
In this article, I review the top 5 best VPNs for use with Chromebook.
How to Use Your VPN With a Chromebook
Protecting your Chromebook with a VPN requires a few simple steps:
- Subscribe to a VPN.
- Install either the Chrome browser extension, to protect your browsing sessions, or the Android app, to protect all of the activities on your device.
- Log into the VPN.
- Select a VPN server and connect.
- Enjoy your protected online activities on your Chromebook.
Best VPNs for Chromebook
After putting my top VPN providers through exhaustive rounds of testing, I found that these 5 VPNs performed best with Chromebook devices. If you’re in a hurry, here’s a summary:
- ExpressVPN: The service’s global server coverage, privacy protections and security offerings are among the best in the business. Their connection speeds are nothing to sneeze at, either.
- NordVPN: Fast, well-encrypted connections and optimal privacy and security measures are the rule here. The low price they charge for their high level of service will make it attractive to users on a budget.
- Surfshark: While their server coverage may be lower than other providers, its privacy and security protections, as well as a somewhat unusual unlimited simultaneous connections policy, make up for it.
- CyberGhost: This provider delivers a high level of service for a bargain price. Fast speeds are a must for an internet-centric device like a Chromebook, and CyberGhost delivers.
- IPVanish: In addition to competitive connection speeds, global server coverage and privacy and security protections, IPVanish steps it up a notch with their self-owned and -operated server farms.
Note: While VPN providers don’t offer native Chromebook apps, they do provide Android apps, which are compatible with the latest version of Chrome OS, the Chromebook’s operating system.
Many also offer Chrome browser extensions. Manually configuring a VPN connection on a Chromebook is also possible.
I evaluated and ranked the top Chromebook VPNs using the following criteria:
- Availability of Android app or Chrome browser extension
- Global server coverage
- Connection speeds
- Customer support offerings
- Privacy and security protections
Here’s my list of the top 5 VPNs for use with your Chromebook.
ExpressVPN delivers the best all-around protection and performance for Chromebook devices. The provider delivers comprehensive global server coverage and top-notch Chromebook support.
ExpressVPN offers an Android app that works with recent versions of Chrome OS, as well as a Google Chrome browser extension. In addition, experienced users can make use of the service’s instructions to manually set up an L2TP connection to the provider’s servers.
No matter which location around the globe you’d like to appear to be connecting from, ExpressVPN likely has it covered, as it offers over 3,000 servers located in 94 countries.
All of your Chrome OS apps will perform well when streaming video or saving information to the cloud thanks to ExpressVPN’s swift connection speeds. The provider never subjects its users to data caps or bandwidth limitations.
Customer support is always accessible through the provider’s 24/7 live support chat, support ticket tracking system, email support and searchable support library.
Your security is always protected thanks to the provider’s well-encrypted connections. Your privacy is also never in peril, as the provider has a strict no-logs policy when it comes to keeping a record of your online travels and accepts Bitcoin for subscription payment.
The provider has a limit of 5 concurrent connections using a single username. Multiple users can take advantage of the provider’s optimal router compatibility to protect multiple devices via a single access point.
- Offers Android app and Chrome browser extension
- Connection speeds keep things brisk
- Top-notch customer support
- Excellent security and privacy protections
- Comprehensive global server coverage
- Quite expensive compared to other popular VPNs
BEST VPN FOR CHROMEBOOK:ExpressVPN is the best choice for use with your Chromebook. Excellent connection speeds and wide-ranging global server coverage make it easy to protect your Chromebook. A 30-day money-back guarantee makes trying ExpressVPN a no-risk option.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN snags the “place” spot in this 5-way horse race thanks to its low price and high level of service in most categories.
This provider offers both an Android app and a Chrome browser extension. However, it lacks a manual setup option.
With over 5,200 servers located in 60 countries, this provider’s global server coverage is good enough to offer most users access to their favorite content.
Connection speeds are not an issue with NordVPN, as the provider’s connections will keep the content flowing smoothly to your Chromebook. Plus, you never have to worry about the VPN service restricting you with data caps or bandwidth limitations.
Although NordVPN is a reliable VPN service, it’s good to know that you’ll have plenty of support if you need it. The provider offers 24/7 live support chat, email support and a searchable knowledge base.
Privacy and security protections are well covered when you’re connected to NordVPN. Your online security is protected by the provider’s highly-encrypted connections. Meanwhile, your privacy will stay intact thanks to NordVPN’s no-logs policy and Bitcoin subscription payment option.
While the provider allows a generous 6 simultaneous connection on a single login, users requiring more connections can access the service via NordVPN-compatible routers.
- 5,200+ servers in 60 countries
- Android app and Chrome extension availability
- Excellent security and privacy protection
- No in-app kill switch protection
BUDGET-FRIENDLY PROTECTION:NordVPN offers excellent protection for your Chromebook. The service delivers fast, well-protected connections and above-average customer support, all without breaking the bank. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
This provider ranks somewhere in the lower part of the pack when it comes to global server coverage, with 500+ servers located in over 50 countries around the globe.
Surfshark’s connection speeds will easily keep up with the demands of your Chromebook.
Privacy and security are, well, secured when subscribing to Surfshark. The provider has a no-logs policy, and it happily accepts Bitcoin. In the connection security department, Surfshark delivers highly-encrypted connections and is the only provider in this top 5 to offer kill switch protection for its Android app.
Customer support can be placed into the “no worries” category when you use Surfshark thanks to its searchable support library, support contact form and 24/7 live chat option.
The provider generously allows unlimited concurrent connections, but if you have a device that doesn’t have a VPN app available, you can also make use of their excellent router support.
- Only kill switch-protected Android app on this list
- Unlimited concurrent connections
- Top-notch privacy and security coverage
- Server network lacking compared to other providers
- No manual configuration options
HIGH-LEVEL SECURITY:Surfshark provides well-protected connections, delivering the only Android app with kill switch protection in the top 5. An unlimited simultaneous connections policy only adds to the value. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
CyberGhost is the king of speed on this list of 5, providing plenty of horsepower for all of your internet-related Chromebook activities. The provider’s connections are well protected, and its privacy protections are second to none.
The provider delivers in the Android app and Chrome browser extension departments, and it also provides instructions on how to manually set up an L2TP connection.
CyberGhost’s global server network falls somewhere around the industry average, with 3,700+ servers in 60 countries. That will provide access to most geo-blocked content around the globe, including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more.
Fast connections (some of the fastest in the industry) and a lack of data caps or bandwidth limitations make CyberGhost an excellent option for always-connected devices like the Chromebook.
CyberGhost’s customer service department will never leave you unsupported thanks to their live support chat option, support ticket system and searchable support library.
Military-grade encryption for your internet connection has you covered in the security department, while a strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option keep your privacy well protected.
Although CyberGhost allows a generous 7 concurrent connections, if you need more, the provider’s wide compatibility with a large number of router makes and models will come in handy.
- Android app and Chrome extension available
- Well-encrypted connections
- Fast connections, perfect for always-connected Chromebooks
- Industry-standard privacy protections
- No kill switch protection in the Android app
BEST FOR STREAMING FANS:CyberGhost is the best VPN for Chromebook users who enjoy streaming. The provider’s security and privacy protection free you from worry of exposure. A 45-day money-back guarantee makes trying this provider a no-risk proposition.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish delivers optimal app and browser extension support, along with top-notch privacy and security protections.
The provider offers a Chrome browser extension and an Android app, as well as manual OpenVPN and L2TP instructions.
IPVanish’s global server coverage is lacking a bit when compared to other providers’ coverage. That said, with 1,300+ servers stationed in 50+ countries, the provider has things covered fairly well.
IPVanish owns and operates their server farms, meaning no third parties have access to those servers or your information.
IPVanish’s connection speeds are more than adequate for an always-connected device like the Chromebook. Customer support also matches or exceeds other VPN services, with 24/7 chat support, email support and an easily searchable support knowledge base.
Privacy is a bit of a mixed bag when you’re dealing with IPVanish. While the provider never keeps any logs of your online travel, it doesn’t offer a Bitcoin payment option, which means there isn’t a way to pay anonymously.
While IPVanish’s connections do offer military-grade encryption, they lack a kill switch option.
IPVanish can protect all of your devices via its extensive router compatibility, if its super-generous 10 concurrent connection allowance isn’t enough.
- Proprietary server farms add to security
- Allows 10 simultaneous connections
- Offers both OpenVPN and L2TP manual configurations
- No kill switch option on Android app
- No Bitcoin payment option
NO THIRD PARTIES INVOLVED:IPVanish’s self-owned and -operated server farms prevent third parties from accessing your data. Experienced users can take advantage of OpenVPN connections, without running an app. The provider’s 7-day money-back guarantee is a bit short for my taste.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option For Use With a Chromebook?
I’ll be upfront with you: While there are free VPN services that will work with your Chromebook, I would never recommend a free VPN for any type of use. They are simply not worth the risk they entail.
Many “free” VPN providers pay their rent and utilities by monitoring their customers’ online usage habits and then selling that information to advertisers and other interested parties. Some freebie VPNs are known to inject unwanted tracking cookies and advertisements into their users’ browsing sessions.
Besides being a privacy hazard, free VPNs can cost you in terms of time and convenience. You may be forced to wait in a queue before being allowed to connect to a VPN server. Then, once you’re let out of the holding pen, your server selection will likely be limited, if you have a choice of server at all.
Once you’re connected, it’s also possible that your free provider will put a monthly data cap on your VPN usage, and maybe even throttle your connection speeds. UGH!
Remember, a month of service from a reputable VPN provider will cost you less than a digital album on iTunes. Using a “free” VPN can cost you a lot more.
Using Android Apps With Your Chromebook
While using a VPN’s Chrome browser extension with your Chromebook is convenient, keep in mind that the extension only protects your browser session, leaving the rest of your online activities open to monitoring.
If you prefer complete privacy to convenience, you’re in luck.
Chromebooks running recent versions of the Chrome OS or Chromium OS (the open-source version of Chrome OS) can run Android apps, which can protect all of your online activities. (Google created both the Chrome OS and Android operating systems, making them compatible.)
If you’d like to confirm your Chromebook can install and use Android apps, visit the Chromium OS website for a list of compatible devices.
Chromebook users who are looking to protect their online activities from prying eyes are well-advised to select and use a reputable, reliable VPN provider.
In addition to protecting you from third-party observation, a VPN also opens up content that you might not normally have access to.
ExpressVPN provides the optimal method of protecting your Chromebook via its well-encrypted connections, wide-ranging global server coverage and top-notch privacy and security offerings.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.