Even the most popular web browsers, like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, come with a ton of inherent privacy issues that you wouldn’t be aware of without diving deep into the browser settings.
Using a VPN extension will prevent this from happening. It’s slightly different to using a VPN’s desktop or mobile app as it will only encrypt your browser traffic, but it’s a useful extra for heavy browser users.
Our top VPN extensions allow you to access all of your favorite sites through a secure, encrypted connection, saving you worrying about your online activity being tracked or monitored by your ISP.
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
The VPN extensions we recommend here all offer a sleek, user-friendly experience on mobile as well as desktop, making them accessible to VPN newbies and experienced users alike.
They excelled in our speed tests and work for unblocking popular sites such as Netflix. They pack in loads of advanced privacy features, such as WebRTC leak protection, and have minimal logging policies to keep your personal information safe.
If you’d rather get yourself the total protection granted by a full VPN without the financial commitment, you can find our top recommendations in our roundup of the Best Free VPNs of 2019.
The first thing to decide before you begin using a VPN extension is whether you’re going to sign up for a paid subscription, or if you’ll be happy using a (usually heavily restricted) free solution.
If you opt for the latter, they’re almost always proxies that mask your true IP address but don’t encrypt traffic. Many of them also have really stingy data caps, which will really limit what you’re able to do online. If you’re willing to spend a few dollars a month you’ll never have to worry about running out of bandwidth.
Once you’ve settled on a VPN, installing it in your browser couldn’t be easier. In most cases, you can download the relevant extension from your provider’s website, but if the VPN you’ve chosen is browser-only, you’ll be able to download it from relevant app store. Should you need any more help then check out our guides: How to Install a VPN on Chrome and How to Install a VPN on Firefox.
After that, using a VPN extension is pretty much the same as using it on any other platform. Simply select a location and you’ll appear to be connecting out from that country – for the best possible performance, you should choose one close to your physical location (the majority of VPNs will automatically do this for you).
Just remember that any apps you open outside of your browser (Netflix, Spotify etc.) won’t be protected by the browser extension, so if you want to encrypt this traffic you’re better off using the desktop app.
Only a handful of providers offer decent extensions for multiple browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari, as well as custom apps for desktop and mobile. Our top recommendations all provide sleek, user-friendly extensions at least for Chrome and Firefox.
Aside from ExpressVPN, our top picks are proxy extensions that only encrypt your browser traffic, meaning that the rest of your device’s apps (e.g. Spotify) are left unprotected.
Beware though – some proxy extensions don’t even do that, instead, they just spoof your IP address, leaving your browser traffic unencrypted.
To find out the difference between VPNs and proxies, check out our helpful guide.
You need to be sure that the VPN extension you choose isn’t going to have too much of an adverse effect on your device’s performance. Generally, the faster the speeds the better, and keep an eye out for low latency on local connections for a lag-free browsing experience.
In order to get the best possible performance, you’ll need to choose a VPN server close to your physical location. Most of our top picks offer the same number of server locations you can access through their man apps, however there are a couple that reduce this number if you’re just using the browser extension.
Take a look at our speed test results to get the best idea, especially if you’re looking to connect to a particular country.
There’s not much point in choosing a user-friendly, speedy VPN extension if you’re not going to be able to access the websites you use on a regular basis. Not all providers will work with popular streaming sites such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer, so check out our VPN reviews to find out which ones do.
A lot of VPN providers falsely claim to be ‘zero logs’ but the reality is, delivering reliable performance across a global server network usually requires providers to monitor at least some basic connection statistics.
The logging policy section in our reviews explains providers’ privacy policies in plain English, saving you from reading through them all. In an ideal world, you want to choose a provider that doesn’t log any personally identifying information, or even better, one that doesn’t collect any logs at all.
Chances are, you’re not just going to want to use a VPN in your browser, so look for a provider that also offers a decent range of custom apps for desktop and mobile devices.
If you choose a software that’s user-friendly you’re more likely to use it on a regular basis – we share the results of our hands-on testing in the Ease of Use part of each app’s review.
Even top-tier VPN plans are very affordable but you probably have a budget in mind.
Plans that are 12 months or longer tend to offer the best value for money and you can reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse by choosing a VPN with a generous refund period, preferably 30 days with no questions asked. These types of guarantee are much more common than free trials but are essentially the same thing.