Most internet users have a preferred web browser, and in many cases, that preferred web browser is simply the one they're most comfortable using. Maybe they purchased a laptop with Safari already installed, and now they'll never go back. Maybe they started using Internet Explorer years ago and just can't get the hang of anything else.
But if you find yourself wondering if a new browser might make your web browsing experience a little bit better, you'll want to check out our full review.
Battle of the Browsers
Which browser will come out on top?
First up, Google Chrome, the browser with the largest market share.
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser by a number of users, according to Statista. Approximately 2.65 billion internet users prefer Google Chrome, placing it well above the second-place contender, Safari. Internet Explorer follows in popularity, and Internet Explorer is followed by Firefox, Opera and Edge (and when was the last time you heard someone even mention those last two, let alone use them?).
One of the top reasons many web browser users prefer Chrome? The high level of security that Google Chrome provides. Password protection and phishing protection are just the beginning of Google Chrome's security features.
For those who find themselves using Google's search engine functions regularly, Google Chrome is equally attractive for its convenience. All you need to do is simply type your search into the browser's address bar, meaning you don't need to manually type in "google.com" to search a query (a feature that other browsers would do well to offer).
If you use multiple devices with Google Chrome, like a tablet or Android phone, you can likewise find all of your tabs and history from all of the devices. You can also use Chromecast to "cast" your Google Chrome screen from one device to another (versus streaming).
For Gmail users, the convenience continues, as there's no extra sign-in process required when using Google Chrome. Everything is already at your fingertips once you simply open your browser.
Everyone loves a good browser extension, right? Google Chrome offers browser extensions that do it all. From allowing you to watch Netflix shows with a friend to finding coupons as you shop, Google Chrome's wealth of extensions can make your life easier in a multitude of ways.
Google Chrome offers a decent level of security, tons of browser extensions and a high level of convenience if you already use google.com and Gmail/Google Drive on a regular basis.
As for the bad, well, Google Chrome is one of those few things that, if you're running it too often with too many tabs, will make your laptop sound like it's going to take off from your desk for an international flight. The processor and memory usage are off the charts.
Additionally, all of that convenience adds to a lack of privacy. If anyone happens to hop onto your computer for a brief second to use your web browser, they'll automatically have access to your email account, Google Drive and more. Likewise, anyone who picks up your phone or tablet will be able to see what you've been searching in web browsers across all of your devices.
Safari comes preloaded onto your Apple devices, and so many Apple fans simply start using it and never stop. Safari is known for being relatively speedy, and it doesn't work your computer into the ground as Google Chrome might. Since Safari is built to work on Mac computers, it does so very efficiently.
Safari offers a high level of security, with minimal online tracking allowed. It also makes it convenient to store sensitive information, from passwords to credit card info, and then access that information by simply using your fingerprint (if you're using a device with this feature available).
Safari also features convenient little tools like "Look Up," which allows you to literally look up words and phrases on any web page and learn more about it. You can also use "Handoff" to move an open tab from one device to another. You can additionally use Apple Pay while working in Safari.
Unfortunately, when it comes to extensions, Safari doesn't offer as broad a selection as Google Chrome. However, there are still some good extensions available, from Grammarly's extensions to extensions that store information (like passwords) more securely.
Safari runs efficiently and already comes built into any Apple device. It offers a high level of both security and speed and is convenient and easy to use if you're working across a range of Apple devices at once.
One of the worst things about Safari is that it just doesn't have the browser extensions available that you'll find with Google Chrome. If you do want to use those extensions, you'll likely have to download Google Chrome as well — meaning you have two browsers on your desktop. That's not necessarily a horrible thing, but some users may find it distracting or annoying to switch between the two constantly.
Additionally, Safari isn't available to those who don't own an Apple device. So, if you really, really wanted to give it a try… if you don't have a MacBook or iPhone, you're out of luck.
Are you using Internet Explorer right now? Really?
Internet Explorer has sadly been the butt of many jokes and the topic of many memes over the last few years, but some users are still diehard fans.
In terms of security, Internet Explorer falls to the bottom of the pack. It's simply too susceptible to be considered secure. For this reason, many employers won't use Internet Explorer, and many work-from-home employees are instructed not to use the browser.
Internet Explorer does not boast the same level of convenience as browsers like Safari and Google, which easily transfer your browsing data between devices. The functionality here is at an all-time low.
Forget extensions. You won't have access to the vast library of extensions that browsers like Google Chrome offer.
Is there any good here? Internet Explorer is as barebones and basic as it gets, but for some users, that's all they need.
The worst part about using Internet Explorer is that it's just considered completely obsolete at this point. In fact, support for Internet Explorer 11 is set to end in August 2021. It feels old, it looks old and the only reason it's still around is that there are still a few folks out there using it, the important ones being corporate users that Microsoft is likely humoring until August.
When it comes to comparing Chrome versus Safari versus Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari both come out on top, but it's a bit of a tie. Which one you end up choosing will depend on your device and your preferred web activity.
If you use Apple products and don't necessarily need any of Google Chrome's specialized browser extensions, by all means, stick with the built-in Safari browser and call it a day.
If you use Android and other non-Apple devices, go with Google Chrome. While it might require a lot of memory and processor power, it's going to perform above and beyond any of the alternatives if you don't have an Apple device and can't access Safari.
What exactly are those alternatives?
There are other alternatives beyond Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer that may better suit your internet needs. Check them out below.
Many users still like Mozilla Firefox for its high level of security and automatic cookie-blocking function. Private browsing features allow you to avoid advertisers and web usage tracking.
Additionally, Mozilla doesn't use a ton of processing power or memory. Unfortunately, Firefox doesn't receive many updates, and it doesn't give you access to the many extensions and add-ons you'll find available with Google Chrome.
The Microsoft Edge browser is a newer option that's gaining popularity because it comes bundled into new Microsoft computers (and it’s pushing Internet Explorer to extinction).
First launching with Windows 10, it's fast, doesn't use a lot of processing power, is low on memory use and supports all Google Chrome extensions. It can be used on both Windows and iOS computers, so you're not limited to a Microsoft product or operating system just because you're using Microsoft Edge.
Opera is a good pick for those who want something similar to Google Chrome, with extra features, like predictive website preload and instant search (though you won't have access to all of Google Chrome's extensions).
For those who want to jump around between many different online tasks, Opera is a commendable pick, and it also boasts a pretty attractive, aesthetically-appealing design.
Vivaldi allows for a huge level of customization if that's what you're into. First-time users are led through a set-up process that essentially customizes the browser to fit your browsing preferences.
Another outlier that some users prefer for its extreme speed is Brave, which blocks every single ad on every single website, decreasing load times by a noticeable amount. But if there aren't any ads on the websites you visit, how do websites make money from your web searches?
The Firefox alternative, Tor, is basically Firefox but ultra-secretive. Your actions are nearly 100% anonymous and untraceable. But don't think that Tor is only for shady criminals hoping to get some nefarious deeds done outside the government's watchful eyes (though they do try); Tor is often used by journalists and other closely-watched individuals working in unfriendly territory.
What Else to Consider When Browsing the Internet
Beyond picking a browser, there are a few other things you might want to consider as you customize your browsing experience to better fit your individual needs.
Should I invest in VPN services?
If you're not satisfied with the level of security and privacy you're getting from your browser, you may want to invest in VPN services (although some VPNs are free, so no investment is needed). A VPN essentially encrypts your data, so no website knows it's you that's visiting. There's no info shared regarding your ISP, location or browsing history.
Should I install an extra ad blocker?
If you're not happy with the way your browser is performing in this area, you can always install a separate ad blocker. Popular ad blockers include AdBlock, CyberSec, Ghostery and AdGuard.
Are you using this browser for work?
If so, talk to your office's IT rep and ask them what browser works best with the various programs you'll need to use for your job. Some companies only use Internet Explorer, while some corporations ban Internet Explorer completely. Others prefer Google Chrome, while some like Safari.
What to Look for When Picking a Browser
Whichever default browser you end up picking, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when considering them all, including:
- Processor and memory usage
- Extra features, including browser extensions
- Privacy and security
- Compatibility with other devices
Test out a few browsers before you make your final pick. Remember, just because you started using one browser years ago or even a month ago, that doesn't mean that you're stuck with it. Find the best browser for your browsing habits, and build a more satisfactory web experience.
You might also be interested in: How You Can Watch TV Without Cable [Cut Your Cable Cords]