Setting up a virtual private network on a Chromebook running Chrome OS is a relatively simple affair that doesn’t change much regardless of your VPN provider. There are still some considerations and tricks that might help you get this over with as painlessly as possible, which is what we’ll be covering today.
Chrome OS VPN setup via browser extensions
Naturally, it’s prefered you go with a service that offers a Chrome extension seeing how a plugin allows you to start using a VPN almost momentarily by automating any potentially required configurations. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and a bunch of other popular names in the field offer this feature to their subscribers.
In fact, a Chrome extension is arguably the easiest way to get started with a VPN, period. Even if you’re using Google’s browser on another operating system, those very same Chrome extensions will still work.
Chrome OS VPN setup via third-party clients
A local VPN client works just as well in theory but given the niche nature of Chrome OS, it’s unlikely you’ll find a VPN that both suits your needs and offers native support for the specific Chromebook you happen to be using. After all, Chrome OS isn’t Windows 10, and thank Linus for that.
Instead of pointlessly hunting for Chrome OS VPN apps, you should redirect your efforts toward the following:
Chrome OS VPN setup via Play Store & Android apps
Thanks to a remarkable feat of computer engineering called Project Crostini, the vast majority of modern Chromebooks are quite capable of running Android apps downloaded directly from the Google Play Store. Here, the process is nearly identical to conventional Android VPN setups, though you should be aware VPNs don’t always work flawlessly when filtered through multiple layers of emulation.
More specifically, we wouldn’t recommend using an Android VPN app on Chrome OS for anything other than basic content unblocking because encrypting, decrypting, and rerouting your traffic isn’t something you want to be doing through numerous abstraction layers if e.g. you’re accessing censored news sources that could land you in trouble with your oppressive government.
Manual Chrome OS VPN setup (via L2TP)
When everything else fails, the Layer Two Tunneling Protocol will always come through. You can hence establish a VPN connection on a Chromebook by manually obtaining a certificate authority (CA) via “chrome://settings/certificates”.
After importing a CA, open Chrome OS Settings, go to Network, and click/tap the “Add OpenVPN/L2TP” option. What follows is the tedious task of typing in connection details obtained from your VPN provider. If you don’t have the required information, search for mentions of “manual configuration” on your provider’s website.
“How to set up a VPN on Chrome OS” was written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.
If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.