vpn for Chromebook

How would you feel if your mailman rifled through all of your letters and packages every time he made a delivery?

Picture it. You get home from work after a long day and there he is, sitting outside your front door, chuckling at the Christmas letter your parents sent you, having a glance at your latest online purchase deliveries, or even checking out your monthly bills. Then let’s say he takes all that information he gets from your mail and sells it off to whoever wants it. Or maybe he uses it himself.

If you aren’t using a VPN every time you’re surfing the web (which, let’s face it, is all the time), then you’re leaving your information out in the open for anyone to check out, just like the mailman in above example. Besides, nothing exciting comes in the mail anymore. The good stuff—the useful information about you—is all online, and the bad guys know it.

A few years ago, only tech-savvy enthusiasts were using VPNs because they were difficult and confusing to set up and run. Today, however, dozens of VPNs like Surfshark have made it simple and intuitive to keep your browsing data secure. And this isn’t just for Windows computers, Surfshark runs on just about any system you could access the internet on. 

Why Chromebooks Need a VPN

Just because Chromebooks are simple to use does not mean you can ignore cybersecurity.

Protecting your data online is just as important in today’s world as protecting your home or your physical mail.

You, hopefully, don’t prop your front door open whenever you aren’t home and you don’t leave open letters from the bank sitting out on the sidewalk, so why wouldn’t you protect your online information? A reliable VPN for your device is like a lock for your door and blinds for your windows.    

If you want more information about how a VPN can protect you, what you can do with it, how it works, and on what devices, check out our blog. Once you’re ready to make your life secure, head to our download page and we’ll get your started. 

Let us take a look at how to run VPNs on Chromebooks, which is a slightly trickier process than running one on more common systems. This guide, however, will break it down easy.

How does VPN encryption work

3 Ways to Install a VPN on Chromebook

Chromebooks are fast on the web, inexpensive, and simple to use. When it comes to running VPNs, however, things can get a little tricky. 

There are three main ways to get a VPN running on a Chromebook with different pros and cons for each:

  1. Installing a Chrome extension
  2. Installing an Android app
  3. Manually configuring a VPN on your own

Let’s dive in!

Chrome Extensions 

Unless you’re a tech genius who likes and knows how to break the rules, you’re mostly limited to using Chrome as your web browser – after all, that’s why they call it a Chromebook. Luckily, there are thousands of Chrome extensions that let you customize the browser and really make it your own – including browser based VPNs.

The main benefit of using a browser extension VPN (other than the increased security) is its ease of use. All you have to do is download one from the Chrome extensions webstore and you’ll be good to go. There are plenty of VPNs available to use through this method. Of course, we’ll tell you that Surfshark is the best one out there, but we may be a little biased. Anyways, you can check our independently audited Chrome extension HERE.

There is one critical thing you have to remember, though. Using browser based VPNs can leave a giant security gap because they’re only protecting the information within your web browser. If any of your other apps are communicating over the internet (and you’d be surprised how many of them do), they won’t be protected by the VPN. If you want to secure all of the web traffic coming from your Chromebook, there’s an app for that.

Android Apps

Chromebooks are increasingly able to run a wide variety of phone based android apps. This is great because it opens up a whole wide world of software options for your device that previously weren’t there. Some of these options are Android VPNs.

If your Chromebook supports it, running an Android VPN app is just as easy as running a browser extension. Just pick your VPN of choice from the app store or download the Surfshark Android VPN app HERE. And remember, Surfshark is the only one that gives you a free cat with every download.

Ok, only kidding (“kitten”?) about the free cat, but seriously, our VPN app is solid and one of the best, paws down.  

An Android app is going to be the number one choice for securing every piece of web traffic coming to or from your Chromebook. However, if you happen to have a model that can’t run the app store or doesn’t work with the specific app you want, you’re out of luck with this method. 

Manual Configuration

OK, now let’s get into the tricky stuff. Let’s say your Chromebook does not support Android apps but you want more security than the browser extension has to offer. Well, my friend, if this is you, then it’s time to get down and dirty. Grab your pocket protector, because we’re about to go full nerd.

There are two main options for manual VPNs: OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec. While OpenVPN is the clear winner in comparing the two protocols, it’s incredibly difficult to set up on a Chromebook and requires IT skill levels of over 9,000. Because of the difficulty in setting up OpenVPN, we will only cover L2TP/IPSec in this article. It is older and less secure than OpenVPN, but it can still be useful for anonymity and changing your location.

First, you need to decide which L2TP/IPSsec VPN service you want to use and you’ll need to write down the URL names of the actual servers the service has. It’s best to do this on a piece of paper because, once you begin the manual configuration process, you won’t be able to scroll around or switch screens on your Chromebook. Of course, you’ll also need your username and password for your VPN account on the service you picked.

After you have all that information handy, go to the network settings of your Chromebook and look for the tab that lets you add a new connection. Among the connection options, you should see one that says, “Add OpenVPN/L2TP”. That’s the one we want.

Once you select that option, you should see a window with a bunch of blanks to fill in. 

  1. Server Hostname (also called the server address) is going to be name that looks like a web address that you copied down earlier.  
  2. Service Name: you can leave this blank.
  3. Provider Type: from the dropdown menu, pick “LT2P/IPSec + pre-shared key”.
  4. Pre-shared key: If your VPN provider has one, enter it here. If not, you can put something like “12345678”.
  5. Username/Password: Type in your credit card and Social Security Number. Only kidding, please don’t do that. This is where you type in your VPN account username and password.
  6. Group Name: go ahead and leave this blank.

Once everything is filled out, hit connect and you should be good to go.  

Although Chromebooks are great devices, your personal information needs protection. The internet is a big, open ocean. Let Surfshark protect you from the deep sea dangers and creatures that would do you harm.

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Have any questions on how to install a VPN for Chromebook? Drop us a line in the comment section below!