The Internet is an integral part of people's lives in the modern world, let's face it we can't live without it. This means that the Internet browser is one of the most important pieces of software on your computer, yet the majority of people just use the default browser that was pre-installed on their computer. Well, there are numerous alternatives out there that can improve your Internet surfing experience.
In the following article we will try to compare the alternative browsers under several different categories, whilst trying to remain unbiased. But ultimately only you will be able to tell which you prefer, so what is the best Internet browser?
There are a number of candidates for the title of 'Best Browser', but what should you look for in a browser. Well there are 3 simple categories to judge each other against; Speed, Security and Features.
Speed - How fast can you get online and surf the web, though this can depend on your computer.
Security - Browsers need to be able to protect you against things like viruses, phishing frauds and pop-ups whilst allowing you to keep control of your personal information.
Features - How easy is the browser to use whilst offering the option of add-ons to customise your surfing experience.
So let's look at them in descending order.
5. Internet Explorer
Accounting for about 50% of all Internet surfing, Microsoft's 'Internet Explorer' is the most popular web browser used by people today. This is mainly due to the fact that it is the default web browser on all Windows computers. Their dominance on the market is falling however, which is a result of growing competition, and that competition is better!
Speed - Explorer is reasonably quick to load pages, however explorer uses a high ratio of memory for what it is doing, which can slow your computer down. Admittedly it is getting better with each new release, but consistently is left lagging behind the alternative web browsers.
Security - Due to IE's popularity with users, there have been a lot of security breeches in the past. A simple web search will be able to show hundreds of stories about known vulnerabilities over the years, and it's not clear that Microsoft has resolved them all.
Features - Explorer is fairly straight forward to use and Microsoft has seen that add-ons are becoming more popular with users and have started offering more features to include with newer versions of their browser. Explorer isn't however compatible with macs though.
Summary - There are much better ways to surf the Internet, explorer is let down by persistent security issues. Despite this, it's dominance is still it's major strength. Web developers can test their snazzy new websites on all of the other web browsers, but if it doesn't work on IE, then it will be back to the drawing board.
Safari is Apple's default web browser which can be found on Macs, iPhones and iPads. It is also compatible with windows and Linux, so if your a fan you can download it and surf away on whatever computer you are on. It is currently the fourth most popular web browser, with it's popularity growing.
Speed - Safari is super fast to load and doesn't use too much memory allowing you to quickly switch between programs and multi-task. It's built in progress bar allows you to see how fast it is actually running, which is a really useful addition.
Security - Safari blocks viruses, spyware and pop-ups but lacks any protection against phishing schemes while browsing the Internet. This is a significant omission that may put people off. On a positive note, Safari makes it easy to remove personal information and browsing history, allowing you to surf with peace of mind.
Features - The browser is very simple to use, especially on devices like the iPhone and iPad, but is slightly let down by the lack of customisability. The lack of parental controls is surprisingly not included, which may discourage some people.
Summary - Safari is a great browser to use. Its fast and simple to use, which is perfect for your mobile device, but some security issues and lack of parental controls let it down.
There are a lot of people that may not have heard of this browser, but in recent years it has become the most popular mobile web browser with approximately 120 million mobile phones being shipped with Opera pre-installed. It has a growing number of users for the PC and laptop due to it originating many features that have later been adopted by other Web browsers.
Speed - This browser is reasonably fast. It's fast at initial startup, fast at loading and fast at running apps. It claims to be The fastest of them all, but that is debatable. Opera additionally doesn't use up too much of your computers resources.
Security - This is where Opera excels, offering the user a very secure online experience. The user can fully customise their security settings and protects against viruses, spyware, pop-ups and phasing schemes.
Features - As stated previously, Opera has led the way in recent years of browser feature that the other competition has since replicated in their own versions. Opera's voice command feature allows you to navigate the web by talking, and it will even read text back to you!
Summary - Opera is a very safe and quick way of surfing the Internet, whilst offering a good set of features. Keep an eye on this browser in the future as we believe this will be number one in our list in the next year or two.
Google threw their hat into the ring in 2008 with Chrome. A very impressive simple, striped down web browser that is perfect for the casual user.
Speed - Chrome is super fast, arguably the fastest on our list, that let's users surf the web with ease, even at peak times. It's super fast at initial startup, super fast at loading and super fast at running apps. This browser has an inbuilt task manager, just like your desktop version, that allows you to see how much memory each individual website is using.
Security - Google Chrome is very secure to use, allowing people to browse the web safely. It protects against viruses, spyware, pop-ups, phishing schemes and malware. Chrome will warn you when you are about to access an unsafe site.
Features - There is a good set of features that can be incorporated to customise and make your experience much easier. Chrome makes it even easier to perform a web search for things by allowing the user to search directly in the address bar. Another very good feature is the ability to drag text or a link from anywhere on a page and put it directly in your web search bar, so no more need for copy and pasting!
Summary - Chrome is an excellent browser that offers great all round use for the web user. We highly recommend you look into using Chrome, however it is narrowly beaten to our top spot.
Currently the second most widely used web browser in the world with approximately 30% of all web usage. Mozilla Firefox is an open source program that packs amazing speed and top-quality features into a great all round web browser.
Speed - Firefox was very fast when it first arrived back in 2004, but with each new release it has got faster and faster. It is very fast to load pages, whilst using minimal resources on your computer, and it boasts compatibility across the web.
Security - Mozilla Firefox is extremely secure for users to surf on. Protection against pop-ups, viruses, malware, phishing schemes and spyware is all included and it offers the user the option of private browsing. The download manager will scan all of your downloads for viruses without asking, so you can be safe knowing that you won't open a file that has anything harmful lurking inside that could infect your computer.
Features - There are currently over 6,000 add-ons for firefox that can be added to customise and improve your surfing experience. Anything from web development tools, social integration (Facebook, Twitter, AddThis), security, humour, games, blogging, news, privacy, and many, many more can be added. If there is something that you feel would improve your web browsing experience, then there is probably an add-on for you. If for some reason you can't find what you are looking for then just submit a request in one of the many firefox development forums, then one of thousands of developers will probably be able to suggest or even build something to fit your need.
Summary - Mozilla Firefox is an exceptional web browser. It's fast browsing experience, strong security features and an extensive amount of additional features make it our number one choice!
From developing this website, we have used all of these browsers in one way or another, but the average web user just wants a browser to surf the net quickly and safely. Any of our top 3 we would highly recommend, especially if you have just used the default web browser that was pre-installed on your computer. We highly recommend Firefox for it's excellent all-round user experience. Ultimately, only you can decide which you prefer, so what's your favourite web browser?