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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Mozilla this week began piloting its own browser-based VPN service, and if you're located in the U.S. you can start testing it for free right away.

Called the Firefox Private Network, the service promises Firefox users a more secure, encrypted path to the web that prevents eavesdroppers from spying on your browsing activity and hides your location from websites and ad trackers.

In that respect, it won't protect any internet traffic outside of your web browser, but it's a good option if you want to use an encrypted connection on the fly when you're using Firefox on a public Wi-Fi network, for example.


As a time-limited beta, the Firefox Private Network is currently free to try, although this does suggest it may become a paid service in the future. You also need to be a U.S. resident logged into your Firefox account using Firefox desktop browser.

If you can fulfill those pre-requisites, you can install the private network by navigating to this page, clicking the blue + Add to Firefox button, then granting permission for the network to be added to the browser.


Click the door hanger icon that appears at the top-right corner of the toolbar, and you'll see a switch that you can use to toggle the VPN on and off. A green tick in the icon indicates the secure network is active and your browsing activity is being encrypted.

Opera browser offers a similar free VPN service that cloaks your web browsing, but with the added benefit that it lets you choose the continent that you want your connection to reside. So if you're looking to access a location-restricted service (Netflix, say) from abroad, you might have better luck using it instead.

Article Link: How to Use Firefox Private Network to Encrypt Your Web Traffic


macrumors 65816
Jul 12, 2012
Looks like yet another subscription service is coming to a device near you.
This paid half-service is of no interest to me as I want a VPN that does the whole job.
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macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
Nice to see Firefox doing this. Supposedly version 70 (next major version) will fix the CPU usage for Firefox on Mac OS (although we'll see).

Can see Apple doing this at some point as well - but its not a free thing to do, so it'd be interesting to see how they did it.
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Digital Dude

macrumors 65816
Like I’ve been saying for years, utterly bizarre that VPN isn’t a default service provided by Apple.

I installed it to see how it performs. So far, I noticed it takes considerably longer to load pages and more so when attempting to view banking websites. While I've tried Firefox in the past with mediocre results, I'm giving this iteration a more serious try. Without using the VPN thing, the new Firefox is more robust and somewhat appealing. In some ways, I kind of like it. It's easy to toggle on/off from the icon. if I find myself in a public venue I'll turn it on.

While Apple is innovative, they don't always see things' through. They made history with the original mouse' only to bomb with subsequent versions. They made one of the best routers out there and then gave up on it. Safari is another example of a 'bologna and white bread' browser when compared to the competition. Same deal with Siri as they're nearly dead last behind Amazon and Google.

Perhaps Apple will come out with VPN at some point, but it will likely be in the form of Safari Pro ($) or similar.
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macrumors G5
Mar 10, 2009
VPN service is costly to run. A free VPN means there is something else being sold.

Remember that a VPN is a Virtually Promised to be Private network through someone’s servers.

"Normal" Internet speed VPN with no bandwidth caps is costly to run. ( a Fast one). Slower and 200-700GB per month cap wouldn't be so expensive. There are some free VPN services that are essentially subsidies by other offerings in the line up that are "for pay".

Somewhat like a "free trail" without a time limit. Or useful if only occasionally get onto public wi-fi networks. ( tunnelBear and ProtonVPN have 'free' options like this. )

Firefox's page says "Free for a limited time" . They need beta testers to scale up the throughput and trying it out of a wide variety of desktop configurations. The whole point is to make some money with it so they'll be charging at some point. ( income so less dependent on search engine contract )


macrumors G5
Mar 10, 2009
Like I’ve been saying for years, utterly bizarre that VPN isn’t a default service provided by Apple.

1. It costs money. While Apple buries some cloud service costs into their device prices ( i.e., iMessage overhead ) . However, VPN is a bigger "can of worms". There are only so many add-on services people are going to pay for. If there are more willingness to pay for other services ( at better margins ) then Apple will probably pursue those first.

2. It is logistically more complicated if scale up and somewhat localize available servers. ( Yes, Apple outsources a bunch of their media caching and web service 'helpers' out to cloud infrastructure vendors. But if Apple is doing their "it is run by us and we're super private" it is going to be harder to 'outsource'. ).

3. A substantive amount of VPN traffic isn't about privacy, but about circumventing media distribution limitations ( e.g., watch video from country x that is suppose to be in country y ). Apple being a more active facilitator of that just will cause friction with the content owners and distributors that are being breached. ( that kind of web traffic is also substantive more expensive. )

Breaking Good

macrumors 65816
Sep 28, 2012
This paid half-service is of no interest to me as I want a VPN that does the whole job.

Which "half" is missing?

Nothing is ever free. For any service you receive you are paying for it somehow. But I agree with you that if you are going to pay real money, whatever being provided should be worth real money. I'd just like to know what you think is lacking in Firefox's service.


macrumors regular
Mar 25, 2019
What? Firefox is fantastic browser, especially when it comes to security and privacy.
Trust me. I know. I started to work on the Mozilla codebase back in 1999. At that time it was still Netscape. My name is also on the about:credits page. As a contributor for something that you use every single day ;)


macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
What I hate about VPNs are how much they slow down your internet speed. I have 500Mbps and on VPN it's like 20-30Mbps. I do a ton of work online so it's not really an option.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 28, 2018
I can see it becoming a subscription for a fee in the future and only available on Firefox browser.


macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
Like I’ve been saying for years, utterly bizarre that VPN isn’t a default service provided by Apple.

Because that's a security and privacy nightmare. Some government want to see what you're looking at? Just intercept it at Apple. Need a pen register, which is a warrantless inspection and interception of traffic? Demand Apple to do it! Unlike end-to-end encrypted services like iMessage, by its very nature, the VPN endpoint sees all of your traffic.

Classic Blackberry used to do this, tunnel 100% of its traffic through RIM's servers Canada, and that caused it to be banned from many security-conscious companies and governments. That is, anything you did on a Blackberry was subject to international transit and Canadian searches. Companies had to spend extra money and set up BES, which was a tunnel-in-tunnel system.

VPN=automatically secure is just garbage pushed by shady VPN apps which analyze your traffic and are largely linked to China:
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macrumors 68040
Jul 10, 2012
Apple should have integrated vpn Service into Safari browser, apps, and mail for a long time now.
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