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VPN FOR CHROMEBOOK: Features of use, 5 paid + 5 free services (2020)

Last updated: May 15 2020 By Dean Chester

Even an experienced VPN user may have difficulties with Chrome OS. The architecture of this operating system has features that some VPN services don’t support. In this review, I will describe my experience using a virtual private network on a Chromebook and talk about 10 services that are convenient for this platform.

The Chromebook appeared about 10 years ago, and over time has made a real revolution in education and science. This happened because it facilitated the integration of individuals and allowed the efficient use of data from cloud storage. For many people, it became a solution to security issues, as the need to keep important data on their computers hidden.

Naturally, since Chromebooks are so dependent on the Internet, there is a need to effectively protect your Internet connection. Also, in some cases, there is a need to mask your current location or to access geo-restricted content and bypass blocks.

I want to share with you my experience of using VPNs on Chrome OS and talk about the 5 best and 5 free (with restrictions) VPNs for this platform.

The five best VPNs for Chromebook
  1. ExpressVPN: Supports all OSs, including Chrome OS. It has high speed & stable connection. It is the best VPN in most categories.
  2. NordVPN: Suitable for all generations of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Huge selection of locations, many positive reviews.
  3. Surfshark: The most economical option without compromising on quality. Supports 3 types of installation.
  4. CyberGhost: Universal VPN service supporting all platforms.
  5. PIA: It has many subtle connection settings. It will be interesting to advanced users.
The five free VPNs for Chromebook
  1. ProtonVPN: One of the two leaders among free VPN services. It has no traffic limit. Speed is ​​limited and only 4 countries are available. Not suitable for streaming services and P2P.
  2. Windscribe: Combines excellent functionality and a good traffic limit - 10GB per month.
  3. TunnelBear: High speed and excellent selection of countries. 1500MB traffic limit per month.
  4. hide.me: Accessed through manual system settings. 10GB per month. Connection failures are possible.
  5. DotVPN: Used as an add-on for Chrome. Slow speed, but no traffic limits.
  • Recommendation. If you’re looking for the Chromebook’s performance, then choose a fast service. My experience has shown that with a slow connection, which is inherent in most free private networks, the system becomes clumsy, and apps often fail, up to the inability to use them. If you want to learn more about a given VPN, then I advise you to use a regular paid subscription with the possibility of a refund. Each of the paid services presented on this list has 30-day (or more) money-back guarantee.

How to install VPN on Chromebook?

There are three ways to run a VPN on Chrome OS:

  1. Using an app created for Android
  2. Using an add-on for Google Chrome
  3. Manual system settings

Using my experience, I will briefly describe each method, point out its advantages and disadvantages. I advise you not to skip this section to choose the right VPN that suits your particular case.

Using Android app

Android Chromebook app

This is the most effective and reliable way. Its main advantage over the rest is the combination of convenience and protection of all Chromebook’s traffic. With this method, the IP address will be changed and not only Chrome’s traffic will be encrypted, but also all services and apps running outside of it.

I recommend that you always use this method in cases where you use public access points, are on a trip, or if your activity is particularly delicate.

Disadvantages:

  • Such apps are not supported by models released before 2015.
  • They slow down the maximum speed by 5-15%.
  • Extra battery-consuming process.

Using Add-on for Chrome

Launching a Chrome add-on on Chromebook

This is the easiest and fastest way. You just need to select a VPN service, subscribe, follow the link to the Chrome Web Store page and activate the add-on. The main advantages are maximum speed and no need to go to the VPN app window for actions with it.

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn't protect the traffic for the entire OS (Chrome traffic only).
  • In most cases, this is not a VPN, but a proxy (except ExpressVPN, which managed to bring the control of a fully functional app to the browser).

Manual settings

VPN settings window on Chromebook

This method works on all models of devices with Chrome OS released any year. This is its only advantage. But there are many disadvantages:

  • The complexity of setting it up.
  • The complexity of changing locations (complete reconfiguration).
  • Lack of a clear indicator of the connection status.
  • There are no additional security features built into apps and add-ons.

I should also add that if you use a VPN to bypass the geo-restrictions of streaming services, then the chosen method of using a VPN doesn’t matter. In this case, you need to choose a provider that supports the unblocking of these services.

Read on to find a service not only by the installation method, but also by its characteristics.

The best VPN for Google Chromebook based on 2020 test results

Based on tests for more than 40 services that support Chrome OS in one way or another, ExpressVPN is the best VPN. Besides the fact that it combined the VPN app with the VPN add-on, it also showed the best speed of its servers, combined with the “bulletproof” military level encryption AES-256 and other parameters that I will talk about.

NordVPN is practically not far behind it with its 5800 servers, double encryption and support for the most progressive for 2020 WireGuard protocol.

Next, I will dwell on each of the Top 5 VPNs.

Comparison of the Key Features of Chromebooks VPN Services

Service Ranking (out of 10) Speed, Mbps Country selection Nomber
of servers
Netflix Price (monthly
ExpressVPN 10 >100 94 3000+ + $6.67-12.95
NordVPN 10 >60 59 5800+ + $3.49-11.95
Surfshark 10 >50 63 1700+ + $1.99-11.95
CyberGhost VPN 9 40-70 90 6000+ +(4 countries) $2.75-12.99
PIA 9 50-80 45 3300+ - $2.85-9.95

ExpressVPN

Main advantages

  • High speed
  • High stability
  • Best features
  • Streaming and torrenting support

Overview

ExpressVPN lets you manage the entire Chromebook or Chromebox without leaving Chrome. To do this, install the Android app and then the add-on for Chrome. After that, you will have access to unique functionality that competitors do not have.

The provider has high speed on most servers in 94 countries.

It is worth noting the high level of security and confidentiality, which was repeatedly confirmed during the testing.

ExpressVPN is also considered the most anonymous service. It uses diskless servers on which it is impossible to log in and is an offshore based in the BVI, which makes it inaccessible to political or financial pressure.

Price

The table lists the ExpressVPN tariff plans

  1 month 6 months 1 year
Price (monthly) $12.95 $9.99 $6.67
Money-back guarantee 30 30 30
 
ExpressVPN
Protect all Chromebook traffic and manage protection from Chrome
 

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NordVPN

Main advantages

  • 5800+ servers
  • Visualized selection of locations
  • Double protection
  • WireGuard

Overview

The provider successfully works even in countries where virtual networks are prohibited due to censorship (UAE, China and others).

NordVPN offers all three ways of installation on your Chromebook.

Price

The table lists the NordVPN tariff plans

  1 month 1 year 2 year 3 year
Price (monthly) $11.95 $6.99 $4.99 $3.49
Money-back guarantee 30 30 30 30
 
NordVPN
One of the largest VPN providers with proven features
 

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Surfshark

Main advantages

  • Low price
  • Large selection of countries
  • NoBorders (Obfuscation)
  • Unlimited number of devices to one subscription

Overview

Surfshark is ideal for those who want to save on long-term use. For only $1.99 (compare with ExpressVPN or NordVPN) for a two-year subscription, we get access to the features of a multifunctional service that can cope even with the most complex tasks.

Testing showed that Surfshark consistently supports Netflix, is safe for torrenting, has a really effective Kill Switch in the Android app (this feature blocks all traffic when the connection to the VPN server is lost).

The service, like ExpressVPN, is based in BVI and supports the No-Logs policy.

Price

The table lists Surfshark VPN’s plans

  1 month 1 year 2 years
Price (monthly) $11.95 $5.99 $1.99
Money-back guarantee 30 30 30
 
Surfshark Preview
Use Surfshark on your Chromebook and all other devices with a single subscription
 

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CyberGhost VPN

Main advantages

  • 6200+ servers
  • Special servers for streaming
  • US, UK, DE Netflix
  • Free but outdated add-on for Chrome

Overview

CyberGhost VPN has proved itself to be a universal VPN service with a convenient ability to select the appropriate server (and it has a record number of them). The functionality of the Android app hasn’t a wide choice of settings, but for normal use, it is more than enough.

Separately, I note the presence of a free add-on for Chrome. Honestly, you are unlikely to like it - there is no choice of countries, it works extremely slowly and, it seems, has not been updated for at least 2-3 years, which may make it unsafe.

Price

The table lists the CyberGhost VPN’s tariff plans

  1 month 1 year 2 years 3 year
Price (monthly) $12.99 $5.99 $3.69 $2.75
Money-back guarantee - 45 45 45

Dedicated IPs are available for an extra charge of $5 per month.

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Private Internet Access

Main advantages

  • Advanced settings
  • Good price
  • Lots of good reviews
  • High speed

Overview

PIA may be interesting to advanced VPN users who need custom thin settings. Android apps and add-ons have a record number of features related to the characteristics of the connection. There is not only a choice of protocols but also an encryption standard, options for DNS, DHCP, and much more.

Private Internet Access also supports Shadowsocks and WireGuard.

The American jurisdiction (5 eyes) and the fact that at the end of last year it was sold to Kape Technologies, which owns two more VPNs (there was a negative public outcry about it), may become a small drawback for someone. In fairness, it should be noted that in May 2020 there are no changes for the worse in the activities of PIA. More likely, on the contrary, it began to develop more intensively.

Price

The table lists the PIA tariff plans

  1 month 6 months 1 year
Price (monthly) $9.95 $5.99 $2.85
Money-back guarantee V V V

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Free VPN for Chromebook - is it worth a try?

There are many VPNs that offer free software with a free subscription (and even without a subscription) for a Chromebook. I already mentioned CyberGhost VPN, but I didn’t really like it. Based on the test results, ProtonVPN offers the best free VPN software and subscription conditions. This provider, firstly, created reliable functional software, and secondly, it has the best free plan.

Warning: All free VPNs have significant drawbacks. For a Chromebook, this is their slow speeds. If a regular computer interacts more with its local drive, then Chrome OS interacts with the cloud, which requires stable, good internet speed. Keep this in mind when choosing a virtual network.

Read on to see a list of 5 free providers tested on a Chromebook.

Free ProtonVPN

Main advantages

  • Unlimited traffic
  • Suitable for paid use
  • No app for Fire TV
  • No add-on for Chrome

ProtonVPN is suitable for Chrome OS only in the form of an Android app and with manual settings. Its free traffic plan, unlimited in terms of traffic volume, provides access to 4 countries at a limited speed, but prohibits torrenting and does not work with streaming video services.

After familiarizing yourself with his work, you can switch to a paid subscription that removes all restrictions. The paid version is in the top 10 best VPN services in 2020.

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Free Windscribe

Main advantages:

  • 10GB per month for free
  • Advanced features
  • Good paid version

Free Windscribe can come in handy if you use a VPN infrequently. This is due to a monthly traffic limit of 10GB. Unfortunately, any limit in the case of Chrome OS ends too quickly. In this case, you can either switch to the paid version (which showed good results during testing) or use the following VPNs from our list.

I will add that free Windscribe has a speed of about 4-5Mbps and a choice of 11 countries. You can use both the Android app and the Chrome add-on.

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Free TunnelBear

Main advantages

  • Netflix Support
  • High speed
  • 20+ countries
  • 1500Mb traffic per month

TunnelBear has the highest speed of all Free VPNs tested, but ... 1500MB per month. And that's it.

The limit is exhausted extremely quickly. Fortunately, the provider has a good paid version, which you can go to after the end of free traffic.

It is worth noting the colorful animated design of TunnelBear apps, where a cute bear digs tunnels on a world map and “comments” on some user actions.

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Free hide.me

Main advantages:

  • 10GB per month for free
  • Very few features
  • Only 3 countries available

Hide.me is similar to Windscribe, but has fewer features and a weak paid version. It is also available as an app for Android and as an add-on for the browser.

Of the shortcomings: more often than with Windscribe there are connection failures during which the connection to the Internet is lost.

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DotVPN

Main advantages:

  • Unlimited traffic
  • IP addresses may be blocked
  • Low speed
  • 3 countries

DotVPN is the least suitable VPN from this top 5. This is primarily due to the low speed, which is clearly not enough for the system to work.

In addition, when visiting large resources such as Gmail, there are problems with access due to a suspicious IP address. This is due to the fact that DotVPN servers could be regularly used by attackers or bots to guess passwords or other prohibited actions.

Nevertheless, the DotVPN add-on can be conveniently used to circumvent censorship or to hide an IP address for simple web surfing on sites with a predominance of text content.

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CoolTechZone - Chief Editor
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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