Everyone has their preference when it comes to web browsers. Safari comes with the iPhone and Google products start you with Chrome; many people choose to stick with whatever pre-existed on their device when they got it. Others go out of the way to download the browser of their preference as soon as they upgrade their hardware.
With so many choices floating around, what are the differences between them and what kind of benefits does each one bring to the table?
How did Google Chrome become so popular, so fast? It’s not just the big name behind the browser: Chrome was designed to be the fastest of its kind, and it easily handles content-rich pages filled with ads and videos that normally slow computers down. If you rely on Google as your main search engine, which most people do when it accounts for 90% of the global search engine market, this browser is also the most convenient for looking things up. Just open a new tab, start typing and it will direct you right to a Google search of the same. It has built-in web security to help protect users from malware and phishing, too, although of course you should equip your system with additional safety measures.
The main downside of using Chrome is that it takes up a lot of CPU and RAM on your computer. You might notice your fan running extra hard or your battery not lasting as long; that’s because Chrome runs a lot of apps in the background, even when you’re not using it. However, it’s intuitive and easy to navigate, and runs smoothly on a lot of devices; it’s up to you how much that weighs against performance and productivity.
Like Chrome, Mozilla Firefox has enjoyed long-term popularity and also features an Incognito browsing mode that deletes cookies and search history as you work (although you’re not anonymous on either browser – you’ll need a VPN for that). It may seem like something you used fifteen years ago, but plenty of people stuck with it or are switching back after all these years.
Firefox singularly provides open-source compatibility to allow developers to make adjustments and customize their experience – as long as it complies with licensing policies. It also automatically prevents cross-site cookies, cryptomining and trackers from viewing your data. The emphasis that it has on online privacy is what draws many users to Firefox.
Old, reliable Internet Explorer was the starter browser for many operating systems back in the day. Now it’s less common to see someone using, but there are a dedicated few who have always stuck with what they know. Others keep it around as a way to download a different web browser.
Microsoft is actively trying to move its users away from Explorer with Windows 10 and Windows 11, pushing to retire the desktop app completely by June 15th. Instead, Microsoft Edge will take its place. Edge has the same capabilities that kept users around for Internet Explorer 11, plus extras:
- Better legacy app and web compatibility
- New tab features including vertical placement and “sleeping tabs” that keeps the browser running at optimal speeds
- Increased security against phishing and malware attacks, especially for businesses
- many other new features to improve Edge
However, many people still prefer other web browser options because of privacy and tracking concerns, uninstallable and excessive features, and uncertainty around who sees their data.
If you’ve got an Apple product, it’s probably suggested Safari as your default browser. From iPhones to Mac computers, this web browser comes with the software and is a fast, secure option that takes up less power than other options. It has better system integration compared to other browsers – provided, of course, that you’re using Apple products.
That is the primary downside: You can’t stray outside the Apple product universe and continue to enjoy the benefits of Safari. It has fewer extensions than other popular browsers, and it’s harder to work with as a developer; but if you spend all day going between your iPad, Apple Watch and MacBook Air, Safari as a search engine might make some sense.
If none of these pros or cons stood out particularly to you, then the choice may simply come down to which browser offers the best extensions and ad blockers, or the varying color schemes and visual changes available for your adjustment. You might also choose to use different browsers for different tasks, or to further separate your work and personal life if you use the same devices. There are a plethora of web browsers, search engines and extensions available to make your online experience simpler and more to your liking.
Regardless of which web browser you make your preferred way to search, there are benefits and drawbacks that might attract you in one direction depending on the particular needs of yourself and your business as a whole. Balance speed, reliability, storage space, and what you do online to choose a web browser that’s the right fit for you.