VPNs can be installed directly on your Chromebook or you can use a VPN extension.
Chrome OS has changed a lot in the past five years. It has gained in power and usefulness to the point that it can now be seriously considered as a viable alternative to Windows.
It goes without saying that you need (and want) a virtual private network (VPN) on your Chromebook as much as you would on any other platform. But, should you use a VPN extension or would you prefer to install a VPN directly on your Chromebook? We cover all of this and more below.
The best VPNs for Chromebook?
We have listed our best VPN choices for Chromebook VPN. each backed by a money back guarantee if you have problems or change your mind. They also all offer browser extensions and Android apps, which makes getting started very easy.
If you need more information on any of the services we have listed below, check out our VPN reviews.
Money back guarantee: 30 days
A highly respected name in the VPN industry, this log-free service runs entirely on non-writable media to ensure that no logs can persist on its servers after a restart.
It offers an VPNOnlineFree Android app with complete setup instructions for Chromebook. This includes a kill switch (“network protection”) and a split tunnel, so you can decide which Android apps running on your Chromebook are routed through the VPN interface (Chrome OS connections itself will always be routed through the VPN interface when the application is running).
Although ExpressVPN offers a Chrome extension, it is not a standalone application and requires the Windows desktop client or macOS to function. It is therefore not suitable for Chromebook users. ExpressVPN does, however, provide L2TP / IPsec configuration instructions to owners of Chromebooks that do not support Android.
Like NordVPN, ExpressVPN provides a custom Linux CLI script for easy VPNOnlineFree configuration on Linux, which works perfectly on a Linux-compatible Chromebook.
Money back guarantee: 30 days
Surfshark is a newspaperless VPN provider that always impresses us with the value it offers for its low price. It's no different when it comes to supporting Chromebook users. There is an official guide to setting up the Surfshark Android app in Chrome OS, as well as a Linux CLI application and a standalone Chrome extension.
The Android app includes a DNS ad and malware blocker, a kill switch, and split tunneling. The Linux application is actually just a simple configuration script for VPNOnlineFree, but it makes life easier by preloading the list of Surfshark servers. It works great in Chrome OS if you install from the command line (sudo apt-get install surfshark-vpn).
The Chrome browser extension has been verified for security issues by Cure53 and includes WebRTC leak protection and DNS ad blocking.
Money back guarantee: Up to 45 days
This Romanian newspaperless service is renowned for offering a multitude of useful VPN features at a very affordable price.
Its Android app uses VPNOnlineFree, has a built-in stop switch, and supports split tunneling to root selected Android apps outside of the VPN. The application protection function automatically launches the VPN and connects to a server chosen when using the selected applications. Ideal for your BitTorrent and Netflix applications!
It also has WiFi protection, which automatically activates the VPN when you connect your Chromebook to an unknown network.
Chrome OS specific L2TP / IPsec support appears to have been removed from CyberGhost help pages, but users of older Chromebooks can configure the native VPN client using the L2TP / IPsec settings described for other platforms.
CyberGhost offers a Linux CLI application for easy VPNOnlineFree configuration on Linux, as well as a Chrome browser extension. This HTTPS proxy extension is free for everyone, but is limited to four servers in Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and the United States.
Money back guarantee: 30 days
Now entirely based in Switzerland, this fully audited logless VPN service is distinguished by the possession and self-operation of its entire server network, thereby eliminating the need to rely on potentially non-third-party server centers reliable.
The VyprVPN Android app includes a kill switch, blocking DNS ads and malware, and public WiFi protection for your Chromebook.
It uses the VPNOnlineFree protocol as well as VyprVPN's patented Chameleon encryption technology, which would be very effective in defeating VPN blocks in places like China.
VyprVPN provides an L2TP / IPsec configuration guide for non-Android Chromebooks. It has a Linux CLI application for Ubuntu and Mint (VPNOnlineFree, PPTP and Chameleon), but we could not get it to connect to a server from the Debian container of Chrome OS.
VyprVPN also has generic Ubuntu VPNOnlineFree configuration instructions, which work well for Chrome OS. It does not offer a Chrome extension.
Money back guarantee:30 days
Private Internet Access, otherwise known as PIA, is a company based in the United States that has the rare pride of having its applications for non-registration tested in court.
Its Android VPNOnlineFree app (shown on the left in the screenshot above) includes a stop switch, split tunneling, WiFi protection, and port forwarding.
PIA also offers a complete Linux GUI application (shown on the right) with a stop switch, port forwarding and blocking of DNS, advertisements and malware. It uses VPNOnlineFree by default, but also supports Wireguard, as well as the Shadowsocks protocol for VPN obfuscation.
The Private Internet Access Chrome browser extension is also more complete than most of these VPN extensions. It allows you to bypass specified domains, blocks WebRTC to prevent leaks, and incorporates a host of other features that improve privacy and anti-tracking.
Brief instructions for manually configuring Chrome OS using L2TP / IPsec are available on the PIA website.
Use VPNs on a Chromebook
A VPN typically routes all Internet connections from a device through the VPN interface to your chosen VPN server. In Chrome OS, however, this situation is much more complicated, since you can run apps from three different platforms side by side.
If this sounds confusing, don't worry. We will explain the four ways to run a VPN in Chrome OS:
1. Using an Android VPN application (recommended)
If your system supports Android, you can use an Android VPN app to protect all Chrome OS and Android connections, but not those of Linux. Using an Android VPN app is the recommended route for most Chromebook users due to its simplicity and functionality.
2. Using the native Chrome OS VPN client.
This supports L2TP / IPsec VPN protocol and routes all Chrome OS and Android connections via the VPN interface (just like using an Android application). Linux connections are not routed this way and therefore do not benefit from the VPN.
L2TP / IPsec is generally considered safe when implemented correctly, but it has almost certainly been hacked by the NSA. This is not made easier by the fact that all of the VPN services we know of that offer this VPN protocol use insecure pre-shared keys.
Since Android apps that use VPNOnlineFree or IKEv2 are more secure and manual configuration of the Chrome OS L2TP / IPsec client is a bit complicated anyway, we strongly recommend that you use an Android VPN app on this method if your Chromebook supports Android.
It should be noted that the native VPN client also supports basic VPNOnlineFree, but it cannot import the standard .ovpn configuration files used by almost all commercial VPN services.
Google itself recommends using an Android app for this, which makes native VPNOnlineFree support for Chrome OS almost useless for most VPN users.
3. Using a Linux VPN application
A Linux VPN application will protect Linux connections, but does not route Chrome OS or Android connections through the VPN interface.
There are only two full Linux GUI VPN applications that work on a Chromebook at the time of writing (Private Internet Access and Mullvad), but using VPNOnlineFree in Terminal works for any VPN service that supports configuration. manual of VPNOnlineFree (which is most of them).
If you want to route Chrome OS / Android and Linux connections through a VPN, you will need to run the Chrome OS client or an Android VPN application and run a Linux VPN application.
4. Using a Chrome browser extension
A VPN browser extension for Chrome is not a real VPN because it routes connections only from the Chrome browser via a proxy. But if you don't use Android or Linux apps, the Chrome browser is essentially your complete operating system!
So for those who prefer to keep their Chrome OS experience pure and simple, a Chrome browser extension can provide a quick and lightweight way to get the most out of the benefits of using a real VPN.
Please see How to Install VPN on Chromebook for step-by-step guides on using each of these methods to run VPN in Chrome OS. And if you torrent, you can take advantage of How to torrent with a VPN on Chromebook.
Why do I need a VPN for my Chromebook?
Still undecided if you need a VPN service for your Chromebook?
When you use a VPN service, everything you do on your computer is encrypted. This improves online privacy and the overall security of your Chromebook. A VPN will provide you with the following benefits:
- Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) cannot see the content of your data because it is encrypted.
- Your ISP cannot see the websites you visit on the Internet because they are hidden from them by the VPN server.
- What your ISPs can't see, neither can your government (unless it seems difficult).
- And what your ISP and government can't see, they can't censor.
- The websites you visit cannot see your real Internet address (IP) – only the IP address of the VPN server, which makes it difficult to identify them.
- Since VPN providers manage VPN servers located around the world, it's easy to “spoof” your location just by connecting to a VPN server based in a different country. This makes VPNs perfect for accessing geographically restricted streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and the full American Netflix catalog.
- VPNs protect you during the torrent.
If you are new to VPN, find out more about all the interesting things a VPN can do for you and their limits, please see our Beginner's Guide to VPNs.