A browser is an application used to temporarily download and render webpages. The most common are Chrome and Firefox. Browsers are sometimes confused with search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo…), which are used to find websites based on a word or phrase.
I used to use Chrome, but there were a few issues with it that started to annoy me, so I started trying out other browsers. I’ve ended up compiling a list of a bunch of modern browsers. Here’s a list of how they compare. (Safari is not on this list because it’s only available for Mac.)
I’m going to rate each browser on a scale of 1 to 10 based on privacy, user-friendliness, customization options, and extra features.
Note before I start: Most browsers are based on one of two frameworks (which are basically like templates with various pre-made features for making browsers). The most used is Chromium (made by Google for Chrome), and Gecko (made by Mozilla for Firefox). If I say a browser is Chromium-based, it means it has features similar to Chrome, and if it’s Gecko-based, then it’s similar to Firefox.
Chrome [ 5 ]: The most common browser. Has several trackers that send user data to Google, so not terribly great on privacy. Has the normal features everyone generally expects browsers to have. I’m assuming everyone reading this has used Chrome at some point, so I’m using it as the standard of measurement. I put it at 5.
Internet Explorer (IE) [ 3 ]: Microsoft’s original browser. It’s outdated, and has not received an update since 2013. It was discontinued due to a bunch of issues with it. It’s based on a framework Microsoft made called Trident, which is a bit slow and really not great. IE is still included with windows as a tool, both for website developers to test if their site works on old browsers, and for everyone to potentially use old websites that don’t work correctly in modern browsers. I recommend having it for this reason, but it’s not good for general use. Also, it lacks several features that Chrome has, mostly just because it’s old.
Edge (old) [ 4 ]: After discontinuing IE, Microsoft made a new framework called Blink, and used that to make a new browser called Edge. It works better than IE, but still has several issues and incompatibilities. It’s reasonable, but not great.
Edge (new) [ 5.5 ]: After somewhat failing with Edge’s old design, Microsoft remade the browser using Chromium. It’s now effectively the Microsoft knockoff of Chrome. It has some minor additional features over Chrome. It’s nothing special, but it has the features you want in a normal browser, and it works as intended. Also, because it’s Chromium-based, it can download extensions and themes from the Chrome web store.
Waterfox [ 5 ]: I can’t find any noticeable differences between Firefox and Waterfox, other than a bit of how the browser is styled. However, Waterfox is managed by one person, rather than a company dedicated to keeping their browser up to date. Because of this, Waterfox doesn’t get security and feature updates as often or quickly. Waterfox is apparently designed to be able to support older extensions that are no longer supported by Firefox.
Tor [ 10 ]: This is the ultimate privacy browser. It completely anonymizes you online with a number of security features. The most notable is its use of the Tor network, which is a worldwide collection of servers called “Tor nodes”. Any internet message sent with Tor is sent through three random nodes before it actually gets to the recipient. Tor was originally invented by the US government as a tool to allow spies to use the internet freely in countries where internet usage is monitored. It is currently run by a non-profit organization for online privacy. And the US government supports it because the more people who use it, the more anonymous government agents will be when using it. Because there are several nodes is the way of any internet message, using Tor is quite slow. In addition, many mainstream websites will throw a lot of captchas at you. It’s also the only browser that can access sites on the dark web. I recommend having it, but it’s not suitable for normal browsing.
Pale Moon, Seamonkey [ 4, 4 ]: I’m listing two browsers at once, because they’re quite similar. Both have an outdated-looking user interface (they both look a bit similar to Internet Explorer, so if you like how IE looks, then these are fine). They’re both Gecko-based (like Firefox), and they’re faster and more up-to-date than IE. Neither of them are really great, but they do work.
Brave [ 7 ]: Brave, and all the browsers on this list after this, is Chromium-based. Brave is more privacy-friendly than Chrome, with basically no trackers. It also comes with an adblocker, a cryptocurrency wallet, and a feature called Brave Rewards, where you earn money by viewing ads from Brave (I have a friend with over $130 USD from this). It also will provide a link to web.archive.org if a page 404s (so you can check if the page previously existed), and it can use the Tor network (it has much less privacy than using Tor browser, but it’s better than a plain incognito/private tab). The main downside is that the newtab page is absolutely horrible and you can’t add pages to be listed on it.
Dissenter [ 1 ]: Dissenter was created as a fork of Brave. It removes the cryptocurrency wallet and Brave Rewards, but otherwise has every feature Brave does (including the badly designed newtab page). Dissenter’s main feature is the ability to comment on any page you visit, and other Dissenter users can see and reply to them. This is designed to allow people to discuss any webpage without the risk of censorship from that website. Dissenter is designed as a free speech platform, and only removes comments which directly break US law. Several companies, including Google, condemn Dissenter because hate speech, racism, etc. are not moderated. After using it for a while, I was not able to find any toxic comments. I’m sure they exist, but if they do, they’re buried under all the other comments on popular pages. People are fairly responsible with free speech. Plus, you have a setting to filter out/hide offensive comments. Unfortunately, Dissenter has a major privacy problem, and every website you visit is sent to Gab (company that owns Dissenter), even if you don’t open the comments menu. Effectively, it tracks you more than Google. I enjoy free speech, but I prefer when it doesn’t come at the expense of having no privacy when browsing the internet. There are a few other issues with Dissenter, but I don’t need to cover any of them, as the rating is already down to 1.
Side note: There is also a Dissenter browser extension that provides this same functionality in other browsers. It has the same privacy issues, though because it’s an extension, you can put some limits on it.
QQ [ 0 ]: Browser made by Chinese company Tencent. Imagine a browser that collects more data than Dissenter, and also lacks any form of security. Don’t get this one.
Blisk [ 6 ]: Blisk lacks most security features. In fact, it lacks several features. However, it’s not meant to be a normal browser, it’s meant for web development. It makes the devtools menu a bit more handy, along with a css highlighting feature, and a thing where if you’re working on a webpage, it will reload it every time you make a change (it’s a bit more handy than refreshing manually), though Visual Studio can do this as well. It has a couple additional features which cost money.
Ungoogled Chromium [ 5 ]: This is an extremely rudimentary Chromium browser. It exists solely to remove any traces of Google from it, from removing trackers, to removing Google from the search engine options (you can add it manually if you want). Its newtab page is blank. I suspect the browser was designed to be a base for other privacy-oriented browsers to use. I wouldn’t recommend using this one. It’s just too basic.
Iridium [ 6 ]: A privacy-oriented browser which uses Ungoogled Chromium as a base. It’s a little bit more functional than plain Ungoogled, but it still has a blank newtab page. Great for privacy if you don’t want Firefox.
Note: There are extensions to replace the newtab page in Chromium browsers, but it would be preferable if they already had working newtabs.
Opera [ 7 ]: Has a bunch of nice features. There’s one called My Flow which (apparently [I’ve never actually used it]) allows pretty good syncing between devices. Another feature allows you to keep several social media sites (primarily Twitter, FB Messenger, and Instagram) loaded in the background and will provide icons to allow you to immediately open that social media service, as well as alerting you to new notifications, if you so choose. It has an adblocker and a free “vpn” (it’s really just a proxy, but it’s decent if you need to make websites think you’re in another country). It has a battery saving feature which decreases system resources it uses (this can also be synced with your computer’s battery saver). There’s a cryptocurrency wallet, video pop-out (you can pop out a video in a separate window to watch it in another tab, or even over another application). There are a few more customization options than most browsers, and one of the best parts is shortcut customization (you can choose what key combinations do what). And finally, there’s a news manager, where you choose which news services you want and it will collect the new articles from all of them and organize them into one page.
Opera GX [ 8.5 ]: Opera GX is effectively a re-skinned version of Opera with several additional features. The social media options to keep loaded in the background include Discord and Twitch, but remove Twitter for some reason. It comes with the ability to force dark theme on any page (it makes the background dark and the text light), which isn’t quite perfect, but is better than blinding yourself at night. There is a section that allows you to limit the browser’s Ram, CPU, and network usage, so if you keep your browser open while you play games, it will have less interference on your performance.
Vivaldi [ 10 ]: The most customizable Chromium browser I’ve found. It allows you to customize your keyboard shortcuts, same as Opera. It allows you to customize several features of the layout, and if for some reason you want your search bar at the bottom of your screen, that’s an option. There’s an optional feature called “mouse gestures”, where you hold right click, drag your mouse, then release to perform some action (by default, holding right click while dragging down, then right, will close the current tab). You can customize mouse gestures. Note that enabling mouse gestures will often interfere with browser games that require the use of right clicking. There’s a feature where you can set it to switch between light and dark theme based on the time of day (e.g. you can set it to switch to dark theme at night). You have a feature called “tab stacking”, which allows you to combine tabs and view multiple pages at the same time. You can add folders of pages to the newtab page, and have additional sub-menus of pages, if you like to add a lot of pages to your newtab page. And finally, it has video pop-out, just like Opera.
To conclude, the browsers I most recommend are Opera GX, Firefox, Vivaldi, and Tor. Let me know if I missed anything, or got anything wrong.
Im still using Chrome since it has all the extensions I like, but I noticed that it's really heavy now and resource hungry. I want to look for alternative, but I currently too deep in the Google ecosystem.