5 Best VPN extensions in 2020 - Add ons for all browsers

VPN browser extensions are fantastic tools for gaining freedom when browsing the web. VPN extensions allow you to connect to proxy servers without leaving the comfort of your browser.

Most VPN extensions do not provide the privacy you get with standalone VPN software. As a result, they have limited uses. On the other hand, some VPN browser extensions are much better than others.

In this article, we list the best VPN add-ons for browsers and give you the pros and cons of using a VPN extension.

What are the best VPN extensions?

We have listed the best VPN extensions below. If you need more information about any of these services, keep scrolling to see an in-depth analysis of each service.

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN extension. It's the fastest VPN we test, offers OpenVPN via it's VPN addon, and has servers in 94 countries.
  2. Surfshark - The cheapest VPN extension. It's loved by it's users because it's fast and provides loads of extras at low price.
  3. Private Internet Access - A great VPN extension. Works with Opera, Firefox, and Chrome. They offer fast speeds and a SOCKS5 proxy
  4. HMA - A fast and secure VPN extension. They provide OpenVPN connections via their extension and have lots of server locations.
  5. Ivacy - A great all-round VPN extension. It unblocks most streaming services, has WebRTC leak protection, and fast servers.

The services in our best VPN extensions list above all provide location spoofing while also encrypting your data and concealing your web visits from your internet service provider. Finding a VPN with encryption is pretty rare, which is why we have made this list. These are all inherently more limited than their desktop or mobile app counterparts, but still manage to stand above other VPN addons. 

Best browser extension VPNs - In-depth Analysis

We take a closer look at each VPN addon below. If you want anymore information about the services in the list, check out our detailed VPN reviews.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN extension. Their browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi browsers are super-fast, secure, and private.

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

ExpressVPN is a superb service based in the British Virgin Islands. It currently has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi browsers.


It is an unusual VPN browser extension because it cannot be used as a standalone plugin. The extension must be installed in addition to the main VPN client, and both the VPN plugin and the main client work together simultaneously. This is highly beneficial, because the browser extension actually controls the main client. As a result, when you connect to a server in your browser, you actually gain the full privacy protection of the encrypted VPN tunnel. This ensures that the extension is not giving you a false sense of security.


We love this VPN due to its strong encryption and fully featured apps. It is perfect for torrenting in privacy and it unblock Netflix US, hulu, iPlayer and other popular services. And the extension also provides WebRTC leak protection to ensure you never leak WebRTC data! It offers a truly exceptional service with 24 live chat support, a 30 day money-back guarantee, and an excellent, secure browser extension.


 


 

Surfshark is the cheapest VPN extension. Surfshark VPNs browser extension works brilliantly on firefox and Chrome. They also have an adblocker feature included in the app.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.49 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Surfshark is a VPN that is praised by consumers due to its high levels of privacy, broad feature set, and low prices. The VPN provides browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Brave browsers. The extensions provide a HTTPS encrypted proxy with location spoofing, and a CleanWeb feature that blocks ads and malicious websites.


With CleanWeb enabled, your browser will show fewer ads and it will prevent trackers. Malicious domains are also blocked to prevent phishing. The browser extension is great for gaining added privacy online thanks to the CleanWeb feature, however, it does not prevent your ISP from tracking your web visits because it can still track your web visits. Anybody who requires watertight online privacy is advised to stick to the full VPN client.


Overall, we consider this an excellent VPN, fantastic for gaining privacy and unblocking capabilities. With servers in over 60 countries you will never be short of choices, and this VPN works to unblock sought after services like Netflix US and iPlayer. Plus, this VPN can be installed on an unlimited number of devices. Well worth testing using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN extension. It is compatible with Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. They offer a SOCKS5 which is very useful.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.84 - $10.51
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

PIA’s browser extensions work by redirecting your browser’s traffic through a HTTPS proxy server. This allows you to gain location spoofing and unblocking capabilities, but not the privacy levels you get with a full VPN extension. The good news is that it is an encrypted proxy, which means that your data is protected between you and the proxy. However, you do not get the same privacy levels that you get by using the full VPN tunnel, because our ISP can still track the websites you are visiting.


Anybody seeking strong privacy levels should stick to using the full VPN connection, and should only use the proxy service for location spoofing purposes. The extensions even include fingerprinting protection to prevent an invasive layer of tracking in your browser. Overall, this is an extension that should be used for location spoofing purposes. However, anybody looking for strong privacy protections is advised to stick to the full VPN client available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.


It is an advanced VPN provider, perfect for techy users. You can test it using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

HMA has a fast and secure VPN extesion. This useful US-based VPN with strong encryption, offering OpenVPN on their VPN extension and a no-logs policy.

  • Pricing

    From  $3.99 - $6.99
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

HMA is a US-based VPN with servers in 190 countries. It is a secure VPN that has standalone apps for all platforms. Those apps are secure and this is a no logs VPN provider. Unfortunately, it currently only has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, but both of these let subscribers spoof their location. It is worth noting, however, that it has fewer server locations than the main VPN.


Like ExpressVPN, the HMA browser extensions provide OpenVPN connections, which means it provides encryption and privacy from ISP tracking. As is the case with ExpressVPN, however, this is achieved by the main VPN client (which the extension simply controls from the browser). Thus, you will need to have the HMA VPN client installed as well as the browser extension.


Overall, we find HMA to be a great VPN for unblocking content. It works with Netflix US and iPlayer, and it provides strong privacy features like a kill switch and obfuscation. You can test it using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Ivacy is a great all round VPN extension. It's a cheap VPN with apps for all platforms and useful browser extensions. The VPN addon has WebRTC protection and unblocks almost everything.

  • Pricing

    From  $0.99 - $9.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Ivacy is a cheap VPN based in Singapore. It is a no-logs VPN with apps for all platforms that come with advanced features like a kill switch and OpenVPN encryption. This makes it great for gaining privacy both at home and on public WiFi.


The VPN permits torrenting, and it can easily be used for bypassing censorship without tracking. Plus, this VPN has a HTTPS proxy extension available for Chrome, Edge and Firefox. Those extensions are useful for location spoofing, but they will not provide privacy from your ISP: for that you should use the main VPN clients. However, the extension provides the added benefit of preventing WebRTC leaks, so you should always install this as well as the main VPN client!


We enjoy using this VPN because it provides fast speeds for streaming, and it is able to unblock Netflix US, hulu, Prime Video, iPlayer and other sought after services. It's a great all-rounder, with strong privacy features, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. And you can install it on up to 5 devices simultaneously.

Why these the best VPN extensions?

Not all VPNs are reliable and trustworthy. When picking services for this article, we only recommended VPNs that have a reliable full VPN app - in addition to a useful browser extension. That means that your VPN is versatile and can be used either inside the browser or using the custom app. Below, you can see the criteria we used when picking the best VPN browser extensions:

Can I get a free VPN browser extension?

There are many free VPN extensions on the market, and they will often claim to be a VPN. However, it is important to remember that unless the extension is used alongside the main client (as is the case with Express and HMA) then you will not be getting the full protection you get with a VPN.

Free browser proxies are usually unreliable services that you can’t even be sure are providing encryption, and, for this reason, we recommend against choosing one at random. Even free VPNs with a full client have been found to lie about the level of service they provide. Studies have revealed free services to have outdated (or no) encryption, critical leaks, and even adware.

With that in mind, it is essential to stick only to reputable VPNs that have a limited free version of their service (to permit people to trial the service). Check out our best free VPN page for a list of free services you can trust.

What are the benefits of a VPN extension?

A VPN browser extension is a plugin that you can install directly into your favorite browser. This allows you to gain the use of a proxy without ever needing to leave your browser. The downside of a VPN extension is that it will only proxy the data inside your browser. This differs from a VPN, which tunnels your entire internet connection via the encrypted tunnel.

A VPN browser can allow you to quickly and effectively pretend to be in a different location. You bypass restrictions by connecting to a proxy server, concealing your IP address from the websites you visit. However, it is important to remember that the vast majority of VPN browser extensions do not provide the privacy levels afforded by a proper VPN connection.

A browser-based VPN proxy will not usually conceal your web visits from your ISP. Thus, if you want this kind of privacy, you will need to use the full VPN client. The good news is that all the VPNs (that have browser extensions) in this article also come with native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

How to use a VPN browser extension

Getting a VPN and using the browser extension is very easy. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Select a VPN from this article and click through to its website.
  2. Subscribe to the VPN and download the VPN app and extension.
  3. Install the extension in your browser.
  4. Log in by clicking on the extension in the top right of your browser.
  5. Choose a server location and connect to the browser-based HTTPS proxy.
  6. Once the browser extension connects to the proxy, you will be able to access geo-restricted content (or bypass any local restrictions).

What is the difference between a VPN extension and a VPN app?

A VPN extension is a browser-based proxy that sends the data from your browser via a proxy server. This allows you to bypass local restrictions, such as those implemented by an employer in a workplace, or by your ISP on behalf of the government. A VPN browser extension will usually encrypt your data using HTTPS, but it will not prevent the local network administrator or ISP from knowing exactly which websites you are visiting.

A VPN app is a standalone client that allows you to connect to a VPN server using a VPN encryption protocol such as OpenVPN. The VPN client ensures that all of your data (from all of your applications - including your browser) is always routed via the VPN. This includes your DNS requests. As a result, when you are connected to the VPN using the standalone client, you gain complete digital privacy in addition to location spoofing and unblocking.

Thus, while a VPN browser extension is a nice extra that comes with some VPNs, it is not as reliable as the full VPN connection. And, for this reason, we recommend using the full VPN connection for most purposes; particularly if you require privacy!

When should I use a VPN addon?

You can use a VPN browser extension to spoof your location anytime that privacy is not a big issue. As long as you do not mind your ISP or the local network being able to see what you are doing; you can use the proxy to get around geo-restrictions to watch foreign TV or use your internet banking from overseas.

Just remember that a browser extension will not usually provide privacy, so if you require this, stick to using the full VPN client.

Do I need to log into a VPN addon?

Yes. A reliable VPN extension that can be truncated should always ask you to login the first time you use it. If the extension does not ask you to log in, it does not have strong authentication and is not secure against hackers. All of our recommended VPNs have browser extensions that provide high levels of security when compared to the rest of the market.

 

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

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