Choosing an internet browser is a lot like choosing a car to drive. Browsers play a major role in shaping your internet experience, and factors into things like how you experience websites, what extra functions you have access to, and most importantly, how safe you are online. In fact, a good browser can sometimes spell the difference between a clean PC and a malware-bloated machine.
At Komando.com, we understand that there’s a huge variety of browsers to choose from when surfing the net. Some come bundled with the computers we buy, while others are squirreled away online for us to research and use for ourselves. Top that with the sheer amount of extensions and add-ons you can get for your browser, and the whole thing becomes pretty confusing — even for the internet savvy among us!
That’s why we’re diving into some of the most popular web browsers on the internet, and putting them head-to-head to determine which one is really the best for your online needs. While each of these has something to offer users, you might be surprised to find out which one fits your personal lifestyle the best. Read on to see which browser reigns supreme.
The popular choice: Google Chrome
Google Chrome continues to dominate the world of browsers — and for good reason! According to surveys, 48% of Komando.com readers say they use Google Chrome, and this trend is widely reflected across the internet at large. Chrome’s biggest draw is its connection to Google.
Google initially developed the browser as a faster competitor to Firefox and Internet Explorer, but it soon eclipsed both after word got out. In truth, Chrome is a safe, speedy browser that’s compatible with nearly every page on the internet. More importantly, you have access to Google’s search bar right in the address field, so you don’t even need to visit Google.com to perform searches!
Chrome also gives users the ability to sign in with their Google account for a truly personalized experience. This will make search results for web and video more relevant to your browsing habits and can make opening documents and sharing things via email even faster and easier (you won’t need to sign in, after all).
For further customization, you can even install a number of extensions like dark mode, calculator, document signing, and Google Translate, just to name a few.
The browser isn’t without its drawbacks, however. Chrome is notorious as a resource hog, and it can drastically slow your computer down if you have too many tabs open.
Additionally, the perks of having your Google Account connected to your browser can quickly turn into downsides for the privacy-minded among is. If you’re uncomfortable with your browser knowing your searching and spending behaviors, Chrome may not be the best choice for you.
The choice for safety: Mozilla Firefox
Predating Chrome by 6 years, Firefox was the top choice for savvy Netizens in the early Aughts. Although Chrome has captured a large segment of its user base, that doesn’t mean the Fox is bad. In fact, Mozilla is greatly appreciated by fans and analysts for its steadfast dedication to user privacy.
For example, Firefox has begun automatically blocking third-party cookies by default and has an experimental feature that will automatically notify you if you visit a website that’s been hit by a data breach. On top of this, the browser’s Private Browsing mode can block website tracking, helping you have a far more private online experience than you would ordinarily.
Speedwise, Firefox isn’t a slouch either. The browser is lighter weight than Chrome and is capable of loading some websites even faster.
There’s even a library of extensions you can download. One thing that makes Firefox somewhat divisive, however, is its user interface. Many prefer the simplicity of Chrome’s design, which can make browsing the internet more comfortable. Still, if you’re looking for speed and safety, Firefox is a smart choice.
The default choices: Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge
We say “default” because both of these browsers come bundled with new computers! Safari is Apple’s baby, built to take advantage of the company’s native operating system for speed and efficiency.
Edge, on the other hand, fills a similar role in the PC space — quickly opening and running within the confines of Windows 10.
Both of these browsers are popular with users, but it’s difficult to determine whether this is because they’re pre-installed or because they’re preferred. Neither one has glaring drawbacks, but they tend to lack some of the security features and extensions found in more popular browsers.
Speedwise, however, both Edge and Safari are able to gain the upper hand against their competition. When it comes to startup time and functions, the apps are extremely lightweight on your system’s resources. This is because they’re part of the Mac and Window’s operating systems, respectively, and are optimized for performance in that environment.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with sticking to your pre-installed browser, but if you find the more basic features of Safari and edge a bit lacking, you may want to consider an alternative.
Honorable mention: Tor Browser
We’re laser-focused on privacy matters at Komando.com, so when we have a chance to recommend a privacy-centric browser, we’ll do so!
We’ve gone over Tor Browser before, and to date, it’s still one of the best anonymous web browsers available. It’s so reliable, in fact, that people living under repressive governments often turn to it for their internet needs — installing it on covert USB sticks to use on public computers.
Tor Browser runs on a modified version of the Firefox platform, so many of the former’s benefits are found here. As for flexibility, however, it lacks many of the extensions and extras found in Firefox.
What you can expect, however, is a nearly worry-free browsing experience in terms of anonymity. The way Tor works is by routing your internet traffic through a number of anonymous servers in different parts of the world.
This makes it difficult for ad trackers, search engines, and even governments to track who you are and what you’re doing. This commitment to privacy, however, can cause some webpages not to load completely.
Still, if you’re looking for the safest, most private way to browse the net, Tor should be your go-to. Just don’t expect every website out there to play nice with your browser.
How about mobile browsers?
This is a popular question that’s absolutely worth mentioning. When it comes to mobile browsers, you’ll typically experience condensed versions of the features you’ll find in the desktop editions.
One feature gaining popularity across nearly every mobile browser, however, is shared tabs. This means you can browse the web on your computer, close it down, and pick up where you left off on your mobile browser. The tabs you have opened will be saved on a separate page — and Safari, Chrome, and Firefox all offer this feature.
Still, you should consider keeping your browsers consistent between desktop and mobile. Safari on your iPhone and Chrome on your laptop won’t have the same kind of cross-platform connections you’d expect from going all in on Chrome.
What’s more, both Safari and Chrome are optimized for their respective devices (iPhone and Android,) so you’ll see deeper integration with the operating systems themselves. As an example, opening a link in the Mail app on iPhone will always open Safari — even if you have Chrome installed.
Ultimately, you may want to consider which mobile browser you’re using before deciding on your desktop browser. If you don’t care about linking your devices, though, choose what works best with your needs.
Dishonorable mention: Internet Explorer
In the year 2019, it’s surprising how many people still gravitate towards Internet Explorer — but it’s not entirely the fault of users. Many people are comfortable with their existing operating system and are hesitant to update and change everything.
Internet Explorer, as it turns out, was a casualty in Microsoft’s updates, so going to Windows 10 will completely replace the browser with Edge. This adds a brand-new learning curve for anyone trying to get their system up-to-date, so it’s understandable why there would be resistance.
Still, it bears repeating that using Internet Explorer at this point in time is extremely unsafe. Not only is the browser no longer supported by Microsoft, but it’s also vulnerable to a host of malware and adware threats. Expanding the features of the browser is also far more difficult than it is with Chrome or Firefox, making them more attractive options for power-users.
If you’ve ever seen a cringe-worthy image of a web browser covered in “toolbars,” advertisements, and pop-ups, it’s probably Internet Explorer. Do yourself a favor and make the switch, if you haven’t already. You’ll be glad you did.
Which browser is the best overall?
We’ve compared and contrasted all of the most popular browsers, but the ultimate choice really comes down to how you use the internet and how much you value privacy. Most modern web browsers are solid in their own right, with differences in efficiency and speed being the main selling points for individual platforms. The privacy options for each browser should not be ignored, though.
If you’re looking for the most well-rounded browser with the greatest amount of flexibility, speed, and compatibility, you can’t go wrong with Chrome. You’ll just want to make sure your system is powerful enough to handle its resource-hunger.
You’ll also want to consider how comfortable you are with Google knowing your online activity, although there are ways to remove this info at certain points.
If you’re looking for a balanced choice that puts emphasis on user safety and privacy, Firefox is a top selection. Plus, it won’t slow your computer down or hog memory from other programs while you browse the web.
Lastly, if you’re looking to stay completely anonymous on the internet like back in the early days of the web, Tor gives you many of the benefits of Firefox with some additional layers of protection. Just don’t expect every single website on the internet to work exactly the same as on other browsers.
Regardless of which browser you choose, one thing remains certain: avoid Internet Explorer in 2019. Seriously, it’s not safe!
Other than that, the web is your oyster. Happy browsing!