What’s the Best Web Browser?
Posted by Timothy Platt on Mar 23, 2017
Here at Virtual Operations, Central Florida’s best Managed IT Services provider, we’re often asked about web browsers. Specifically, which web browser do we recommend for desktop usage, and why. We’ll discuss that today. We’re making recommendations here for the average small to medium business, in desktop/laptop/notebook scenarios (as opposed to smart phones and tablets).
Best Web Browser for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1
Running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1? Generally, we recommend Google Chrome. Why? Here’s the reasons:
- Fast – Performance is great, especially compared to older browsers. Of course, newer versions of competing browsers are often nearly as fast, but Chrome’s original claim to fame was pure speed. And it continues to deliver.
- Secure – Chrome has a very effective “sandboxed” security model. It has consistently been one of the most secure browsers – meaning it’s hard for an attacker to hack or exploit it. This is because of the way the browsing processes are kept separated from one another, and from the main code. In fact, there is an annual competition where teams are awarded for hacking browsers – and Chrome is consistently the least hacked browser.
- Excellent extension (plug-in) ecosystem – There are a huge number of useful extensions (also known as plug-ins) for Chrome. Plug-ins extend the functionality of the browser in specific ways. For example, the Adblock Plus extension automatically and efficiently removes advertisements from websites. Not only does this make for a more focused and efficient browsing session, but it increases security, because the various ad networks have been used in the past for security compromises.
- Website Compatibility – Google Chrome has been around a long time, it’s very popular, and it’s got excellent compatibility with many web sites. Part of the reason for this is that web developers love Google Chrome, because of the speed and developer tool set it provides. Therefore, as they develop the website, they are mostly testing with Google Chrome, so Chrome ends up with the best support. Website compatibility is a very pertinent decision point for small and medium business.
There’s a few other benefits to using Google Chrome:
- Once installed, it automatically updates itself
- It’s updated regularly (almost, but not quite monthly) for performance, reliability, and security
- It’s available on Mac, Windows, Linux, and mobile. If you use multiple devices you get a similar experience across them.
- It’s free, of course.
Is there a downside to using Google Chrome? The downside of this super secure model – it’s somewhat of a RAM (memory) hog. Personally, I’d rather have the utmost in security because web browser exploits continue to be one of the primary vectors of malware, ransomware, and spyware infection. Add more RAM to your system, RAM is cheap.
If for some reason, Google Chrome isn’t an option for you, my second choice would be Mozilla Firefox. It’s got a lot of the same great features and attributes as Chrome, but honestly doesn’t have the clout of a very big company behind it. It seems like Google is better at keeping Chrome on the cutting edge, to be honest. Firefox is not as secure either.
If you have no other choice Internet Explorer 11 (IE) isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, it’s not updated like the other browsers are and isn’t as secure. The architecture of the product means it simply will never be as secure as Chrome. Lastly, if you are running IE, make sure you are running IE 11. IE 8, 9, and 10 are all considered obsolete – there are too many performance and security issues.
Best Web Browser for Windows 10
Let’s get this out of the way first. It’s not Edge – Microsoft’s newest browser. Maybe in the future, but for now, it’s very hackable, it doesn’t have the extensive extension support, and it’s not as compatible as the other browsers. We look forward to what the future brings regarding this browser. Microsoft is working hard, and Edge will replace Internet Explorer definitively in the future. This assessment includes the Creators Update version of Edge. It’s just not ready for primetime yet.
OK, so if not Edge, then what? Google Chrome, for all the same reasons explained above.
Best Web Browser for MacOS or Mac OS X
As an avid Mac user, I’d love to be able to say Safari is your best choice, but alas, it is not. Safari has excellent speed and performance, decent reliability, and is compatible with a growing number of web sites. Further, it’s got excellent integration with your mobile devices – your iPhone version of Safari can sync your history and bookmarks with your desktop – this is super useful for maintaining “continuity” as you switch amongst devices. Lastly, Apple has made huge progress in optimizing this browser from an efficiency perspective – it’s engineered to maximize battery life on your portable devices. The mobile device scenario is of prime importance to Apple, as well as to users of its products.
Unfortunately, Safari is just not secure enough and too incompatible for business usage, in my opinion. I’ve tried repeatedly to switch to Safari as my main browser, and inevitably end up back on Google Chrome every time.
So, there you go, I recommend Google Chrome for MacOS.
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