In response to strong user uptake of Mozilla’s new Sync service powered by Firefox Accounts, earlier this year we announced a plan to transition users off of our legacy Sync infrastructure and onto the new product. With this migration now well under way, it is time to settle the details of a graceful end-of-life for the old service.
We will shut down the legacy Sync service on September 30th 2015.
We encourage all users of the old service to upgrade to a Firefox Account, which offers a simplified setup process, improved availability and reliability, and the possibility of recovering your data even if you lose all of your devices.
Users on Firefox 37 or later are currently being offered a guided migration process to make the experience as seamless as possible. Users on older versions of Firefox will see a warning notice and will be able to upgrade manually. Users running their own Sync server, or using a Sync service hosted by someone other than Mozilla, will not be affected by this change.
Update: shutdown of the legacy Sync service has been completed. Users who are yet to migrate off the service will be offered the guided upgrade experience until Firefox 44. Firefox 44 and later will automatically and silently disconnect from legacy Sync.
We are committed to making this transition as smooth as possible for Firefox users. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org or in #sync on Mozilla IRC.
- What will happen on September 30th 2015?
After September 30th, we will decommission the hardware hosting the legacy Sync service and discard all data stored therein. The corresponding DNS names will be redirected to static error pages, to ensure that appropriate messaging is provided for users who have yet to upgrade to the new service.
- What’s the hurry? Can’t you just leave it running in maintenance mode?
Unfortunately not. While we want to ensure as little disruption as possible for our users, the legacy Sync service is hosted on aging hardware in a physical data-center and incurs significant operational costs. Maintaining the service beyond September 30th would be prohibitively expensive for Mozilla.
- What about Extended Support Release (ESR)?
Users on the ESR channel have support for Firefox Accounts and the new Sync service as of Firefox 38. Previous ESR versions reach end-of-life in early August and we encourage all users to upgrade to the latest version.
- Will my data be automatically migrated to the new servers?
No, the strong encryption used by both Sync systems means that we cannot automatically migrate your data on the server. Once you complete your account upgrade, Firefox will re-upload your data to the new system (so if you have a lot of bookmarks, you may want to ensure you’re on a reliable network connection).
- Are there security considerations when upgrading to the new system?
Both the new and old Sync systems provide industry-leading security for your data: client-side end-to-end encryption of all synced data, using a key known only to you.
In legacy Sync this was achieved by using a complicated pairing flow to transfer the encryption key between devices. With Firefox Accounts we have replaced this with a key securely derived from your account password. Pick a strong password and you can remain confident that your synced data will only be seen by you.
- Does Mozilla use my synced data to market to me, or sell this data to third parties?
- Is the new Sync system compatible with Firefox’s master password feature?
Yes. There was a limitation in previous versions of Firefox that prevented Sync from working when a master password was enabled, but this has since been resolved. Sync is fully compatible with the master password feature in the latest version of Firefox.
- What if I am running a custom or self-hosted Sync server?
This transition affects only the default Mozilla-hosted servers. If you are using a custom or self-hosted server setup, Sync should continue to work uninterrupted and you will not be prompted to upgrade.
However, the legacy Sync protocol code inside Firefox is no longer maintained, and we plan to begin its removal in 2016. You should consider migrating your server infrastructure to use the new protocols; see below.
- Can I self-host the new system?
- What if I’m using a different browser (e.g. SeaMonkey, Pale Moon, …)?
Your browser vendor may already provide alternate hosting. If not, you should consider hosting your own server to ensure uninterrupted functionality.