The internet has evolved into an essential component of our daily lives, and its use in American homes has increased by 400% in the past 20 years. According to the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future the number of hours we spend on the internet every week has risen from 9.4 (the statistic back in 2000) to 23.6. Overall internet penetration has increased from 67% to 92%. That’s all time that you’re spending on a specific internet browser, whether it’s Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, or what have you. No matter your choice, it’s helpful to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of every choice out there. Not all browsers are created equally, so we’ve compiled a list of each one’s strengths and weaknesses:
Is it time for you to make a switch? Check out the stats below and decide for yourself!
1. Google Chrome
With the monolithic Google behind its creation, it’s no surprise that Chrome is fast, efficient, and user-friendly. It’s got pretty much anything you’d need to make the most of the web, like quick answers in your address bar, one-click translations, and a wide variety of extensions and customization options.
Chrome will also automatically protect you from security issues like scamming and phishing, making it pretty safe to browse with, too. Just as Google is the most popular search engine, Google’s Chrome is currently the most popular browser. Chrome’s popularity has led to a surplus of extensions and websites catered to the browser, making it a highly customizable experience to boot.
As powerful and popular as Chrome is, the browser is not without fault. In order for it to achieve its impressive speeds, Chrome needs to take extra resources from your PC:
Chrome splits every tab, plugin, and extension into its own process – that’s how it manages crashes so competently. The downside is that means it’s far more taxing on RAM since it’s duplicating tasks for each tab. Chrome is one of the ‘heaviest’ browsers and can get swarmed by bloatware, making it less than ideal for machines with limited RAM. There’s also the mounting suspicion of tying your data to Google, and if privacy is your concern you should likely look elsewhere.
2. Mozilla Firefox
One of the earliest browsers out of the gate, Firefox brings to mind two things: Privacy and speed. While other browsers that capitalize on privacy do so at the cost of loading speed and/or heavier use on system resources, Firefox manages to succeed on both fronts, achieving a browsing experience that gives Chrome a run for its money.
Mozilla is a non-profit organization, meaning it’s got far less interest in mining and selling your data than, say, Google Chrome. Firefox also updates on the regular to bolster user privacy and ad-blocking. Its combined speed and safety put it at the top of TechRadar’s web browser ranking as recently as September 2018, claiming that Firefox has “retaken its crown” in recent months, and is now deserving of another look from avid Chrome users.
Firefox is fast, but it’s not always faster than Chrome. This is mostly apparent on pages with tons of images or videos, at which point you’ll probably want to simply install an add-on or extension to either speed it up or block them. This brings us to Firefox’s second weakness: If you start installing extra plug-ins to customize your experience to the same extent as Chrome, Firefox will start to lag noticeably behind the competition.
Lastly, Firefox doesn’t have built-in support for Flash. Flash is notoriously dangerous, so this isn’t so much of an issue in 2018 when the internet is largely abandoning the platform. Even so, just like Apple got a negative response for removing the aux jack, we feel it’s necessary to mention any upgrades that leave old tech in the dust.
3. Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge the default browser for Windows 10. As such, it does a decent job of keeping in line with the speed, intuitive UI, and ‘clean’ aesthetic of many facets of Windows 10. Edge holds its own by modern web standards, and additionally offers a few capabilities you won’t get in other browsers: Webpage markup, integrated Cortana features, and a clean-cut reading mode.
Recent updates have also included a Tab Preview, Set Aside, ebook reading, and a handful of nifty extensions. Edge also no longer uses the infamous ActiveX, browser helper objects, or VBScript support that made Explorer slow as dirt. Edge is easily a significant improvement over Internet Explorer in terms of speed, accessibility, and compatibility. It also weighs substantially less than Chrome, meaning you’ll have a less bloated browser experience, albeit a more bare-bones one.
Edge has struggled to achieve market share, mindshare, and positive reviews. The first three months of 2018, Microsoft Edge pulled a less-than-impressive 8% of the 1.2 billion visits to government websites from consumer and business PCs and Macs. This figure isn’t wholly reliable for another reason that Edge gets a lot of flak: The browser is not even available on any Windows OS older than 10, or if you’re using a Mac.
The real head-scratcher is why Microsoft feels the need to support multiple browsers for different Windows Operating Systems when they could just work to make Edge backward compatible. Doing so would certainly help give it some much-needed traction. For more reasons why you might find Edge disappointing, check out this article.
Opera is as underrated as it is high-quality, and it’s certainly both of those things. Opera is a Chromium-based software, which means it’ll feel similar to Google Chrome when it comes to facets like rendering, and was the flagship for popular modern browser features such as private browsing and pop-up blocking. Opera also offers a free VPN that will replace your IP address with a new one, making it more difficult for ads to track your location and harass you.
Opera pushes a focus on privacy and like Edge offers a simple, intuitive layout, and has built-in messenger services like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Messenger, making it altogether a quick, smart, intuitive browser that go toe-to-toe with the competition.
Opera doesn’t offer as many plug-ins as other browsers and it’s also lacking in parental controls (if such a thing matters to you). Occasionally the browser will also have issues playing videos or have trouble keeping pace with other browsers like Firefox. Moreover, there’s no shining reason why a person would switch to Opera. It performs everything a browser should, but doesn’t really excel in anything either. For speed, people go to Chrome. For customization,they go to Firefox. With Opera, there’s little pull to use it when compared to the competition; most people have a strong reason for using one browser or another and being caught in the middle isn’t helping its case.
Safari’s got the home field advantage with the Apple crowd. It’s the default browser for all the company’s products, mobile or otherwise, and Safari has become intertwined with the Apple experience. Apple does a solid job with security, and Safari is no exception. Browsing with Safari is a ‘better safe than sorry’ experience and can be further optimized quite easily to bump your protection even higher. Safari uses default pop-up blocking, which is always a huge plus.
If you’re an Apple user, Safari is still an excellent browser, even 15 years after its release. It’s already preloaded on all Apple products, so it’s at your disposal immediately and seamlessly works in tandem with all software produced by the company.
If you’re not an Apple user, then Safari is useless to you. Microsoft products want as little to do with the competition as possible, so if you’re in with Microsoft you may never even use Safari. Besides the enhanced security options, there also isn’t a ton you can do to customize Safari, meaning that you’ll get a good, safe experience but not necessarily and adjustable one.
Why we like Brave
Much like Firefox prioritizes user privacy, Brave automatically blocks any third party trackers, shutting down anything that might worsen your browsing experience such as third party cookies, pop-ups, and ads. None of that even makes it past the first line of defense. From that point forward, the rest is up to the user.
Brave is fast (up to eight times faster than the mobile competition), offers extensions that you’re familiar with, shields you from third party trackers, and because Brave blocks excessive third party requests, you’re actually saving money on your data plan. But then we get to the age-old dilemma of publishers and advertisers not generating revenue due to blocked ads.
Brave has an answer for that too:
How Brave solves the ad problem
With Brave, users can always select an ad-free browsing experience. However, Brave introduces a new private advertising platform that users can opt-in to and receive rewards for their attention. Users who elect to view ads earn Brave’s Basic Attention Tokens (BATs) which can then be used to support publishers and content creators, distributing your monetized attention how you see fit. You’ll then benefit from better ad-matching, and your data remains private.
Thirty percent of the ‘revenue’ gained from watching the ads goes to Brave, while the other 70% goes directly to the user. Should you choose to browse with Brave Rewards, your data stays private and you’ll still benefit from more accurate ad-matching and reception of Basic Attention Tokens. If this sounds like a feature you’d be interested in, you’ll be happy to know over 33,000 content creators and publishers are already registered receive tips and contributions from their users.
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