Browser-based VPNs: 3 to try if you want to improve online privacy

Easier to use and faster than typical VPNs, these lightweight privacy enhancers are handy.

a standalone virtual Private Network will almost always give you the strongest privacy protection possible, but for those of us who want something more lightweight that still enhances your online security, there is a growing suite of browser-based VPNs worth checking out. Easier to use than standalone VPNs, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Brave browser all now offer browser-based options designed to make you scroll faster while hiding your IP.

Here’s what you need to know about these browser-based VPNs and what they offer.

Best VPN Services of 2021

Browser-Based VPN vs Standalone VPN

There are three different types of VPN that you can choose from, and each offers a different layer of security.

First, routers are VPNs, which funnel the Internet activity of everything connected to your home Wi-Fi network into their servers to keep you anonymous. Second, there are VPN apps for your computer or mobile — a VPN app will protect your anonymity only on the device you have it on, such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

And finally, there are browser-based proxy services and VPNs. Sometimes browser companies erroneously call a VPN to make their proxy services more secure, but I’ve noted which ones below. Where desktop and mobile VPNs protect the anonymity of your entire device – all internet activity in your browser, email clients and file-sharing apps – browser-based proxies simply anonymize what happens in your web browser. They are less private and less secure, but far faster.

Whether or not you choose a browser-based VPN, we still recommend Edit your browser settings To take advantage of any existing privacy options you already have.


brave browser icon and logo

Instead of being just a simple proxy service, Brave’s built-in browser VPN for iPhone and iPad provides a complete encryption experience. Strong security often comes at the expense of speed, but it doesn’t when paired with the lightning speed of the Brave browser.

The browser feature called Brave Firewall + VPN is actually a combination of its VPN and its Brave Firewall security software that blocks trackers and malicious websites more thoroughly than most of its competitors. And unlike most other browser-based VPNs, Brave Firewall + VPN offers full device encryption. It runs $10 per month or $100 per year, and a subscription can be used on up to five devices.



Mozilla’s VPN experience has been a bit confusing. At first, its standalone VPN was known as Firefox Private Network and then Firefox VPN. Then Mozilla launched an add-on, renamed Standalone to Mozilla VPN, and called the add-on Firefox Private Network. Oof.

But the initial confusion is nothing to worry about. The Firefox Private Network add-on is a proxy service worth checking out if you want a light layer of privacy when browsing on public Wi-Fi. It doesn’t offer full-device encryption the way standalone Mozilla VPN does, but it doesn’t throttle your speed or hinder your browsing experience as much. It’s also easy to use: it’s single, on-off switch makes it easy to operate.

And yes, it is absolutely free. while we usually Never recommend using a free vpn, again, this isn’t really a true VPN: it’s a proxy service that provides extra privacy, not the full VPN suite of tools. If you want to really cover your tracks by upgrading to a full VPN, you should always use a paid VPN service with a proven privacy track record (Check out our favorite VPNs here)



There is no native VPN built-in to Google Chrome. Instead, you will need to use a VPN browser extension from your favorite VPN to get the same effect.

I recommend using the Chrome VPN extension from our Editors’ Choice VPN Service, ExpressVPN. You can use it on Firefox, Edge, Brave and . can also use Vivaldi browser. You’ll still need to download the full ExpressVPN app, but the lightweight browser extension allows you to streamline your VPN use to account for only geolocation changes and a few other core privacy features.

In October of 2020, Google launched its own standalone VPN as part of its $100 annual bundle package google one Customers with 2TB accounts. If you’re already a Google One user and looking for an extra layer of security when using free public Wi-Fi, this VPN could be a great fit for you.

If you are interested in asking corporations and government entities to keep your browsing, internet traffic and usage data private, however, I urge you to carefully consider Google’s long-term, story history to share and collect user data Before you use any of its products.

For more information about VPNs, check out our picks best cheap vpn, the fastest vpn, and How to choose the right VPN provider for work from home.

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