Did you know that more than 72% of browser users choose Google Chrome? That means you’re probably one of them. Microsoft is even scrapping its Edge browser and building a new one on Google’s open-source Chromium to try to catch up.
But did you know you have options that might serve you better? Here’s a browser comparison chart — which is really best for you?
What do you need your browser to do?
Speed, convenience, security, easy to use — you want your browser to make your internet life easier. You don’t want to think about it. You want it to save passwords, sync data, support extensions, and just plain work. All while using as little of your computer’s RAM as possible so it doesn’t slow you down, even when you have a ton of tabs open.
All leading browsers meet most but not all of those needs. The main differences have to do with security, privacy, RAM usage, and the little things that make people love them (or hate) them.
First, a word about speed
If you live in an urban or suburban area, all of the browsers are comparably fast. But if you live in a rural area or someplace else with a slow internet connection, Opera might be your best bet. It has a turbo feature that compresses web traffic to boost slow internet connections. Internet Explorer 11 typically does the worst in speed tests.
Also, some browsers will be faster on certain devices and websites. Firefox hasn’t tested well for speed on Macs, for example. And you’ll likely get some added speed benefits by using the browser built for the ecosystem you use the most, namely Chrome for G-Suite apps and Safari for Apple apps.
But compared to the speeds we had a decade ago, all are superfast.
Which is better overall?
Look at these comparisons to see which browser gives you what you want most. And who’s to say you should only use one? Having a second browser on board is always a good idea.
(prevent malware, etc.)
(protect activity, etc.)
|RAM usage||Loved / Hated because…|
|Chrome (72.38%)||Tests range from least vulnerable to most vulnerable; Updates every 42 days; Security updates every 15 days||Questionable record monetizing browsing data but highly customizable Privacy controls||Hog (here’s an explanation)||Stable, customizable, and works well with G-suite / Privacy issues|
|Mozilla Firefox (9.1%)||Stops most malicious activity in tests; Updates every six to eight weeks; Security updates every 28 days||Strong incognito mode and privacy tools||Medium||Blocks tracking by default and owned by a nonprofit / Inefficient (basically unusable) on Macs|
|Internet Explorer 11 (5.38%)||Has improved its lousy track record; Last app update was in 2013; Security updates every 30 days||Privacy Settings and SmartScreen option||Frugal||Been around a long time / Slower than other browsers|
|Safari (5.06%)||Fewest vulnerabilities in most tests; Updated once in 2017 and twice in 2018 (along with the Mac OS); Security updates every 54 days||Strong privacy, manage in preferences||Formerly a hog but now more frugal||Fast and secure / Only on Apple products and not very customizable|
|Microsoft Edge (4%)||Stops most malicious activity in tests; Updated twice in both 2017 and 2018 (along with the Windows 10); Security updates are not on a schedule||Privacy information and settings instructions||Hog||Office 365 integration / Not backward compatible|
|Opera (2.18%)||Updated seven times in 2017 and nine times in 2018; Security updates every 30–42 days||Has built-in (but slow) VPN||Hog||Turbo boost for speed and VPN / Doesn’t work on old websites|
Want extra privacy?
You have a couple of other options if anonymous browsing is important to you. You can use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, along with your browser. It will automatically mask your location and IP address. You might pay a price in browser speed, however. And you might also pay a price in dollars. The best VPNs cost a few dollars a month.
Another option is a free browser built specifically for privacy called TOR. Tor has at least three layers of traffic encryption, masks your identity out of the box, and doesn’t track your browsing history. It also clears cookies each time you close the app.
Who will win the next browser war?
Remember Netscape? It lost the first browser war to Internet Explorer. Then came Safari, Opera and Firefox in the mid-2000s and the second browser war began. Chrome launched in 2008 and started gobbling up market share until it surpassed all the others in 2012 and officially won the war in 2017. Microsoft’s Edge barely made a dent in the market after its release in 2015, which explains its demise.
There’s no way to predict the future but it looks rosy for Chrome. It’s even working on a way to get rid of URLs — yes, you read that right — in an effort to protect against cybercrime.
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