A Chromebook is a laptop and a convertible that run on Google’s Chrome OS, a web-based operating system that includes cloud storage, Google’s most outstanding features and numerous layers of security. A Chromebook, designed to assist in accomplishing tasks quickly and easily, may be used even when not connected to the internet by running offline-ready apps. Great for school or business environments, Chromebooks are reasonably priced, well-specified for their intended function, often lightweight, feature-rich and have sufficiently long battery life. However, since the Chromebook utilizes cloud technology when linked to the internet, many consumers may have privacy concerns about Google-powered computers.
If using a Chromebook on public WiFi networks, the device becomes vulnerable to phishing attacks, hackers and other types of attacks that can intercept traffic and steal data. Even at home, devices are vulnerable to data and privacy breaches. Virtual private networks (VPNs) encrypt and conceal traffic so that even if a hacker manages to intercept sensitive data, the information will be unreadable due to encryption. A VPN can establish a connection to a remote server that conceals the user’s location by hiding IP addresses, makes tracing identity more difficult and encrypts browsed websites. Everything changes when a VPN is used. A VPN improves online accessibility and privacy while using a Chromebook and is becoming increasingly crucial in modern times. Below are the VPNs that may be used on a Chromebook to regain privacy and improve overall security.
1. TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear has a charming aesthetic and is a great free option. A Canadian VPN that McAfee has acquired, TunnelBear is an excellent choice for simplicity, making it suitable for VPN newcomers. TunnelBear’s strength is superior security, which is available to both paid and free users. The Android app encrypts all internet traffic emanating from the Chromebook, not just the browser. However, the free plan has a monthly bandwidth cap of 500 MB and is not compatible with popular geo-restricted streaming services. Subscriptions begin at $9.99 per month for five concurrent connections and unlimited data, making TunnelBear the most affordable premium VPN on the market. Still, this VPN service does not offer a money-back guarantee.
TunnelBear utilizes an easy-to-install Chrome extension that can be activated with a single click, ensuring the security of the Chromebook’s WiFi. An added feature is GhostBear which disguises VPN traffic as regular internet traffic, thereby unblocking content in countries with restrictive networks. Apart from that, TunnelBear is one of the few VPNs globally that has been subjected to independent security audits. Finally, users can share TunnelBear on social media or refer a friend to get 1 GB of additional data. Take note that popular geo-restricted streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and more do not work with a free TunnelBear subscription.
2. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is a free VPN that can be used on a Chromebook without much restriction. Privacy and security features are the same for free and paid customers, plus the VPN service offers unlimited data without throttling. Hotspot Shield does not track or save any personally identifiable information from internet activities. Aside from that, users can easily unlock web content, block trackers and hide their identity online. However, the free service exclusively offers U.S.-based servers. Hotspot Shield has a separate Chrome extension for a browser-only VPN service. Only the paid plan gives access to servers from all around the globe.
CyberGhost is a Romanian VPN provider and is one of the industry’s most extensively utilized Chromebook VPNs. CyberGhost has extremely powerful protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP, IPsec, SSTP and safe encryption. Many of CyberGhost’s servers specialize in P2P file sharing and streaming services. The program is straightforward to navigate and install on a Chromebook. Blistering speeds, 256-bit encryption, an automated kill switch and a strict zero-logs policy are what users get with CyberGhost. Those concerned about privacy can connect to CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers, which offer more bandwidth and protection.
CyberGhost offers a handy Android app and Chrome extension that Chromebook users can install to increase web security and access prohibited websites or services from around the world. However, scripts are being used by the company, which raises data jurisdiction and anonymity concerns for users. The program can be tried for free with a 45-day refund policy. Users who like the service can subscribe for $12.99 a month on the one-month plan but can save money by signing up for a longer period.
ProtonVPN and ProtonMail, a sister venture, both have a good track record of privacy and security. These services reassure users by relying on the stringent privacy legislation of the host country, Geneva, Switzerland. Both free and paying customers get unlimited data with 256-bit encryption and no logging. However, the free account limits access to global servers and limits speeds in favor of premium users. ProtonVPN has an Android application but this app has been found to be prone to getting blocked by more websites than most VPNs. The app is free and paid plans start at $4 per month for two devices. More extensive plans are available at $8 per month for five devices and $24 per month for ten devices.
ZenMate is owned by Kape Technologies and is based in Germany, which is in the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. ZenMate includes a slew of helpful VPN capabilities and the apps look fantastic on all platforms. The ZenMate Android app is simple to use and includes limitless bandwidth and data. Capable of reliably bypassing geo-restrictions and VPN blocks, ZenMate offers peer-to-peer file sharing in practically all server locations except for seven countries.
ZenMate VPN is a popular Google Chrome browser extension and is the best VPN for Chromebook users who browse a lot. Customer assistance options are limited, so users should expect prompt yet generic responses from corporate representatives. The subscription prices range from $10.99 per month to $59 for three years. If necessary, users may opt for a seven-day free trial or cancel the subscription during the first 30 days to receive a refund.
Windscribe is headquartered in Canada, a Five Eyes member, which means the government has the authority to compel Windscribe to pass over client information. Thankfully, Windscribe does not monitor web traffic or private IP addresses so even if the government demanded information, there would be nothing to provide.
Windscribe provides 2 to 10 GB of free data per month across only ten server locations. While torrenting is permitted on most servers, unblocking streaming sites requires upgrading to the premium version. Windscribe includes an automatic kill switch, port forwarding and leak protection for DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC.
Windscribe is a fantastic alternative for those who want a no-fee VPN, but what sets this service apart is its outstanding Chrome VPN extension if the user’s Chromebook does not have Google Play Store support. While the service is a proxy, installation of the “real” VPN client on a PC is not required to utilize it. This feature is especially beneficial for business laptops and other devices that users cannot install the software on. Monthly subscriptions begin at $9 and the annual subscription is $49 with only a three-day money-back guarantee.
7. Turbo VPN
TurboVPN is based in Singapore and China and is designed for Chromebook users who require unlimited data and unrestricted access to worldwide servers. Turbo VPN is completely free and is quite fast in comparison to other free VPNs. TurboVPN provides all of the benefits of a premium VPN, but there is no AES-256 encryption because the communication layer is encrypted using the default OpenVPN Protocol (UDP/TCP). The encryption is somewhat secure, although not the best.
TurboVPN states that while they do gather a trail of speed test results, crash reports and diagnostic information, the company anonymizes personally identifiable information to ensure that users’ identities are always secure on the internet. TurboVPN has a 4.5 rating on the Google Play Store, which is rather impressive considering the VPN has been reviewed over four million times. The app is free but offers in-app purchases. The price range is $11.99 per month or $35.99 annually with no money-back guarantee for a subscription.
VyprVPN offers a high-quality, fast and secure VPN and features an impressive selection of applications that are secure, dependable and simple to use. This VPN service allows five devices to connect simultaneously per account and is even better for privacy-conscious consumers now that the company is officially a no-logs VPN service that has been openly audited. VyprVPN is $12.95 every two months, then $45 and $60 for a one- and two-year subscription, respectively, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Hide.me has a stellar reputation for offering users anonymity, security and transparency. The log-free certified VPN assures that no user’s personally identifiable information is stored on the servers. Hide.me includes 256-bit encryption, a kill switch and IP/DNS leak protection as well as limitless server switching and split tunneling. Unlike other free VPN services, Hide.me does not limit free users’ speeds. However, free users can only connect one device at a time.
The Android app is easy to navigate, but IKEv2 is faster than OpenVPN. Hide.me does not require an email address but keeps track of overall data traffic, gives a randomly generated VPN login and assigns IP addresses temporarily. The data is fully anonymous and is deleted after a few hours. Users can try the app for free or subscribe for $4.99 per month for a Plus subscription or $9.99 per month for a Premium subscription.
Betternet LLC, Inc. is based in California, which is a member of the multinational intelligence-sharing partnership Five Eyes, and is subject to regulations prohibiting intrusive surveillance. Betternet is a good option for secure browsing as registration for using the free service is not required. Betternet provides 500 MB of free data each day, allows users to connect to a single server location and supports up to five devices concurrently. Unfortunately, users cannot stream for an extended period due to little bandwidth and unpredictable speeds.
Betternet also offers a Chrome extension for Chromebooks that have not received Android app support yet. The VPN can be used to mask user location, access geo-restricted material and download torrent files from the internet. One issue with Betternet is that users cannot select the server location manually, the application chooses the optimal location on its own. After a seven-day trial, users can subscribe for $11.99 per month or $35.88 for a year.
Why Chromebooks Need a VPN
Google makes Chromebooks extremely secure by running Linux software underneath Chrome OS, but this is not always sufficient. The internet has evolved significantly over time. While connecting to the internet is now easier than ever, hackers perpetrate identity theft, credit card fraud and various other crimes every minute of every day. Users must gain the ability to stay current on advancements to be safe, and a VPN can give users that necessary security and privacy.
VPN services allow users to connect to the internet anonymously via a “tunnel” service. When connecting to a website, this form of access covers communication and displays the VPN’s IP address instead of the user’s. When browsing different websites, the user’s real IP address is masked. By utilizing a VPN, online safety and privacy are secured through encryption of data and communications. Not only that, but VPNs can enable access to things not typically accessible on a public network. There are numerous advantages to using a VPN while browsing the internet on a Chromebook. The following is a list of the advantages of using a VPN to connect to the internet on Chrome OS.
Bypass internet filters: VPNs are highly popular in nations with more limited internet access policies, such as China. Internet filters that prevent native people from accessing social media accounts and “spreading discontent” or opposing the Chinese government’s policies make VPNs attractive. If traveling outside of the country, a VPN service can circumvent the country’s internet filters. Users can “leave” the country’s internet rules and connect to a more open network. “Restricted content” or geo-restrictions that prevent access from a site will never happen again when using a VPN.
Online anonymity: Tracking a user’s web activities while the user is connected over a VPN is extremely difficult. If concerned about privacy or security, using a VPN allows users to browse the web anonymously. The VPN functions as a disguise, allowing individuals to conduct business online anonymously. In contrast to web proxies or IP masking software, a VPN enables unnoticed access to websites and web apps.
Modify IP address and server location: VPNs either modify or “mask” the location of an IP address. For instance, a user who is connecting from Chicago but who wishes to connect from a European country can change the IP address to one originating in Germany by using a VPN. This process is straightforward and provides increased privacy and security. Additionally, access to regional material, websites and online applications often reserved for German internet users will become available. Numerous enterprises in foreign nations lack websites dedicated to each regional market.
Private and secure browsing: Accessing the internet on a Chromebook while using a VPN causes all data, including passwords, financial transactions and instant messages, to be encrypted and secured. A personal VPN encrypts web browsing sessions and significantly increases the privacy of data. Encrypting data prevents hackers from gaining unauthorized access. If using a closed network for business purposes, communications can be kept fully confidential, maintaining personal privacy and business security while sensitive materials and information are kept safe.
Increased performance: Occasionally, the servers that are accessible are not optimal. One may discover that connecting with a VPN improves the speed and performance of an internet search in a way that is undoubtedly superior to a proxy network. VPN providers take performance extremely seriously. In the past, VPNs were notorious for being slow, lagging and frequently losing connection. These inconveniences are now a thing of the past due to technological advancements.
Remote network access: Once a VPN is configured, access remotely from any location with an internet connection will become available. Members of a network can securely connect and access data, documents and other required resources. This level of security benefits businesses by increasing productivity. Customers who use a VPN for privacy will avoid sending an email or file that can be intercepted since all data can be stored on a secure network accessible only by authorized users and from any location.
Things to Consider When Choosing a VPN for Chromebook
Everybody wants a good deal and each VPN service provides various capabilities and functionality that users require for Chromebooks. A few things to consider when choosing a VPN for Chromebook are discussed below.
Security: Regardless of the online activities conducted while using a VPN connection, comprehensive digital security and privacy is required to ensure safety. Security is the core function of a VPN, so check that the provider does not skimp on their security features. As such, verify that the service adheres to a list of features such as using the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption scheme, providing an automatic kill switch and supporting split tunneling or security against DNS/IP leaks. Additionally, search for a strong no-logs policy, which means that no individual or organization can request a record of users’ activities.
Data limit: The VPN should provide fast speeds with sufficient data to browse the internet without experiencing any slowdowns. Additionally, check for VPNs that offer a large number of free servers, as speeds will generally be better since the servers will be less congested. For example, Hotspot Shield provides one of the best free services but only allows 500 MB of traffic per day per user. Like ProtonVPN, some providers offer unlimited data, but only two or three server locations are available and speeds are throttled.
Speed: Look for VPNs for Chromebooks that include high-speed servers with global coverage, allowing users to unblock material from any location in the world without difficulty. A large server network dispersed across the globe means improved speeds, as no single server will be clogged by an excessive number of people connecting simultaneously. Faster connections provide a more enjoyable experience for virtually all internet-related activities.
Compatibility: Users should look for a simple VPN to use and one that offers a Chrome OS or Android app that is compatible with the user’s Chromebook. If the purchased VPN service is incompatible with the Chromebook, then money is wasted. Thus, one of the first considerations should be whether the VPN is compatible with the device.
Capability: Most free VPNs cannot unblock streaming websites since tiny server networks are not updated regularly enough to keep up with VPN blockades. Additionally, these VPNs may have poor speeds and a data cap that prevents streaming in high quality. Look for VPNs that can unblock some streaming websites, support torrenting and allow video streaming from services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Cost: Several VPN services offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing users to test the service risk-free with a Chromebook and request a refund if uninterested. For subscription services, make sure that the cost is something that users can afford. Some prices are low in comparison to the value they provide. If a VPN is genuinely free, users are not required to sign up for a subscription and credit card information should not be necessary.
How to Install a VPN on ChromebookThere are three methods for installing a Chromebook VPN. The simplest option is to use a Chrome extension provided by the VPN supplier. The second alternative is to use an Android app, but this option is only available for Chromebooks with Google Play Store access. The third is by manually configuring Chrome OS. The steps for each of these methods are detailed below.
Chrome VPN app: Install VPN apps from the Chrome Web Store. An administrator can force install a VPN app using the Admin console. If allowed, upload a config file. The app uses chrome.storage API to read the configuration file and apply it.
Create a new connection
- In Settings, go to the Network section and select Add Connection.
- Next to the VPN app, select Add.
- Follow the instructions on the screen.
Connect to a VPN
- In Settings, go to the Network section.
- Select the connection name of the VPN.
Android VPN app: The Google Play Store is only available for some Chromebooks. Chromebooks with the Google Play Store can install Android VPN apps.
Create a new connection and connect to a VPN
- Download and install an Android VPN app on Chromebook.
- Configure the VPN app for the Chromebook. In the Network section of Settings, select Add connection, then Add [app name].
- Stay connected to the VPN. In the Google Play Store, select Manage Android preferences, select Network & Internet and then select VPN. Make sure the Always-on VPN is configured. If the Always-on VPN connection stops, a notification will appear and will stay on until reconnected. To clear the notification, turn off that specific Always-on VPN.
Manual configuration: The third option is more complicated. If done improperly, manual configuration can destroy a Chromebook. It is advised that experts do manual configuration. However, if the user has some knowledge of configuring laptops, then the instructions from the chosen VPN on how to configure Chrome OS should be followed.
Are Free VPNs Safe for Chromebook?
No, free VPNs are not always completely safe. Numerous free VPNs can be risky for a variety of reasons. Specific free VPNs lack adequate encryption, while others maintain logs and exchange data with third parties such as marketers to earn money. Research conducted in 2020 indicated that over 40% of free Android VPNs that are accessible on the Google Play Store do not adequately safeguard users’ privacy. As a result, the additional anticipated online protection is not there. Other free VPNs are designed to infect instead of protect a device. Software may contain viruses and other malware. When it comes to free VPNs, caution is always required.
How Do Free VPNs Make Money?
A VPN makes for a more secure and confidential internet connection by hiding IP addresses and encrypting data sent to and from a computer. Running a VPN service requires significant investment in all elements including a high-quality website, client software for various platforms, many servers in multiple locations with plenty of bandwidth and a customer support team to keep all of this working throughout the world. It is essential to realize that while there are some decent free VPN providers, the companies are still making money off users as “nothing is truly free” nowadays.
This is important:Users may not be paying anything directly but are still paying with something valuable like personal data. Consider looking into some of the most-affordable VPNs before deciding to use free VPNs. Users of free VPNs certainly have to bear in mind that their data could be potentially used for profit in one way or another, including selling to affiliate advertisers.
Displaying ads for other companies is one of the ways free VPN providers make money. With a user’s browsing data going through a VPN, this can quickly become a treasure trove of information for the provider and who can use this to target users with ads.
Free VPNs make money from users by permitting advertisers to insert cookies, web beacons and tracking pixels that collect information about users’ browsing history without the users’ knowledge. Free VPNs have made advertising intrusive and unavoidable to encourage users to upgrade to the paid version. As a result, ads are often timed and cannot be closed or must be played to the end before accessing the VPN.
With a standard VPN, a new IP address is assigned to users after connecting to the server to keep online activity private and secure. However, some VPN providers use the computers of non-paying users as exit nodes, routing internet traffic through a personal connection. As a result, the ISP sees somebody else’s traffic as if it were the free VPN user’s own traffic. While this may not seem so bad in exchange for free VPN services, remember that being an exit node means that all the traffic from other users goes through free VPN users, including illegal traffic. Therefore, a free service is not an option for users who do not want their name and ISP account associated with illegal online activity.
Some free VPNs may limit data, bandwidth and even disable peer-to-peer connections, including torrents, on purpose to manipulate users into upgrading to a premium service. For this reason, it is often better to pay the relatively low fee for a paid VPN subscription.