I’ve done a few comparisons over the years in this column, but I don’t think I’ve ever looked at web browsers. When I wrote my first column for the Fernie Fix, Internet Explorer had 84% of the web browser market and Google Chrome wasn’t a thing yet.

Today, Google Chrome has 64% of the browser market and Internet Explorer has 1%. Nothing ever gets deleted from the Internet, but how you find it changes all the time.

Chances are good that you surf the web using whatever browser came with your computer or phone. If you’re on Windows you’re probably using Edge or Chrome. If you’re on a Mac or iPhone, probably Safari.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Back in the 60s Avis Car Rental company, the number two car rental place in America, adopted the slogan, “We Try Harder” and leveraged the fact that the underdog feels a lot more pressure to try harder than the leader. The same is true of web browsers. If you’re a power user you may already have a different web browser. But read on just in case there’s a good one you haven’t discovered yet.

Almost all of these browsers are based on Chromium. Chromium is an open source project by Google. It is the heart of the browser and is responsible for turning HTML, CSS, and Javascript into what you see on a webpage. On top of that different projects put a different look and feel and emphasis different aspects.

Starting with Google Chrome, it is fast, stable, integrated with other Google products, and has many extensions available. However, it is bloated, taking up a lot of system resources. And there are privacy considerations with all the data Google collects.

Microsoft Edge, the successor to Internet Explorer, is very fast, integrates well with Windows, has good privacy and security. It doesn’t have as many extensions available and may not load older web pages.
Firefox, the great, great grandchild of Mozilla, one of the first browsers, is the unofficial “Avis” of the browser world. A strong contender. It is open source, has a strong emphasis on privacy (it’s the basis for the Tor Browser), supports many add-ons and themes, but it’s not quite as fast as Chrome nor as resource heavy.

Vivaldi is a newer browser that’s main strength is customizability and extendability out of the box. It has built in support for email, calendaring, and RSS feeds, so if a ‘one browser to rule them all’ approach appeals to you it might be worth trying out. Vivaldi also has a neat sidebar for one-clicks to places like Wikipedia.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Chromium based browser, and you should have one in your quiver, especially if you’re developing anything online, then WebKit based may be what you’re looking for. Some side history, WebKit is an offshoot of the Blink browser engine, and Chromium is an offshoot of WebKit, so ultimately all of these are descendants of Blink.

Opera has been around almost as long as Mosaic, which means almost as long as there have been graphical web browsers. I know people that won’t use anything else. It’s fast, with built-in ad blocking and VPN support, and is very customizable. It doesn’t support as many add-ons and extensions and has what I would describe as an opinionated user interface. Opera also supports a sidebar similar to Vivaldi.