There are many different desktop VPNs on the market, but only some of them offer an extension to a browser. On the other hand, there are a few VPN vendors who provide their service only via an add-on to a browser. In today's post, we will explain the key differences between each (e.g. desktop vs. browser add-on), so you know which solution is the right one for you.
When it comes to Windows VPN solution there are basically two types of VPN solutions (besides free and paid). The desktop VPN which runs as a standalone application and protects your whole computer, and browser VPN which is installed as add-on/extension to your browser and protects only your browsing session.
What is Desktop VPN?
The first one is called desktop VPN and it runs as a standalone application which you need to download, install and run in order to be protected. The main advantage is that once you connect to the VPN server, it encrypts all traffic from your computer to the Internet. That includes any game you play, any program you run or any site you visit.
Desktop VPNs are typically paid and will cost you around $10 per month. Our recommended vendors are NordVPN and ExpressVPN. You can also check the current list of the top 5 best VPN solutions for Windows.
What is Browser Add-on VPN?
Browser VPN which is works as add-on or extension to your browser works on the same principles as the desktop VPN, but only encrypts the traffic within the browser.
So for example, if you add a VPN extension to your Google Chrome it will only work for the particular browser. It won't protect your privacy in games or any other apps.
The good thing about browser VPNs is they are mostly free. On the other hand, they are typically slower, because of the low-cost high-traffic infrastructure. Also, the level of security is much lower as some of them act as a proxy rather than a full VPN server (read the differences between proxy and VPN). Often they make money by selling your valuable browsing data to third-parties.
Conclusion & The Key Differences
Both desktop VPN and browser VPN are protecting your identity and encrypting your traffic. But each of them on a different level.
- Desktop VPN is protecting all traffic coming from your computer. It is also much faster and reliable. On the other hand, it is typically paid and will cost you around $10 per month.
- Browser VPN add-on/extension is protecting only your browsing session, nothing else outside of the browser. Also, the level of protection is much lower as it acts more as a proxy then a real VPN connection.
Major differences are in the table below.
|Feature||Browser VPN||Desktop VPN|
|Hides your real location||✅||✅|
|Hides your real IP address||✅||✅|
|Protects your privacy||❌||✅|
|Unblocks geo-restricted content||Only some||✅|
|Doesn't slow down your connection||❌||✅|
|Works on games and other apps||❌||✅|
If you are serious about your privacy and online protection, we definitely recommend going with the desktop VPN. For small monthly payment, you can get a real deal VPN from a reliable and proven vendor. Even the free ones are much better than any browser VPN. If you run desktop VPN, there is no need to use any browser VPN extension.