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Firefox VPN: all you need to know and how it compares to the rest

Firefox VPN
(Image credit: Mozilla)

Firefox VPN is here – although only for those in the USA. Late 2019 saw Mozilla launch its Firefox Private Network add-on, enabling Firefox users to encrypt their browser traffic when they need extra security – such as when connected to public Wi-Fi. 

The free (for now) browser extension is essentially a Firefox VPN-lite, only protecting browser traffic while leaving the rest of the device connected to an unencrypted connection. While useful for casual users, this simple extension can't compete with a true VPN.

Being developed alongside this project, however, was a genuine Firefox VPN (with, confusingly, the same name) – a fully-fledged virtual private network which encrypts your entire device’s traffic. With a launch date announced in June, the product is finally available and costs $4.99 a month with Windows, iOS, Android and Chrome OS all supported (but with macOS and Linux still in the works).

A 'full-device' Firefox VPN has been long-awaited and much anticipated by Mozilla devotees, and below you'll discover who can download the software, what it offers and how it's likely to fare against the biggest names in the VPN game.

The best all-round VPN

(Image credit: Future)

Though Firefox VPN does look promising, we still rate ExpressVPN as the very best VPN available. With excellent security, apps and connection speeds, it's the one to beat.

Tom's Guide readers can get three months free with a 12-month plan, so head to the ExpressVPN website to sign up now

Who can get Firefox VPN?

The full Firefox VPN may finally be available, but there are currently a few snags for users. Firstly, it isn't yet available to those living outside the US, and to get stuck into the Firefox VPN you’ll have to have a credit card linked to a US zip code. Users not in the States can register their interest and put their names on the waitlist, but they'll have to sit around until they're picked to test the software.

As mentioned above, Mac and Linux users will also be twiddling their thumbs, as software for these operating systems is still in the works. However, Mozilla is providing fairly regular updates on the progress of the project – split tunneling was announced recently, for example – so hopefully the brand-new Firefox VPN will soon be available on most devices. As for when the rest of the world will be able to get involved? We simply can't say.

Is the new Firefox Private Network a real VPN?

If you’re able to sign up to the new full version, then yes, the Firefox VPN is a true VPN. Backed by security-focused stalwart Mullvad, you’ll be getting a very similar product – but it looks like Firefox is putting more effort into its iOS and Android VPN apps than Mullvad has been known for.

As you'd expect, paying for this Firefox VPN will provide you no-holds-barred VPN usage, with unlimited data as well as the option to use one subscription over five different devices. Compared to the browser-based proxy, which only allows 12 hours of usage a month, this seems like a decent deal.

However, it’s unclear if Firefox VPN is simply a badge-engineered Mullvad, or if significant changes have been made to tailor the service to the average Firefox user. It’s interesting to note, though, that Firefox VPN retains the user-friendly flat-priced rolling contract scheme implemented by Mullvad – one of our favorite features of the Swedish VPN.

What does Firefox VPN offer?

Well, we know that the Firefox VPN uses only WireGuard, a fairly new and high-speed VPN protocol. It forgoes the old favorites OpenVPN and IKEv2 for modern tech, and that’s a bold move. While WireGuard is hardly untested, it’s not as well-known as the classic protocols – but we all have to move on sometime. 

However, WireGuard is known for delivering excellent connection speeds, so we have high hopes that Firefox VPN will be one of the fastest services on the market.

Firefox VPN has a small server location list of around 30 countries, but these are evenly spread across the world – and again, this is indicative of Mullvad’s involvement. If you sign up you’ll also be able to cover five devices with your one subscription, which should be enough for most, but isn’t incredibly generous.

How does Firefox VPN stack up against the competition?

The VPN market is getting more crowded by the day, and a number of providers have cornered their niches and command imposing presences. While we haven’t had the chance to test Firefox’s VPN in-depth, below we’ll compare what we do know about it with its three biggest rivals to see what the newbie’s up against.

ExpressVPN vs Firefox VPN

Firefox VPN - ExpressVPN

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

First up is ExpressVPN – probably the most respected and capable VPN on the market today.

In terms of price, Firefox seems like the better proposition – you’ll get a cheaper monthly price alongside a commitment-free rolling contract, whereas you’ll have to sign up for a year of ExpressVPN to get anywhere near $5 a month.

However, when we start to dig a little deeper we can see what that money gets you. While Firefox hasn’t published a server count, we can assume it’ll be fairly similar to Mullvad’s 660+. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, runs over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. That means you’ll have a much better chance of finding a great connection wherever you’re based.

Mullvad has always prioritised privacy above everything else, so we’d expect this to have rubbed off on Firefox VPN – although you’ll need to submit your email address to Mozilla, unlike its partner that offers anonymous logins as well as gift card and even postal cash payments. However, that’s not something ExpressVPN offers either. What we do trust is Express’s commitment to privacy, and we’ll have to spend some time with Firefox’s privacy policy to ensure everything’s up to scratch.

Finally, ExpressVPN offers a range of excellent browser add-ons, including one for Firefox – and these extensions are far more fully-featured than the free Firefox Private Network add-on. We're not sure what Firefox VPN offers in terms on add-ons, but we can only hope that they're more than simple proxies and deliver genuine in-browser power.

So, although there's a lot going for it, the new Firefox VPN can't quite stack up against Express – but for commitment-phobes, its rolling contract will be a big draw.

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Surfshark vs Firefox VPN

Firefox VPN - Surfshark

(Image credit: Future)

Surfshark has developed a great following in recent years, not least due to the fact it offers a truly premium product at a rock-bottom price. For $2 a month you’ll get pretty much everything you could want from a VPN – but again, you’ll only get that price if you sign a long contract.

Seeing as Mozilla’s browser is still a big hitter, many VPNs offer Firefox-compatible add-ons. Surfshark’s Firefox extension is one of the best, and fits nicely within the ecosystem. Again, we’d expect Firefox’s VPN to be incredibly well-integrated with its native browser, possibly offering dedicated functions not available in regular VPN extensions. Another option here is the free Firefox Private Network, which is a good option for infrequent users.

What's also untested (by us) with Firefox VPN is the user interface, and we know from experience than even the biggest VPN providers can have problems making their clients user-friendly. One of Surfshark's strongest suits is its excellent app design, which makes accessing its numerous features a breeze. 

However, even though it requires a lengthy contract, Surfshark’s price is unbeatable – and seeing as you get one of the very best VPN packages for less than $2 a month, Mozilla will have to do something seriously special to compete.

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NordVPN vs Firefox VPN

Firefox VPN - NordVPN

(Image credit: Future)

A huge name in the VPN market, NordVPN has over 10 million customers a powerful suite of security-focused VPN clients and apps. However, Mozilla has a good share of the browser market and prides itself on being a proponent of a safer, more secure internet, so it’s in a good position to get a foot in the door.

Nord has a massive number of features, but it also seems like Mozilla is constantly rolling out updates and new functions for its VPN – a recent blog post detailed how after speaking to its users it had developed a split tunnelling function. This is a very useful feature that many established VPNs lack, so that bodes well for its upcoming development.

Currently we can’t see any burning reason why you’d choose the Firefox VPN over a giant like NordVPN – unless, perhaps, you’re an avid Firefox user. However, we’re excited to see where Mozilla takes its development, and if it can create something that really can challenge the very best VPNs available today.

The biggest name in the VPN world is still one of the best
There's not much that inspires confidence more than having more than 10 million people making the same decision as you. If you're after stellar security and excellent functionality, NordVPN should be on your shopping list.
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  • If you can't make up your mind, have a look at the best VPN free trials