How did you end up with the web browser you’re using today? Did you choose it for a particular feature that makes your life easier? Maybe it’s just a popular name that you trust or perhaps it simply came with your computer? However you ended up with your web browser, have you considered if it’s the best fit for you? You may be surprised at the variety of options available. Let’s take a look at our top picks and why you might want to give them a try.
Why Make a Change?
“Aren’t all web browsers basically the same? Facebook looks the same to me in Chrome as it does in Firefox.”– Everyone ever
It’s true, most modern web browsers display the internet in more or less the same way. If you spend a fair amount of your time online though, you its worth being aware of the available options – especially if you spend a lot of time online. A small change to a task you perform dozens of times of day can make a big impact. Improvements to security, efficiency, appearance and usability are all factors in play.
Maybe you have an older computer whose battery isn’t what it used to be, or it runs a little slower. More seasoned internet travelers might like all of the options that you can get when it comes to how a browser looks or behaves. Or you could just be looking to see what’s new and might be worth a try. If that’s the case, then this list may help you decide which web browser is right for you.
A popular choice for the person with all the open tabs
Mozilla is a name that’s been around for quite awhile, and tends to be well-known. It’s a great choice for people who are tired of having their browser slow down when have multiple pages open at once. It also offers a plethora of add-ons and integrations similar to Chrome, but without sacrificing speed or such high levels of memory to do so.
Mozilla is also a key proponent in privacy and security online. They boast extensive tracking protections that many other browsers don’t. They also offer some innovative features like being able to take a browser screenshot simply by right-clicking and being able to sync what you’re looking at across your devices. While it’s interface isn’t as sleek as some, Mozilla is a well-rounded staple in the browser landscape. It may be a great fit for the multiple tab enthusiast that’s looking for a trusted name with plenty of features.
You can visit Mozilla to learn more.
- Features for convenience and customization
- Fast, even with multiple tabs open
- Consumes less memory than Chrome
- Privacy and security focused
- Slower than some newer alternatives
- Not as financially stable as corporate funded competitors
Best web browser for conserving your battery and binge-watching your favorite shows
Edge is another well-known option because of it’s ill-favored predecessor, Internet Explorer and their subsequent attempts to reboot it. Don’t be too quick to judge it based on its ancestors though, this browser has had quite an upgrade. Microsoft rewrote Edge using the open-source Chromium web browser engine. This new version was launched in the beginning of February of 2020 as a separate, stand-alone browser. Now, it’s beating most of its competitors in speed and both memory and energy efficiency. For these reasons, it comes out as one of the best for streaming movies and shows without killing your battery.
Edge also offers functionality similar to Chrome at a much faster pace, and with more clear-cut security and site permission settings. It also offers features such as read-aloud, the ability to utilize Chromecast and a fairly decent selection of add-ons. So if you’re looking for low-frills and high performance, Edge may be a good browser option to consider.
You can read more on Microsoft’s site.
- Faster than many competitors
- Low memory and energy consumption
- Great for streaming media
- Many dislike the origins or company practices based on its predecessor
- Less custom options and add-ons than some competitors
The top choice for privacy and security
Tor is a newer contender on the scene, but it has sure made an entrance and established itself as a privacy powerhouse. It encrypts your traffic three times on different relay servers, which are operated by volunteers all over the globe. Every step removes a single layer of encryption, so the full message cannot be accessed at any given stage by prying eyes.
Great security does however also come some drawbacks, such as slower speeds as the information has further to travel. It also doesn’t support as many plug-ins as some competitors due to privacy concerns, nor does it offer protection against malware on it’s own. But it certainly makes it much more difficult for you and your activities to be identified online. Especially if you pair it with a VPN (read more about what a VPN is, and what it does in our private browsing article). So if security is your highest priority and you don’t need many extras, Tor could be the browser for you.
- Protection from tracking and fingerprinting
- Completely private and anonymous browsing with layers of security to thwart snoops
- Sacrifice speed for layers of security
- Many plug-ins aren’t compatible
The customize your own features web browser
Vivaldi is truly a unique choice when it comes to web browsers, mostly because no two users will have the exact same set up with all of its options for customization. Users essentially pick and choose from extensions (including compatible Chrome extensions) to create their own distinct gateway to the internet. And when it comes to credibility, Vivaldi was created and built by Opera co-founder (and former CEO) Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Tatsuki Tomit. Opera still remains a favored browser for some, being one of the longest running options out there, so odds are this one will stand the test of time as well.
Vivaldi also comes with other features outside of extension compatibility with Chrome. One of the most noted is the powerful tab management. Essentially by allowing users to group or stack them, it eliminates that endless scroll through to find pages if you’re looking back and forth between two of them in multiple tabs. There are also features like web panels, and searches powered by Duck Duck Go which is held in high regard for privacy and tracking protection. Vivaldi could be an excellent choice for someone a bit more seasoned in the realm of computers who wants to customize their own experience.
- Tracking and ad protection
- Compatible with the vast majority of Chrome extensions
- Great customizable tools for organization
- Backed by knowledge from successful browser creators
- Can be a bit technical for some
- Can be slower than some other options
- Can cause a “rabbit hole” of wanting to keep customizing or looking at add-ons instead of doing actual work
The new browser on the block worth mentioning
You may not have heard of Brave yet, but when it comes to web browsers, it actually beats most others in speed, privacy and energy consumption. So how does this whippersnapper manage to outrun the others? By blocking ads on every site that you visit and only allowing certain things through. Ads take up a great deal of resources on a page and by eliminating them, Brave has come up with a smart method to narrow the factors that can affect a browser’s speed. Not only that, but it offers a built in password manager, tracking and fingerprinting protection, and compatibility with many of Chrome’s extensions as well.
Brave is growing, with talks of adding their own version of secure video chatting software built in, their own search engine and more. Some have criticized their approach to advertising as they sort of super impose their own ads into the browser. However, that ad system pays 70% of ad revenue to Brave users who opt into the system, called Brave Rewards. The system sounds great in the theory, but has recently come under scrutiny for potential misuse of its own.
While their PR reputation may not be spotless, Brave’s speed and performance are unrivaled and continue to push the browser landscape forward.
- Less website ads
- Ads are on an opt-in basis and users can receive funds to support them by participating
- Fast, reliable, private
- Many integrations and still more to come
- Transparency of company practices
- Still young compared to most other options
- Seem to be more money motivated than some other open-source browsers
Current web browser trends
Chrome is the dominant web browser on the market these days. With the highest levels of extensions, Google search power, integrations across platforms and more – it’s a great well-rounded browser option for just about any level. It may be the most well-known and pretty secure, but Google still tracks your info when you’re signed in, which can cause some privacy issues. It also uses up quite a bit more memory more than most of it’s competitors.
Just because Chrome may be the most popular browser out there, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right choice for everyone. Chrome offers a great experience to be sure, but if you’re not looking for bells and whistles (especially at the cost of memory or speed) it may not be the best option for you.
It’s all about what you’re looking for
When it comes down to it, asking yourself what you really want from your browser is key to knowing which is the best fit for you. Whether basing it on traditional categories such as speed and security, or considering how it fits into your daily routine, there is no shortage of options. Just remember that outside forces can influence speed and security, so it’s worth considering how your browser can help to simplify your daily routine as well.
Finding a good web browser is like finding a good pair of shoes, to get what you want you may have to try a few on first.