How to Set up a VPN on a Chromebook in 2021 – Make Chrome OS More Privacy-Friendly, the Easy Way!

You’ll be happy to know that Chromebooks impose no limitations on VPN apps. In fact, Chrome OS is one of the most open platforms out there, which has its benefits related to privacy protection. With that said, let’s talk about how to set up a VPN on a Chromebook in 2021.

Since there are many different Chromebook models available today, you have plenty of options in front of you. You can use a native Chrome OS (Android) app, set up a VPN manually, install a Chrome extension, or even run a fully-featured Linux app (yes, you read that right).

We believe that the best way to explain how to set up Chromebook VPNs is by giving you a concrete example. With this said, we think you should pick ExpressVPN for this task. This is possibly the only VPN that supports multiple installation methods, covering a vast range of Chrome OS users.

In case you’d like to check other options as well, here’s our overview of the best VPNs for Chromebooks available right now.

Don’t forget to take full advantage of your VPN subscription. In other words, learn how to install a VPN on any platform or device, as explained below.

How to Set up a VPN on a Chromebook in 2021 – 4 Different Methods Explained!

These are the 4 different methods to install a Chromebook VPN in 2021:

Method #1: Use a Native Chrome OS (Android) App

Tip

While newer Chromebooks support Android apps by default, you need to enable this option on older models manually. Do this by going to Settings > Apps > Google Play Store, and then click and enable this option.

If you can’t find this option, this means that you can’t install Android apps on your notebook (check out other methods, found below).

For this purpose, you need a VPN that comes with a native Android app (even better if it’s optimized for Chromebooks). You won’t go wrong if you pick ExpressVPN (use the provided link to subscribe), which works amazingly well on a range of Android and Chrome OS devices.

So, here’s how to set up a VPN on a Chromebook by getting a native app.

  • We’ll assume that you’ve signed up for ExpressVPN by now. This means you have your user credentials with you, as you’ll need your username and password soon enough.
  • Now, launch the Play Store on your Chromebook. If you don’t see it on your screen, you can click on the bottom-left circle-shaped icon, which will open all your installed apps. From there, launch the Play Store.
  • Take a look at the top of your screen, and you’ll see a search bar. Now, type in “ExpressVPN” into this field, and the Play Store should return relevant results. Go ahead and select ExpressVPN by clicking on its icon.
  • Click on the “Install” button. Agree to any permissions you’ll see on the screen, and the VPN app will now download and install. Then, open the VPN application. You should be greeted by its login screen.
  • Finally, use your ExpressVPN username and password to log in. Select if you’d like to share anonymous information (for diagnostic purposes), and make sure to give ExpressVPN your permission to create new VPN connections. That’s it!

Keep in mind that ExpressVPN will protect all your incoming and outgoing data – but only if you use Chrome OS version 64 or later.

If you use an older Chrome OS version, only the apps downloaded from the Play Store will be protected by this VPN. Make sure to update your Chromebook to the latest available Chrome OS version to receive full protection.

Method #2: Set up a Chromebook VPN Manually

Tip

This method allows you to use the L2TP/IPSec protocol. This is a weaker protocol in comparison to what you’ll get with your VPN’s native Android app (usually based on the OpenVPN protocol). However, it’s still suitable for anonymization and changing virtual locations.

To go through this installation method, you need a VPN that provides a list of server addresses and other required information. In our experience, the best VPN for creating manual VPN configurations is none other than ExpressVPN (don’t forget to subscribe first).

So, here’s how to set up a VPN on a Chromebook by configuring it manually.

  • First, you need to obtain your credentials and server addresses. Visit ExpressVPN’s website and click on “My Account.” Then, log in to your user dashboard and click on “Set Up Other Devices.”
  • Then, make sure to pick “Manual Configuration” and switch to “PPTP & L2TP/IPSec” on the right side of the screen.
  • Take a good look at this page (and also leave it open until you’re done with this procedure). At the top, you’ll see your custom username and password. And at the bottom, you’ll see a list of ExpressVPN servers. Each server comes with its own server address, which you’ll need soon enough. So, keep this page open, and let’s continue setting up a VPN on your Chromebook.
  • You now need to visit your computer’s settings by clicking in the bottom-right corner and then using the gear icon. You should see your Chromebook’s setting panel on your screen right now.
  • In the “Network” section, select “Add Connection.” And then, pick “Add” next to “OpenVPN/L2TP.” You will now see a new window asking for a bunch of information. So, let’s see what needs to be typed in here.
  • In the “Server Hostname” field, you need to input the server address of the chosen server (from the page you have already open). Then, pick any name for the “Service Name” field – and make sure to use something easy to memorize. For the “Provider Type” field, you need to go with “L2TP/IPSec + pre-shared key” – and also, your pre-shared key should be “12345678.”
  • Leave all other fields blank and stick to their default values, except for your username and password. You need to use your custom credentials here, from the ExpressVPN’s page you have already open. Finally, tick the box next to “Save identity and password” and click on “Connect.”

That’s it – you should now be connected to the chosen VPN server. To disconnect, simply hit the “Disconnect” button next to your VPN connection’s name. And also, keep in mind that you can repeat the same procedure if you’d like to add multiple VPN servers.

Method #3: Use a Chrome VPN Extension

Tip

VPN extensions for Chrome are typically proxies and not fully-featured VPNs. This means we don’t recommend them for doing ultra-sensitive tasks online. However, they can greatly help with media streaming and general Internet browsing.

Another way to set up a VPN on Chromebook is to use a Chrome extension. If you pick this route, we recommend going for NordVPN. This is one of the best VPNs for Chrome, where you’ll get to use a highly polished extension that brings plenty of extra features.

With that said, here’s how to set up a Chromebook VPN by using a Chrome extension.

  • First, you need to obtain your NordVPN subscription. Go ahead and sign up for NordVPN by visiting its official website. This will get you a username and password that you’ll need soon enough.
  • Now, open the Chrome Web Store using Chrome on your notebook. Use the top-left search bar to search for NordVPN. After a few moments, you should see a list of results. You can either open NordVPN’s preview or simply click on “Add to Chrome” on the right side of the page.
  • Chrome will notify you if any permissions are required, so you can easily review this information before installing the extension. Keep in mind that VPN extensions need a lot of permissions since they control your Internet connection, so it’s not unusual for them to ask to change your privacy-related settings, display settings, or read your data on the websites you visit. In the case of NordVPN, this data is anonymous, which is why we’re recommending it in this article.
  • A new icon should now appear in the top-right corner of your browser. So, go ahead and click on it to activate NordVPN. Sign-in using your credentials, and you should be ready to start using the VPN.

Method #4: Switch to Using a Linux VPN App

Tip

Chromebooks that were released in 2019 and later can run Linux applications. To enable support for Linux software, go to Settings > Apps > Linux (Beta).

If you can’t see this option, this means that your Chromebook isn’t capable of running Linux.

If you decide to use a Linux VPN app on your Chromebook, we recommend going for a VPN that offers an app for this operating system. Very few VPNs provide GUIs for Linux, and the chances are that you’ll use a command-line interface.

An excellent option, in this case, would be ExpressVPN, so here’s how to set up this VPN on your Chromebook.

  • Before entering this process, you should already have a subscription to ExpressVPN. If you haven’t done that yet, not’s a good time to obtain your VPN credentials. Then, proceed to log in to your account on ExpressVPN’s website. We recommend using a Linux browser for this purpose.
  • Once you open your account dashboard on ExpressVPN’s website (by clicking on “My Account” and using your credentials), click on “Set Up Other Devices” and then select “Linux.”
  • Take a look at the right-hand side and pick the correct version of Linux. The majority of you will be using Ubuntu, but you need to know if you’re using a 32-bit or 64-bit distribution. So, open the Terminal app on Linux and use the “uname -m” command. Check the number you’ll see – if it’s either 32 or 64, and then download the correct version of ExpressVPN. Once again, make sure to download this file using your Linux browser. If you download the file using Chrome on your Chromebook, then move the downloaded file to your “Linux Downloads” folder.
  • Now, run the installer you’ve just downloaded, or you can use your command-line interface to finalize the procedure. This means you need to open Terminal and navigate to the folder where you’ve downloaded the installer. By default, you should use the “cd Downloads/” command. Then, open the installer file using the “sudo dpkg -i [INSTALLER NAME]” command. When it comes to the installer name, make sure to carefully enter the name of the file, along with its extension.
  • Then, type in “expressvpn activate” and hit Enter. Return to your dashboard on ExpressVPN’s website, where you’ll see your unique activation code. Paste it into Terminal and hit Enter to activate the VPN. You’ll also be asked to share anonymous data for diagnostic purposes.
  • Finally, you’re ready to use ExpressVPN. To get started, you can use the “expressvpn connect” command to automatically connect to the nearest server. You can also use “expressvpn list” and “expressvpn list all” commands to see all of the available servers. Then, go with the “expressvpn connect [LOCATION]” code to connect to a specific server. Once you no longer need your VPN connection, go with “expressvpn disconnect” to shut it down.

FAQ

Do Chromebooks Have a Built-In VPN?

Some Chromebook models come with built-in tools for setting up a VPN (Network Settings > VPN > Add a VPN Connection). However, even if you have that option, you still need a valid and active VPN subscription. Therefore, Chromebooks come with a tool to set up a VPN – but they don’t have a built-in VPN, per se.

What’s the Easiest Method to Install a VPN on Chrome OS?

The easiest way to install a VPN on a Chromebook is by using an Android app (if your Chromebook runs Android apps, of course). This will help you protect all your incoming and outgoing Web traffic. We recommend ExpressVPN for this purpose.

Which One’s the Best VPN Extension for a Chromebook?

If you want a Chrome VPN extension for your Chromebook, we recommend using NordVPN. This one comes with high-end security, the ability to unblock websites, and it even includes some handy extras. To learn more, here’s our NordVPN review.

NordVPN or ExpressVPN – Which One’s Better for Chromebooks?

If you only need a Chrome extension, you should go with NordVPN. However, if you want a fully-featured VPN (and if your Chromebook supports Android apps), your choice should be ExpressVPN.

Should You Install a Free VPN on a Chromebook?

Our strong advice is to stay away from free VPNs. These can actually harm your privacy and security, as many of them leak personal data. That’s why we recommend using a paid VPN with a proven track record of keeping its users safe, such as ExpressVPN.

We hope that you’ll manage to install a Chromebook VPN without any problems. However, if you get stuck at any point, know that you can rely on us. Feel free to post a comment, and we’ll do our best to provide a timely response. And of course, enjoy using your VPN!

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