If you haven’t noticed, Google Chrome has slowly morphed from being a simple browser into being a complete virtual personal computer.
On it, you can now access and use all the office applications you used to have locally installed on your computer. If you need to write documents, it offers you Google Docs. If you need spreadsheets, you can use Google sheets. And if you need to prepare and use slides in your next presentation, they have Google Slides.
Also, you use these applications on the cloud, and that means that even if your physical computer crashes while you are in the middle of working on something, all you need to do is to pick the next machine and continue working.
Indeed, you can get more functionaries by going to the Chrome apps store and installing more applications (extensions).
And just like with a physical computer, you need to improve your privacy and security while using this virtual machine.
One option you have for that is to connect through a Chrome VPN extension. Like the other applications used on the virtual machine, the VPN extensions are available in Chrome app (web) store.
Is there a free Chrome VPN extension?
Yes. Indeed, a significant number of the VPNs found on the chrome app store are free to use. You just need to find the one you like, install it, make a few changes in settings and you are good to go.
However, like anything else that seems to come free on the internet, you are most likely going to pay for it in other ways.
Most likely that is going to be through your personal data being collected and sold to third parties. It could also be through many ads that you have to endure.
If you really care about your privacy and the security of the interactions you have with the internet, then you should be open to the idea of paying for your VPN service, even on Chrome.
If you already have a plan that you use elsewhere, check whether your service provider has a Google Chrome extension. Installing it might not come at an extra cost.
What should the best Chrome VPN extension do?
The VPN extension you install on your Chrome should encrypt the data that comes and leaves your browser. That makes it harder for anyone watching your activity to hijack critical information. The extension should mask your online identity (IP address) by assigning you a different one.
Besides the activity on the chrome browser, the VPN should secure the communication between all the other apps (extensions) you have installed from the chrome app store.
You should know the VPN on your Chrome does not work on other applications on your desktop. For example, if you are also using a different browser such as Microsoft Edge, it will not benefit from the VPN installed on your Chrome.
Same to standalone applications on your local desktop like Skype, Zoom, and Netflix. Of course, most of these applications can be accessed and used from within the Chrome. When you use them through Chrome, these applications are also secured.
How to choose a VPN for your Chrome
Indeed, you have a long list to choose from on the Chrome app store. Some in that group are great, while some not so much. I have already mentioned that you stand to get more security from those that you pay a fee to use.
The other factor that you should consider when deciding the VPN extension to use is what those who have already used them have to say about the quality of service. This information comes as ratings and reviews on the app store.
Of course, go for the one with the highest ratings and the best reviews.
How to set up a VPN extension on Google Chrome?
The Chrome web store has a search box you can use to find your list of VPNs to choose from. Once you have looked at the ratings and reviews and decided on one, it is time to install the extension.
On the app store, next to the extension, you will see an ‘install’ tab. When you click on that, the app will automatically install. It is a process that takes a few seconds to a minute.
The VPN automatically assigns you an IP. You may need to go to settings to manually choose the locations you prefer. You may also need to change other preferences.
To confirm the VPN is working, google ‘what is my IP address.’ The IP address that shows should be different from your actual local IP address.
With a VPN on your chrome, you can access websites and other platforms with your security and privacy protected. However, be careful on the particular VPN you choose, as that impacts the security you end up getting.