Firefox, Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave

O

laptop browser

photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Your browser logo is probably a colorful circle with a blue center. I am of course referring to Chrome, the browser of choice for about 65% of internet surfers. Don’t worry, I’m not here to beat you up. There are some good reasons to choose Chrome over the rest. It’s simple, fast, integrates with Google services and supports tons of extensions.

But there are also many reasons why you might want to break free from Google’s grip. Chrome is notoriously weak when it comes to privacy, which is no surprise given the fact Google lives from collecting your data. Google has added some privacy controls to Chrome, but the best way to protect your data in the browser is to use privacy-focused extensions. What a hassle! Chrome also has a reputation for draining your system’s battery life and eating up RAM.

While no browser is perfect, there are many alternatives to Chrome that offer stronger privacy protections and a more efficient browsing experience. That’s not to say everyone should abandon Chrome — it just depends on what you prioritize in a browser. Hopefully this guide will help you find the best one for your needs.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox

picture: fire fox

Fast, safe, and easy to use, Firefox tends to be the target for those moving away from Google or their preinstalled operating system browser. Firefox isn’t based on Chromium, so don’t feed the beast you’re about to give up, and its nonprofit founder Mozilla has a strong (though not intact) has a reputation for protecting the privacy of its users.

Firefox, an open-source software, is second to none when it comes to security, and you’ll recognize it the moment you download the browser. That’s because Mozilla claims it “collects so little data about you that we don’t even need your email address to download it.” Notable features include a private browsing mode that automatically clears your cookies, history, and passwords when you close the browser; Tracking protection that blocks ads and websites that try to track you secretly; an unauthorized cryptomining blocker; and a plug-in specifically designed to block Facebook from following you around the web. Firefox also blocks trackers by default and has a built-in password manager.

You can also expect good performance from Firefox, although you may encounter a rare compatibility issue. In general, Firefox is fast (though not as lightweight as Edge) and its customizable interface should suit most users. While Firefox isn’t the most feature-rich, it does have some nice additions not available in Chrome, including containers that let you separate work, shopping, or personal browsing without clearing your history, logging in and out, or using multiple browsers too have to.

While Edge comes preinstalled on Windows PCs and Chrome is tied to Chromebooks, Firefox is the default browser many Linux distributions. Ready to switch? Here are 12 things you didn’t know you could do in Firefox.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge

picture: Microsoft

For that, I accept the criticism: Microsoft’s new browser is good. It’s actually very good, to the point where you could actually forget the disaster that Internet Explorer was. Edge is also one of the most direct alternatives to Chrome, because it runs on the same engine, Google’s “Chromium”. Because of this, Edge and Chrome share a lot in common, including a similarly stark design, shared extensions, and near-identical tab management. You can even sync passwords, bookmarks, addresses, and more from Edge to Chrome without much hassle.

So if you’re looking for a whole new experience, Edge isn’t the answer for you. If you want to keep everything you loved about Chrome while still getting a few perks, look no further. The main reasons for using Edge over Chrome are its more efficient use of resources, particularly your system’s RAM, and its more robust security features (Chrome sets a low bar, mind you). Edge also has some useful exclusive features: sidebar search lets you look up highlighted terms in a sidebar search engine, websites can be installed as standalone apps, a built-in coupon and promo feature can save you tons of money, and collections are a great option , organize related searches.

There will be a short transition period before you get Edge that fits your needs. The first thing you need to do is exchange Bing with your favorite search engine (Google maybe?). Microsoft is also happy to bombard you with recommendations on how to use its other products. Oh, and do yourself a favor by ignoring the warnings that come up if you try to download a different browser.

Edge is available for free on all major platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. It is the default browser installed on Windows PCs.

Vivaldi

Vivaldi browser

picture: Vivaldi

If you haven’t tried stacking tabs yet, download Vivaldi — you might keep it for that feature alone. Simply drag one tab over another and it’ll be stacked in one of three ways: on a second level below, hidden within the same tab (hover over to see all tab previews), or merged with the same tab (hover hover over an arrow icon to expand).

Combine tab stacking with strong data protection measures, and it’s easy to see why Vivaldi is one of the most popular alternative web browsers. On the subject of data protection, Vivaldi does not create, track, or sell your information while you surf the Internet. The browser can’t show you the websites you’re visiting, what you’re downloading, or what you’re looking for. Additionally, there is a powerful built-in ad tracker/blocker and an end-to-end sync tool. It is worth noting that Vivaldi is based on Google’s Chromium engine.

In some context, Vivaldi was designed for power users and was designed to bring back the older version of Opera before it switched to Chromium. In fact, Vivaldi was founded in 2014 by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, a co-founder and former CEO of Opera. It’s fast, highly customizable (to the point where it gets messy if you’re not careful), and conforms to web standards.

Vivaldi is available on Windows, macOS, Linux and Android. There is no iOS app (yet).

Brave

Brave browser

picture: Brave

Another Chrome alternative for those who value privacy, Brave is a free, open-source browser with anti-tracking and adblock protection. It’s a particular favorite among crypto owners as it has a cryptocurrency wallet built right into the browser so you don’t have to use an extension. This particular feature is controversial, among other things Users who use Brave for its fast performance, strict privacy standards, and Chrome extension support. It didn’t help this Brave was catched inserting affiliate links at the end of certain URLs.

Brave isn’t the most feature-rich browser, but one headline-grabbing addition is called De-AMP, which skips any page rendered using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMD) framework and takes users to the direct website instead. Basically, Brave cuts out the middle person. The browser argues that AMP is harmful to users “and the web as a whole” because it gives Google more information about your browsing habits and can slow down pages. However, Brave’s real claim to fame is how it wipes out ads and replaces them with its own.

Brave is a free Chromium-based browser available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.

Opera

Opera

picture: Opera

Opera isn’t the best at anything, but it doesn’t have too many downsides either. The Chromium-based browser promises to block ads and trackers natively, and there’s even a built-in VPN option for users. Opera is not a resource hog like Chrome, and generally delivers a great performance across the board.

Being based on Chromium, Opera supports Chrome extensions, so the transition away from Google should be smooth. I especially love Opera’s battery saver feature, which promises to improve battery life by up to 35%. When it comes to user experience, Opera is a pretty straightforward browser, with a clean interface with a handy sidebar and some nifty mouse gestures.

Opera is available for free on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.

Goal

Tor Browser

picture: Goal

As the forefather of browser security, Tor is the place to go if you don’t want someone breathing down your neck as you surf the web. With Tor, which stands for “The Onion Router,” you can hide your browsing as if it were protected under layers of an onion.

Anyway, Tor is popular among privacy advocates because it routes your web traffic through intermediary servers and encrypts every step of the way, making it harder for advertisers to track you. Eventually, your now-invisible traffic reaches an exit node and hits the open web. Using Tor is a much more stealthy way to browse than relying on an incognito mode, because your IP address is hidden, and therefore cannot be traced back.

But it’s not for everyone, or even most people. The complex process of hiding your browsing traffic results in poor performance – meaning webpages load much slower than in Chrome or any of these other browsers. Tor’s interface is also clunky and non-customizable.

Tor can be downloaded free for Windows, iOS, Linux and Android.

Comments are closed.