Chromebooks are gaining popularity among budget-friendly laptops in the market. Money aside, Google also puts a lot of effort into making security the key attribute to Chrome OS (like automatically updating the operating system when the device is booting up). However, it doesn’t guarantee privacy and security on the internet. That’s why getting a VPN for Chromebook is just as important as employing other security measures.
Not every VPN works with Chrome OS – that’s the tricky part. But once you find the one that works, the process of setting it up is straightforward. In this article, I’ll use Surfshark VPN as an example.
I’ll walk you through three methods of how to get a VPN on Chromebook.
- Download a VPN extension from the Chrome Web Store.
- Download a VPN app from the Google Play Store.
- Set up a VPN on Chromebook manually (I’ll show how to set up an OpenVPN connection).
Let’s get into it.
Unsurprisingly, Google Chrome is a default browser on Chromebooks. While you can install other browsers, Chrome offers thousands of extensions that can make your experience with it better. One of those extensions is a VPN. The main benefit of using a browser extension VPN (other than the increased security) is its ease of use and speed.
Here’s how to download a VPN browser extension:
- Open your Chrome browser.
- Search Chrome Web Store on Google.
- Click on the first search result.
- Select Extensions on the left side of the screen.
- Type in the name of a VPN in a search bar (e.g., Surfshark)
- Click Add to Chrome.
Surfshark is one of the VPNs that works well as a browser extension. Cure53 independently audited it, and they concluded that the application is robust and not exposed to any issues regarding privacy and general security.
The audit report stated that Surfshark stands out among other VPN browser extensions because they usually have various performance and security issues.
Note: Keep in mind that a VPN browser extension only protects the information within your web browser. Often that’s not enough. The extension will not secure all the apps that communicate over the internet, but function outside of the browser.
If you want to secure all of the web traffic coming from your Chromebook, you’ll need a VPN app.
Download a VPN app from Google Play Store
Chromebooks are increasingly able to run a wide variety of phone-based android apps. It’s great because it opens up a whole new world of software options for your device that previously weren’t there (at first, Chromebooks were called “browsers in a laptop/box”).
Since Chrome OS can run mobile Android apps, you can get your hands on some VPNs as well.
This is how you get a VPN software for Chromebook:
- Go to Google Play Store.
- Search for a VPN (e.g., Surfshark).
- Download the app.
- Create an account or log in.
- Connect to a preferred VPN server.
Alternatively, you can download an Android VPN straight from the provider’s website.
An Android app is the number one choice for securing every piece of web traffic coming to or from your Chromebook. However, there are times when a VPN app is not enough, and you have to take the configuration matters into your own hands.
In the next section, I’ll cover the manual OpenVPN connection setup.
But why and when do you need to set up a VPN connection manually?
- Building a manual VPN connection is a smart choice if you live or travel in a restrictive region. Countries like China ban VPNs that the government hasn’t authorized. In these unfortunate cases, the manual VPN configuration can help. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s worth a try.
- A manually configured VPN can also become a safe plan B for when your VPN app crashes. This way, you can stay connected while the app recovers. If you’re extra-careful about preserving your online privacy, this method can be a decent solution.
How to set up a VPN on Chromebook manually
If you wish to configure VPN protocols separately, there’s a solution: Set it up manually with either the OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec connection.
Don’t be discouraged if words like “protocol” sound intimidating. It’s just an alternative way to set up a VPN connection. Follow my instructions, and you’ll be fine!
OpenVPN and L2TP are VPN protocols, which are an essential part of any VPN. Simply put, they’re responsible for keeping your data secure as it travels through the internet.
As VPN protocols vary in speed and security, which one to choose?
- OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol. Cybersecurity professionals across the world contribute to its development. OpenVPN is fast, secure, and works best for long-distance connections and desktop operating systems.
- L2TP, on the other hand, is an outdated VPN protocol. I don’t recommend setting it up on your Chromebook because it lacks security that newer protocols have. For this reason, I’m only going to walk you through the OpenVPN setup.
How to set up OpenVPN connections on Chromebook
To set up an OpenVPN connection on your Chromebook, you’ll need to get configuration files from your VPN provider. If you choose Surfshark, you can download them from this manual setup page. Scroll down until you see Other configuration files. Click on OpenVPN to begin downloading.
When the download finishes, you’ll see a Surfshark_Config.zip file. Unzip it. Now, you should see a folder full of .ovpn files. These are all the server locations that will be available to you when you set up the OpenVPN connection.
For example, the es-mad.prod.surfshark.com_udp.ovpn is a server address for Madrid, Spain.
Without the configuration files, you’ll also need service credentials, which you can get from the same manual setup page I’ve mentioned above. Scroll down until you see this:
I recommend you to copy these credentials and save them somewhere until you need to utilize them later in the setup.
Now let’s move to the next step. If your Chromebook supports the Play Store, install the OpenVPN for Android app from the Google Play Store.
After you download the application, you’ll need to import the .ovpn file folder to the app. The name of the folder is Surfshark_Config, and it’s the one you extracted from the .zip file earlier.
Then, you’ll be asked to put in the service credentials that you already have (remember the steps above), and voilà!
All that’s left to do is to establish the connection by clicking Connect. You’re all set.
Why Surfshark is a great VPN solution for Chromebook
I’ve used Surfshark as an example in this guide, so why is it a suitable VPN for Chromebook? Well, first of all, it is one of the few VPNs that actually work on Chromebooks.
- Surfshark is an excellent choice for those looking for a fast VPN.
- The industry-leading AES-256 bit VPN encryption makes Surfshark one of the most secure VPNs in the market.
- This VPN is also an efficient tool that you can use to bypass geo-blocking. It includes accessing geo-restricted websites, streaming sites, Youtube videos, and apps.
- Use Surfshark to combat unfair censorship, like getting access to blocked news sites that don’t align with the government agenda.
- Last but not least, if you use Surfshark, your private information remains to your eyes only with a sharp no-logs policy. It means that Surfshark does not and will never track your whereabouts or actions on the internet.
If you’ve got yourself a Chromebook and want to strengthen its security by getting a VPN, you have several options. For privacy and security on a browser, get a browser extension. If you want broader protection, get an Android VPN app from the Google Play Store. If a manual configuration is what suits you the most, then set up the OpenVPN connection manually.
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