Most people use a VPN (Virtial Private Network) for accessing websites that would otherwise be blocked, such as US Netflix if you're outside of the US. But a VPN also adds a layer of security by making you totally anonymous online.

You can get a VPN app for your computer, which will channel all of your internet activity via its servers. However, if you just want to use a VPN for some of your browsing and aren't worried about protecting the whole computer, you might prefer to use a VPN browser extension.

A browser VPN is ideal for using the internet on public Wi-Fi hotspots, to keep your personal data secure from time-to-time. If you sometimes like to use Netflix outside of your region, or BBC iPlayer from outside of the UK, they can be useful for that too.

A browser VPN is handy because they are quicker and easier to switch on and off than some VPN apps can be, but they aren't as completely secure as a VPN that protects the internet activity from your entire computer.

You'll find more in-depth information in our best VPN roundup, but here we share browser VPNs that you can download now.

NordVPN

NordVPN

Our pick of the best VPN available in 2018 has released a Chrome browser extension, adding to its portfolio of VPN products for iOS, Android, macOS and Windows.

If you already have an account with NordVPN you'll be able to use this browser extension at no extra cost. If you've yet to sign up, you can choose between four plans: 1 month for $11.95/£8.60, a year for $69 ($5.75/£4.25 per month) two years for $79 ($3.29/£2.35 per month) or the cheapest, which is three years for $99 ($2.75/£2 per month). Sign up here.

Once you've signed up, you can download the extension here and begin using it to protect web traffic through Chrome using a simple, easy to use tool.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Number two in our best VPNs of 2018 list is ExpressVPN, which also offers a handy browser extension. It's easy to use, offers a global VPN network and a kill switch, too.

ExpressVPN's extension is available for Google Chrome, and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. 

You can get ExpressVPN for $6.67/£4.83 per month if you sign up for 15 months, or $9.99/£7.23 for six months and $12.95/£9.37 for one. Sign up here.

Windscribe

Windscribe

Windscribe is another good VPN option with a browser extension available. In addition to a basic proxying service, 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 also 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.

Opera

Opera

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.

Tor Browser

Tor Browser

When it comes to online anonymity one name looms larger than all others. Tor has long been the refuge of those who want to avoid the glaring eye of government surveillance, or potentially sensitive data being hacked by nefarious parties.

Journalists use it to converse with sources, as do a number of other professions and general users.

The Tor browser is free and works very much like Firefox, as it appears to share the same engine.

Once installed you simply use it as you would Chrome or IE, but Tor recommends that you don’t install any plug-ins such as Flash and the like, as they can be a security risk.

Tor is already a byword for security online, and using it makes sense for those who value their privacy.