How to Set Up a VPN on Chrome
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to ensure your privacy and safety on the Internet. However, setting one up for the first time can be tricky since the process can vary based on which device and browser you're using. In this article, we'll show you how to set up a VPN using the Chrome browser extension. This will ensure that everything you do in your browser is protected while providing you with a handy tab that you can use to change your server location and other settings.
What Is a VPN on Chrome Used For?
You can use a VPN on Chrome for dozens of reasons: to access streaming content that isn’t available in your country; to get around restrictions imposed by your office, school, or government; or to hide your browsing activity from snoops and hackers.
A VPN will route your Internet traffic through one of its servers ― either locally or internationally ― so it’s difficult to trace it back to you. Most reputable VPNs use strong AES 256-bit encryption to protect your data and have a strict no-log policy to ensure that your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
It’s worth noting, however, that installing a browser extension in Chrome will only protect you in that browser. If you use multiple browsers or applications, you may be better off installing a VPN on your operating system or router to protect them all at once.
What You Need to Get Started
Installing a VPN on Chrome is a straightforward process that doesn’t require any special hardware or software. All you’ll need is your laptop or desktop and the Chrome browser. You can install the Chrome browser on most major operating systems, including Linux, Mac, and Windows devices by downloading it from the Google Play store.
Once you’ve done that, you can install your VPN extension and have it up and running in no time. But first, you’ll need to choose the right VPN for your needs and make sure that it has a suitable Chrome extension.
Choose a VPN Extension for Chrome
Most major VPNs offer a Chrome browser extension, but not all VPNs are built to the same standards. In addition to speed and security practices, VPNs can also vary in terms of server locations and the number of devices you can connect at once.
While free VPN options are available, they tend to be less secure than premium VPNs, and there may be a cap on how much data you can transfer. They may also show ads or sell your marketing data to third parties.
Premium VPNs can cost anywhere from only a few dollars per month to $10 to 20, with steep discounts if you sign up for a year or more upfront. They also vary in terms of how many devices you can connect. A typical range is five to 10, so you can use one account to cover all of your personal devices and other household devices.
You can use this list to find out which VPNs offer Chrome browser extensions. Then, go to the VPN’s website to find a link to the extension or search for it in the Chrome web store. It’s also worth creating an account now, so you won’t have to do it later.
If you’re using a VPN to work from home, though, you should check with your employer first to get their login information. Keep in mind that while a VPN will protect the traffic between your home and your company’s servers, your traffic may be visible to network admins and shouldn’t be used for personal activities, such as watching Netflix.
Select a VPN Protocol
The trickiest part of setting up a VPN on Chrome is deciding which VPN protocol to use. This part gets a little technical, but it’s referring to the way that your VPN handles data. Some VPNs can connect you to their recommended protocol automatically while others may give you the option to choose between several different ones.
Here’s a quick rundown of the major VPN protocols you should know:
|VPN Protocol||Best For||Our Pick|
|Internet key exchange version (2IKEv2)/Internet protocol security suite (IPsec)||Maintaining a stable connection when switching between networks, such as on mobile devices||Surfshark|
|Secure socket tunneling protocol (SSTP)||Getting around firewalls and geo-restrictions; it’s owned by Microsoft, so it works best on Windows devices||PureVPN|
|OpenVPN||This protocol is open-source and highly secure, but it can be more difficult to set up||ExpressVPN|
|WireGuard||Streaming, gaming, and other high-speed activities; this is a newly developed protocol that providers can customize||NordVPN (NordLynx protocol)|
Not all of these protocols will be offered by all VPN providers, so check to see which ones your provider supports before signing up. Other protocols, such as L2TP/IPsec and PPTP, may be available, but these are older and considered less secure.
Setup a VPN on Chrome: Step-by-Step Guide
|1. First, search for your VPN’s Chrome extension in the Chrome Web Store or download it directly from its website.|
|2. Click the Add to Chrome button to install it.|
|3. You’ll see a pop-up window that shows you what permissions your VPN will have once you install it in your browser. Click Add to Chrome to install it.|
|4. Now, you should see the logo of your VPN provider in your Chrome toolbar. This is where you’ll go any time you want to make changes to your VPN settings.|
|5. Click on it to open the extension.|
|6. Now, you have to log into your account within the extension. This step can vary, depending on how your VPN provider identifies your account. However, in most cases, you’ll log in with your email address and password. Other providers give you an activation code instead and require you to set up their app first.|
|7. If you’ve already signed up, you can log in now. If you haven’t yet, click the sign-up button, which will lead you through the sign-up process.|
|8. Now, you’ll arrive at your extension’s home screen. You should see that the VPN is not connected, and you’ll have the option to connect manually or automatically. For now, you can choose Quick connect to connect automatically, which should connect you to the fastest or closest server.|
|9. The extension will show that you’re connected and the location of the server that you’re connected to. Click Disconnect if you want to end the connection.|
|10. If you want to choose your server location manually ― for example, to access a Netflix library in a particular country ― you can click on the Locations tab. This will bring up a list of all of the server locations available. You can scroll through them or search for a location, then click on the one you want to connect to.|
|11. This is a good opportunity to test whether your VPN is working. You can browse to a search engine and see whether it displays results tailored to your server’s location or go to a site like WhatIsMyIP.com to look up your IP address. If the server location and IP address match, then your VPN extension is working.|
Customize Your VPN
Now that your VPN is working, you can choose to turn on and off other settings. Some VPN providers offer built-in ad or malware blockers while others come with the option to multi-hop or connect to multiple server locations at once.
You can also switch to a different server location or VPN protocol depending on what kind of activity you’re doing and what kind of security or speed you need.
Other options may include updating the language that your extension uses, changing your subscription plan, or turning on an auto-connect or kill switch feature.
Installing a VPN on Chrome OS
Remember, you can also install your VPN on your desktop or mobile operating system to protect all of your devices. However, if you’re using a Chromebook, you’ll have to set it up manually since most VPN providers don’t offer a stand-alone Chrome OS app.
For this, you’ll have to go to your Settings panel, and select Add connection, followed by OpenVPN/L2TP. This is where you’ll enter information like the Provider type and the Pre-shared key. You’ll need to turn to your VPN provider to get this information.
Fortunately, most premium VPNs offer customer support, so you can always send them an email or reach out to them via live chat if you need any help.
Setting up a VPN in Chrome for the first time can be a challenge. However, once it’s up and running, you’ll be able to turn it on and off with a few clicks. Since it exists right there in your browser’s toolbar, you can keep an eye on it to make sure it’s connected properly and turn it off easily when you don’t need it.