Using a VPN on a Chromebook

By June 20, 2018Chromebook, How-To
man on couch connecting to VPN on laptop

Chromebooks and VPNs: Adding an Extra Layer of Security 

Imagine working remotely and needing access to the private servers of your company. You would never access company data with someone looking over your shoulder, so why enable someone to do the same when you are connecting to a public network?

A VPN (virtual private network) is a network created to ensure a safe and encrypted internet connection. It is often used in settings where your regular connection is just not safe enough, like when you connect to a public Wi-Fi. Public networks are highly insecure, and there’s a myriad of ways you can lose your private information when you connect to one (Wi-Fi spoofing, as one example).

Having a VPN helps immensely and it’s the best way to secure data when you are connecting remotely anywhere. VPNs are growing in popularity, and, since Chromebooks are designed to be lightweight and mobile, the two go nicely hand in hand. It’s important to know how to set up a VPN on your Chromebook for that ultimate security, especially in the digital era.

Benefits of a VPN

First, the benefits to using a VPN on Chromebooks are quite apparent, even apart from hiding your online activity.

Increased Privacy

When you browse, you leave bits of data everywhere on the web. With a VPN, this data can’t be linked to you; it will just be linked to the VPN provider. This means websites and programs can’t gather personal data on you because you aren’t specifically “viewable” to them. This enhanced security is because VPN offers heavy encryption, which makes it impossible to gain access to your data when connecting to hot spots and Wi-Fi networks.

No Content Restrictions

You have probably stumbled upon the odd YouTube clip that is not available in your country. With a VPN, you can easily bypass such restrictions. VPN servers are located all over the world, and you can easily find one in the right country with access to information not available to you otherwise.

No Bandwidth Throttling

Some ISPs tend to throttle your speed when you are connecting to certain websites. For instance, your ISP might have issues dealing with Netflix because they have their own service they want you to have, or because streaming 4K movies and TV shows takes a lot of bandwidth that they wish to keep clear. By making watching Netflix impossible, they could force you to switch. Although there’s much to be said about such practices, and many disagree with them, there’s very little you can do about it. But by setting up a VPN, you can get around this issue and enjoy a smoother streaming and browsing experience.

How to Set Up a VPN on Your Chromebook

Even though many VPN providers offer “download and install” types of service, when using a Chromebook, in most cases you’ll have to do the grunt work yourself. Some VPN providers are creating apps for the Chromebook in the Chrome Web Store, so if you can find the right app, you’re all set. If you can’t, you will have to set up a VPN manually. Luckily, it’s not that complicated:

1. Import the Certificate

You will get the CA Certificate (a key) from your VPN company and you will be sent a file. After you do:

Open a tab > go to chrome://settings/certificates > click the Authorities tab > press import > select the certificate file.

A box will open, asking you what you trust this certificate to verify. Select the option that applies or leave it unchecked if you are not sure.

2. Enter VPN Network Settings

Here, you will need to enter the account and server information.

Go to your account photo > click the gear icon > go to Network > click Add Connection > click Add > Open VPN/L2TP

Next, you’ll need to fill in the required information including:

  • Server hostname: Server Name or IP Address
  • Service name: Name your connection anything you like
  • Provider type: OpenVPN most commonly
  • Choose the CA Certificate you installed from the list
  • User Certificate: Leave blank or choose one if installed. It installs the same way as a CA Certificate.
  • Username: Your VPN username.
  • Password: Your VPN password
  • OTP: Leave blank unless you have a token that generates one-time passwords.

3. Test the Connection

It’s active once you see a key symbol next to the Wi-Fi symbol.

It may sound overly technical, but using a VPN on a Chromebook offers a wealth of benefits and added security. Plus, the set up is a simple step-by-step process you can follow using this guide.