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Software, Web browsers

Internet Browsers – how different are they?

We’re all familiar with the names Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome etc., but why do people have such strong feelings for or against them and what really are the differences? Read on to find out more…

Firstly – what is an internet browser? Put simply, it is a piece of software on your computer or mobile device that allows you to view the internet, through a means of typing web addresses or searching for content. Without an internet browser, you cannot see the internet.

So – if they all allow you to see the internet, what difference does it make as to which one you use? Surely the one that came pre-installed on your computer is the right one? Possibly not. Depending on what you want to get out of your browsing experience, depends very much on which browser you use. Speed, security and enhanced features all contribute to working out which browser is best for you.

Computers and devices all come with pre-installed ‘browsers’ largely benefitting the vendor through sponsorship or their own internal initatives – its great exposure for them to have pre-installed browsers. All Windows machines come with Internet Explorer as standard but its important to note that you are not limited to which, and how many browsers you can have installed at once.

The big five names in internet browsing are:

The graph below gives you a summary about each of ‘the big five’ browsers and we’ll go on to explain these below…

Internet browser comparison

Internet browser comparison

Internet Explorer provides about half of the internet browsing population with access to the internet – it comes preinstalled on every Windows device and most people are not aware there are alternatives. Others who are, stay with Internet Explorer because of its user interface familiarity, ease of use and compatibility with websites – but their new versions struggle with this. There have been large security loopholes in the past and its unclear still, whether these have been fixed. There are various 3rd party add-ons available for Internet Explorer and whilst there is a Mac version available, its quite unreliable and the display is not as good as the Mac default browser – Safari.

Mozilla Firefox came onto the scene back in 2004 and was relatively unknown for a couple of years but Mozilla were clever – they created an ‘open source‘ browser, which attracted a lot of coders and computer fanatics who each helped spread the word through their own development. It soon shot up the popularity scales and is now the fastest and more secure web browser available. There are over 6000 enhanced features for users to add, depending on whats important to them – sports news, interface colour changing, google webmaster tools…Firefox was also one of the first to embrace tabbed browsing, which has revolutionized users’ browsing experience.

Next up is Safari…developed and owned by Apple, it is their default web browser which is also available on Windows machines now. Safari is very light-weight – meaning it doesn’t use much of the processor resources to run, it has a built in progress bar. Safari isn’t the most secure browser available – so if you do lots of internet shopping, you might want to use a different browser. However, things change and I wouldn’t be suprised is Apple responded to this. Overall – a nice light weight browser with a pleasing user interface.

Chrome is Google’s offering to internet browsing and arrived in cyberspace in 2008. With a big name like Google behind it, people were intrigued to find out more – and so the fan base grew quickly. Chrome is fast – not as fast as Firefox, but its very close. It even has a ‘task manager’ built into it, so if its running slowly, you can see the websites that are affecting performance. In terms of security, its very good and it will warn you of detected spyware or phishing scams when you are about to enter a website. There are loads of added features too – you can drag and drop words into a search bar and in fact search directly into the address bar.

Opera has actually been around for years but has never been a well-known brand to the masses. A lot of ‘techies’ will have heard of it but recently its gone up in popularity. This is possibly due to it being shipped with various mobile products – it creates a fabulous mobile browsing experience. Opera is known for its ‘no fuss, secure browsing‘ and for those of you who are more worried about losing your bank details to a phishing scam, should be using Opera. Its not the prettiest of web browsers, but its also good for restricted browsers – it has a voice control!

So to summarize the big five – they’re all pretty good. Internet Explorer, contrary to common belief is the worst in terms of security and browsing speed and Firefox is generally the best in terms of speed, security and enhanced features – customizability.

I hope this has been useful to you – and remember to give us your feedback – which browsers do you use, and why?


About theithandbook

Reaching every day people and businesses with simple, effective and modern IT advice.


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