Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Web Browsers

Firefox | Chrome | Edge | Safari | Alternative Browsers
Don't Use IE | Customize Your Browser

Current web browsers include Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari

About Browsers

Web browsers are multipurpose Web applications that include the ability to view websites as well as interact with other software and services.

Many browsers have come and gone over time. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses. There are good reasons for choosing a particular browser.

Download a Current Browser

Use only browsers that are a currently maintained. These tend to be more secure, run faster and display current web content as it was intended.

Do NOT use Internet Explorer. It is obsolete and unsafe to use.

Modern browsers offer improved security and functionality.

Chrome may be leading in usage (except, of course, on Apple devices), but it's not ahead by every measure or by number of capabilities. Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera all have features not found in Google's browser.
PCMag

Firefox | Chrome | Edge | Safari

Keep Your Browser Updated

Whichever browser you use, it is important to keep all installed browsers and extensions updated.

Uninstall Obsolete Software

Uninstall obsolete browsers or those you don't use except where prevented by the operating system (e.g., Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Safari).

Most plugins are obsolete, replaced with HTML5 technologies which are natively supported in all modern browsers.

Mozilla FireFox

Mozilla FireFox is a fast, slim, standards-compliant browser that doesn't collect or sell your private data and protects your privacy.

The Firefox Browser has built in tracking protection.

 

That makes it harder for politicians, advertisers, and disinformation disseminators to find you.

 

More privacy means more democracy.
IRL

Firefox is a family of browsers including versions for mobile devices, enterprise and virtual reality devices. It is the only major independent browser.

Firefox is also more than a browser. There is a whole family of products, including:

Replace Google for Privacy

I recommend installing Startpage.com or DuckDuckGo then replacing Google as the default search engine.

On Windows, as Mozilla notes, the privacy-optimized Firefox stands apart by not relying on the Blink rendering engine that Google developed for Chrome based on Apple's Webkit engine, and which now also powers Microsoft's Edge as well as such alternatives as Brave.
PCMag

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Google Chrome

Google Chrome combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology. Chrome is the most widely-used browser today.

Replace Google for Privacy

Chrome is the only major browser without meaningful built-in tracking protection.

I recommend replacing Google with Startpage.com or DuckDuckGo as Chrome's default search engine.

You cannot replace Google until the replacement search engine is installed into Chrome.

Chrome Breaks Ad Blockers

Google is making changes to their Chrome browser that will break ad blockers on many sites.

Google's 3 billion Chrome users now have a reason to switch to Firefox, because the privacy-focused browser has just confirmed some big news.

 

The announcement concerns ad blockers, and the Google Chrome changes dubbed Manifest V3, which may cause some ad blockers to break.
Forbes

FLoC

Google is experimenting with FLoC, Google's answer to the elimination of support for third-party cookies in many sites.

By gathering the information about a user's history and grouping them with users with a similar history, the advertiser could reach the intended market, supposedly without breaching privacy.

After all the pushback, concerns, and issues, the fact that Google has chosen to ignore the warnings is telling of where the company stands with regard to our privacy.
— EFF

Learn more about FLoC.

Security Concerns

Besides the Chrome browser, Google owns a huge range of products, each of which dominate or are very competitive, including Google Search, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Drive, Blogger and YouTube.

Google collects your surfing data. Google never forgets. See privacy concerns.

Break up with Google. Use a web browser you have more control over, and which has more plug-ins that you can use for privacy, such as Firefox.
Windows Secrets

Many Current Browsers are Chrome-based

A large portion of current browsers are now based on Chrome, further extending Google's dominance. Chrome also defines the way enhanced text is presented in most email programs.

Independent standards setting bodies like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) once ruled the web, with a collaborative approach to standards that competing browsers had to follow. Today, the standard is simple: Does your page work in Chrome?
ZDNet

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Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is now a Chrome-based browser, replacing the original Edge that was launched with Windows 10.

IE Mode in Microsoft Edge

IE mode in Microsoft Edge provides an interim solution for legacy sites that were built for Internet Explorer.

IE Mode in Microsoft Edge will be supported through at least 2029 to give web developers eight years to modernize legacy apps and eventually remove the need for IE mode, officials have said.
ZDNet

IE mode perpetuates an obsolete browser supporting insecure legacy sites containing outdated information.

Replace Bing for Privacy

I recommend replacing Bing with Startpage.com or DuckDuckGo as Edge's default search engine.

You cannot replace Bing until the replacement search engine is installed into Edge.

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Apple Safari

Safari brings robust customization options, powerful privacy protections, and industry-leading battery life to Apple devices.

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Alternative Browsers

Ghostery Dawn

Ghostery Dawn is a lightning fast browser that protects your privacy.

If Ghostery is blocking NINETEEN trackers on your website, your website is one of the reasons we need Ghostery.
— Wil Wheaton on Twitter
  • Blocks ads, stop trackers and speeds up websites.
  • Includes the world's first ad-free private search engine.
  • Built-in privacy & security intelligence to stay cloaked while you surf.
  • Windows 64-bit, Windows ARM64/Aarch6, Macintosh & Linux 64-bit are supported.
  • FAQ.

Opera

Opera is a slim yet full-featured browser.

  • Features include VPN, ad blocker, messengers and battery saver.
  • FAQ.
  • Windows, Macintosh & Linux are supported.

Chrome-based

Opera is now a Chrome-based browser.

Vivaldi

Vivaldi is fast, but also rich in functionality, highly flexible and puts the user first.

Everything's an Option

You choose how Vivaldi works, how it looks and what features to use. It's freakishly flexible. If you can dream it, Vivaldi can probably do it.

 

And when it comes to options, privacy is no exception — in fact it's a priority, built into every version. So, you have full control of settings critical for keeping your data safe.

Chrome-based

Vivaldi is now a Chrome-based browser.

TOR

TOR Browser is the most extreme browser focused on privacy.

We, at the Tor Project, fight every day for everyone to have private access to an uncensored internet, and Tor has become the world's strongest tool for privacy and freedom online.

Browser Archives

These archives are useful primarily to researchers, web designers and others wishing to see how older browsers display current content.

Installation of these unsupported browsers can corrupt Windows settings (such as earlier versions of Internet Explorer) or not work properly at all.

They also lack any security improvements, so using them makes you much more vulnerable to malware and other hazards found on today's websites.

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Internet Explorer: Do Not Use

Do NOT use Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer (IE) reaches deep into the Windows operating system, so it is more vulnerable to security issues than any other browser.

You see, Internet Explorer is a compatibility solution. We're not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren't testing for Internet Explorer these days. They're testing on modern browsers.
Chris Jackson, Microsoft

IE Support Ended June 15, 2022

Internet Explorer is no longer supported in Windows 10 as of June 15, 2022.

Support for IE expires with each version of Windows (IE was never included in Windows 11). Windows 8.1 support expires January 10, 2023.

While there are some exceptions to the end of IE support in Windows 10 as well as Windows 7 or earlier, these are available to Enterprise users only.

Watch out for browsers that enhance Internet Explorer rather than build an independent browser. Such browsers inherit all of IE's vulnerabilities.

IE Redirected in Edge

Windows now redirects requests for Internet Explorer in Windows 10 to Edge using IE Mode.

A Compatibility Solution

Windows 10 included IE as a compatibility solution which was not intended to be used as your primary browser. IE's behaviour can be controlled by group policy — why it is common in corporate environments.

You see, Internet Explorer is a compatibility solution. We're not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren't testing for Internet Explorer these days. They're testing on modern browsers.
Chris Jackson, Microsoft

IE Vulnerable

Internet Explorer is no longer being developed, making it obsolete.

Internet Explorer vulnerabilities allow “remote code executions” which can allow an external user to take control of your computer.

This is especially dangerous because of the tight integration with Windows. ANY Internet Explorer vulnerability is a Windows vulnerability.

Internet Explorer has been long known to be vulnerable to the covert downloading of software from malicious Web sites…Merely visiting the corrupted site is all it takes.
BusinessWeek

 

Customize Your Browser

Modern browsers usually provide for customizations. Be selective.

Choose Your Startup Page

The startup page (or home page) is what is launched with your browser.

Browsers default startup pages usually include a search engine which may display other popular links.

Startup options can be changed in the browser's settings.

Hundreds of Portals

There are hundreds of options. Most ISPs, news services, search engines and domain resellers provide a portal.

Quicker is Better

I recommend choosing a simpler startup page.

Do you really want to load all the news, weather and gossip every time you start your browser?

Most browsers allow you to modify their default startup pages, at least to some degree.

Watch for Unexpected Changes

Be wary of downloads and installations that automatically change your default startup page.

This is called browser hijacking.

Plugins & Extensions

Addons to your browser can impact your privacy.

Extensions can add features or simply customize what is there.

Be careful with plugins (legacy applications once required to view and hear multimedia content on the Web). Plugins have been replaced with technologies built into modern browsers.

Frequently check to see if your addons have been deprecated or banned. Disable or remove them to improve performance.

Be Selective with Software

Carefully review the options when downloading then when installing software from the Web. Options may be preselected on the download page or during the installation that add software you didn't ask for. This is how the vast majority of users first switched to Chrome.

32- or 64-bit?

Most browsers are now available in both 32- and 64-bit versions. 64-bit software is faster but you can only run them on 64-bit systems.

You can install 32-bit software on 64-bit systems, but not 64-bit programs onto 32-bit systems.

Many folks remained on 32-bit browsers because of better support for 32-bit plugins. Since plugins have been replaced with HTML5-based technologies built into modern browsers, most users should now install 64-bit software where possible.

Security Concerns

All browsers have known security issues that vary by browser. However, it is strongly recommended that you select a browser like Firefox that protects your privacy.

Privacy

Both websites and apps can access your location as well as your camera, contacts, photos and much more — if you let them. Both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge are designed to collect information about you (although Edge is probably safer).

Moving to the Cloud

Google and Microsoft browsers and operating systems run much of their functionality in the cloud rather than on your computer (called Software as a Service). When you sign in to your Google or Microsoft account (including on the respective browsers) you are providing a lot of detail about yourself that can be collected and resold.

This can have serious privacy and security implications since you have no control over what is being done with your data once it leaves your computer.

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RussHarvey.bc.ca/resources/browser.html
Updated: June 28, 2022