Even though it significantly trails behind the untouchable Google Chrome, Mozilla’s browser is still the preferred option for millions of folks online. Perhaps the biggest part of Firefox’s appeal is its FOSS (free open source software) nature and impressive security chops.
The browser also supports a plethora of excellent add-ons that allow you to manage cookies, block ads and more. Naturally, VPN support is also present via add-ons, but there are a bewildering number of options in terms of the best VPNs around. So how do you go about picking the right one for your exact needs?
- Check out the best VPN services of 2018
Best Mozilla Firefox VPN
Best all-round VPN
Number of servers: 2000 | Server locations: 148 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3
ExpressVPN offers more than 2,000 servers across 148 locations in 94 countries. In our testing, we found this VPN was a more than solid performer, particularly over long distance connections where it didn’t lose much speed at all.
The Firefox extension is rather simple and basic. There’s not much to do here: you can select a server, see your VPN status, choose to connect on browser startup and Block WebRTC to obscure your IP. The extension is not of the standalone variety so you must install the ExpressVPN app for either Windows or Mac for it to work.
On the security front, you get 256-bit encryption along with a zero-knowledge DNS solution and a network lock kill switch. ExpressVPN clearly states that it doesn't gather or log traffic data or browsing activity so your privacy will remain intact.
A quick look at the pricing shows that this service is a bit more expensive than most other VPNs. However, the provider has a 30-day ‘no-hassle’ money-back guarantee which is very much welcome as there is no free plan or trial. As usual, the 1-year plan (which currently boasts an additional three free months) offers the most for your money. The packages available are:
- [$12.95 a month] 1-month
- [$9.99 a month] 6-months - $59.95
- [$6.67 a month] 12-months (plus 3 free months) - $99.95
Number of servers: 2500 | Server locations: 25 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
The Hotspot Shield extension for Firefox is completely free with unlimited bandwidth. As is the case with the provider’s Chrome offering, one simple click is all it takes to connect. In terms of configuration options, you’re limited to choosing four server locations, but on the positive side, this extension isn’t ad-supported.
Our performance tests delivered some excellent results, with both upload and download speeds increasing a bit once connected to the VPN (almost by a third in terms of uploads). The company uses 256-bit encryption and privacy-wise there's the standard ‘no logging’ claim meaning the firm doesn’t track your online activities.
As mentioned, there is a location-limited free version, but if you upgrade to the Elite version of Hotspot Shield you get access to all virtual locations along with the benefit of cloud-based malware protection, and more. There’s a 7-day trial you can use to test the full service, which is just as well as it’s quite pricey, although the 2-year plan is quite affordable. The packages available are:
- [$12.99 a month] 1-month
- [$8.99 a month] 6-months - $53.94
- [$5.99 a month] 1-year - $71.88
- [$2.99 a month] 2-years - $71.76
Best VPN for novice users
Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 30+ | IP addresses: 3000+ | Maximum devices supported: N/A
Just by browsing the website you can see that ZenMate clearly pitches its offering to VPN novices. So it’s no surprise that the Firefox extension is very easy-to-use, allowing for a simple connect/disconnect, change of location and that’s about it. It’s important to note that the add-on is free but you have only four locations at your disposal, but you can subscribe to a paid plan that offers full access to all servers.
ZenMate yielded average but perfectly acceptable speeds during our performance testing – around 85% of our normal download rates over short hops, and 55% of our normal speeds over long distances.
As a German company, ZenMate is quick to point out it’s bound by strict data privacy laws stipulating that it must not track any IP or connection data.
Premium (paying) users get more server locations as we mentioned, along with automatic switching of locations based on the site being accessed, higher speeds, as well as malware blocking and tracking protection. There are three paid plans offering monthly, 6-monthly or yearly billing. The annual subscription is a fairly good deal. The packages available are:
Best free VPN
Number of servers: 520+ | Server locations: 100 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
With a rather unusual approach to a VPN service, Windscribe offers unlimited device connections (most providers limit you to five devices, or indeed fewer). Our testing revealed good performance levels, with only around a 10% loss on our regular upload and download speeds via local connections. Longer distances were a different story with slower speeds, though.
Browsing with the Firefox extension allows for some interesting options including different connection modes, a secure link generator, and the ability to remove all social media buttons and block tracking. The extension is also regularly updated, which is good to see.
The Canada-based provider’s free plan is one of the best in the business. You get 10GB a month data allowance if you register with an email address (2GB if not). Naturally, there are some restrictions – access to servers is limited to just 11 of them. If you want to subscribe and lift these limits (including getting unlimited data), you have three choices. The packages available are:
- Pro: Monthly plan - $9.00 monthly
- Pro: Yearly plan $49 - $4.08 per month
- Pro: Biennial plan $89 - $3.70 per month
Most affordable VPN
Number of servers: 180+ | Server locations: 63 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 1-5
This provider has over 60 locations in 47 countries on offer. In our performance tests, Invisible Browsing VPN got mixed results, with short hops seeing speeds well above average, but longer distance connections were slower.
The Firefox add-on is the usual run-of-the-mill affair: there’s one-click connect, location switching and the best server is selected based on your needs. You also get P2P support here, but it’s limited to a small number of servers.
The service supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, and SSTP security protocols. A kill switch and auto-reconnect feature are included and the provider clearly states that it doesn’t track its users’ online activities.
The price plan selection is rather interesting, and it’s organised according to purpose, with, for example, a plan aimed at torrent users. There is a 24-hour trial to check out the service, too. Pricing is affordable but bear in mind there is a one connection limit on all but the Ultimate VPN plan, which is the clear winner as it gives you all the goodies at a relatively palatable yearly rate (currently there is an exclusive 2-year deal for the Ultimate plan). The packages available are:
- Standard VPN [$1.54 a month] 1-year - $18.48 (or $2.48 billed monthly)
- Torrent VPN [$3.08 a month] 1-year - $36.65 (or $4.95 billed monthly)
- IBDNS/SmartDNS [$3.08 a month] 1-year - $36.65 (or $4.95 billed monthly)
- Ultimate VPN [$2.41 a month] 2-year - $58.06
How to choose the best VPN service for Firefox
Obviously, a big priority is being able to get around censorship on the web and unlock geo-restricted content. And if it’s streaming content you’re unblocking, you’ll obviously want good performance levels from your VPN, and a decent server count can help with that quest.
As Firefox can be a bit resource-heavy, the extension should be light and unobtrusive, with a solid mix of options for both basic and tech-savvy users. And it goes without saying that tight levels of privacy and security are a must.
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN services of 2018