We all use the internet on a daily basis, be it for work-related reasons, education or simply to distract ourselves from everyday life watching funny videos (in our spare time, of course).
The choice of browser, however, can significantly impact your experience, no matter the intention of your online shenanigans. Your specific impression greatly depends on your priorities, though. Do you wish to get a fast performance, being able to navigate the web in a matter of a fraction of a second? Do you want to ensure security at all times? Or do you want to be able to customize your browser, adjusting it to your individual needs through extensions?
Often times, our preference for the best internet browser is dictated by force of habit. Why leave your comfort zone and try out something different when what you are currently using is working just fine? Many people (likely including you) may not realize that other, much better (read: fitting) options are out there.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: There is no one browser universally accepted to be the best. As mentioned earlier, this title belongs to the browser which best fits your needs or priorities — and your computer.
Here, we present you some of the biggest and best internet browsers around, for you to figure out which ticks all of your boxes.
1. Mozilla Firefox
The flagship of all free and open source browsers is the third-most popular web browser, with around 500 million users worldwide.
In 2017, Mozilla Firefox found itself target of widespread criticism for data leaks and the unsolicited automatic installation of an add-on which was perceived to be harmful.
After a massive overhaul, Firefox is now back to stake its claim for the best browser available.
Firefox’s biggest update in 13 years upped the ante, not only when it comes to its own expectations, but the entire web browser landscape.
Mozilla’s crown jewel has always been renowned for being hugely flexible and allowing for nearly unlimited extensions. In recent years, however, Firefox had been lagging behind its competition when it came to speed.
Firefox Quantum, a radical update released last year, revamped the browser’s code base completely. This iteration can now compete with the leader of the pack, Google’s Chrome browser. The good news: this spectacular performance is not restricted to high-end computers thanks to the frugal use of RAM Quantum makes.
Thus, you can open tons of tabs in Firefox at the same time — even if your not working with the most modern of machines.
Furthermore, Firefox impresses with its excellent privacy performance. As Mozilla is a non-profit company, it is less likely to sell your data for profit than other developers. This also ensures that the developers at Mozilla constantly strive to provide updates to close possible privacy gaps.
With recent updates, the browser has gained support of password-free logins as well as automatic blocking of ad trackers.
User friendliness is further improved by the new and intuitive screenshot feature and the vast amount of extensions.
If you want to use a fast and highly customizable web browser you can trust with your data, look no further than Mozilla Firefox. The only negative aspect is the fact that certain legacy extensions may not work with Quantum.
2. Google Chrome
Google’s Chrome browser is by far the most used browser in the world, with a market share of 71 %. As a matter of fact, it has been so successful that Google is expanding the brand name to various other services.
Even though large part of its source code is derived from Google’s open-source Chromium project, Chrome is licensed as proprietary freeware.
Furthermore, not only was it developed by a for-profit company, but by one of the biggest data collectors worldwide. As such, spotless data protection cannot always be guaranteed when using Google Chrome. However, Google is pushing to improve on this aspect, trying to establish a new standard for encryption.
Regarding the positives, there is a lot to mention with Google Chrome.
The browser is still the benchmark for fast and stable browsing, with only Mozilla’s Firefox providing serious competition.
In addition, Chrome is king when it comes to customization. There are virtually limitless options to mold, tweak and expand the browser according to your own vision. If you want to truly make the browser your own, there is no better choice than Chrome.
All this power comes at a cost, however. Google Chrome is one of the most resource-heavy web browsers out there, so if you have a slow or old computer, you might want to look elsewhere.
Chrome has been at the top of the browser game for close to ten years now, and with good reason. If system specs are no issue, Chrome is the browser for you, particularly if you like customizing your internet experience. If you are a privacy nerd and fear big corporations as data hoarders, then even the remarkable speed of Google’s bellwether might not sway you.
Opera only occupies a small segment of the browser market, with around one percent of users opting for the service developed Opera Software. First released in 1995, Opera has fallen behind its competitors in recent years. Its functionalities, however, are still top of the line. Opera launches in an instant and keeps up a fast speed even on less powerful computers. The Opera Turbo feature compresses web traffic, thus allowing for speedy browsing even if your connection is going through a slump.
Overall, Opera is all about economizing and mainly targets users short of abundant resources. The aforementioned considerate use of connection speed is not the only aspect in which Opera treads gently.
The built-in battery-saving mode makes the most of your computer’s battery charge.
A built-in ad blocker makes your browsing experience more smooth and eliminates annoying commercials from the start. If need be, this function can easily be turned off.
Where Opera lacks, however, is in customization options. Whereas Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome can be clad in an unrecognizable layout within minutes, Opera does not offer the same options for an individual browsing experience. The amount of plug-ins is limited.
While Opera is a great browser option if you are looking to make the most out of your internet quests on an older machine, there is little reason to use it over Firefox or Chrome on a more powerful computer. Too sparing is the selection of add-ons, too stripped-down its presentation (although for some this might be a plus), but Opera mainly shines if you have to compromise in some regard. Otherwise, Firefox and Chrome have the upper hand.
4. Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge is a relatively new browser, first released in 2015. As such, its market share is still low, although it has overtaken its predecessor’s, Internet Explorer. In large part, this is owned to the fact that Microsoft Edge is the default browser for Windows 10. The browser is tightly linked to the operating system, with the app running smoothly on Windows 10’s tablet and desktop modes. Furthermore, it works well with Cortana, Window’s assistant.
Its separation from Internet Explorer is surely influenced by a certain marketing effect: Microsoft Edge is supposed to be Window’s flagship, doing away with Internet Explorer’s image for slowness and overall desastrous performance.
But can the new browser live up to the hype?
From the first moment, Edge works at lightning speed and handles even more complex pages with relative ease. The new crown jewel is also implemented independently of the operating system, which is why it does not suffer the same security breaches Internet Explorer used to be plagued by. However, there are still bugs which appear ever so often, and some aspects of the browser’s presentation seem clunky at best and hindering at worst. Furthermore, Microsoft’s insistence on making you use Edge sours the experience significantly. Windows 10 is littered with unauthorized shortcuts to Edge, it is the default browser for executing virtually any internet-related tasks (such as opening your emails) and if you feed Cortana with the search option Firefox, the assistant actually takes the liberty to suggest Microsoft Edge as an alternative.
While Microsoft Edge’s performance does not disappoint, especially when it comes to speed, In addition, there is simply nothing that makes the browser stand out from the competition, no advantage it has over rivals such as Firefox, Opera or Chrome. Unless you are a glowing fan of everything Microsoft does, there is little reason to opt for Edge. Should you do it anyway, rest assured: There is still a good overall experience to be had with Microsoft edge.
Launched in 2003, Safari is the default browser on every Apple device. Since 2007, it has been pre-installed on iPhones and virtually synonymous with browsing on Apple phones and computers. As such, it is the safest choice for Apple-based platforms, even though it is outperformed speed-wise by Chrome. To make up for this, Safari provides a longer battery life due to certain Mac-specific optimizations.
Furthermore, the browser’s big strength is its regard for privacy and security. Safari offers extensive privacy and security settings, allowing you to keep Big Brother at bay. But be advised: Apple itself does not have a spotless record when it comes to handling user data.
Safari is a fine browser doing everything you expect it to. If you do not have the greatest regard for speed, there is little need to install another browser on top of the Apple default option, especially if you use an iPhone or iPad in addition to desktop browsing. If you are looking to optimize your internet experience, however, Safari might simply be too basic, as it is a serviceable browser rather than a trailblazer.
Vivaldi was launched in 2016 and targets more technically-inclined users, offering vast customization options. Therefore, every single user will have a unique experience with the browser, no two looking the same. Upon running it for the first time, you can practically adjust every little parameter to your taste. The possibilities are (almost) endless. The only thing holding Vivaldi back is its relative infancy. There are simply not enough add-ons (yet) to make the browser compete with Firefox and Chrome, but Vivaldi is certainly carving itself a niche in the browser market and is one to keep an eye on in the future. Hopefully, by then its speed will have increased a bit, since Vivaldi is one of the slower browsers as it stands.
Vivaldi presents a completely different take on web browsers and is not necessarily intended to compete with the speed of the big boys, but rather offer a radical alternative. As such, the creative and highly customizable browser definitely succeeds and is a promising player on the market — already, but (hopefully) even more so in the future.
Which browser is the best?
As expected, there is no clear answer to this question. While there are objective measures, such as speed, to determine certain qualities of a browser, even those depend on the computer you are using and even the purpose it is intended for. The good news: there is no browser in this list that would be a clear-cut bad choice — there simply is more to be made of your browsing experience.