[Windows] Best free web browser — Chrome vs Firefox vs Internet Explorer vs Opera

Undoubtedly one of the most utilized pieces of software on any computer today is the web browser. Over the years, the web browser has become increasingly important and many functions previously characteristic of the ‘offline’ world such as the viewing and editing of text documents can be carried out from within a browser. With a plethora of web apps, online games and social networks, the web browser is definitely one of the staple apps on anyone’s PC. It can be amazing just how much time is spent online these days.

Since we are investing so much of our time in this one application, we should have a good one right? Well hopefully reading the review of the following browsers will help you to find one. A great browser is not as clear cut as the one with the fastest load times because features such as the support of extensions and various customizations are also important. Indeed, although a particular browser may not be the fastest, many persons will love it due to the extras it offers. It is for this reason that a single browser can not be singled out as being the best browser. Instead, we have highlighted several of the best browsers in this review.

In this review, we point out the best free web browsers we have encountered on Windows and highlight their functionality. Hopefully this helps you to find a great browser that suits your needs.

This review is part of our Best Free Windows Software section. Check out more articles on the best free Windows programs by clicking here.

Table of Contents [Chrome vs Firefox vs Opera vs Pale Moon vs Maxthon vs Internet Explorer vs Midori vs SRWare Iron]

Best Free Web Browser 1

Chrome ScreenshotProgram Name: Chrome

Developer: Google

Download Size: N/A

Version Reviewed: 28.0.1500.72

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

Discussion

Google Chrome is a stalwart of minimalism, displaying only what is needed for browsing and it does so quite effectively. Far from being bland Google Chrome really shows that sometimes less is more. Directing the browser to web pages as well as carrying out Google searches is carried out all from one area known in Chrome as the Omnibox. Extensions are located to the right of this and tabs can be found above while a bookmarks toolbar is found below the Omnibox. Also with bundled flash and pdf viewers, you won’t have to worry about downloading extra software to carry out basic functionality and with this also comes security benefits.

>Right off the bat, one of the great features of Google Chrome is that every single tab runs as an individual process. This way if one tab crashes, the entire browser does not crash and the one tab that crashed can be reloaded. Users can also pin tabs which they deem important in order to avoid getting your important tabs lost when you have several tabs open. The Omnibox is definitely a nice touch and it is very convenient. Another powerful feature is Google Instant which displays search results while you are typing a query in the Omnibox. The smart prediction of this feature can predict what you want to type before you even finish typing and results will also begin popping up as you type. It will not display explicit results however. This feature helps make your searching experience a breeze and will also potentially significantly speed up the process. Also of note is the initial opening of a new tab. The new tab page displays frequently visited pages as well as any installed web apps allowing users to easily access them.

As I mentioned before, Google Chrome comes bundled with both a Flash player as well as a PDF viewer. Doing so saves users the trouble of having to download this software and also helps to improve security — external PDF viewers have been exploited in the past. Chrome also supports many extensions which add desired functionality to the browser based on your needs — for example the Read It Later extension allows you to quickly save web pages which you want to view later. Many of us have more than one computer and probably access the internet from all of them. It can therefore be quite annoying not having access to your bookmarks or web history on each of them. Having a sync function in a Web Browser is therefore highly desirable and luckily Chrome implements a syncing feature and does so quite well. Passwords, preferences, themes, “apps,” auto-fill entries, extensions, and Omnibox history as well as bookmarks can be synced, making switching between machines a breeze.

Chrome also comes with a built-in task manager, meaning that any tabs, extensions or plugins pertaining to the browser can be viewed along with the memory, CPU or Network resources they are using. These processes can also be eliminated from within the task manager. Users will also find Incognito mode quite handy as this mode allows for ‘private’ browsing such that:

  • Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito aren’t recorded in your browsing and download histories.
  • All new cookies are deleted after you close all incognito windows that you’ve opened.
  • Changes made to your Google Chrome bookmarks and general settings while in incognito mode are always saved.

There is also the speech api which allows for Google searches to be carried out using speech.

Chrome is definitely a powerful browser but it is not without its flaws. Firstly although Chrome is generally quite fast, it can bog down older machines. It does work well on machines with newer multi-core processors however which most of us out there have anyway but that was a point worth mentioning. Additionally, although Chrome Instant can be magical, it does not work with slower internet connections so you will have to resort to slower searches whenever you encounter one of these. Also, one of the biggest concerns with Google Chrome is privacy — are you surprised? One of the biggest privacy concerns is with the Omnibox. Lots of information is stored on Google’s servers such as search and address history.

All in all, Chrome is one of the most popular browsers out there and it is easy to see why. A combination of fast browsing and handy features makes it a great piece of software.

Best Free Web Browser 2

Firefox ScreenshotProgram Name: Firefox

Developer: Mozilla

Download Size: 20.6MB

Version Reviewed: 22.0

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

Discussion

Firefox is another big name in the web browser game. Although it has lost ground to Chrome over the years, it is still a great browser with some powerful features and it is all open source.

Although, Firefox’s interface is not as basic as Google Chrome’s it is quite well organized without taking the minimalist approach but if you have got used to Google Chrome’s interface it may come across as a bit cluttered. Firefox’s interface can be customized with themes known as personas to add a bit of personal flavor to your browser. As you know, opening many tabs can lead to a cluttered, confusing experience. Luckily Firefox gives users the facility of grouping their tabs together in a manner which is convenient to them. Like Chrome, tabs can be pinned as well.

Firefox comes with a built in pdf but no built in flash player but the security benefits of having a built in pdf viewer are still there so users would only have to worry about going to Adobe’s website and downloading the flash player. Like Chrome, many add-ons are available which means that much functionality can be added through these. One thing to note with these add-ons however is that they can bog down Firefox’s performance. This was actually one of the main concerns users who jumped ship from Firefox to Chrome and other browsers so this is definitely something to watch out for. Otherwise Firefox is decent on system resources. Unlike Google Chrome, each tab is not a separate process, so if one tab crashes the whole browser crashes but with each process open in Chrome, more memory is taken up so Firefox has the advantage of using less memory in this regard but Chrome has the advantage that only a single tab would crash so either way a trade off is made. Firefox new tab page, like that of Google Chrome shows the most visited pages.

Users will enjoy the multiple search options included in Firefox. You can search Google, Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, Ebay, Twitter or even Ebay simply by clicking on the down arrow in the search toolbar and specifying which one you want. This functionality can come in quite handy and can save users quite a bit of time. The social APIs included with Firefox are also a nice touch. For example, Clickz displays news feeds and videos and there is also a built in Facebook Messenger for Firefox. This allows for persons who use Firefox as their main browser to easily access Facebook’s Messenger function without downloading the standalone Windows application or actually going to the Facebook website and logging in or out whenever you desire to use the messenger function. Firefox has one of the best syncing capabilities of the browsers reviewed here rivaled perhaps only by Maxthon. Firefox allows for the syncing of bookmarks,passwords, browsing history of sites visited over a 60 day period, add-ons installed on your computer or mobile device. What sets Firefox apart from its competitors is its ability to synchronize tabs as well as tab groups. Basically allowing you to seamlessly pick back up browsing from where you left of on another device.

Like Opera, Firefox has a ‘do not track’ mode which tells websites that you do not want your browsing behavior to be monitored and it also allows for private browsing similar to Google Chrome’s Incognito mode.

As you can see, Firefox is another big name which proves itself.

Best Free Web Browser 3

opera screenshotProgram Name: Opera

Developer: Opera Software

Download Size: 29.6MB

Version Reviewed: 15.0.1147.118

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

Discussion

If you’re looking for a speedy browser it will be well worth your time, taking a look at opera. Opera has taken into consideration persons with slow internet connections so that even they can browse at decent speeds. It has a simple interface which users will become accustomed to quickly, allowing for fast and easy operation.

Before jumping into its features, you should now that Opera has bragging rights for being the first to implement several features which are now considered standard on a web browser. Opera was the first browser to introduce tabs, it was the first to display frequently visited web sites in the form of thumbnails on the startup screen of your browser, they were the first to implement a built-in pop-up blocker, they also were the first to implement browser sessions which give the ability to resume a previous state of browsing prior to closing the browser and they were also the first to allow for the deletion of private data. I’m not saying that being the first to implement these features makes Opera by any means a better browser but they were worth noting.

Similarly to Google Chrome, Opera is designed with a minimalist approach; both web addresses and searches are entered in one bar. It also allows for themes which add a personal touch to the browser.

For fast browsing speeds, Opera has the ability to predict network actions in order to improve page loading times. In addition ‘offroad mode’ facilitates faster page loading on slow internet connections by first compressing web pages on opera’s servers before they are actually loaded on your computer. For your convenience, Opera possesses a re-open last closed tab function which comes in handy in the event of accidentally closed tabs. The Speed Dial option allows you to make a note of pages you would traditionally bookmark in other browsers. Pages stored using the Speed Dial option are stored in the form of a tile. In addition to the Speed Dial option users also have the option of saving favorite pages using the Stash option which is quite similar but does not use tiles to represent stored pages. You will also of course appreciate the added functionality which can be added to the browser through the many extensions which are available for it. You should also look out for the discover feature which displays top stories across a wide range of areas such as Arts, Science and Technology. User preferences for the various genres can also be specified.

Users will also appreciate the mouse gestures which allow for fast and simple navigation. For example — after making sure that mouse gestures are enabled — right clicking and swiping the mouse left or right either loads the last page or advances to the page you just came from respectively. Keyboard shortcuts can be utilized as well but mouse gestures tend to be more intuitive and thus users pick on them more quickly. Another powerful feature to take note of is Opera Link. It allows for the synchronization of the Speed Dial, notes, the personal bar, custom search engines, typed history as well as the content blocker list across multiple computers and mobile phones. For your peace of mind, it can be specified whether or not you want websites to track your behavior or not.

There are some issues that have reared their head with Opera however, despite it performing quite well. For one, it has been accused of having no real bookmark feature with some users complaining about the lack of the ability to organize pages in Speed Dial or the Stash into folders like what can be done in other browsers. In addition Opera has been accused of compatibility issues in the past but I actually ran into none but you should keep an eye out for this I guess.

If you ever get around to using Opera you will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that it is both easy to use and powerful and you may just fall in love with it.

Best Free Web Browser 4

Pale moon screenProgram Name: Pale Moon

Developer: Mr. M.C. Straver

Download Size: 14.6MB

Version Reviewed: 20.2.1

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

Discussion

Pale Moon is a stable browser based on the quite well known Firefox. It will seem very familiar to anyone who has ever used Firefox before but it is optimized for faster performance than its counterpart.

What separates Pale Moon from Firefox is that Firefox is designed to be as compatible as possible with as many computers as possible while Pale Moon is optimized from the core to try to extract the maximum amount of performance. While Firefox can be tweaked with add-ons to improve performance, Pale Moon manages to beat it out since it is optimized from its core up.

Pale Moon’s interface is almost exactly like Firefox except with a few small changes. Firstly there are none of the accessibility options found in Firefox and also – less noticeably – the bookmarks toolbar is enabled by default. In addition, parental controls are also disabled. Also Pale Moon’s opening screen is a bit different showing users some useful links as well as giving them an opportunity to make a monetary donation to the Pale Moon developers. It also allows users to use a ‘low-fi’ option which helps users browsing on slow connections. Pale Moon also displays a genuine status bar which actually displays the progress of the page which is currently loading. It is also able to use existing Firefox profiles with a migration tool which is readily available.

Beware though, some of Pale Moon’s optimization has come at the expense of the disabling of support for older processors so if you have an ‘ancient’ computer you will have to settle for regular, unoptimized Firefox. At least you will have the peace of mind that any of the modifications made will not affect in any way the way web pages are displayed.

Best Free Web Browser 5

Maxthon ScreenshotProgram Name: Maxthon

Developer: Maxthon

Download Size: N/A

Version Reviewed: 4.1.0.4000

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

Discussion

Maxthon is a cloud based browser whose current version is based on Chrome and Internet Explorer, making it compatible with most all Chrome and Internet Explorer extensions. Additionally, content can be easily synced across all devices on which it is located. It is not one of the big names like Chrome or Firefox but it has great functionality and may just give you a pleasant surprise.

One of the most coveted features of Maxthon is its cloud functionality. Maxthon passport is the feature which facilitates this cloud functionality. Registering for a free Maxthon passport account will allow users to gain access to the free cloud services previously mentioned. Some of the more notable cloud features are as follows:

  • Cloud download — instead of downloading files to your computer, you can choose to download files to your personal cloud which can then be accessed from any of your machines running Maxthon.
  • You can push the current page you’re viewing to any of your Maxthon machines as well
  • Tab syncing shows all tabs open on another device

Immediately on opening Maxthon, you will love that it is customizable and that it allows for the setting of background images. One other aspect of Maxthon which you will appreciate is its split screen feature. This allows for the splitting up of the browser into two vertical sections which can be viewed at the same time with each section displaying their own tab. Basically this feature allows for the viewing of two separate tabs simultaneously without actually opening two separate windows. Users will also appreciate the fact that the browser supports mouse gestures — similarly to Opera. If you are not impressed yet, you will be when you discover that Maxthon also has a built in screenshot snapper. Another great feature is the night mode option which allows for the inverting of dark and light colors in order to improve visibility in low light conditions( or at night of course). In addition, Maxthon allows for the reading of RSS and Atom feeds. While browsing these feeds you may appreciate the reading view which allows for the viewing of text heavy pages more easily.

Included with Maxthon is a feature known as the resource sniffer which identifies all audio, video and image information and allows for the downloading of this media either from all pages or from all opened pages. Luckily Maxthon is compatible with Chromium extensions, meaning that adding functionality to this already great browser can be achieved without much hassle. Two page rendering engines are made use of in order to ensure the maximum compatibility with web pages. Retr0 mode makes use of both engines while ultra mode only uses one engine meaning that the speed of the browser should increase but some webpages may subsequently become incompatible with the browser.

There are some issues which can be found with Maxthon unfortunately. The most irking one is its limited tab handling. Users can not ‘pop’ out a tab in order to open a new browser window or to transfer the tab to another open browser window which is pretty much standard in most modern browsers. Users are limited to swapping the positions of tabs. Also, you must manually select a tab before you can close it.

Beside these faults, Maxthon and its convenient cloud features as well as features such as the screenshot snapper as well as the resource sniffer will entice users who want the most out of their browser and who can blame them — Maxthon is a powerhouse.

Honorable Mention 1

Internet explorer screenshotProgram Name: Internet Explorer

Developer: Microsoft

Download Size: N/A

Version Reviewed: 10.0.9200.16660

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

NOTE: The latest version of Internet Explorer, 10, is only available on Windows 7 and 8

Discussion

While it is true that Internet Explorer has gained a negative reputation with past versions, Internet Explorer 10 has improved leaps and bounds and actual performs quite well these days. Although, it looks similar to other iterations of Internet Explorer, you’re in for a surprise.

Internet Explorer 10 really pays close attention to the privacy of users. For example, the browser comes integrated with tracking deterrents which allows for personal information not to be shared with any and anyone. As expected of a modern browser it has the usual private browsing mode but you will also appreciate the tracking protection option which prevents third parties from gaining information from your computer and blocks maliciously placed cookies

Another neat feature is the built in spell checker and similarly to Google’s Chrome, both searches and web addresses are entered into one bar but compared to Chrome, the option to automatically suggest searches can be switched off meaning that less information is shared which is one of the issues with using Chrome. The One Box does however lack the Instant function found in Chrome. Also the preferred search engine can be specified directly from this so called ‘One box’ unlike with Chrome where this can only be set via the Settings page. Pinned sites are also an asset, allowing for frequented or desirable sites to be easily and quickly accessed. Internet Explorer also supports various extensions, allowing for increased functionality.

It is clear that a big effort was put forward in this particular build of Windows and as Microsoft quite rightly states, it is both fast and fluid. One of my only gripes is that the tab and the One Box are located in the same ‘row’ which means that the window can appear cluttered if several tabs are opened. Also Internet Explorer 10 does not run on Windows XP and Vista — quite a bummer for the many longstanding XP users out there.

Before you write me off, I urge you to give Internet Explorer 10 a try and see what it is like for yourself and you just might like it.

Honorable Mention 2

Midori ScreenshotProgram Name: Midori

Developer: Christian Dywan

Download Size: 33.2MB

Version Reviewed: 0.5.4

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

Discussion

There’s not much to say about Midori but don’t let that fool you. Sometimes simplicity is quite beautiful… and fast.

By default, Midori makes use of Duck and Go as its search engine which is very secure and strives to keep your information anonymous and private. Basically Midori is a no-frills browser but it sure does get the job done. It is lightweight, speedy and stable and would be ideal on older machines.

This browser is not for those users who are looking for all the features under the rainbow, it allows you to do what it should and quite well at that — browse the web efficiently. Give this one a try, I’m sure you’ll like it.

Honorable Mention 3

Program Name: SRWare Iron

Developer: SRWare

Download Size: 28.3MB

Version Reviewed: 28.0.1550.0

Requires: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

Discussion

I won’t say much about SRWare Iron but I felt this browser is worth mentioning.

SRWare Iron is a fork of Google Chrome — it is built upon Chrome’s source code. However, SRWare Iron is privacy-focused — it strips out all the not-privacy-friendly aspects of Chrome. The best part is SRWare Iron does this without sacrificing much, if anything; SRWare Iron has all the same features as Chrome (including the ability to use Chrome extensions and themes). Plus SRWare Iron has a portable version.

Check out SRWare Iron if you like Chrome but want better privacy.

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60 comments

  1. Elben

    [@pulikkalo basheer]

    Firefox has all the features that you have listed.

    For download link:
    Right click of the downloading file and click copy download link

    To save in desired directory:
    Open Options and in the general tab select “Ask me where to save files”

    Firefox has the speed dial atleast on the newer versions

  2. BearPup

    I have a new favorite – Pale Moon. Its a Firefox derivative, dedicated to 64 Bit systems, that is very fast and stable. Its become my browser of choice after several months of testing. It combines the ease of accessing sites like IE provides (all of Microsoft’s sites are available to me), with the security features of Firefox. Check it out at PaleMoon.org

  3. pulikkalo basheer

    I love to use Opera for the following reasons:
    – It gives full path of file being downloaded, so that I can copy and paste it to a download manager for extra speed.

    – It displays the location of the downloading file,
    and lets you to change the location before the download starts.

    – It has a speed dial which allows saving and visiting frequently used sites.

  4. Darcy

    Despite my hatred of Chrome, you make several good points about the browser. My biggest complaints are the tracking concerns, Lack of certain add-ons I consider essential and the fact that it will not handle all types of links. With your review here I will have to re-think that.

    To be fair, I only know of one type of link that it doesn’t recognize or use and that one is rare on the Internet. Only one site I know of uses that type of link.

  5. RealBull

    William, thanks for the article. I think it had to be pretty difficult to write a review about web browsers. A lot of time and research goes into it. I thought it was a fair article and enjoyed reading about it.
    Soon Opera-Presto will be dead and this article helped me decide what browser I will use as the main one in the future.

  6. ElwoodJr

    [@BearPup] I’ve never tried MozBackup, but I feel that the Febe extension, which backs up profile data either the whole thing or just the parts you want backed up to a location you can choose for yourself is a really great extension.

    It also works with SeaMonkey profiles, which I consider to be a huge plus. So many extension developers leave SeaMonkey out when they develop their extensions, but there still are many others who don’t leave it out.

    SeaMonkey is a fairly complete browser (among other things), but I still like my extensions and all that is needed to make Firefox extensions work in SeaMonkey (in most cases) are a couple of short lines in the install.rdf file (contained within the .xpi file, which is really just a renamed .zip file) saying that it’s compatible with SeaMonkey.

    I wonder if anybody even tried SeaMonkey, because if they had, I think it would have at least made the list.

  7. BearPup

    First, a “Thank You” to William for an excellent review, especially given the myriad of browsers out there (I hadn’t even heard of several mentioned in the review).

    Which brings me to my observation / question. I notice that none off the highlighted browsers were specifically singled out as 64 Bit browsers. Was it happenstance, by design, or by whatever that 64 Bit browsers didn’t make the higher rankings? Are there any 64 Bit browsers that rank at least an Honorable Mention?

    In the same vein, a question about backing up browsers – how feasible, how difficult, how possible to do? Given the lack of products I’ve found, I’d like a program to backup web pages, URL addresses, cookies, passwords, and backup and browser settings. I’d like a similar program for my email client.

    Since I currently use MozBackup for my Firefox and Thunderbird programs, I’ve been reluctant to try other browsers without readily available backup programs, especially those x64 browsers. Do other browsers have backup programs available for them or do they have their own backup routines already incorporated into them?

  8. lazyboy

    In your review of Firefox, you say it get’s bogged down or runs slower with many add-ons. I don’t find that at all, Chrome on the other hand slows down and eat’s up nearly twice the memory!! I run firefox with more add-ons, nearly double then what I use for Chrome and have no issues. Ashraf, run your tests again with the same add-ons for both browsers, check the memory usage, especially the commit total. I still find Chrome will not render some websites correctly, firefox all the way!!

  9. Dave- The D Is Silent

    I’m a chromium user and I recently started using a very cool chromium browser called Torch. It’s compatible with both windows and mac and it has a media grabber, a torrent client and a download accelerator all built-in. It’s great, check it out!

  10. stilofilos

    [@Grantwhy]
    Many thanks for the clarification.
    However, it then did not make its clean-up work well, as in this case the registry items were still there afterwards… Maybe a glitch in it’s interaction with windows. Anyhow, it remains bad manners that I would not expect from ‘portable’ applications. They (in fact all programs) should always keep their settings and specific tools in their own program folder instead of changing or adding things to the OS, be it in theory temporarily. I suppose that is exactly why I am not the only one to prefer really portable applications…

  11. Grantwhy

    [@stilofilos]

    If you got the Portable Firefox from the PortableApps website it does contain the ‘genuine’ Firefox

    To the best of my knowledge to work it (temporarily) adds setting to the registry.

    If you looked at the registry while FirefoxPortable was running then yes, you are going to see stuff related to Firefox. To the best of my understanding, what should happen is when you close down FirefoxPortable any registry entries added are removed.

    >> ” I also noticed in Process Manager that there were two Firefox instances running”

    I’m guessing you saw FirefoxPortable.exe and Firefox.exe

    Firefox.exe is the Firefox browser.
    FirefoxPortable.exe is the program that is responsible for launching Firefox + adding and removing the bits of information that get added to the registry (and probably does other stuff as well).

    When you shut down FirefoxPortable, Firefox.exe shuts down first and then after removing anything temporarily added FirefoxPortable.exe will shut down.

    Running Firefox.exe directly [from the FirefoxPortable folder] instead of running FirefoxPortable.exe will run Firefox as if it was a local (installed) program which will leave information behind/in the registry and, from memory, will not have any of your bookmarks/add-ins as those are stored in the FirefoxPortable folders = not where a local install of Firefox would store them.

  12. kevbo

    In order of most to least used:

    1-Opera: my fave, some minor issues but suits my browsing style well
    2-Commodo Dragon: because it not quite Chrome
    3-IE: because I need to for certain, dated websites for work
    4-FF: installed, but seldom used

  13. Unamericanize Your Internet

    I installed Maxthon on 2 Android devices, seems to be a good browser yet complicated an confusing, unlogic. Really can‘t figure out how to sync the favorites to the 2nd device. Anyone who can expain ?

  14. stilofilos

    [@Grantwhy]
    I once had a portableaps version of Firefox. It created hundreds of items in my registry. I did not continuously look behind my computer’s scene, so I don’t know whether it was that program itself that had called genuine Firefox in, or maybe Firefox itself that had forced an update through it, but I am definitely sure that there was no original Firefox and not one registry item of it before I unpacked that portable thing… Portable ? I also noticed in Process Manager that there were two Firefox instances running, killed the portable one and restarted the other, and guess what…
    If you take that portable version to someone elses machine, and it messes around there in the same way… With my experience, I would never recommend their things, certainly not without adding ‘at your own rsk’…

  15. Grantwhy

    as for the question of which is the ‘best’ browser, I’d have to ask “for whom?”

    off the top of my head I can think of three types of users.

    1) For someone who doesn’t know much about computers and wouldn’t know how to change a browser setting even with written instructions. (I work in the same office as him :-p)

    2) For someone who is competent but doesn’t want to go looking for addons? (the ‘out of the box’ type)

    3) For someone who is more than happy to use many, many addons and customise the way the brower looks/acts?

    I fall into the third group and use the latest Firefox ESR release (portable install). I have one “OMG-I-can’t-surf-without-it” addon that seems to have been abandoned by it’s author [not updated in a long time] and doesn’t work on the latest FF versions.

    My main backup brower is Comodo Ice Dragon (portable install), but have quite a few others (all portable installs) if I need/want them.

    ps: for anyone wanting to test different browser without installing them to your system, I recommend the portable installs over on PortableApps.

    >> http://portableapps.com/apps/internet

    They aren’t all there, but there are a few to try.

  16. Grantwhy

    [@Louis]

    “Even more strange, although I suspect it’s because they force the browser to use their dns servers”

    I use ComodoIceDragon (portable install option) as a backup browser and there is an option (on install) to use or NOT use Comodo’s DNS, and I would be surprised if there was not an option to stop using their DNS.

    ok, after a quick google search

    for Comodo Ice Dragon, go to

    Tools > Advanced > General

    uncheck the “Enable malware domain filtering (Comodo Secure DNS)

  17. Darcy

    FireFox all the way but I don’t follow their update schedules, I’m still on 14.0.1. Luckily they seem to have realized they won’t get anywhere by trying to copy Chrome, and have promised they will slow down the update schedule. I still haven’t seen any sign of that but I’m hoping they will at least slow it down enough the Add-ons can keep up.

  18. Mags

    I prefer FF, h8 IE, and refuse to use Chrome (for many obvious reasons.)

    However I do have an issue with FF with the constant updating to new versions. So here is a thought! If reviewing FF why not do a review on different versions. I know it is a lot to ask, but I find that some of the older versions are much more stable than their recent issues. I used FF v. 3.x for the longest time and finally updated to v. 16 after reading Asraf’s article about it and on his recommendation. I was happy with it, but not happy with later versions. I stopped updating at v 19 and will return to v. 16 when a do a fresh reinstall on my PC next month.

    [@A&L] My son also has the same issues as you with flash, and it is another reason why I don’t like the constant updating for FF.

  19. Louis

    [@stilofilos] Hi, thanks, appreciate the info — that’s enough for me !

    Besides, I already noticed that despite their promises about anonymity — the site I use to indicate whether my browser does geo-locate me, shows that it indeed does so.

    Even more strange, although I suspect it’s because they force the browser to use their dns servers, it can not display FB & youtube from within mainland China,. even though I’nm on the VPN, which works just fine in all other browsers.

    So it’s revo uninstall time.

  20. stilofilos

    [@Louis]
    I noticed the crapware they had installed without telling me, let alone asking me (geekbuddy and antierror, they call it ‘security’ tools but it appears to be plain spyware) , and only days after I had installed it, they gave me an update (18 04 2013) in which it messed enough around in my system to kill itself and keep my whole system hanging endlessly.
    I don’t need any longer an experience to wait and see what more it could offer… , and so uninstalled it and went back to the genuine Firefox.
    After that i noticed that it even had recreated a few files in my local settings , of which I was definitely sure that I had deleted them permanently after I had found them somewhat later…. What more is left over in my system…?
    Regseeker told me that it had left 610 registry items as well.

    Speed ? Bad behaviour is the dealbreaker for me, counting fractions of seconds makes no sense with the poor quality of internet service in this country… I also guess that the number of addons will be a factor in that, too – I mean, what do you prefer, more functionality and security, or more speed ?

    @William : Firefox for me. Definitely. I tried almost all other browsers that I saw passing the review on this site, and always returned to FF. Same as for other people above : addons for both security and functionality. Despite FF crippling them continuously… the others can still not beat it.

  21. Louis

    Anyone has real experience (meaning over an extended period of time, to discover it’s shortcomings) with Comodo IceDragon (the FF one) ?

    I’m testing it now, to see whether the 2 things that they claim (besides the security part), are true : (1) that it’s faster than FF — this being very important, and (2) that it’s compatible with all FF addons (which is why FF is such a nice browser really).

    I’m testing it, but opinions can only be formed over relatively long periods of use (months).

    Anyone that can give me some insight in their experience with it ?

  22. Patara

    Maxthon 4. Has dual display engines so it has no problems displaying IE webpages or Webkit based pages. Comes with a large collection of good Add-ons including a fantastic Capture Tool that also takes great Scrolling screen captures. Maxthon has been my default browser for years. I also use Maxthon2, Firefox and IE10.

  23. Godel

    Firefox, because of all the security (and other) add-ons, such as NoScript, AdBlock Plus, Perspectives etc, etc.

    Also, the “better the devil you know” factor.

    I just wish they’d stop making changes that break my add-ons with every new version.

  24. weylin

    Here is some info:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_browsers

    Chromium Based:
    Chromium, Google Chrome, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Opera Next

    Mozilla Based:
    Firefox, Seamonkey, Comodo Ice Dragon, Waterfox x64, Pale Moon x64, Cyberfox x64

    Internet Explorer Based:
    Internet Explorer, Avant, Maxthon

    Others:
    Opera, Safari, K-Meleon, Konqueror, Lunascape, Torch Browser, SlimBoat, Flock

    I use Chrome but I may change to SRWare Iron or Comodo Dragon.

  25. smaragdus

    Unfortunately all browsers suck, some terribly- Chrome, Opera, IE, Safari, some just a bit- SeaMonkey, PaleMoon. The only browser that was really light and fast- K-Meleon died 3 years ago and since then not a breath of fresh air.

  26. Seamus McSeamus

    Firefox as my primary. Love the add-ons. I tried Waterfox and was pleased with it for a while, but then it started hogging my RAM, even with a fresh install. Never figured out why, so I returned to FF, although recently I have been using Cyberfox and really like it.

    Secondarily, I use Opera and Chromium.

  27. BearPup

    I use two browsers: IE10 for work (at Microsoft Community Forum) and Firefox 22 for personal usage. IE 10 is less secure, but I need it to sign-in to Microsoft.com. Firefox is more secure which can make viewing some websites difficult.

    The other component here is the backup capability. Firefox has MozBackup, which will backup both Thunderbird and Firefox reliably and easily. I’ve not had any problems restoring either TBird or FF after running MozBackup, including bookmarks, emails, and websites (passwords and settings included).

  28. JonE

    Firefox v15 with IE Tab 2 (FF 3.6++) extension addon installed. Was using FF v20 for a while courtesy of Mozilla because I failed to set options before restart, started having problems and reverted back to v15. My favorite extension addons are Adblock Plus (& Pop-up Addon), All-in-one-Sidebar, Brief (RSS), FEBE (& CLEO), Netcraft Anti-Phishing Toolbar (used this long before v3), and Weather Watcher Live.

    Maxthon 2 as IE alternative, although IE Tab 2 works pretty darn well with FF.

    Comodo Dragon & SRWare Iron as Chrome alternatives, although I rarely use either.

    Installed Maxthon Cloud Browser, but didn’t care for it, also the new version of Opera and don’t much care for it either.

  29. Louis

    I’ve never had a problem with any IE site on Chrome (but I’m sure that problem may exist in every other browser, however its a website design shortcoming, not a browser shortcoming).

    Traditionally I always liked FF, but under real world conditions, I permanently have 40 tabs open, when my browser opens.

    This is fixed. So to compare apples with apples, I have opened the exact same sites in 40 tabs in both Chrome and FF, one after the other,. after a cold boot, and leave it for 30 minutes. After that I find FF to be EXTREMELY sluggish, and it takes almost twice the time to load new links than does Chrome.

    That’s the dealbreaker that made me return to Chrome time and again, despite many great things about FF.

    Here’s another great thing about Chrome :

    If it does start to consume a lot of RAM, it is easy to identify the culprit website (tab), just by opening Task manager (Win 7) — each website / tab is listed as a separate process, and you simply end that process — and reclaim the ram. The nice thing is : The tab do not get closed— it just gives you the sad face “it’s broken’ sign, but your tab is still there, it’s only the content that’s not displayed anymore —you can just press reload when you need that webpage again.

    Regarding the location tracking issue — this has me putting Chrome on trial now — I’ve done the commonly known things to disable ‘track my location’ settings, and some not so common ones, which involve clearing the Google Maps page of your current location / checking the “Check ‘Never show an alert for unusual activity'” feature on Gmail to disable gmail itself tracking your location, and finally using a website to monitor whether your browser tracks your geolocation, for the past 2 weeks, so far so good.

    http://no-geolocation.blogspot.com/

    http://techlogon.com/2013/04/23/how-to-disable-geolocation-in-ie-chrome-or-firefox/

  30. RealBull

    I’ll probably be the only one to mention Opera (v12+). It is the fastest browser, has a built in mail client and supports extensions. Very customizable, too. The down side is that it is the least website compatible browser. And too bad it will become a Google Chrome clone with all of the nice features stripped out (especially the mail client). I couldn’t recommend the Chrome version at all.
    Once Opera changes completely to the Chrome/Blink engine, I will use Comodo Ice Dragon and/or Palemoon which are gecko/Mozilla browsers. These Mozilla browsers are the fastest in it’s category. I’m surprised they haven’t been reviewed here on dotTech yet.
    Here is my recommended list ranked in order:
    1) Opera 12 (Presto engine)
    2) Comodo Ice Dragon
    3) Palemoon (32 & 64 bit)
    4) SRWare Iron (The REAL private browser)
    5) Comodo Dragon
    6) Water Fox (64bit only)
    7) SlimBoat (the amazing underdog! Try it, you might like it)

    Some nostalgia: K-Meleon, the browser that could have been great….

  31. A&L

    I like firefox but have been having flash issues, sometimes with embedded flash the browser will minimize to the tray as soon as the site opens, turning off flash plugin fixes it, but then i can’t watch youtube.
    Using cyberfox now, 64 bit version of FF, no flash problems.

  32. Mike

    IE 10 has worked well for me–it has steadily improved over time. Still wish it had more extensions, especially the standards–e.g. AdBlock and Sessions Manager.

    Had been a Firefox guy, but it got too unstable for me, crashing frequently. Hopefully, that’s improved.

    And Chrome is around as a seemingly rock-solid performer, albeit with a somewhat typical Google lack of a bit of flexibility.

  33. Jim-1

    I like Chrome a lot, but there is problem with some web sites that require IE because they do not work properly with Chrome. With most of those sites, I can use a plug in that runs IE in a Chrome tab.

  34. KMHamm

    I use Chrome for most browsing, IE to listen to Pandora only (since a lot of sites have probs with IE it seems), and occasionally Lunascape. Chrome, Safari, and Lunascape seem toload quickly and take the least resources. I’ve never tried Firefox.