Browsers are one of the few indispensable pieces of software. If you want to use the Internet, you’ve pretty much gotta choose a browser. And there’s so much to choose from! There are the Big 4: Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox………um, and what else? They are all decent browsers but they may not be the best for your computer. It turns out that there is a fair number of very viable what-elses. And you should definitely consider some of them as your primary or secondary browser. And here are some reasons why:
Privacy: You want to be alert to how often the browser gets security updates (the more the better) and its privacy tools. You also want to be aware of how trackable the browser is. A closed-source browser is a bit concerning, since you can’t determine what’s been hidden in the code.
Security: This is actually a very important criteria. Browsers are the software most frequently targeted by hackers who send malicious code to your computer. If you use what turns out to be an infected website and you allow a website to run code on your machine, you are a candidate for infection. That’s not good. An advisor feature that ranks sites based on their safety record when they appear in search results is a good feature to have. Also, web browsers are the means by which companies like Google and Facebook harvest your data. In light of the recent data scandals, a secure browser affords an additional level of data protection.
Speed/Memory: Some of the Big 4 browsers are also some of the biggest memory hogs. Chrome may be among the worst of these. It is fast, but because it saves your internet history to improve your search results, ads, and other Google products, it consumes a lot of computing power. If you have an older computer, you’ll be subjected to slow-downs and shut-downs.
So What Are Some Alternative Browsers?
Opera is a little known browser that makes up less than 1% of the browser market. But it may be the best one for slow Internet access. It is a nice piece of software — comparable to the Big 4 — but it does something that no other browser does. It compresses your web traffic, routing it through Opera’s servers, which makes a huge difference to browsing speed if you’re stuck on rural dial-up or your broadband connection. Opera also boasts a built-in AdBlocker, a battery saving mode and chat services like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger built into a sidebar on the left side of the Opera browser window.
Vivaldi is another browser worth considering. It’s a relatively new browser — started in 2016 — as a alternative to Opera. (Vivaldi’s origins is a fun story in entrepreneurial chutzpah) It’s primary distinguishing feature is that it is fast. Really fast! They’ve done a nice job of minimizing memory hogging. Along with its unusual interface, innovative tab stacking and syncing functionalities, Vivaldi also provides end-to-end encryption. This makes it tougher for anyone to hack into your browsing history.
Tor is THE privacy-focused browser — bar none. It is relied upon by activists, journalists, authors, and others whom a repressive government might want to monitor. On the other hand, Tor also covers the tracks of Web criminals. So it is a powerful browser that can be used for good as well as for evil. It is based upon Firefox and it uses seven distinct proxies, so it makes it difficult to track traffic. Nothing is tracked or stored; including bookmarks. But it is slow…….so you may want to limit its use for only the most sensitive websites that you visit.
Maxthon – built on IE platform, it is a solid browser that allows you to sync with other computers and offers superior security features. You can delete all traces of your browsing manually, or set it up to delete them automatically when you close the browser. The browser also blocks pop-ups, spyware and viruses. The word-of-mouth on the Internet is very favorable, but it has yet to catch fire……so far. Worth a look.
There are some additional alternative web browsers recommended by our favorite computer guru, Bob Rankin: