Protecting your connection with a VPN is a smart way to hide your IP and activities from third-parties. Whether you want to enhance your privacy or bypass geo-restrictions, there are plenty of options to explore for installing a VPN on your Chromebook.
Read on to find out about the top features to look for, what we think of different VPN providers with apps compatible with Chromebooks, and our top recommendations.
We think the best VPN for Chromebooks is ExpressVPN. This VPN service provider offers excellent value with its affordable plans and network of over 3,000 servers. With over 94 countries to choose from, you’ll be able to bypass any geo-restrictions.
You can expect faster speeds for P2P and streaming, and the user-friendly Android app will help you establish a secure connection easily. The Lightway protocol is another standout feature of this service. This protocol is an excellent option for Chromebook users because it can reduce battery usage, among other benefits like Always On VPN.
We’re confident about recommending ExpressVPN because of the strict no-log policy of this provider and the fact that an audit has confirmed this policy. You’ll also get excellent support if you ever need help.
Here are some honorable mentions to consider:
- NordVPN is another reliable provider. This VPN has over 95% of servers that work with Netflix and is an excellent choice if you want to unlock different streaming libraries. It also offers advanced features like Double VPN to enhance your privacy.
- SurfShark is a great option for torrenting. This VPN provider has over 3,000 servers, with some servers optimized for P2P. There is a multi-hop feature that protects your privacy and a strict no-log policy.
- The best free VPN for Chromebooks is Windscribe. This VPN provider gives you access to 10 locations for free and limits your traffic to 10GB/month, but you can keep using this free VPN service for as long as you want, while most other providers offer a free trial for a limited period.
Three Ways to Use a VPN on a Chromebook
If you want to protect your privacy online, you might wonder how to use VPN on Chromebook. There are different ways of establishing a VPN connection on this platform.
- Android app (for Chromebook from 2017 and later)
- Chrome browser extension
- Manual setup with L2TP
VPN providers offer clients and apps for different platforms. If a provider has an Android app, you’ll be able to install it on your Chromebook. Unfortunately, not all Chromebooks support apps from the Google Play Store. If your Chromebook is from 2017 or more recent, installing a VPN app shouldn’t be an issue.
Here’s how you can install a VPN app on your Chromebook:
- Update your Chrome OS version if needed.
- Click on time in the bottom right corner and open your settings.
- Look for the Google Play Store and enable the option that allows you to install apps from this source.
- Open the Google Play Store, look for the app from your VPN provider, and install it.
If you share a Chromebook with other users, you’ll have to download and install the VPN app for the different accounts.
Installing an Android app is a quick and easy method. The advantage of using a VPN Android app is that it can protect all the traffic to and from your device, including the sites you visit with a browser or the files you download with a P2P client.
Note: Some VPN providers let you download an .apk file of their app. You can install these files manually instead of going through the Google Play Store.
Chrome Browser Extension
You can access the VPN on your Chromebook via a Chrome browser extension. Visit the Chrome web store to see if your VPN provider has an approved extension.
Not all VPN services have browser extensions, and the ones that do typically offer these extensions complement a more comprehensive VPN client.
A Chrome browser extension can be a good option if you’re looking for something that is easy to install and use. This will allow you to monitor your connection status while browsing.
However, know that browser extensions don’t always encrypt your traffic. These extensions typically use proxy servers to hide your IP address, prevent advertisers from tracking you, and allow you to change your location.
If you need more privacy and security, we recommend installing an Android app instead.
Setup Manually with L2TP
You’ll need a pre-shared key, a user certificate, and your VPN username and password. Check the documentation of your VPN provider or contact support to get this information if needed.
Open the settings and click on Network. Select the Add Connection option and click on add next to the line that says OpenVPN / L2TP.
You can then configure your connection. You’ll need to enter the information from your pre-shared key or certificate and your VPN credentials. Click on connect to establish a secure connection.
What Makes a Good VPN for Chromebook
There are a few features you should for when selecting the best VPN for your Chromebook.
Easy to Install and Use
Unless you’re an advanced user, you’ll want a VPN app that is easy to download and install. Your best option is to look for a VPN provider with an Android app on the Google Play Store.
Pay attention to user-friendly features that will help you establish a secure VPN connection. Things like one-click connections can be an advantage if you’re new to using a VPN. Look for an app with a user-friendly interface so you can easily choose the server you want to connect to and explore additional features.
There are a few key features a good VPN service should have, regardless of the platform you use it on:
- Always On VPN. This feature establishes a new connection if you lose your connection.
- Encryption. Encrypting your traffic means that a third party intercepting it won’t be able to extract any data from it. Most VPN providers use the AES 256 encryption protocol.
- Speed. One of the drawbacks of using a VPN is that it can slow down your connection. Look for a provider who does well on speed tests and make sure they have servers near your physical location.
- No-log policy. Pay attention to where a VPN provider operates from and which data retention laws apply, if any. It’s best to choose a provider with a strict no-log policy that an independent audit has verified.
Here are some additional features that can add value to your Chromebook VPN subscription:
- Multi-device protection. You can usually protect more than one device with a subscription. Make sure the provider you choose has clients compatible with the different devices you use.
- Ad blocking. Some VPN providers have a built-in feature to block ads, malware, phishing sites, and more.
- P2P support. Features like P2P support can improve speed when torrenting.
- Streaming support. Some services have servers optimized for streaming. You can watch HD movies and shows with no lag.
- Advanced features. If you want more control over your connection or more privacy, look for features like Double VPN, split tunneling, Onion Over VPN, or access to different protocols.
VPN Protocols Used on Chromebook
L2TP or L2TP over IPsec is a common protocol for VPN on Chromebook. The L2TP protocol doesn’t encrypt data, which is why VPN providers use L2TP over IPsec to add a layer of encryption.
It’s a secure protocol, but it can cause slower speed. This protocol converts traffic to L2TP format, which can slow things down.
OpenVPN is a better option for your Chromebook. It’s a protocol that relies on OpenSSL encryption and other open-source technology. It delivers a good mix of speed and security.
You can technically use the PPTP protocol on a Chromebook, but know that this protocol is outdated and won’t offer the same level of protection since it’s possible to decrypt data shared via this protocol.
The Best VPNs for Chromebooks
We have selected different VPN providers with an app compatible with the Chromebook platform. Read on to find out more about the different features, advantages, and drawbacks offered by these different providers.
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN services for a reason. This VPN consistently receives excellent reviews thanks to its affordable plans, user-friendly interface, and reliable server network. It also offers outstanding customer support.
The British Virgin Islands location is ideal for privacy since this country doesn’t have any data retention laws. ExpressVPN’s no-log policy is trustworthy, since audits have confirmed that the VPN doesn’t keep any activity or traffic logs.
ExpressVPN is available on a wide range of platforms, including Chromebooks, thanks to its dedicated Android app.
The good news is that the Android app has the same features as the ExpressVPN client. The interface is user-friendly, and you can choose from 17 different languages.
We like the Android app because it’s easy to check your connection status at a glance. You can establish an encrypted connection with one click and browse through the 3,000+ available servers if you want to connect to a specific location.
Speaking of servers, ExpressVPN stands out thanks to the size of its networks. You can use 3,000+ servers in 160 different locations and 94 countries. The Android app gives you access to the same huge network as the standard client.
You can find servers on every continent, and it’s easy to find a nearby server to get a fast VPN connection or to connect to a server in a specific location to bypass geo-restrictions. You can use these servers for torrenting and streaming, but speed can vary from one server to another.
ExpressVPN uses servers that support different protocols, and you can usually select the protocol you want to use when you establish a connection. However, know that some protocols used by ExpressVPN, like IKEv2, aren’t compatible with the Chromebook platform.
You’ll still have access to different VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP. The new Lightway protocol, a feature that is proprietary to ExpressVPN, is worth mentioning. It’s a lightweight protocol that allows for fast connections. It enhances security, and it’s a great option for Chromebook users because it uses less battery.
Another advantage of the Lightway protocol is the always-on feature. Your VPN connection will become idle if you lose your Wi-Fi signal or switch network to prevent your data from leaking outside of the VPN tunnel.
ExpressVPN does not maintain any activity or connection logs with its TrustedServer feature. An audit has confirmed the VPN’s claims about this service.
ExpressVPN servers run on RAM memory only. This means that the data disappears when the servers reboot. ExpressVPN reinstalls the software stack after each reboot and writes nothing on the hard drives.
ExpressVPN offers excellent customer service regardless of the client or platform you use. You can ask questions and submit a ticket via chat or email 24/7. You’ll get a response quickly and can expect help from qualified individuals. The Android app also has some guides you can use to troubleshoot common issues.
With ExpressVPN, you can protect more than your Chromebook. With a subscription, you can protect up to five devices at a time, including devices that not all VPN providers cover, like your Apple TV, PlayStation, or Xbox.
Thanks to the seven-day free trial offer, you can try ExpressVPN with no risks. If you’re ready to subscribe, you can purchase a plan with a credit card, PayPal, or even Bitcoin. You’ll get a better deal if you pay in advance for a yearly plan.
- Same features as the ExpressVPN client
- Huge selection of services
- Fast servers
- Trustworthy VPN service with no logs
- Excellent customer service
- No double VPN
- Cheaper options are available
- Speed can be hit and miss depending on the server you use
NordVPN is another popular VPN provider. Users like the reliable server network and the outstanding speed of this service. We recommend NordVPN if you want to unlock Netflix in more regions since tests show that over 95% of servers work with Netflix.
An audit has confirmed NordVPN’s no-log policy. This VPN operates from Panama, a country that doesn’t have any data retention laws. NordVPN is a great option if you value your privacy and want a reliable VPN with no leaks.
There are two ways to protect your Chromebook with NordVPN. You can download the Android app through the Google Play Store or run the NordVPN Chrome extension.
Downloading the Android app is the best way to protect your device. It will encrypt all the traffic to and from your Chromebook. If you opt for the Chrome extension, you will only encrypt traffic from your browser.
Having both options is interesting since the Chrome extension is easy to install and manage. Using the Chrome extension makes sense if you want to access geo-restricted content and don’t need more protection.
NordVPN has over 5,400+ servers worldwide. However, a significant portion of these servers are in the US, with a little under 2,000 servers in different US cities. Having access to an extensive network of US servers means it’s easy to find a nearby server and get a fast connection for US users, but it can limit your options if you want an IP in a different country.
NordVPN allows P2P and offers some servers optimized for torrenting so you can get a better speed. You can add a dedicated IP to your plan if you want to spoof your location in a more consistent manner.
The Android app features a quick-connect button you can use to create an encrypted connection. This feature will choose the best server based on your location.
NordVPN offers some interesting advanced features. You can, for instance, use Double VPN to route your traffic through two VPN servers and benefit from an additional layer of encryption to make your activities even harder to track. The Onion Over VPN feature gives you access to the Tor network to route your traffic randomly through a series of nodes.
The major drawback of the NordVPN Android app is the CyberSec feature. It’s a feature that adds value to the service by blocking ads and malicious websites to keep you safe online. CyberSec is missing from the Android app, but you can get it if you download the .apk version of the app from the NordVPN website instead of going through the Google Play Store.
- Great user experience with fast speed and simple interface
- Protect your device with an app or browser extension
- Advanced features like Double VPN or Onion Over VPN
- Reliable no-log policy
- A majority of servers work with Netflix
- A lot of the servers are in the US
- CyberSec feature is missing from the app available on the Google Play Store
There are a few drawbacks to consider for privacy. Hotspot Shield collects some data about usage like your bandwidth use or how long you use a service. VPN logs information about the device you are using, like your OS version or the network you connect to. It also collects information about your location.
The good news is that Hotspot Shield scrubs this data for anything that could identify you. However, it’s not the best option if you care about your privacy. You should also know that there hasn’t been an audit to verify any of these claims.
You can use Hotspot Shield to protect up to five devices at once with no data limit with the basic plan. You can connect up to 25 devices if you opt for the family plan. Prices are higher than other VPNs, but you’ll get a fast and reliable service.
Hotspot Shield offers a dedicated Android app. Third-party tests have confirmed that you can find servers with excellent speed on this network.
The app features a user-friendly interface. It’s easy to set up an encrypted connection, and there are more than 3,200 servers to choose from in over 80 different countries.
Hotspot Shield uses Hydra protocol. It’s a protocol that allows for optimal speed and reliability, but you don’t have the option of switching between different protocols.
You can access advanced features like split tunneling with the app and blocking malware and phishing sites. If you run into an issue, Hotspot Shield offers 24/7 support.
Note: Hotspot Shield also offers a free VPN proxy that you can install on your Chromebook as an extension. It’s a good option to hide your IP address in a pinch or bypass geo-restrictions, but know that this VPN provider throttles speed on its free products.
- Excellent option for P2P
- Large selection of servers
- Hydra protocol is fast and reliable
- Advanced options like split tunneling
- Hotspot Shield collects some data
- Can’t choose between different protocols
- Free proxy service is slow
CyberGhost is a reliable and performing VPN service provider. The Android app is a good option to protect your Chromebook, and we like the mix of user-friendly and safe features that CyberGhost offers.
The major drawback of this service is the speed. Speed tests show that performance isn’t consistent across all servers. However, you can easily switch from one server to another until you find one that delivers the speed you’re looking for. You may also have to test different servers before unlocking a geo-restricted site or service.
The CyberGhost Android app has a user-friendly interface with features like a one-click connection. You can use it to access over 6,500 servers in over 90 countries. You can protect up to seven devices at a time.
CyberGhost has a strict no-log policy. This VPN collects some personal data to improve its services, and a 2012 audit proved that the VPN provider protected this data adequately. However, CyberGhost has never been through an audit for its no-log policy.
We recommend CyberGhost for streaming shows and movies because you can find servers optimized for Netflix in different countries or for services like BBC IPlayer, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and more. The servers use OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, but since the IKEv2 protocol isn’t compatible with the Chromebook platform, you’ll only be able to use the OpenVPN protocol.
You won’t find advanced features like Double VPN or Onion Over VPN, but you can use split tunneling, benefit from a network kill switch, and manage your Wi-Fi networks with this app. You can also use it to block ads, malware, and trackers.
- Reliable service with an excellent reputation
- More than 6,500 servers in over 90 countries
- Connect to servers optimized for different streaming services
- No-log policy
- No audit of the no-log policy
- OpenVPN is the only protocol available for Chromebook
- Lack of advanced features
SurfShark is another VPN provider in the British Virgin Islands. It delivers excellent speed, and you can protect an unlimited number of devices with a subscription. It’s a feature that adds value, since most VPN providers will limit the number of devices you can connect at once.
We recommend SurfShark if you’re looking for a fast VPN service for torrenting or streaming. Speed tests consistently show excellent results, and it’s possible to use SurfShark servers to unlock several Netflix libraries or access other streaming services. You can find servers optimized for HD streaming to get optimal video quality.
As a Chromebook user, you’ll need to install the SurfShark Android app. It’s easy to install and set up. You can connect with a one-click feature or open a list of locations to choose the server you want to use. You can check your connection status on the main screen of the app or minimize the app and open a small window to check your status from your Chromebook’s system tray.
SurfShark offers multi-hop and split-tunneling features. The multi-hop feature is interesting because it routes your traffic through two or more servers to make it harder to track.
You can connect to over 3,200 different servers in over 65 countries. You’ll be able to use the OpenVPN protocol on your Chromebook. Most of the servers support P2P traffic, but the app can redirect your traffic to a server that supports P2P if you connect to a server in a country that doesn’t allow torrenting.
However, know that SurfShark has never been through a comprehensive audit. You can find mentions of an audit on the official SurfShark website, but a closer inspection reveals that this audit only looked at the browser extension and didn’t verify the VPN provider’s no-log policy.
- Protect an unlimited number of devices
- App is easy to use
- Plenty of servers for P2P and streaming
- Multi-hop feature
- No comprehensive audit
- Other VPN providers have more server locations
The Best Free VPN for Chromebook
Did you know you can protect your privacy for free? Some VPN providers offer free plans, but know that there are limitations.
Free VPN options aren’t as comprehensive as paid plans for advanced features or speed, and it’s also important to consider how the VPN provider earns money when offering a free service. The following VPN providers are worth a shot if you want to protect your privacy for free.
Windscribe offers a free VPN service with 10GB/month of data. This free VPN service gives you access to only 10 of the 63 locations available.
Windscribe stands out by offering simple apps, excellent speed, and server options for torrenting and streaming. However, know that this VPN is in Canada. This means there are a few laws about data retention that this service provider has to follow.
Windscribe logs your account and payment information. It also keeps track of the timestamp of your last session and the amount of data you transferred. It’s not the best option if you want complete privacy, but it’s still worth considering if you want a fast and reliable VPN.
You can install this VPN on a Chromebook by downloading the dedicated Android app. The good thing about the free service is that you can keep using it for as long as you want.
We recommend using this free VPN if you want to hide your IP address or bypass geo-restrictions. There is a fairly small list of locations available, but it might bypass some location-related blocks.
10GB/month of data is enough to browse the web, but you won’t be able to download large files or stream shows and movies.
- Free service is a great option for testing this VPN
- Keep using the free service for as long as you want
- User-friendly Android app
- Windscribe logs some of your data
- Free service gives you access to 10 locations
- Free service limits your data
TunnelBear is an excellent choice for novice VPN users. This VPN service provider delivers simple interfaces and makes using a VPN very accessible.
There are a few drawbacks to consider, such as the lack of advanced features and the fact that this VPN is in Canada. However, TunnelBear has undergone different security audits over the years and is a reliable option.
If you’re looking for a free VPN for your Chromebook, you can test this service for free. You’ll get access to all the features of a paid account. It’s a great way to test the Android app and explore the world map you can use to choose a location for your secure VPN connection. You can install the Android widget that allows you to manage your connection without opening the app.
You’ll get access to over 1,800 servers in over 20 countries. The selection of locations is small compared to other VPN services, but it’s decent for a free VPN.
TunnelBear offers free accounts so users can test the service. You’ll have access to all the features, but you can only use your free account for up to 500MB browsing. You’ll probably reach this cap quickly, but it’s still a good option if you need a free VPN for one-time use.
- User-friendly product
- Access all the features with the free account
- Security audits
- Android widget
- Free up to 500MB of browsing
- Located in Canada
- Only 20+ countries
Other Chromebook Security & Privacy Tips
Is a VPN enough to keep you safe online? Using a VPN connection protects your privacy, but here are additional steps you should take:
- You need an antivirus. These programs scan files to identify code from known malware and delete malicious files and programs. Choose a quality antivirus with an up-to-date database.
- Install a firewall to manage which apps can connect to the internet. A firewall can prevent malware from sharing your data and shield you from attacks.
- Make sure you have the latest version of Chrome OS installed and enable automated updates. When Google discovers a vulnerability, it releases a new version of Chrome OS to address it.
- You need to secure your Google account since it’s an important component of the Chrome OS ecosystem. Use a strong password to enable two-factor authentication.
- Check your privacy settings on the browser you are using. Chrome allows you to send ”Do Not Track” requests with your traffic, and you can turn off browsing history syncing with your Google account and other devices by typing chrome://settings/syncSetup in the address bar.
- Consider using another browser with better privacy features. Brave and Firefox are available on Chromebooks.
- Make sure you are aware of the apps and extensions you install. Always review permissions and find out how the services you use work and what data they collect.
Installing a VPN to protect your Chromebook is easy since you can download Android apps via the Google Play Store. There are many VPN providers with a dedicated Android app, but it’s important to consider things like no-log policies and speed when choosing a VPN.
We think the best VPN for Chromebooks is ExpressVPN because this service has an enormous network of servers with consistent speed. It’s a reliable VPN provider with a good reputation and a strict no-log policy. However, there are other reputable VPNs to consider and some free options like Windscribe.
Here are some common questions about VPNs and Chromebooks.