Since the days of Netscape, we have all been fighting and claiming that one browser is better then the rest. Like any choice in life, we choose what works best for us and that is great. In this article I want to talk directly about Firefox and Chrome. Years ago a I left the comfort of Netscape for SeaMonkey and then Firefox. After years of Firefox I switched to Chrome, more specificity the open-source browser Chrome is based on.
I, at first, noticed the speed and polish of Chrome — not to mention something I call the Google Harmony effect, that is the synchronization with Google products and services. I will admit that Chrome is (typically) more secure than Firefox but there are a few areas of the browser experience that makes Firefox a little more beneficial than Chrome.
This is by far one of the most obvious differences. Mozilla gives you the ability to customise the heck out of the browser. For example, you can add and remove icons from the menu, thus changing the appearance and screen elements. Chrome does offer you some choice in customisation by allowing you to apply a skin choice but you are not able to change the location of icons or add new ones. Sure you can edit and move your add-on icons, but that home button stays put. In fact Firefox allows you to add sidebars and change font sizing and you can even do more with add-ons.
Maybe it’s just the Linux programmer in me, but I love choices and the ability to move things around.
Firefox offers you great theme choices and options — choices that go far beyond that of Chrome. Chrome will allow you to choose colours and background images but Firefox Personas and theme will change icons, menu colours and much more. Some themes also add menu bars and sidebars.
This is a big concern for most people, especially with all of the stuff the NSA has been exposed for recently. Mozilla has a great reputation of user privacy and protection, and you have a choice to what information you send to Mozilla. Chrome, on the other hand, is run by Google who does enjoy tracking your every action to better serve you… ads. Google is not very clear on what they do with the telemetry data they collect, but you can see what Mozilla does with data from here (that is, if you say its okay for Mozilla to collect).
4. Memory Usage
It seems that in the past Mozilla was the Beowulf’s Dragon of memory, aka it was a resource hog. Even now Firefox can be a bit hungry depending on how many add-ons it has to feed. Most users think Chrome is more efficient than Firefox but that just isn’t so any more. Chrome is built in such away that it creates an instance for each tab you open and so you endup using more memory. Some friends of mine decided to put this whole memory use thing to rest and they tested a few different browsers: Chrome, Firefox, IE9, Opera and Safari. After a whole bunch of super-geeky tests and benchmarking, it was shown that Chrome used more RAM then any other browser including Internet Explorer (ouch).
5. Extensions / Add-ons
The way Mozilla created Firefox, it gives third-party developers more power and choice for add-on creation and capabilities. This means that add-ons in Firefox have more super-powers and allow you to do more, including more “hacking capabilities.” Some of these add-ons allow you to customise things and offer better alternatives to some Mozilla built tools, like a replacement download manager or tab management.
Chrome, although it is better than other browsers in this area, is still lacking in the extension department when compared to Firefox and developers are more limited in what they can do with extensions. I also wanted to mention that malware Chrome add-ons can be very hard to remove beacuse many malicious add-ons will make it appear they were installed by an enterprise policy and prevent you from removing them. You have to navigate confusing folders and registry entries to remove them.
Most modern browsers allow you to have multiple tabs open, but a true web surfer like you might have 2o+ tabs open. In Chrome the size of the tabs decrease with each new tab that you open, until you can no longer differentiate between two tabs. Firefox handles tabs in a bit of a different way: instead of tabs getting smaller, Firefox has tab scrolling. This allows you to easily read which tab is which instead of guessing.
7. NPAPI Deprecation
Say what? I know you might not be a developer but in the end this will affect you too. Google has announced that it will get rid of all plug-ins in 2014. With that it means plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader or Java, or NPAPI-plugins, will be gone but not PPAPI plugins used by Chrome’s native Flash Player and PDF reader plugins. So by the end of this year, you won’t be able to run third-party libraries like Java unless Google has approved them. This demonstrates the control that Google is trying to have on developers and on you.
These are the seven reasons why I still prefer Firefox over rivals. Are you a Firefox user and have other reasons why you still use Firefox? Or maybe you no longer use Firefox or never used Firefox. Either way, share with us in the comments below your thoughts on this epic browser.