The Top 3 VPN Extensions for Mozilla Firefox
A search for "VPN" among browser extensions in Mozilla Firefox will return more than 100 results. The good news for users who place a premium on their online security and privacy: Day-by-day there are more and more providers of these services. The bad news? As a result, the market has become cluttered and confusing. Which provider can or should be trusted? What is the difference between VPN browser extensions and desktop clients? Free or premium? Below, we'll answer all of these questions and introduce you to our Top 3 favorite VPN extensions in Mozilla Firefox.
Differences Between a VPN Client and a VPN Browser Extension
When searching through Firefox ad-ons a number of misnomers and inaccurate descriptions can be found, especially for VPNs. By and large, browser "VPNs" aren't actually VPNs at all, since such networks can only be created on an operating system, and not a single program or app. To better understand this, just think about how your operating system connects to the Internet, after which your browser, app, or other program subsequently uses that connection. VPNs work in much the same way, providing a "tunnel" through which your Internet connection (a road, for example) connects you to a VPN server, and ultimately, your search destination.
Here, a second important point should also be noted: A VPN encompasses all of your data traffic, irrespective of the program which is using the Internet, whereas a browser is simply one application (of potentially many) that utilizes your network connection to connect to the Internet. As such, browser "VPNs" only create a proxy connection which shields their traffic; nothing more. How effective this is depends, to a great extent, upon the type of encryption that the extension's "VPN" uses: While qualitative VPN clients use protocols such as OpenVPN, browser extensions tend to utilize less robust encryption, such as HTTPS.
In short: A VPN browser extension only protects data traffic in the browser, doing so with comparatively weak encryption, whereas a VPN client protects all data traffic sent over your Internet connection, not only that emanating from your browser. Our Top 3 best VPN browser extensions for Mozilla Firefox will show that there are exceptions to this rule, however.
Top 3 VPN Extensions for Firefox
Mozilla Firefox's status as one of the most commonly used browsers worldwide has not escaped the attention of VPN developers. As a result, most of the larger providers have released browser extensions compatible with Firefox. No 'silver bullet' exists for perfectly integrating functionality into a VPN browser extension, however, so each developer contends with the challenges that this poses differently. Our Top 3 below shows three different approaches to incorporating VPN functionality into Firefox:
ExpressVPN - The Safe Bet
ExpressVPN not only came in first in our 17-provider evaluation, its browser extension also performed superbly. Among the browser extensions we reviewed, it's something of an exception since its not a stand-alone program, but can only be used in conjunction with the provider's (desktop) client. As such, it is much more an integrated 'remote control' for the main client than a browser plugin which relies on creating a proxy connection from your browser to the client. For anyone who can accept the need to have both (desktop client and browser extension) you'll be able to enjoy the benefits of perhaps the safest VPN browser extension on the market.
The interface of ExpressVPN's Firefox extension is identical to that of the desktop client: Next to the big "Connect" button, you can select from all server locations, or even get recommendations. You can also set the browser extension to automatically connect to a VPN when you start Firefox. To configure further options or settings though, you'll need to head over to the desktop client.
With its Firefox browser extension, ExpressVPN sticks to its strengths, combining performance, security, and convenience in the best all-round package.
Windscribe - The Freebie
One too many lapses, particularly in terms of speed, ensured that Windscribe couldn't fight its way to the top of our exhaustive evaluation of VPN providers. However, Windscribe's freemium version is worthy of commendation: It offers a very generous 10 GB of data per month (across all devices) which should be enough for normal surfing as well as access to a comparably large number of servers (10 different locations).
Equally impressive were Windscribe's variety of added features, which contrary to expectations, are not reduced or limited in the freemium version: Using "Double Hop" mode, which is activated by establishing simultaneous connections in both the desktop client and browser extension, you're able to route your traffic through two proxy servers, making your connection even more secure. There's also an ad-blocker, and other features like "Split Personality", which rotates the user agent of your browser to make digital fingerprinting more difficult.
Windscribe was our pick for the best free VPN, and its Firefox extension certainly doesn't disappoint.
NordVPN - The Speed Demon
NordVPN was our price-performance winner, owing, in particular, to its very affordable 3-year subscription package. The provider's Firefox extension emphasizes simplicity and speed: With "Quick Connect", you can establish an instant VPN connection to a specific country, or choose one from a list featuring the last three countries you've connected to. For additional security, you can also activate "Cybersec", the provider's ad and malware blocker, and WebRTC leak protection.
Another advantage of NordVPN's Firefox extension is that it doesn't require installation of the desktop client. However, as we noted above, if you go this route, only your browser traffic will be protected and encrypted with HTTPS, in contrast to ExpressVPN's extension which encrypts all traffic (albeit only in conjunction with the desktop client).
NordVPN's Firefox extension makes a good impression with its variety of features and no-frills, fast performance.
Most VPN providers offer browser extensions, and considering Mozilla Firefox's global popularity, it is one of the browsers for which extensions are designed first. Detailed reviews of 17 of the best and most reputable VPN providers can be found in our exhaustive and authoritative comparison.
Maybe you're wondering why we've only included premium or freemium providers and services in this Top 3. Especially for mobile devices, there are seemingly endless numbers of "free" services which claim to offer VPNs or VPN browser extensions. However, these are "free" in name only, since you "pay" for them with your data. Because online security and anonymity are the reason why VPNs exist in the first place, and should be their primary focus, we only evaluated established providers, most of which charge for their services, or offer limited functionality for free. Should you still opt for a "free" service, we recommend carefully doing your homework on the provider, as well as what is installed on your device or operating system when using their service.