How to buy iPhone 13 now New Microsoft Office SpaceX Inspiration4 mission Nicki Minaj, Twitter, Fauci and the White House Netflix sued over The Queen's Gambit Google Doodle honors green tea chemist
CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Best VPN for Chrome

Google Chrome's flexibility makes it easy to find a solid virtual private network designed for the world's most popular browser.

If you're looking for a VPN that works well with Google Chrome, you're in luck. The browser's nearly unimpeded rise to global dominance means practically all the top-rated VPN providers offer maximum compatibility with Chrome. So if your favorite browser is Chrome, breathe a sigh of relief. The top picks on our list of the best VPNs for 2021, including one that's earned our Editors' Choice Award, have all been tested for use with the Chrome browser.

Along with speed measurement and general browser compatibility, we tested the three leading VPNs below for any potential security issues that might rear their heads. Not only did they pass with flying colors, but each of these VPNs offers a Google Chrome VPN extension that can be installed directly in your web browser if you want to try using a lighter version of the VPN client to lose less speed.

Here are our top picks for the best VPN for Chrome, ranked in order of their overall performance on speed tests, security strength and value for your money

Read more: How we evaluate and review VPNs

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN tells us its network is powered by TrustedServer technology, which ExpressVPN built to ensure that there are never any logs of users' online activities. In the privacy world, ExpressVPN has a strong track record, having experienced a VPN server seizure by authorities which proved its zero-log policy true at the time. We also like the quality of the VPN's setup guides and the detailed information in its FAQ. And it offers a full-featured dedicated Chrome extension. 

While its speeds consistently compete with heavy-hitting competitors, our 2020 speed tests saw ExpressVPN produce a 52% overall loss of our normal internet speeds, representing a significant slowdown compared with its 2019 score of 2% speed loss. 

Like the rest of the top five VPN services we've reviewed, ExpressVPN offers a useful kill-switch feature that prevents network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails. Unlike the others, though, ExpressVPN gained points from us for its support of Bitcoin as a payment method -- something not all of our favorites offer, but which adds an additional layer of privacy during checkout.

The VPN provider has been in business since 2009, and ExpressVPN has a substantial network of fast VPN servers spread across 94 countries. Its best plan is priced at less than $7 a month for an annual package, which includes three months free. 

Read moreExpressVPN review: A VPN speed leader with a secure reputation

Read our ExpressVPN review.

 

Surfshark

While Surfshark's network is smaller than some, the VPN service makes it up on features and speed. Let's start off with the biggest win it offers: unlimited device support. If you want to run your entire home or office on Surfshark's VPN, you don't have to worry about how many devices you have on or connected. It also offers anti-malware, ad-blocking and tracker-blocking as part of its software.

And it's fast. With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, we lost less than 17% of average internet speed during our most recent speed tests. That's faster than the 27% speed loss we saw in previous tests, and pushes it ahead of ExpressVPN to be the current front-runner in our speed comparisons.

Surfshark received generally high marks when its Chrome extension was audited for privacy by German security firm Cure 53 (PDF link of full report) -- though that audit was commissioned by Surfshark.

The VPN provider has a solid range of app support, running on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Fire TV and routers. Additional devices such as game consoles can be configured for Surfshark via DNS settings. We particularly like the feature that allows you to whitelist certain apps and websites to automatically bypass the VPN. For some business uses, this can be critically important. 

Surfshark also offers three special modes designed for those who want to get around restrictions and more carefully hide their online footsteps. Camouflage Mode masks your VPN activity so your ISP doesn't know you're using a VPN. Multihop jumps your connection through multiple countries to hide your trail. Finally, NoBorders Mode "allows [you] to successfully use Surfshark in restrictive regions." Just be careful. Doing any of these three things could be illegal in your country and could result in severe penalties. During our testing, we didn't see a single IP address or DNS leak, and had no trouble accessing Netflix. 

Unlike many of the other VPN providers, Surfshark doesn't offer a one-year plan. Its best offer is $2.49 a month for its two-year plan (you pay about $60 up front). A six-month plan is $6.49 a month (about $39 up front), and month-by-month plans are $12.95 a month. Definitely take advantage of its generous 30-day trial to decide if you like this service and Chrome VPN extension (and if you choose the two-year plan, maybe set a reminder in 23 months to see if you can talk the company into a continued discount rate).

Read moreSurfshark VPN review: A feature-rich service with blazing speeds and a security focus

Read our Surfshark VPN review.

 

NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the most recognized brands in the VPN field. It offers a generous simultaneous connection count, with six simultaneous connections through its network, where nearly all other providers offer five or fewer. NordVPN also offers a dedicated IP option, a kill-switch feature and the ability to VPN into Tor. We detected no privacy leaks during our tests.

In our most recent speed tests, NordVPN's performance was on par with many of its competitors, reducing our speeds by 53% on average (which is slower than the 32% loss measured in previous speed tests). We found NordVPN's speeds were reliably fast. There were never any sudden dips or service interruptions, and where we expected the VPN to underperform, it still proved itself up to the task.

The company's two-year VPN subscription plan costs $3.67 a month ($99 billed at once). That price is lower than most contenders, but creeps up for the one-year plan ($4.92 a month or $59 total) and the monthly plan ($11.95 a month). But it does have a full 30-day refund policy. 

While NordVPN has lived on this list for a long time, we moved it to the penalty box in October 2019 to re-evaluate our recommendation after a report emerged that one of its rented servers was accessed without authorization in 2018. Nord's actions following the discovery included -- eventually -- multiple security audits, a bug bounty program and heavier investments in VPN server security. 

While we'd have preferred it if Nord had self-disclosed the issue much earlier, the fact that the breach was limited in nature and involved no user-identifying information served to further verify that NordVPN keeps no logs of user activity. As a result, Nord remains on this list as a recommended VPN service. 

Read moreNordVPN review: Still the best value for security and speed

Read our NordVPN review.

 

For more, check out our picks for the best cheap VPN, the best Android VPN, and the fastest VPN.  And here's why we recommend avoiding a free VPN and using a paid VPN whenever possible. 

Read more: Best mobile VPN of 2021

Now playing: Watch this: Which VPN should you pick?
4:28