5 Best VPN Browsers - Browse the web privately with a built in VPN

Using a browser with a built-in VPN will improve your online privacy, by hiding your real IP address and encrypting your traffic. Popular browsers such as Chrome, track users, even when in incognito mode and provide no privacy features. If you're tired of using browsers that don't provide security, then there are plenty of alternatives available.

In this article, we compare the best web browsers with VPNs and discuss whether they are as truly secure as they claim to be.

 

The best VPN browsers

We have researched the options out there and have listed the best VPN browsers below. When assessing browsers with built-in VPNs, we considered three key factors: privacy, functionality, and ease-of-use. With privacy as our top priority, we concluded that the best browsers with built-in VPNs were as follows:

Epic is a privacy-oriented browser built on Google Chrome's open source project, Chromium.

  • Free option

    Yes

Straight off the bat, we can see that Epic offers a secure service that puts users' privacy first. We reached out to CEO Alok Bhardwaj for more information on the privacy of Epic, and he confirmed some interesting points for us. Firstly, Epic is a no logs service, only collecting minimal, aggregated data on bandwidth, and DDoS prevention measures (which is purely to improve the service provided). This is refreshing for a free provider as, often, such free services come at the cost of users' data being sold on. Their funding comes primarily from premium services, sponsors, and search partners.


On top of this, it is an open source project – meaning that their code is auditable by anyone. This level of transparency means that users are able to check the code in full and confirm the level of privacy themselves. Epic provides a secure and TLS-level encrypted HTTPS proxy across most platforms, aside from the iOS version, which utilizes IKEv2 (an encryption protocol that is commonly used in many iOS VPN clients). The HTTPS proxy, while still encrypted, is not the same as a true VPN, but does offer Perfect Forward Secrecy and HTTPS Everywhere.


With the use of a HTTPS proxy, some users may be concerned about DNS and WebRTC leaks. Fortunately, it offers WebRTC protection, and DNS requests (when the encrypted proxy/VPN is active) are done by the proxy/VPN server. The Windows client also deletes the DNS cache on close for added privacy. Though it doesn't have tonnes of features, it has a video downloader for websites (such as Twitter), and its mobile version allows users to bypass paywalls on some publications. Overall, we think Epic is a great alternative to a mainstream browser, and shows a lot of promise for the future.


Pros



Cons



  • You have to install the VPN/proxy extension after the initial installation of the browser.

  • Not many countries to choose from (which is to be expected considering that it's a free service).

  • Not a lot of features (but the ones it has are really good).

  • Not a true VPN (except for iOS).

Tenta offers a thoroughly secure VPN browser for Android with lots of functionality.

  • Free option

    Yes

    Pricing

    From  $1.00

Tenta is an Android VPN browser that delivers privacy by integrating OpenVPN protocol (making it a true VPN). It offers an excellent free service with an option to upgrade for full device coverage at a reasonable price point. Perhaps its most interesting feature is that it encrypts more than just your traffic. Information that usually wouldn't be hidden by a VPN browser, such as bookmarks, downloaded files, and even separate tabs are all encrypted! In fact, Tenta claims to encrypt and blocks access to all of your browsing data, and takes a zero-knowledge approach to user data.


Utilizing an AES-256 bit encryption lets users know that their information is secure, and they openly publish their encryption specs on their website for people to see for themselves. Despite being a very secure and fully featured service, there are a couple of kinks that need ironing out with the browser: there are still very few servers, so users don't have much selection in that regard. On top of this, the browser is currently only available on Android, so we would like to see it become usable on more platforms. All in all, this is a great VPN browser considering the fact that it's free, and we think it will only get better with time.


Pros



Cons



  • Based in the United States.

  • No kill-switch.

  • Limited server options.

  • Limited availability.

Opera is one of the most popular VPN browsers available, although it is not a "true VPN".

  • Free option

    Yes

With lots of functionality and innovative technologies, Opera offers a great user experience overall. The free to use browser doesn't cap data limits and boasts built-in ad-blocking and compression technology for faster browsing without the hassle of endless advertisements. Despite the fully featured platform, we must point out that Opera utilizes a HTTPS proxy, and so is not technically a "true VPN".


Opera has also come under considerable scrutiny regarding its privacy, with critics noting that Opera Software ASA, originally a Norwegian company, may be subject to the decisions of the Nine Eyes spying alliance with its Norwegian offices. Alongside this, the company is now primarily owned by a Chinese consortium based in Hong Kong. With the mass censorship and surveillance of China, many privacy purists find themselves asking what this means for the "VPN" side of things, and how private it really is.


Overall, Opera is a good VPN browser for people who simply want to add an extra layer of security when accessing public WiFi, but we do not recommend using it for serious privacy, Netflix, or torrenting.


Pros



Cons



  • Privacy jurisdiction is unclear.

  • Not a true VPN.

Aloha is a fully featured, privacy-oriented browser with a built-in VPN for mobile devices.

  • Free option

    Yes

Aloha offers lots of customization from the offset, granting users a host of innovative functions that make for a pretty decent VPN browser overall (even in its free format). After reaching out to Aloha for more information on their encryption, we can confirm that Aloha does provide users with a true VPN, supporting IPSec, IKEv2, and two variations of their own proprietary protocols (patent pending). In an email from their CEO Andrew Frost Moroz, he explained that all connections are encrypted with at least an AES-256 algorithm, and are upgraded to AES-512 if it is available for the user. One example of where it will not default to AES-512 is, for example, on low-end devices, where higher encryption may drain the device's battery extremely quickly.


Despite the great functionality of the browser, Aloha does raise some concerns, particularly in relation to its privacy policy, which may put some users off. We pulled this key section from their policy to explain how it might affect users:



Firstly, it notes that their servers may be hosted by third-parties, which is an immediate red flag for privacy-oriented individuals. In short, it means that they have less control over the security and privacy of those servers. Secondly, while the policy says it will only collect personal information if you provide it, their servers will collect connection logs for your device. Most importantly, however, is that their privacy policy says that Aloha collects information to provide to third-parties if obligated to do so by rule of law - meaning that they are likely to pass on your data to authorities, especially if asked to do so.


Sadly, we think Aloha's logs and privacy policies leave room for improvement, and definitely raise more questions than they answer. Despite their great features and functionality, we don't recommend using this VPN browser for privacy; only for adding an extra layer of security in your browsing.


Pros



Cons



  • You have to turn the VPN on every time you open the app in free mode.

  • Currently, it is only available on mobile (however, we can confirm that Aloha plans to bring the browser to desktops later this year).

  • Privacy policy could be stronger.

  • Third-party servers.

UR is a newer browser that offers a secure service with an attractive interface.

  • Free option

    Yes

UR browser is a relatively new addition to the world of VPN browsers and is a fairly quick one at that. It utilises ad-blockers and script-blockers to load websites faster and provide a safer browser experience. The interface for the browser is very appealing as well, letting users pick custom wallpapers and set themes helps the browser to appear more professional, and just makes for a better user experience. The varying levels of privacy offered through its "Ninja Mode" are a nice way for users to fully customize their privacy.


The VPN service is provided by OVPN, which will be of interest to privacy-oriented users as it is a true no-logs VPN provider. Some may be quick to note that that may not necessarily mean that UR is a no logs service, since they employ third parties for their services and analytics. Fortunately, the only type of data that is collected is non-identifiable aggregated information (for diagnostic and analytical purposes). Overall, we think UR seems pretty decent on the surface, and we definitely think it's one to watch.


Pros



Cons



  • Registration required for VPN access.

  • No kill switch

Advantages of using a VPN browser?

A VPN encrypts the traffic between your device and the website you're accessing, allowing you greater privacy and hiding your web use from your internet service provider (ISP), government, and third party organizations. A VPN browser is a good alternative to the standard browsers that we are used to, as they can offer greater privacy and security. A good VPN browser will allow you to browse the internet with an extra layer of security and is a handy way of protecting your device on public WiFi networks.

There's a lot to take into account when debating whether to switch to a VPN browser (but that's where we come in).

Considerations

If you're deciding on whether to use a browser with a built-in VPN, keep in mind:

  • Not all browsers that claim to provide VPNs offer true VPNs and often use HTTPS proxies instead.
  • There is only a small list of browsers with built-in VPNs.
  • Free VPN browsers are often subject to WebRTC and DNS leaks.
  • VPN browsers rarely provide the same device-wide security, customization, and protection as a standalone VPN.
  • Not all VPN browsers are capable of geo-spoofing.

What about Tor?

It is worth noting that, despite what some websites claim, Tor is not a VPN browser and there are some key differences between the two. While both are proxy-based technologies, there is very little crossover between them. The simplest way to explain the difference is that Tor gives true anonymity, while VPNs help to prevent prying eyes from seeing your internet usage (such as governments, ISPs, or websites).

Learn more about Tor

So which is better?

That depends on what you want to use it for. If you want to do something that could land you in a lot of trouble (such as whistleblowing), use Tor. If what you're doing won't land you in trouble (such as P2P torrenting), or if you don't want to be tracked and traced online, use a VPN.

Alternatives to using a browser with a built-in VPN

There are plenty of alternatives to using a browser with a built-in VPN, but for privacy, we recommend using a standalone VPN service instead, as they can provide stronger, system-wide protection on multiple devices. For more details about VPN providers, head over to our detailed VPN reviews.

Using a premium VPN service

For the best protection, privacy, and security, we recommend using a premium standalone VPN. There are lots to choose from, so if you want to know where to begin, check out our list of the best VPNs. If you're concerned about the price, then don't worry, there are plenty of cheap VPNs on the market. A good VPN doesn't have to cost the world, but it's important that you find the right one for you.

Can I use a free standalone VPN service instead?

Depending on what you need, a free VPN service may work better than a VPN browser. However, they still won't work as well as a premium VPN service. When deciding on VPNs, it's important to remember that free VPNs:

  • Often restrict users' data and speed – slowing your overall internet speed and even stopping your browsing completely.
  • Regularly struggle with geo-spoofing.
  • Rarely have sufficient encryption.
  • Are known to sell on user information and data.
  • Have been known to infect devices with malware.

Conclusion

As with most all-in-one packages, browsers with built-in VPNs try to do a little too much at once, often diluting what you would otherwise gain by using a standalone VPN. We would always recommend pairing a better privacy-focused browser with a reputable VPN service, but if you are set on getting a VPN browser, then here is a reminder of our top picks:

  1. Epic Browser - A privacy browser that provides Perfect Forward Secrecy
  2. Tenta Browser - The browser that encrypts more than just your traffic
  3. Opera Browser - A privacy browser with lots of features and a loyal userbase
  4. Aloha Browser - A true VPN browser with solid encryption
  5. UR Browser - An up-and-coming VPN browser

Written by: Andreas Theodorou

Andreas is a Content Editor at ProPrivacy.com. Having graduated with a first-class BA (Hons) in English, he completed a Master of Research degree at Liverpool John Moores University and has continued to pursue research at every opportunity. Andreas started as a Tech Writer/Expert Reviewer at ProPrivacy before stepping up as Content Editor. An experienced writer, editor, and artist, he is currently researching video-games and popular culture in his spare time.

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