How To Choose and Set Up a Chromebook VPN

Adding a VPN to Chrome is easy with this step-by-step guide on choosing and installing a trustworthy VPN.
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There are two ways to add a virtual private network (VPN) to your Chromebook. You can either install a VPN extension on the Chrome browser or download an Android VPN app on Google Play. There are pros and cons to both options.

Keep reading to learn more about each option, how to download a VPN, and what features you should consider when choosing a VPN provider.

In this article
How to set up Chrome VPN extensions
How to set up VPN apps on Chromebook
Best VPNs for Chromebook
Chromebook VPN FAQ
Bottom line

How to set up Chrome VPN extensions

Chrome VPN browser extensions only protect web traffic on the Chrome browser. Although this may be suitable for web browsing, the VPN extension doesn't cover any apps you may use outside of the Chrome browser.

If you're looking for a more private web browsing experience, here are the instructions on how to use a VPN extension with Chrome:

  1. Go to the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Use the search bar on the upper-left side to find a VPN or enter the name of a VPN you want to use.
  3. Select a VPN extension.
  4. Choose Add to Chrome in the upper-right corner.
  5. A pop-up may appear on what permissions need to be granted for the extension to operate. If it's acceptable to you, select Add Extension.
  6. The extension will download and its icon will appear to the right of the address bar. If you don't see it, then select the puzzle piece icon, find the VPN, and then choose the push pin icon to pin it to your browser.
  7. If needed, log in or create an account to start using the VPN extension.

Before you download a Chrome extension, do your research to confirm its authenticity. Cybercriminals may spoof a company's branding and have you download malware. You'll also want to ensure you are using a genuine VPN with features to protect your web traffic, such as the three VPNs we recommend for Chromebook below.

How to set up VPN apps on Chromebook

Android VPN apps are far more superior than a Chrome VPN extension. Instead of only covering your browser, VPN apps can protect your app usage, too. It may also come with more advanced features such as encryption, kill switch, and additional servers.

You'll want to download a VPN app to ensure all of your web and app traffic is protected and kept private.

Here is how to download and run a VPN on Chromebook:

  1. Open Google Play Store on your Chromebook.
  2. Use the search bar to find a VPN or enter the name of a VPN you want to use.
  3. Select a VPN extension.
  4. Choose Install in the upper-right corner to download the app.
  5. Select Open to start using the VPN app. You may need to create an account or log in to begin.

Once the app is downloaded, you can start using the VPN to protect your web and app traffic. Unlike Chrome extensions, there isn't as much risk to downloading apps from the Play Store. It uses Play Protect to scan each app for potentially harmful behavior before you download them.

Best VPNs for Chromebook

There are several features to consider when deciding which VPN service is best for your Chromebook. First, you'll need to narrow down your options based on if a Chrome extension or Android app version exists.

Here are a few other aspects to evaluate while choosing a VPN for Chrome OS:

  • Number of servers and locations: Having more servers and locations available can make an impact on the quality of your VPN connection. This can make it easier to find faster VPN servers in specific locations or gain access to a specific country to stream Netflix shows available there.
  • Encryption: Encryption is what makes your connection private and secure. It's considered virtually impossible to crack, so you'll want to ensure you're using a VPN with strong encryption.¬†Similarly, look for a secure VPN protocol like OpenVPN, WireGuard, or IKEv2.
  • Split tunneling: Sometimes you don't want all of your traffic to go through your VPN. This can help you access your local networks, such as a printer, or use less bandwidth to increase speed. Split tunneling can direct certain traffic to connect to a VPN or to your ISP.
  • Kill switch: VPNs may lose connectivity which can expose your internet identity. To prevent a sudden loss in protection, you can enable a kill switch. It makes it impossible to access the internet until VPN connectivity is restored.
  • No-logs policy: VPNs should have a no-logs policy committed to not logging your online traffic. After all, you want to block everyone from viewing your online activity, and that should include your VPN, too.
  • Dynamic and static IP addresses: Connecting to a VPN means your Chromebook gets an IP address to mask your real one. You may prefer a dynamic IP address, which changes every time you connect to your VPN. But you may want to consider a static IP address if you want to keep the same IP address every time you connect. For example, if you need a VPN for a school Chromebook, a static IP address will keep security running smoothly.

Once you've determined your VPN priorities, you can consider VPNs for your Chromebook. Here are a few VPNs to get you started:

3 best VPNs for Chromebook users

VPN Price Number of servers Learn more Where to find it
NordVPN Starts at $3.49/mo 6,400+ Read Our NordVPN Review Get the Android App
Surfshark Starts at $2.49/mo 3,200+ Read Our Surfshark Review Get the Android App
Proton VPN Starts at $4.99/mo (but there is a free plan) 4,400+ (60+ for free version) Read Our Proton VPN Review Get the Android App
*Prices as of 2/6/2023.

Chromebook VPN FAQ


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Should I use a VPN on Chromebook?

You should use a VPN on Chromebook. Although Chromebooks are known for their top-level security features, a VPN can add an extra layer of protection to your web browsing experience. VPNs create a private tunnel between you and the internet. The result is cybercriminals, websites, and even your internet provider can't track your web activity.


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Does Chrome have a VPN?

Chrome doesn't have a VPN automatically installed. You will need to install a Chrome extension if you want your browser secured by a VPN. A Chrome VPN will only hide your web traffic on the Chrome browser and not any apps on your Chromebook. If you want full coverage, you may find more robust features when you install an Android VPN app.


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Is there a free VPN for Chromebook?

There are many free VPNs for Chromebook. However, not all free VPNs provide the same high-level quality. Some free VPNs claim to protect your web traffic but secretly collect it for advertising. They may also have poor security, slow down your internet speed, and put data limits on use. A paid VPN can offer many more security services and is usually well worth the cost.

Bottom line

Adding a VPN to Chrome provides an additional layer of security for your data and identity. A simple push of a button can encrypt all of your online traffic and protect it from hackers and snoops on public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs can also enable you to watch Netflix shows available in other countries.

Beyond VPNs, there are other security tools you may want to consider using to protect your Chromebook. You may want to consider installing extensions such as Adblock Plus for Chromebook if you want to block ads. And Chromebook needs antivirus software in certain situations.

To learn even more about how to keep your Chromebook secure online, check out our guide on how to change your privacy settings for a safer online experience.

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Author Details
Sara J. Nguyen is a freelance writer specializing in cybersecurity. She aims to help people protect their data while enjoying technology. She has written about online privacy and tech for over 5 years for several organizations. When she's not writing about the latest cybersecurity trends, you can find her on LinkedIn.