Many years ago, when homes were first getting their internet connection wired up, we used Internet browsers for the first time. Little did we know of the vast selection of browsers we could use other than ‘Internet Explorer’ and ‘Opera’. Then came the age of ‘Firefox’ and ‘Chrome’, where speed differences were notable. Fast forward to today, the speed of browsers are negligible as they’ve all improved and our current processing power means it’s hard to distinguish differences in opening times.
So what is the purpose of a browser, why choose one over the other? Well, every browser has a slightly different user interface that one may prefer, for example the placement of the settings button or the shortcut key for settings. Furthermore, there are speed differences albeit small such as when using ‘Chrome’, it is able to run fast with many tabs open due to allocating more RAM, meaning a system with low memory may be undesirable with ‘Chrome’. Finally, some browsers may have added security features that will help your private browsing needs.
Now to list the top browsers all of which are covered by the main operating systems:
1. Google Chrome
This web browser has been dominant for many years now and takes an impressive majority share of the netizen population. The reason for its success may be due to Google being everyone’s default search engine but credit certainly has to be given to its tab management, depth of extensions and overall clean look. Google has now been advancing their security by advocating HTTPS just as other browsers have and has an impressively large OS roster.
Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, macOS, iOS
Pros: Fastest, Secure, large selection of add-ons, Compatibility
Cons: Resource usage
Download link: https://www.google.com/chrome/
2. Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is another popular browser that is designed to be flexible yet powerful. The customisable interface and constant updates put this high up on the list. Firefox has also had a major recent update that puts it on par with Google Chrome’s speed and adds features such as an inbuilt screenshot taker. Just like Chrome, there are many supported extensions with the opportunity to change the theme to your liking.
Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, iOS
Pros: Fast, Secure, Themes, large selection of add-ons, Compatibility
Cons: Resource usage
Download link: https://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/new/
With a simple, clean layout, it is no wonder Safari is the go-to for apple orientated users. It offers similar benefits to the other browsers in terms of speed, security and extensions within a package that is optimised for its hardware allowing smooth zooming, detailed history and special shortcuts. This further takes precedence when you use it across other devices as your information can be shared through your iCloud account making the user experience seamless.
Supported Platforms: MacOS, iOS
Pros: Highly optimised, Fast, Secure, Simple
Cons: Lack of customisation, Not optimised for other operating systems.
Download link: https://support.apple.com/downloads/safari
4. Internet Explorer/Edge
This is the default pre-loaded browsers for window users. Edge is the updated renamed version that isn’t compatible with versions older than Windows 10 but is completely redesigned and boosted in performance. Internet Explorer has several specific security features and is easy to access since no installation of other browsers is needed however a customised, open browsing experience is only a quick installation away. The reason why it was usurped was due to its speed, since then, its image has been tarnished, although edge has remedied some of the caveats, it is still behind the other browsers in several aspects.
Supported Platforms: Windows (10 needed for Edge), Xbox One, Android, iOS
Pros: Familiar interface, Security features, Lightweight
Cons: Lack of extension support, Clunky interface, Slow
Download link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/microsoft-edge
One of the older browsers and the inspiration for Chrome and Firefox, it supports torrents and is very secure due to a lack of hackers trying to infiltrate the system. Unlike Chrome and Firefox, Opera is quite lightweight meaning that it can be used effectively well on less powerful systems. The downside of its popularity means there aren’t many extensions available. Users may also find compatibility issue with some website.
Supported Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Pros: Lightweight, Very secure, Torrent support
Cons: Compatability issues, Low customisation, No progress bar
Download link: https://www.opera.com/
This browser is the gateway to the ‘Deep Web‘. It is the most secure browser here due to its global encryption system that keeps the user anonymous from surveillance and traffic analysis. This also means that it can circumvent blocked sites, visit .onion sites and hides your IP address which sets it apart from all the other browsers albeit at a slower speed.
Admittedly, care must be taken as some sites are blocked for reason. Please educate yourself on the Deep web before setting out, for example, use with BitTorrent may expose your IP address.
Pros: Secure, Access to the deep web, circumvent censorship
Cons: Slow, Not recommended for novices, Unsafe if used inappropriately
Download link: https://www.torproject.org/download/download.html.en
That being said in a day and age where internet browsers are free there is massive competition. Google Chrome remains the most popular internet browser by a large margin, taking up 60% of the user market. This is no coincidence as it is superb in most aspects, as system memory gets cheaper this will definitely be the browser of tomorrow and our pick.