Which Web Browser Is The Best?

What is the best Web browser?

With the browser being just about the most important program on your computer, you have many options to choose from.

Yet, many never move past using the browser installed by the Operating System by default. Should you look for another browser? There are several to choose from, which one is the best? Even more important, which one is best for you?

I’ll be honest and tell you that the browser I think is best may not be the best for you.

However, there are some very good reasons to avoid using one or two of the more popular browsers when possible. You may be very comfortable with the default browser on your computer, or with one that was installed with some other software, but you need to really take a good look at what you are risking.

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK-W1wCNt-Y” type=”youtube”]Which Browser Is The Best?[/mc]

I am going to briefly cover the five most popular internet browsers for Windows.

With the exception of Microsoft Internet Explorer, they are all available for PC, Mac, and for the most part, Linux. I’ll try to give you the pros and cons of each. I’ll provide a link to each so you can install them if you want (with the exception of IE as it should already be installed on your computer). Testing out another browser won’t do your computer any harm. It can be a bit fun. All the browsers here are free downloads, and there is no cost for them.

In order to keep things working on your computer just like they are now, when you install one of these browsers, make sure not to make it the default browser when you install it. This is usually a box that you check (or uncheck) during the installation. If you do make a new browser the default by accident, don’t worry. Next time you start IE it will probably ask if you want to make it the default browser again. Just make it the default once more (unless you decide to keep the new browser as the default). You can always start any of the browsers from the start menu, program list, or shortcut icon.

Ok, lets get started!

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer Logo
Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft Internet Explorer (or IE for short) is the most popular browser in use everywhere.

This is because it is the default installed browser in the most popular Operating System – Windows. It is so popular that there are a few websites that only work properly in IE – a very bad, short-sighted design for a website as not every computer runs Windows. IE is a pretty good browser. It works very good. It is already installed (provided you’re running Windows) and nearly everyone knows how to use it.

IE’s popularity is also its weakness.

It is targeted the most often by malware writers. They know that since it has the largest user base, if they can break through IE they can infect the largest number of computers. They have found some very large and dangerous holes. Many of the worst malware attacks work best against IE. While almost no one seems better at regular updates to software than Microsoft, there is still almost always some vulnerability in IE that is being used by malware. I personally believe that if you are using IE for any casual surfing, you have a much larger risk of getting your computer infected with malware than with almost any other browser.

There have been some vulnerabilities in the past couple years that practically gave away any banking information that you may have used in Internet Explorer. Several website no longer even support earlier versions of IE because of security flaws in them. Even if you do not use IE regularly (and I suggest you do not) you need to keep it updated and use the latest version. At this time, IE 8 is the current version. If you are using IE7 or IE6, you should go to Windows update in your start menu and upgrade to IE8. IE9 is currently in beta testing but is not completely ready yet.

Don’t uninstall IE. Like I said, there may be some sites you need to use it on. For Windows XP you will need it for updates. I recommend NOT using IE unless you absolutely have to for anything else. Use another browser until you need it and then only on the site you need it for.

Safari

Similarly to IE, Safari is the default internet browser for the Apple Mac OS.

The Apple Safari Browser Logo
The Apple Safari Browser

It is also the browser for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod. You may be surprised to find you have is installed on your Windows computer too. I know I was once.

If you have a Windows computer and own an iPad, iPod, or iPhone you may have accidentally installed Safari with iTunes or Apple’s video player Quicktime. You may or may not have it (depending if you caught it and made sure it was not checked for installation-if you knew what it was). You may or may not even use it.

If you are using Mac OS (or an iPod, iPad or iPhone), Safari is probably an ok choice in those cases. I think you can do better, but it is ok.

If your are running Windows, I would avoid using Safari.

Actually, in my case I would uninstall it. Apple does not update the Windows version of Safari as often as it does the Mac OS version. Sometimes the Windows version of Safari is updated weeks later while known vulnerabilities exist. While Safari is not popular enough to be a major target, these holes in security are a definite risk to your safety online. Until Apple decides to take security seriously (at least with the Windows version of Safari) stay away from it.

I admit I do not have much experience using Safari so I can’t really know much in the way of any benefit a Windows user might gain from using it. Other than a website developer checking to see how a site might look in it (so it looks good to some Mac users that have Safari), I don’t see the point. You can do much better.

You can download Safari from Apple here.

Opera

The Opera Browser
The Opera Browser

Of the five browsers here, Opera is the least used.

I also admit I am not much of an Opera user. I do us Opera Mobile occasionally on my phone (where it is a big improvement over the default Blackberry browser). It does have some nice features. Opera features a “quick dial” screen that shows your favorite sites for quick access when you start up. Opera has some nice services integrated with the Opera website (blogging and syncing).

Opera has been getting very good reviews throughout the industry.

It gets frequent security updates so Iit should be very safe  (its lower use also makes it a bit less likely to be targeted heavily by malware). People who use it seem to love it. While I think it is a great browser, I don’t use it myself. I would definitely recommend it over Safari or IE. You may want to download it and see if it is right for you.

You can download Opera from Opera website here.

Firefox

Mozzila’s Firefox is one of the best browsers to choose from.

Mozzila Firefox Logo
The Firefox Browser

Firefox takes the place as IE’s biggest competitor (although Google’s Chrome may take that place soon if it has not already). There are many reasons why you may choose Firefox as your favorite browser.

Firefox has some amazing features.

Almost no other browser is as flexible. There are thousands of extensions available for Firefox expanding its usefulness. Some of these extensions are invaluable to bloggers and web developers who have provided a strong user base for Firefox and who then probably pushed its popularity.

Firefox’s themes can make it look nearly any way you would like. You can even make Firefox look and act a lot like IE. You can make it blend in to your Mac OS. The later versions of Firefox have added what Firefox calls Personas. These are kind of like a background behind the buttons at the top of the browser allowing you to decorate Firefox with your favorite movie or cause or just graphics. There are thousands of personas to choose from too. Make your copy of Firefox show your personality.

Firefox is also very secure.

Firefox benefits from the Open Source Community where anyone can view the code used and help fix bugs and security holes. The latest versions of Firefox will even check the plugins and extensions of your other browsers and let you know if they need updates. You can further secure Firefox with extensions like No-Script that can block any scripts in a hacked webpage from installing malware on your computer. Other extension are available to help keep your web surfing safe like WOT (Web of Trust).

Firefox has been up till recently my favorite browser. There are still reasons I need to use it from time to time (the FireFTP extension is one of the best FTP programs I have found for Windows). While it is not my top favorite at the moment, I still recommend it to anyone who is trying to find a new browser. You could not go wrong in choosing Firefox for your browser. I strongly recommend it.

You can download Firefox from the Mozilla website here.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome Logo
The Google Chrome Browser

Google Chrome is quickly becoming the browser of choice.

It has some amazing features that give Chrome many advantages. After trying it, Chrome quickly became my favorite (and default) browser. It also seems like every month it gets better with new features and refinements. There are a lot of reasons why I would suggest Chrome as your default browser, so here are some of the leading reasons.

Chrome is amazingly fast.

It is noticeably faster than other browsers. Try scrolling Google maps. I’ve found that in Chome, the maps almost drift when you drag it with a mouse, while IE jerks much slower (I use Google maps a lot). Chrome starts fast and loads pages lightning quick. In fact, there is a Google video comparing Chrome page loading to a generated lightning strike (Chrome wins). There is the promise of Chrome getting even faster in the near future when hardware acceleration if added to Chrome (a 30x speed increase is expected).

Chrome is also probably the most secure browser.

Chrome uses a technology called sandboxing to keep any malware that might get loaded on a webpage from infecting your computer (actually even from infecting other tabs in Chrome). This is a major improvement in software security that only a few programs have started to use. Chrome is open source so anyone can view the code and help find flaws that may cause problems. Chrome for Windows is automatically updated. You always have the latest and safest version of Chrome. Additionally, Chrome has its own version of Flash included inside (Flash is an add-on that is frequently attacked by malware as it is installed on nearly all computers). Chrome will soon also have its own PDF viewer inside too. Having these update with Chrome further increases safety. Finally, many of the security extensions available for Firefox like No-Script and WOT are also available for Chrome.

Chrome has a large number of extensions and Apps available.

There are is a large number of extensions available for Chrome. Also, just recently Google opened the Chrome App store. While some of these apps are paid apps, many of the most popular are free. Very likely, soon Chrome may have more apps and extensions available then Firefox (Mozillz does have plans to open an app store soon too). The reason for the Chrome app store is the soon release of the Google Chrome OS, and operating system that works entirely as the Chrome browser – all your programs will load in the browser with most of them using online services. What this has done is give the Chrome browser a huge source of apps and extensions and make it perhaps the most useful of any browser yet. It certainly takes the concept of the web browser to a new level.

I really feel the Chrome browser is the safest and most flexible browser available and I do recommend it as what I believe is the best browser. At least for now.

You can download and install the Google Chrome browser here.

No browser will be 100% safe.

Some of that safety still relies on your operating system (OS) and no OS is 100% safe either. Choosing a safer browser can make a difference between giving your bank account info away and keeping it safe. Even if you are comfortable with the default IE, you should consider using another browser just for the added safety. Don’t just hand over your personal or financial information. Always keep your browser and other software updated and use the latest versions.