Most good VPNs come with several different application options, including separate browser extensions and desktop clients. Choosing between these can be tricky, especially if multiple options can be used on the same machine.
Many users have a hard time picking one because the difference between these options is unclear. If you fall in the same boat and can’t seem to be able to pick between using a VPN chrome extension and a desktop client, we’re glad you’ve reached this blog!
Here, we will talk about the pros and cons of both applications and which one to go for according to your unique security needs. Let’s get started!
So, what even is a VPN extension?
Even if you’ve never used a VPN extension before, we’re sure you’ve used at least a couple of browser plug-ins. A VPN extension works in much the same way. As a simple plug-in or an add-on, all you need to do to make your VPN work is download the plug-in application.
Compared to the full desktop version, this is a much more lightweight and user-friendly option that only works on the browser and doesn’t affect the rest of the traffic coming over to your device.
What does a VPN browser extension do?
Now that we know what a VPN browser extension is let’s talk about what these extensions do.
These work just like the VPN desktop client, hiding your original IP address and temporarily replacing it with the IP address of your VPN server. This keeps your browsing activities anonymous.
Installing a VPN extension on your browsers, like Firefox or Chrome, will only route the traffic of that browser through the VPN encrypted tunnel and the remote server. This extension won’t affect any of your other internet-related activities such as gaming, browsing from another browser, torrenting, or using the internet over other applications, like Skype.
Now that we know how all of that works, lets talk about what VPN clients are and how they are different from browser extensions.
Pros and cons
The obvious pros of using a VPN extension are that the application is lightweight, won’t overload your computer, and is super easy to use. They work well when you’re only looking to improve your online gaming experience or online streaming or downloading from websites.
These are also great when you’re not very particular about security as much as you want to get across geo-blocks, enjoy a fast internet connection, and avail deals and sales in other countries of the world.
The cons are that VPN extensions only secure your browser traffic and will not protect your entire online browsing.
What is a VPN client application?
As a desktop app, a VPN client application is a stand-alone VPN application downloaded to your device and routed your entire internet traffic through the encrypted tunnel. Like the browser extension, this one connects you to the internet through a remote and secure server.
After you’re connected, your entire communication with the internet is encrypted so that even if an inceptor manages to make their way in, they won’t know what information is being exchanged.
The main difference between a VPN client and a browser extension is that a VPN client will secure your entire internet traffic instead of browser-specific traffic in the case of an extension.
Pros and cons
Let’s start with the pros. One of the best features of a VPN client is that it will secure your entire internet traffic instead of just your browser traffic. These are generally also a lot faster than VPN browser extensions and will reduce any lags and latency down to a negligible minimum.
Now, while some VPN offers the same encryption level in both the extension and the client, for those that don’t, the encryption level offered is higher for the client—making it more secure.
Some VPN clients require at least a basic level of technical knowledge and skill to install and configure it to work correctly to point out the cons. But this isn’t as much of a problem as it is a hassle; customer service specialists are often ready to offer a hand to their customers.
So, should I opt for a VPN client or an extension?
As is evident, both extensions and clients offer different pros and cons, and at the end of the day, it all boils down to your intention behind getting a VPN.
If you’re getting one for purely cybersecurity reasons, a VPN client is a much better idea. However, if you want to benefit from the streaming and gaming advantages, perhaps it’s a much easier option to download a browser extension.
Before making your choice, make sure you do your research because several incredible VPN providers offer both in the same subscription.