Gone are the days when consumers mainly used their computers for word-processing or other similar capabilities; instead, our computers serve as our gateway to the internet, making our choice of web browser an increasingly important decision. Even a computer with top-of-the-line hardware will underperform if you are running an out of date web browser to check your email, make transactions, or run your blog or online store. Worse than that, the wrong browser could expose you to unnecessary security risks.
The latest browsers offer improvements that make them faster, more secure, and allow you to download add-ons, such as spam and advertisement blocking, available anywhere email notifications, and cross-platform syncing and updates. Check out the reviews below to decide which browser is right for you.
Available on nearly every platform, Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers in the world. Perfect for users who already take advantage of other Google services, such as Gmail or Google+, Chrome offers strong service integration at fast speeds. It offers users a simplified, streamlined window that doesn’t distract with extra gizmos or gadgets. The address bar serves as a Google search bar, allowing you to find what you want, whenever you want.
Standard on Android and available on iPhone, Chrome also allow you to sync bookmarks and links between devices, so if you find something you like on your computer, you’ll have it available on your phone as well. As with most modern browsers, it also offers two important features: Do Not Track and Privacy controls, both of which allow you to limit the information that is stored with regard to your usage habits, which is perfect for those who don’t like targeted ads or overly specific search results.
Things to check out: Numerous extensions and themes allow you to do everything from personalizing the color of your browser to blocking pesky adds and updating your Amazon Wishlist anywhere on the internet.
A free, open-source browser, Mozilla is similarly popular, especially among those supporters of the open-source movement. If you’re uncomfortable with leaving your browsing habits open to the likes of large companies, such as Google or Apple, then Firefox may be the right choice for you. With top-notch security and frequent updates, Firefox users will never find themselves unable to access their favorite websites.
Available for all platforms except iPhone and iPad, Firefox is a great browser for wherever you are. It also offers similar add-ons as Google Chrome, such as add blocking and other extensions. Its open-source nature allows for further layers of customization for the technically inclined, but if that’s not your style, it works beautifully as-is. So if you want a wonderfully designed, safe browser developed by a not-for-profit company of dedicated enthusiasts, check out Mozilla Firefox.
Apple’s proprietary browser, Safari offers many of the same choices in add-ons and usability as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, with the added benefit of enhanced syncing between all of your iDevices. Open tabs on your Mac will show up in the Cloud tab of your iPhone so you can finish reading your news on the train to work without having to search for it again. The reading list function allows you to download websites to all of you synced devices, while the share button allows you to Tweet, post to Facebook, or email a website, without having to leave the page you’re on.
It offers the additional benefit of being designed by the same company that designed your computer, meaning that the two are designed to work together. The end result is fast, secure browsing with regular updates. If you own a Mac, give it a shot before downloading one of the other two.
Microsoft’s proprietary browser, Internet Explorer comes pre-installed on all machines with Windows. Known alternately as the bane of tech support everywhere, Internet Explorer is a buggy, unsafe browser that you should avoid at all costs. One well-known security flaw took nearly 300 days to correct; its only use is downloading either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. If you have to use it for some regulatory reason, then you’ll just have to cross your fingers that Microsoft figures out how to design a browser eventually.
We are lucky to live in an era of competition between advanced browsers – the end result is high quality, free options, with a bevy of add-ons and other features to make our browsing experience as fast and secure as possible. Check out the three options above and see which one you like best.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy, and save some money with the best savings interest rates.