A VPN (Virtual Private Network) adds an important layer of security that makes you totally anonymous online. It also offers the ability to access websites that would otherwise be blocked, such as BBC iPlayer when you’re travelling abroad or US Netflix from the UK.
You can get a VPN app for your computer, which will channel all of your internet activity via its servers and offer complete anonimity. A router VPN takes that even further and protects everything connected to your WiFi network.
However, if you just want to use a VPN for some of your browsing and aren’t worried about hiding the entirety of your online activity, you might prefer to use a VPN browser extension. We’ve rounded up VPN add-ons specifically for Firefox, which could be handy if that happens to be your favourite.
Many of the Tech Advisor team do this to quickly and easily test how the website looks to readers outside of the UK, for example. And it’s an easy way to get access to geo-blocked websites and services without interrupting or changing the way you browse the rest of the web.
Just remember that, while browser VPNs are handy because they are quicker and easier to switch on and off than some VPN apps can be, they aren’t as completely secure as a VPN that protects the internet activity across your entire computer.
Many are proxy servers rather than full VPNs, too, which means the traffic is not encrypted. It’s possible, then, that there’s information being passed on to the website you’re browsing that could identify you. All a proxy does is swap out your IP address for a different one, spoofing your location.
You’ll find more in-depth information about VPNs and how they work in our best VPN roundup, and more about the difference between a proxy and a VPN in our explainer. but here we share browser VPNs that you can download now.
Our pick of the best VPN is NordVPN, which in addition to its Mac, Windows, iOS and Android apps offers a Chrome and Firefox browser extension too.
It offers more than 5,600 servers across 60 countries, which means it’s speedy, reliable and flexible.
If you already have an account with NordVPN you’ll be able to use this browser extension at no extra cost. It includes privacy features that should mean traffic is encrypted and you’re even protected from malware, phishing and other threats.
If you’ve yet to sign up, you can choose between four plans, the cheapest being the three year plan that works out at $2.99/£2.29 per month. You can sign up here.
Once you’ve signed up, download the extension and begin using it to protect web traffic through Chrome or Firefox using a simple, easy to use tool.
Read our NordVPN review for more information.
Also brilliant and up there among our favourite VPN services is ExpressVPN, which offers a handy browser extension for Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
It’s easy to use, offers a global VPN network across 94 countries with over 3,000 servers, and it has a kill switch. Its browser extensions offer privacy protection including WebRTC blocking to prevent websites from discovering your true IP address and location.
You can get ExpressVPN for a $6.67/£5.05 per month if you sign up for the 15 month special deal. Sign up here.
You’ll find more in our ExpressVPN review.
PureVPN offers a Chrome and Firefox browser extension for its customers, adding to its range of apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, routers, Amazon Fire TV Stick and more.
There are more than 2,000 servers available to connect to across 141 countries, including many that’ll work with Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other geo-restricted streaming services.
PureVPN works out at $3.33/£2.60 per month.
Another great option that’s reasonably priced is CyberGhost, a newbie-friendly VPN that offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox as part of its package.
You’ll get access to more than 5,200 servers across 58 countries, and it’s easy to use with Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
It’s priced at just $2.75/£2.10 per month, and with that you get up to seven simultaneous connections, handy should you wish to share it with your family.
You can subscribe to CyberGhost here.
Surfshark is a new name in the VPN space but it’s quickly becoming a popular option thanks to its competitive pricing and easy-to-use interfaces.
It offers unlimited simultaneous connections, with browser extensions available for Firefox and Chrome, as well as iOS, Mac, Android, Windows, Linux and FireTV.
There are more than 800 servers available across 50 countries, and it’s quick to connect to Netflix or BBC iPlayer if that’s what you’re after.
You can subscribe for as little as £1.53/$1.99 here.
TunnelBear sits at number six in our overall VPN chart, so with a browser version available it was an easy choice for our pick of the best browser VPNs.
TunnelBear’s extension works with Chrome, Firefox or Opera and is lightweight, simple and easy to use just like its apps for Mac, PC and mobile.
There is a more limited number of server locations available across 22 countries, but you should find that’s enough for most users.
The lowest tier of TunnelBear is free, but you’ll only get 500MB per month so is only for light users.
If you need more it’s £7.35/$9.99 per month for unlimited use, or £82.50/$99.99 (which works out at £3.33/$4.17 per month) for a year of unlimited use.
You can sign up and get the TunnelBear extension from the company’s website, or read our full review of TunnelBear for more information.
Windscribe is another good VPN option with a browser extension available. In addition to the usual proxying service you’d expect from a VPN, Windscribe’s browser extension also blocks ads, trackers and social widgets, keeps track of and deletes cookies, spoofs your timezone and rotates your user agent.
It can work together with the Windscribe desktop application for ‘double hop’ functionality, which can proxy your connection through any two servers on the network.
There is a limited free version of Windscribe available, as well as a pro version that costs $4.08/£2.94 per month if you sign up for a year. There’s a slightly more expensive monthly option, or a cheaper two year option too.
Of all the popular mainstream web browsers, Opera is the first to offer a built-in VPN service. To try out the browser for free, with an unlimited VPN, you can visit Opera’s website here.
It protects your identity by hiding your activity within the folds of a virtual network. The service operates a no-log policy, which means that no records are kept of the sites you visit, passwords you enter, or any downloads you make.
You can select from three regions to start with including Canada, USA, Germany: this becomes your virtual location. As well as giving your browser the added panache of being well travelled, this also opens up region-locked content from various streaming services.
Opera also offered an iOS and Android VPN app, but it has now announced that it is ending support for the app, and is sending customers towards SurfEasy VPN instead.
We’re not yet sure what this means for the browser version of the free VPN, but for now it looks like it’s staying.