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Best browsers with built-in VPN

Verified by Nick Jones

 The rising popularity of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is a testament to the importance of privacy and online security, as more and more internet users are turning to these tools to protect their online privacy. 

Standalone VPNs are easy to use and work seamlessly with popular browsers like Chrome and Safari. However, there’s a new player in town: browsers with built-in VPNs.

In this article, we’ll explain what a browser with a built-in VPN is, how to use it, and outline our picks for the best browsers with built-in VPNs.

What are browsers with built-in VPN?

These browsers are not just gateways to the World Wide Web; they are comprehensive tools designed to protect users’ online privacy and security.

Imagine having a bodyguard who not only opens doors for you but also ensures that no one is spying on you or following you around. That’s essentially what a browser with a built-in VPN does. It provides a secure pathway to the internet while shielding your online activities from prying eyes.

These browsers have a VPN integrated directly into their framework. A VPN is a technology that creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and the website you’re visiting. This VPN tunnel ensures all data passing through it is hidden from outsiders, making it nearly impossible for anyone – including your internet service provider (ISP) – to see your online activities or steal your data.

However, it’s important to be aware that these built-in VPNs are more akin to a simple proxy (routing your traffic through a secure server in a different location) than they are to a standalone VPN service. They often don’t offer the same features or customisation options and are usually much more limited in their abilities. Some also come with data limits (like the majority of free VPNs), and most of the time you won’t be able to choose a server location, making them useless for bypassing geo-restrictions.

The beauty of browsers with built-in VPNs is that they simplify the process of securing everyday online activities such as browsing the web. Instead of having to install and operate a separate VPN application, users can enjoy some of the benefits of a VPN simply by using the browser. If you only need basic protection and aren’t bothered about geo-unblocking or split tunnelling, this could be the solution for you.

Benefits of browser VPNs

Privacy

Browsers with a built-in VPN offer enhanced privacy. With a built-in VPN, your online activities are masked, making it difficult for third parties to track what you’re doing online. This is particularly beneficial in an age where online tracking is rampant.

Security

They also provide improved security. The VPN encrypts your data, making it unreadable to anyone who might intercept it. This is crucial when using public wifi networks, which can be unsecured or a hotbed for cyber criminals.

Ease-of-use

Lastly, browsers with built-in VPNs streamline the process of secure browsing by combining the functionality of a browser and a VPN into a single application. This means you can browse securely without having to toggle between different applications.

Why you shouldn’t use a browser with a built-in VPN

There are some downsides to using a browser VPN, and situations when using a VPN app would be preferable.

Flexibility

With a dedicated VPN app, you can select the server you want to connect to. This allows you to get the fastest speed possible, and choose the country you want your IP address to appear in.

Geo-unblocking

The majority of browsers with built in VPNs don’t support geo-unblocking, especially when it comes to video content.

Customisation

VPN apps enable you to use custom security settings or features such as split tunnelling. Browser VPNs do not.

File sharing

If you want to participate in P2P file sharing, then a VPN app is your best bet: browser VPNs don’t often support this function.

The best browsers with a built-in VPN

Our researcher has spent dozens of hours testing out each of these browsers, both with and without a VPN, to get a feel for how well they perform with everyday use.

Edge

Best browsers with built-in VPN Edge
The modern Edge browser has a lot of features that make it a compelling choice for privacy-conscious users (Microsoft)

Our hands-on experience with Edge revealed a browser that takes user privacy seriously. It’s not just about the standard features like tracking prevention, SmartScreen, and InPrivate browsing. The real game-changer is Edge’s integration of VPN technology with Edge Secure Network. This isn’t just a theoretical advantage; it’s a tangible layer of security that we experienced first-hand. And we’re not alone in our assessment. User reviews consistently highlight Edge’s robust security features, making it a top choice for those who value their online privacy.

Brave

Best browsers with built-in VPN Brave
The Brave browser automatically upgrades the sites you’re visiting to HTTPS, making them more secure for everyday browsing (Brave Software)

Our team found that Brave’s automatic HTTPS upgrades, third-party ad blocking and advanced privacy settings aren’t just marketing buzzwords; they make a real difference in how you experience the web. The built-in VPN is another testament to Brave’s commitment to security. User testimonials echo our findings, praising Brave’s robust security measures and privacy-focused features.

Opera

Best browsers with built-in VPN Opera
Unlike other built-in VPNs, Opera’s proxy allows you to choose an approximate server location to connect to (Opera)

Opera impressed us with its comprehensive approach to privacy. The built-in VPN and ad blocker aren’t just add-ons; they’re integral parts of a browsing experience designed with privacy at its core. User feedback and reviews underscore Opera’s commitment to security, and our testing confirmed this. Opera’s integrated VPN and privacy-centric features make it a strong contender in the realm of secure browsers. Unlike many of its competitors, Opera does allow you to choose a location, but it’s an approximate region – the Americas, Asia and Europe – rather than specific countries, so you still get the luck of the draw.

Aloha

Best browsers with built-in VPN Aloha
The Aloha browser is currently only available on mobile, but a Windows version is in development (Aloha)

Aloha stands out as a browser designed with mobile users in mind, though the company is in the process of developing a browser for Windows. Its built-in VPN and ad blocker aren’t just features; they’re necessities for secure browsing on the go. Our testing confirmed that Aloha’s strong security measures and privacy features offer real benefits that make it a popular choice for mobile users seeking enhanced privacy.

Epic Browser

Best browsers with built-in VPN Epic
The Epic browser’s built-in VPN allows you to choose specific countries where its servers are located (Hidden Reflex)

Epic Browser lives up to its name, offering a browsing experience that prioritises privacy with a built-in proxy and comprehensive tracking protection. Our testing confirmed that Epic’s robust security measures offer tangible benefits that make a real difference in online privacy. User reviews and feedback echo our findings, highlighting Epic’s commitment to privacy. Like Opera, Epic allows you to choose a location, but Epic’s advantage is that you can actually select specific countries – the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, the US, Canada, India and Singapore.

Best browsers with built-in VPN compared

Comparing these browsers, each offers unique security features and user experiences. While Edge and Opera offer comprehensive security solutions, Brave and Epic focus on privacy-first browsing. Aloha, on the other hand, provides enhanced security for mobile users. Each browser has its pros and cons in terms of security and privacy.

Feature Edge Brave Opera Aloha Epic
Built-in VPN Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ad Blocker Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tracking Prevention Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
HTTPS Upgrade No Yes No No No
Privacy Settings Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced
User Experience Smooth and intuitive Fast and privacy-focused User-friendly with free VPN Mobile-focused secure browsing Privacy-first browsing experience
Performance High High High Moderate High

Other most secure browsers

Other notable browsers with security-focused features include Firefox, Safari, and Tor. While these browsers may not have built-in VPNs, they offer a range of security features that help protect user privacy and enhance online security.

Summary

This article has delved into the world of browsers with built-in VPNs, shedding light on their features, benefits, and how they contribute to a safer online experience.

While these browsers offer a significant level of protection, they are not the ultimate solution for online privacy and security. This is where standalone VPNs, such as NordVPN, come into play. Standalone VPNs provide a higher level of security, more robust features, and greater flexibility. They offer a wider range of server locations, stronger encryption protocols, and more advanced features like kill switches and split tunnelling.

Browsers with built-in VPNs are a step in the right direction, but they are not a replacement for a dedicated VPN service. They are part of a broader security strategy; a layer in the defence against online threats and privacy breaches. For those seeking the highest level of online privacy and security, a standalone VPN remains the superior solution.

Frequently asked questions about browsers with built-in VPNs

Determining the ‘best’ browser for privacy isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, as it largely depends on individual needs and preferences. However, based on the information we’ve gathered, there are a few standout contenders that have made significant strides in prioritising user privacy, including Edge, Brave, Opera, Epic and Aloha.

You can browse privately by using a browser with a built-in VPN or a standalone VPN that covers your entire device. Also, make use of private or incognito modes in your browser.

Brave has indeed carved out a niche for itself in the realm of secure browsers. It’s known for its privacy-focused features, including automatic HTTPS upgrades, aggressive ad-blocking, and a built-in VPN, so Brave ticks all the boxes as the most secure browser.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

Mark Oldham

Writer

Mark is the IT Manager and a governor at Sir John Thursby College, in Burnley, having joined the college as an IT Technician more than 10 years ago. He also writes about IT, education, and cyber security topics, and has written a book, a guide to Windows 11.

For the Independent Advisor, Mark writes about the benefits of VPNs as well as cyber security and helping people stay safe online.

Nick Jones

Editor in Chief

Nick Jones is a highly experienced consumer journalist and editor, who has been writing and producing content for print and online media for over 25 years.

He has worked at some of the UK’s leading publishers including Future Publishing, Highbury Entertainment, and Imagine Publishing, with publications as diverse as Homebuilding & Renovating, TechRadar, and Creative Bloq, writing and editing content for audiences whose interests include history, computing, gaming, films, and science. He’s also produced a number of podcasts in the technology, science, gaming, and true crime genres.

Nick has also enjoyed a highly successful career in content marketing, working in a variety of topics such as health, technology, and finance, with market-leading global companies including Cisco, Pfizer, Santander, and Virgin Media.

Now the Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Advisor, Nick is involved in all aspects of the site’s content, where his expertise in finance, technology, and home products informs every article that’s published on-site. He takes a hands-on approach with our VPN content, penning a number of the articles himself, and verifying that everything we publish in this topic is accurate.

Whatever the area of interest he’s worked in, Nick has always been a consumer champion, helping people find the best deals and give them the information they need to make an informed buying decision.