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Should You Use NordVPN’s Chrome Extension?

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Our Verdict

NordVPN’s web browser extension for Chrome is fast, secure and hides your IP address effectively. It also unblocks US Netflix, but it doesn't encrypt your device's traffic to the same extent as the full NordVPN application. NordVPN's browser add-on also lacks the additional security features of competing Chrome extensions.

NordVPN Chrome

NordVPN’s Chrome extension is one of the most popular VPN browser add-ons available, with over two million users. It’s also the best cheap VPN for Chrome we’ve reviewed.

We thoroughly tested the NordVPN Chrome extension to determine how it differs from the main NordVPN application, and how it compares to other Chrome VPN plugins.

In this guide, we cover all you need to know about using NordVPN with Chrome. You’ll learn if NordVPN’s extension is safe, how to install and use it, and what to do if NordVPN is not working on Chrome.

We’ll also introduce alternative VPNs for Chrome that are cheaper, or offer more features than NordVPN’s extension.

EXPERT ADVICE: To hide your IP address, encrypt all your web traffic, and unblock streaming services on all devices, use the full NordVPN application, instead of the Chrome extension.

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our advice is based on our own testing results and is unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

Is NordVPN’s Chrome Extension Actually Worth Using?

We’ve rigorously tested the NordVPN Chrome extension and can confirm it hides your true IP address from the websites you visit on Chrome.

NordVPN's browser extension for Chrome

However, the NordVPN browser extension only encrypts the traffic from within your browser window.

SUMMARY: What You Can Do with NordVPN Chrome

In essence, NordVPN Chrome is a lightweight version of the full NordVPN app. It acts as a proxy that lets you change your IP address and access restricted websites from your web browser.

The NordVPN extension encrypts your activity within Chrome and shields it from your ISP, but it won’t protect internet traffic outside of Chrome.

NordVPN Chrome Before and After Connecting

The NordVPN Chrome main menu before and after connecting to a server.

Our tests found that NordVPN Chrome was extremely fast and easy to use. Its choice of 111 server countries is generous compared to some competing Chrome extensions.

However, its lack of device-wide encryption means it’s significantly less secure than the full VPN software.

Access to the Chrome add-on comes with an existing NordVPN subscription, which you can use on up to six devices at any one time.

For this reason, we recommend avoiding the Chrome extension and using the full NordVPN application to protect your browsing on Chrome.

Here’s a table comparing the pros and cons of NordVPN for Chrome:

Pros Cons
Hides your public IP address Inconsistent access to US Netflix compared to desktop app
Servers available in 111 countries Only reroutes traffic from within the Chrome browser
Effective WebRTC leak protection No HTML5 geo-spoofing
Blocks some ads and malicious websites Does not support OpenVPN or WireGuard
Extremely fast speeds Cannot choose a specific VPN server or city
30-day money-back guarantee No VPN kill switch
TLS v1.3 secures HTTP traffic
No bandwidth limits

Here’s a more detailed overview of our test results:

The NordVPN Chrome Extension Uses TLS v1.3 Encryption

The full NordVPN application secures all your traffic with AES-256 encryption and a choice between the OpenVPN and Wireguard connection protocols. This is as secure as it gets for personal VPN services.

By contrast, NordVPN’s Chrome extension only protects the traffic from your Chrome browser using TLS v1.3 – the same protocol used to secure HTTPS websites. Take a look at our test results in the screenshot below:

NordVPN TLS encryption

NordVPN Chrome uses TLS encryption to secure your data.

Our encryption tests found that requests were sent over TLS, meaning our browser traffic was encrypted between the extension and NordVPN’s server.

We did not see any plaintext DNS lookups for websites we accessed via the Chrome browser.

However, we could see the NordVPN domain in the TLS handshake with NordVPN’s servers, as well as a DNS lookup for the NordVPN domain. We could also see identifying traffic from outside of Chrome.

For non-technical users, this means that NordVPN Chrome encrypts the traffic from your Chrome browser and hides your activity from your ISP, but it doesn’t encrypt anything else.

If you transfer data via another application on your device – downloading a torrent file, for example – your true IP address will be visible via that second application.

Private Logging Policy & IP Leak Test Results

Though the add-on isn’t as secure as the main app, it’s still private. NordVPN doesn’t log any identifying data, and has even had it’s no logs policy audited by an independent company for the fourth time in 2023. This policy also applies to the Chrome extension.

NordVPN Logging Policy

Despite advertising itself as zero-logs, NordVPN does log some activity data for 15 minutes after a session ends.

VPN browser extensions are often more susceptible to IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks than their full app equivalents.

Even the most popular Chrome add-ons can be unsafe. Hola VPN’s Chrome extension was temporarily removed from the Chrome Web Store in 2021 due to malware concerns, despite having amassed over 239 million users.

To make sure the NordVPN Chrome extension is safe to use, we tested our public IP address before and after connecting to a NordVPN server via the browser plugin.

Switching on the ‘Block WebRTC’ setting, we also checked for WebRTC leaks and other identifying web data exposures.

We found that the NordVPN Chrome extension effectively concealed our IP address without any identifying data leaks. Here are our results:

NordVPN Chrome IP Leak Test

NordVPN’s Chrome add-on masked our public UK IP address.

Additional Chrome Security Features

NordVPN’s browser extension is significantly lighter than the main application. It does not give you a choice of VPN encryption protocols, city-level servers, or additional features like double VPN.

There is also no VPN kill switch, which is essential if privacy and security are your biggest concerns. However, it does include some bonus security features beyond the basic proxy:

  • WebRTC Blocking. Browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox use the WebRTC protocol for services like video conferencing and file-sharing, but it is prone to IP leaks. You can use NordVPN Chrome to disable WebRTC traffic altogether.
  • Bypass List. You can specify which websites you’d like to connect to directly without using the proxy. Much like VPN split tunneling, this feature is handy if you’re using a website that needs your real IP address or location to verify your identity.
  • Ad Blocking. NordVPN Chrome includes a setting to block adverts, including pop-ups and autoplay videos. It also blocks dangerous websites that are known to host malware.

Very Fast On Both Local & International Connections

NordVPN’s desktop app is one of the fastest VPN services available, and the Chrome extension is no different. In fact, the browser plugin’s weaker encryption means it should technically be even faster.

To find out exactly how much it slows down our connection, we measured our average download speeds before and after connecting to a NordVPN server through the Chrome extension. Here’s a table detailing our test results:

NordVPN Server Location Avg. Download Speed Avg. Speed Loss (%)
US (Nearby Server) 98.17Mbps 2.87%
UK (International) 96.44Mbps 4.58%
Germany (International) 98.69Mbps 2.35%
Australia (International) 66.55Mbps 34.15%

We found that using NordVPN’s Chrome add-on has very little effect on your connection speed, especially connecting to servers near your physical location.

We measured an average speed loss of less than 5% when connecting from the US to the UK with the chrome extension, compared to losses of 10% for the same connection on the app.

That means NordVPN Chrome is just as fast as the full NordVPN app on local connections, but slightly faster when connecting to servers internationally.

NordVPN Chrome Works with US Netflix, but Not Reliably

NordVPN’s desktop application currently works with 17 Netflix regions, including the US, UK, Japan, and South Korea. In fact, we have used NordVPN with Netflix on over 100 US servers with consistently positive results.

We tested the Chrome extension and found it works with US Netflix and several other regions, but it is significantly less reliable than the desktop application. We had to reconnect three times to get a working US server:

NordVPN Chrome Extension Unblocking US Netflix on macOS

One of the reasons the NordVPN Chrome extension is less reliable for streaming is because it doesn’t let you choose a specific server.

While you can access the same 111 countries and 6,328 servers as the main VPN apps, you cannot decide which exact server to connect to.

This means if the server you’re connected to is blocked by a streaming service like Netflix, it’s much more difficult to connect to an alternative server in the same country.

You can’t choose a server in a particular city or make use of any specialty servers, either.

Is NordVPN Free On Chrome?

Some VPN services offer free proxy extensions for Chrome, but they’re usually too good to be true. These free browser add-ons often have weak security, and the worst ones, such as Touch VPN’s Chrome extension, log your browsing activity.

NordVPN is not free to use on Chrome. You can install the Chrome extension for free, but you can’t use it without a full NordVPN subscription. At its cheapest, this costs $3.29 on a two-year subscription plan.

If it doesn’t work for you, you can cancel within 30 days to get a full refund.

How to Set Up & Use NordVPN’s Chrome Extension

Follow instructions below to install and use the NordVPN Chrome browser extension on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook devices.

For more general instructions, follow our guide to setting up a VPN on Google Chrome.

  1. Subscribe to NordVPN. The Chrome Extension is free, but to actually use it, you’ll need an account with NordVPN.
  2. Download the NordVPN Chrome Extension from the Chrome Web Store or the NordVPN website.
  3. Select ‘Add Extension’ to confirm the permissions. NordVPN will need permission to read and change your data on all websites.
  4. Click the Extensions icon (it looks like a jigsaw piece) in the Chrome toolbar to access the extension. We recommend pinning NordVPN so you have easy access in the future.

    Pin to Chrome Toolbar

    You can access the add-on in Chrome’s ‘Extensions’ menu.

  5. Log in to NordVPN using the account details you set up earlier.
  6. Once you’ve logged in, click the settings icon in the bottom-left corner to access the settings. The settings menu looks like this:

    NordVPN Chrome settings menu

    The NordVPN Chrome settings menu.

  7. WebRTC blocking is enabled by default, but ad blocking is not. Decide if you’d like to turn on ad blocking and add any necessary websites to the Bypass List.
  8. Return to the main menu. If you just need to protect your privacy, click ‘Quick Connect’ to let NordVPN choose the best server for you.
  9. If you need to access content from a particular country, you can search for that country in the server menu:
    NordVPN Chrome Extension Server Menu

    The server menu in NordVPN’s Chrome extension.

  10. When you connect to NordVPN’s server successfully, you’ll see the word ‘protected’ in green alongside a country code and an IP address. You can now browse the web using the proxy server’s IP address.

    IP Address on NordVPN Chrome

    Once connected, the extension will show the proxy server’s IP address.

How to Disable NordVPN on Chrome

If you need to disable your proxy connection, simply press the ‘power’ symbol next to the pause button on the extension’s main menu.

If you just need to connect to a few websites directly, you can use the ‘Bypass List’ in the settings menu to route them outside the NordVPN extension.

To fully remove NordVPN from Chrome:

  1. Open the ‘Extensions’ menu in the top-right corner of your Chrome browser.
  2. Click the three dots next to the NordVPN icon.
  3. If you need to uninstall the extension, select ‘Remove from Chrome’.

NordVPN Chrome Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It

Here are some troubleshooting tips if the NordVPN Chrome extension isn’t working for you. We’ve put the simplest fixes first, so try them in order:

  1. Log out and restart Chrome.

    This is the easiest fix, and usually the most effective. Open the Extension and go to the settings menu to log out from NordVPN. Close Chrome completely and then restart the process from the beginning.

  2. Use the Bypass feature.

    Some websites use your IP address or location as an extra layer of security. If NordVPN’s Chrome extension isn’t working with one particular website, you can let that website bypass the extension.

    Go into the extension’s settings menu and add the website to your ‘Bypass List’. Remember, though: your true IP address will be exposed to this website.

  3. Connect to a different server.

    Unlike the NordVPN app, you can’t choose a specific server on Chrome. That means you might be automatically assigned a faulty or overloaded server.

    If the server you’re connected to is not working, connect to a server in a different country and then reconnect to the location of your choice. If you’re lucky, you’ll be assigned a functioning server the second time around.

  4. EXPERT TIP: NordVPN’s Chrome extension does not include a kill switch. If you disconnect and reconnect to different proxy servers, your public IP address may be exposed.

  5. Clear Chrome’s cache and cookies.
    Clearing Chrome’s cache can fix some problems with the NordVPN Chrome extension, especially when it comes to streaming Netflix.

    We saw the Netflix error code when switching between regions with the extension enabled, but clearing the cache fixed it for us.

    Clear Chrome Browsing Data

    Clearing Chrome’s cache can help fix issues with NordVPN Chrome.

    To do this, open Chrome’s preferences menu. Choose ‘Settings’, and then choose ‘Security and Privacy’ and select ‘Clear Browsing Data’. This will delete information about websites stored in your browser.

  6. Reinstall the extension.

    If it’s not working at all, the best solution is to reinstall the extension completely. Remove the extension from Chrome and reinstall it using the setup instructions above.

  7. Update to the latest version of Chrome.

    Chrome automatically updates itself to fix common bugs and issues, which can affect your extensions. To make sure you’re using the latest version of Chrome, open the Chrome menu and choose ‘Help’, then select ‘About Chrome’.

  8. Check for conflicts between Chrome extensions.

    The NordVPN Chrome extension can conflict with other extensions, especially firewall and bitcoin mining extensions. Try disabling your browser add-ons to identify the source of the problem.

  9. Contact NordVPN’s support.

    NordVPN’s extension for Chrome is part of the full VPN subscription, so don’t be afraid to seek help.

    Select the support icon in the bottom right corner of the NordVPN website. Try using the chatbot first, but select “get me a human” to talk to one of NordVPN’s support agents if you need to.

  10. Use the main application.

    If you’ve tried the solutions above and your extension is still not working, try connecting to websites through the full NordVPN app, which works reliably with Chrome.

    You’ll benefit from full VPN encryption and a selection of city-level servers. You can cycle through different servers in your location of choice until you find one that works.

If none of these fixes work, there might be a technical issue with the extension itself. NordVPN releases regular updates to fix bugs and vulnerabilities, so you may have to wait until the next update is available.

If the main NordVPN application isn’t working either, try loading a website without the VPN or proxy to test if your internet connection is working.

NordVPN Chrome Keeps Asking for a Password

When you first open NordVPN’s extension for Chrome, it will ask you to enter your account details. Some users have reported a bug where the add-on keeps asking for a password after they’ve signed in.

To fix this, make sure you’re using the latest version of the extension and you’re signing in with the right username and password. If you’re using NordVPN on other devices, check you’re not exceeding the limit of 6 simultaneous connections.

As a preventative measure, you can also exclude NordVPN from your device’s firewall to make sure it doesn’t block attempted connections.

If the issue persists, it might be an issue with Google Chrome itself. Chrome automatically updates itself in the background, and some of these updates can interfere with VPN and proxy extensions.

This is another reason we recommend using the full NordVPN application instead.

Are There Better VPN Extensions for Chrome?

The NordVPN extension for Chrome is ranked second in our list of the best VPNs for Chrome. There’s one alternative that consistently performs better in our tests, and that is ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN’s Chrome extension has the same features as NordVPN’s, with the added benefit of full VPN encryption and HTML5 geo-spoofing, which stops websites working out your true location using JavaScript.

ExpressVPN's browser extension for Chrome

ExpressVPN’s Chrome extension looks just like the desktop app.

The ExpressVPN Chrome extension is superior because it’s essentially a remote control for the full application.

In other words, all your apps will use the VPN connection, unless you make use of VPN split tunneling, to choose which apps you want to exclude.

ExpressVPN does not have a built-in ad blocker, though, which NordVPN does.

If you can’t afford the cost of a VPN, consider CyberGhost’s free Chrome extension.

CyberGhost’s VPN browser add-on gives you access to four secure server locations, including the USA, which unblocks American Netflix.

Should You Be Using A Full VPN Application Instead?

Browser extensions are much more limited than full VPN applications. They only protect your browser traffic, they’re at higher risk of IP address leaks, and they often don’t use full VPN encryption.

When you use the NordVPN browser extension for Chrome, you have access to the full NordVPN software, with the full suite of features we’ve analyzed in our NordVPN review.

The NordVPN computer application works reliably with Chrome, so we recommend you install it and use it instead.