Opera is a desktop and mobile Web browser you might have heard of but never used. In fact, that just about sums up Opera's entire history. It's been around as long as Internet Explorer; it introduced a lot of modern browser features first; historically, it's fast and secure (especially now that it's based on Chrome); and somehow has never grown beyond a small loyal following.
Despite that, it keeps plugging away, and it just made news with a surprising claim. Opera claims that it's 45% faster than Chrome and 21% faster than Firefox at loading and running websites. However, there is a catch.
Opera's speed advantage only shows up when ad blocking is involved. Ad blockers are becoming more popular with Internet users who are tired of seeing ads everywhere, and especially with mobile users who want faster page-loading times over cellular.
While blocking ads does mean websites load faster, popular ad-blocking extensions for Chrome and Firefox can use a lot of resources and slow everything down again. An upcoming version of Opera, however, has ad-blocking built right into the browser, so there's no slowdown, or so it claims.
Of course, we should point out that ad blocking does have another side effect besides speed. Most online publishers offer their content for free and rely on ads for revenue.
By blocking online ads, Internet users are forcing publishers shift to paid content, or putting them out of business. So, if you use an ad blocker, consider turning it off on sites whose content you enjoy to show your support.