There are a number of popular internet browsers available for the average internet user, and the competition among them is high. The discussion on which internet browser is the best is a hotly debated topic, and you may find yourself wondering which browser is best for your particular needs. This article outlines the pros and cons for each of the most popular internet browsers so that you can make an informed choice about which one to use.
Why does it matter?
The internet browser that you use can seriously impact your user experience when accessing the internet. The following list details all the reasons why it matters what internet browser you are using:
- Security – Every internet browser has different security features included to protect users from viruses and malware, as well as dangerous websites. It is important to choose a browser with good security features, or your computer may be at risk of becoming infected.
- Privacy – Different browsers have different levels of privacy protection measures in place to protect your personal information while you’re browsing the internet.
- Speed – Not all browsers are equal when it comes to the speed they provide. If you are watching videos online, have a lot of tabs or windows open at once, or are uploading or downloading content, you will be affected by the speed of your browser.
- Features – Some browsers will offer more features than others. This can be important if you’re looking for specific features such as ad-blocking, additional security, parental control, privacy options, or even certain colour options (some browsers offer light or dark view).
- Compatibility – Sometimes web developers will check that their websites are compatible with only one or two browsers, and this can lead to a buggy experience for users on other browsers. If you’re having problems with a website, it could be that compatibility was never tested, and you may need to download and use multiple browsers to get the best experience in your browsing.
This is Microsoft’s default internet browser, and the successor to Internet Explorer. It has improved security features and speed compared to Internet Explorer, and Microsoft have come a long way in a short amount of time in an attempt to catch up with some of the other internet browsers on offer. Their customer support is the best out of all the major internet browsers, but speed, security and features are not as good as many other browsers.
Safari is Apple’s default internet browser, and features on all modern Apple computers and smartphones. Customer support is better than many other browsers, but overall compatibility is poor, and security is not as good as Firefox and Chrome. It has fewer features and customisation options than some of the other browsers, but it has great speed, and is a good choice for Apple users, having been ranked the best browser for Apple devices.
Chrome is Google’s internet browser, and works well with Android devices, Microsoft devices, as well as Apple devices. The security and speed offered by Chrome is very good, and Chrome has the best number of features available. This is a good all-rounder option and tends to have the best compatibility with downloads and poorly tested websites. Chrome is fairly resource hungry, so if you have an older computer you may want to use a different browser, but if your computer is newer and has good specs Chrome may be slightly faster than Firefox. Chrome has also been rated as the best browser for Android devices, with a better user interface and better security than Firefox on Android mobile devices.
Firefox is an internet browser offered by Mozilla and has been ranked as the best overall option for speed, privacy and security, identifying more security threats than Chrome. Firefox is compatible with Microsoft, Apple and Android devices. Because Firefox is a not-for-profit browser, there is less incentive for them to track and sell user data than for many other browsers, giving users more peace of mind. Firefox uses less system resources than Chrome and is better for older computers. Customer support options are not as good as other browsers, but it is likely you will never need to use it; tutorials are available and updates are regular. Saved Bookmarks (favourites) are less convenient to locate in Firefox than in other browsers.
Opera (produced by Opera) is a lesser known internet browser that features speed only second to Firefox. Opera is compatible with Microsoft, Apple, Android and Linux, but not always compatible with older websites and blocked altogether by some websites. Opera features some unique and interesting features such as an inbuilt ad-blocker, battery saving mode, and Opera Turbo but doesn’t offer any parental controls or much in the way of security. The Opera Turbo feature can be an excellent resource for users with poor internet connection speeds or slow computers. Opera uses the same base program as Chrome, so there are some similarities in the user interface.
Tor browser is often associated with access to the dark web, but for security and privacy conscious internet users, this is undoubtedly the best browser option. Cookies are blocked, web traffic is routed through random nodes globally, and users on Tor are virtually unable to be tracked. Speed is sacrificed for the extra protection and security, and performance is poorer than many other browsers as a result.
This is a lesser known open source internet browser, designed by an open online community. Users are free to add to the open source code, and when this occurs the new code is added to browser updates. This can be problematic for security, and users should be vigilant about checking and using open source code with no overarching management. The security, speed and features are poorer than many other browsers. If you enjoy the freedom and independence of using open source software, this is the browser for you.
This is Microsoft’s original internet browser, now a legacy browser succeeded by Edge. Internet Explorer was the most popular internet browser for a long time, and is sometimes still necessary for accessing legacy applications in compatibility mode, as modern browsers will not always work properly with decade old websites and online services. However, most online service providers will offer updated websites and online portals that work with modern internet browsers for improved security.
Which is the best overall?
In 2018 Chrome was rated as the best internet browser, but Firefox has made some improvements, and in 2019 Firefox has narrowly come out as the best overall option for internet browsers, followed closely by Chrome (however some websites still voted Chrome as number 1). Here is our list from best overall to worst overall:
- Internet Explorer
- Sea Monkey
Which is the most popular?
According to web statistics company W3 Counter (https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php), browser market share is dominated by Chrome:
- Edge (and Internet Explorer)
Which Should I Use?
No internet browser is perfect, and it may be more suitable for your needs to use multiple browsers for different things, for example, you may use Firefox for privacy, Chrome for compatibility, Safari for all your Apple products, and Opera for poor internet speeds.