As the world’s most popular browser (and by a large margin, too), Chrome offers plenty in terms of versatility. Its user-friendly setup, stability and security are some of the reasons why many of us opt to use Google’s browser for navigating the worldwide web.
Add in the endless number of customisation options to be had by using various extensions and you can really turn Chrome into a personal browser tuned to your exact preferences. Of course, among this bewildering array of potential add-ons for Chrome are extensions from VPN providers, but how do you pick out the best one?
How to choose the best VPN service for Chrome
For a Chrome VPN extension, you’ll doubtless be looking to protect your privacy while surfing, and possibly to bypass censorship or unblock geo-restricted content. And as always, you’ll want strong encryption and protocol support for tight security.
Performance levels are also important, especially if you’re keen on using Chrome to access streaming services. And for obvious reasons, the browser extension should be easy to setup and use. Bearing all that in mind, let’s move on to highlight our five top choices for the best VPN when it comes to Chrome.
- The 5 best VPN services of 2017
After downloading the Hotspot Shield extension from the Chrome store, it only takes a couple of clicks before you’re up and running. You’re automatically assigned to the optimal server with the fastest connection speed. There’s not much here in terms of configuration options, but the extension is free – albeit with a limited choice of four locations (although on the plus side, you aren’t bombarded by ads).
Performance-wise, with this provider, our upload and download speeds proved to be a tad higher than what we’d normally see, with only a slight increase in latency. Hotspot Shield uses 256-bit encryption and frequently updates its browser add-on.
As mentioned, there is a location-limited free version, and a 7-day trial which you can use to thoroughly test the service for full access to all virtual locations and additional options.
Hotspot Shield is relatively cheap with five pricing plans available, including a ‘Forever’ option which is the best choice in the long run (if you want to fully commit). Of the rest, the 1-year plan provides the most bang for your buck. The packages available are:
- [$11.99 a month] 1-month
- [$4.99 a month] 6-months – $29.95
- [$3.99 a month] 1-year – $47.90
- Forever – $99.95
- Download Hotspot Shield for Chrome here
With KeepSolid, you need to create an account or log on with an existing one in order to use the Chrome extension. Once you’re up and running, you can pick from over 50 servers with global coverage. There are also some neat additional features which are worth noting like DNS leak prevention and a stealth mode (KeepSolid Wise, which helps avoid being detected and blocked by services trying to sniff out VPN usage).
KeepSolid did well in our performance tests with latency, as well as download and upload speeds, being only slightly down compared to our normal rates. However, most of the provider’s servers don’t support torrents, so if that’s an important consideration, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
VPN Unlimited is free to download and try for a week. Beyond that, there are three rather affordable subscription plans, one of them being a Lifetime option. Other than the permanent subscription, you can only choose between a monthly and a yearly package, the latter being the best value for money (as ever). The packages available are:
- [$5.99 a month] 1-month
- [$2.50 a month] 1-year – $29.99
- Lifetime – $99.99
- Download KeepSolid VPN Unlimited for Chrome here
SaferVPN’s Chrome extension boasts single-click connection which grants access to over 30 server locations. The extension is free, but if you’re not a paying subscriber, there’s a 500MB per month data limit (you’re also required to sign up for free usage).
The provider manages its global server network in-house, which doubtless helps on the performance front, and indeed we enjoyed good speeds and a stable connection in our testing.
There’s no P2P support, though, and the service records a great deal of session data – things like connect and disconnect times, bandwidth used and so on. While there’s no logging of actual traffic data, on an overall level, SaferVPN collects more data than we’d ideally like to see.
You have three price plans at your disposal with the 2-year plan offering the best value for money. There’s also a free 24-hour trial with unlimited access to the full service. The packages available are:
- [$7.49 a month] 1-month
- [$5.99 a month] 1-year – $71.90
- [$3.49 a month] 2-year – $83.80
- Download SaferVPN for Chrome here
Private Internet Access doesn’t offer a free Chrome extension, so you’ll need to have an account with the provider. Some of the major benefits here include advert, tracking and malware blocking to make your browsing a more streamlined and safer experience. The extension is also commendably easy-to-use – there’s just a simple on/off switch.
Additional features include protection from DNS leaks, a kill switch, and sorting gateways by latency so you can easily get the fastest connection possible. Speaking of performance, there was nothing to brag about here, but speeds were solid enough and certainly acceptable.
The service doesn’t offer a free trial. There are three available plans which come with a 7-day money-back guarantee. All of them are quite affordable with the yearly plan offering the best savings. The packages available are:
- [$6.95 a month] 1-month
- [$5.99 a month] 6-months – $35.95
- [$3.33 a month] 12-months – $39.95
- Download Private Internet Access for Chrome here
Blockless will please any novice VPN user out there, as it’s very easy-to-use indeed. It offers a simple point-and-click experience, automatically detecting the fastest server available to you based on your region. The service has a free plan, as well, but you’ll have to sign up and create an account to use the Chrome extension.
The free plan does have its limitations: you can only connect one device and it’s not possible to change your region. On top of that, there are only 14 server locations and the extension has no advanced features. On the plus side, there are no adverts thrown at you here, so your browsing won’t be interrupted.
In our testing, Blockless gave a good account of itself on the performance front, with some fairly fast download speeds – although it was rather inconsistent at times.
The VPN’s Premium plan is reasonably priced and comes with full access to all regions, five simultaneous connections and an advanced ad blocker, among other goodies. The packages available are:
- Premium – $7.50 a month
- Download Blockless for Chrome here