Chances are your browser logo is a colored circle with a blue center. I’m referring, of course, to Chrome, the browser of choice for about 65% of Internet users. Don’t worry, I’m not here to beat you up. There are good reasons to choose Chrome over others. It’s simple, fast, integrates with Google services, and supports tons of extensions.
But there are also plenty of reasons why you might want to break free from Google’s grip. Chrome is notoriously weak when it comes to privacy, which isn’t surprising considering Google makes a living collecting your data. Google has added a few privacy controls to Chrome, but the best way to protect your data on the browser is to use privacy-focused extensions. What a pain! Chrome is also notorious for draining your system’s battery life and gobbling up RAM.
While no browser is perfect, there are plenty of Chrome alternatives that offer better privacy and a more efficient browsing experience. That’s not to say everyone should leave Chrome, it just depends on what you prioritize in a browser. I hope this guide helps you find the best one for your needs.
Fast, secure, and easy to use, Firefox tends to be the destination for those venturing away from Google or their pre-installed OS browser. Firefox isn’t Chromium-based, so you’re not feeding the beast you’re trying to ditch, and its nonprofit founder Mozilla has a strong (yet not unscathed) reputation for protecting the privacy of its users.
Firefox, an open source software, is unrivaled when it comes to security, and you will realize this as soon as you download the browser. That’s because Mozilla claims it “collects so little data about you that we don’t even need your email address to download.” Noteworthy features include a private browsing mode that automatically clears your cookies, history, and passwords when you close the browser; tracking protection that blocks ads and sites that stealthily attempt to track you; an unauthorized cryptomining blocker; and a plugin specifically designed to prevent Facebook from tracking you around the web. Firefox also blocks trackers by default and comes with a built-in password manager.
You can also expect good performance from Firefox, although you may encounter a rare compatibility issue. In general, Firefox is fast (although not as light as Edge) and its customizable user interface should suit most users. While not the most feature-rich, Firefox has some nice additions not available on Chrome, including containers that let you separate work, shopping, or personal browsing without having to clear your history, sign in and to log out or use multiple browsers.
While Edge comes pre-installed on Windows PCs and Chrome is tied to Chromebooks, Firefox is the default browser on many Linux distributions. Ready to change? Here is 12 things you didn’t know you could do in Firefox.
I’ll take the flack for this: Microsoft’s new browser is good. It’s very good, in fact, to the point where you could forget the disaster that was Internet Explorer. Edge is also one of the most direct alternatives to Chrome, because it runs on the same engine, “Chromium” from Google. For this reason, Edge and Chrome have a lot in common, including a similar design, shared extensions, and nearly identical tab management. You can even sync passwords, bookmarks, addresses, etc. from Edge to Chrome without much effort.
With that in mind, if you’re looking for a completely new experience, Edge isn’t the answer for you. If you want to keep everything you loved about Chrome while enjoying a few perks, look no further. The main reasons to use Edge over Chrome are its more efficient use of resources, especially your system’s RAM, and its more robust security features (beware, Chrome sets the bar low). Edge also offers some useful exclusive features: sidebar search lets you search for highlighted terms in a sidebar search engine, websites can be installed as standalone apps, an integrated coupon and a promotional functionality can save you tons of money, and Collections is a great way to organize related searches.
There will be a short transition period before Edge meets your needs. The first thing to do is swap Bing with your favorite search engine (Google, maybe?). Microsoft also likes to bombard you with recommendations to use its other products. Oh, and do yourself a favor by ignoring the warnings it sends whenever you try to download another browser.
Edge is available for free on all major platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. This is the default browser installed on Windows PCs.
If you haven’t tried tab stacking, download Vivaldi – you can keep it for that feature alone. Simply drag a tab over another and it will stack in one of three ways: on a second level below, hidden in the same tab (hover to see all tab previews), or merged with the same tab (hover over an arrow icon to expand).
Combine tab stacking with strong privacy measures, and it’s easy to see why Vivaldi is one of the most popular alternative web browsers. About privacy, Vivaldi does not profile, track or sell your data as you browse the web. The browser cannot see the sites you visit, what you download, or what you search for. Additionally, there is a built-in ad tracker/blocker and an end-to-end synchronization tool. It should be noted that Vivaldi is based on Google’s Chromium engine.
In a certain context, Vivaldi was designed for power users and designed to bring back the old version of Opera before it moved to Chromium. In fact, Vivaldi was created in 2014 by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, co-founder and former CEO of Opera. It’s fast, highly configurable (to the point of being cluttered if you’re not careful), and conforms to web standards.
Vivaldi is available on Windows, macOS, Linux and Android. There is no iOS app (yet).
Another Chrome alternative for those who value privacy, Brave is a free, open-source browser with anti-tracking and Adblock protections. It’s a particular favorite among crypto owners, having built a cryptocurrency wallet right into the browser so you don’t need to use an extension. This particular feature is controversial among its other users, who use brave for its fast performance, strong privacy standards, and Chrome extension support. That didn’t help this Brave was caught slip affiliate links at the end of certain URLs.
Brave isn’t the most feature-rich browser, but one headline-grabbing addition is called De-AMP, which skips any page rendered using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMD) framework and takes users on the direct website instead. Basically, Brave removes the middle person. The browser claims that AMP is harmful to users “and the web in general” because it gives Google more information about your browsing habits and can slow down pages. However, Brave’s real claim to fame is how it removes ads and replaces them with its own.
Brave is a free Chromium-based browser available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
Opera isn’t the best in all areas, but it doesn’t have too many downsides either. Based on Chromium, the browser promises to natively block ads and trackers, and there’s even a built-in VPN option for users. Opera is not as resource intensive as Chrome, and generally delivers excellent performance across the board.
Because it’s built on Chromium, Opera supports Chrome extensions, so the transition away from Google should be seamless. I particularly like Opera’s battery saving feature, which promises to improve battery life by up to 35%. As far as user experience goes, Opera is a fairly simple browser with a clean user interface with a handy sidebar and some nifty mouse gestures.
Opera is available for free on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
The granddaddy of browser security, Tor is where you go when you don’t want someone blowing your neck while you’re surfing the web. Tor, which stands for “The Onion Router”, allows you to hide your browsing as if it were protected under layers of an onion.
Either way, the reason Tor is popular among privacy advocates is that it routes your internet traffic through intermediary servers and encrypts it every step of the way, making it difficult for advertisers to track you. Eventually, your now invisible traffic hits an exit node and reaches the open web. Using Tor is a much stealthier way to browse than relying on an incognito mode, because your IP address is hidden, and therefore cannot be traced.
But it’s not for everyone, or even most people, for that matter. The complex process of hiding your browsing traffic leads to poor performance, i.e. web pages load much slower than in Chrome or any of these other browsers. Tor’s interface is also clunky and non-customizable.
Tor can be downloaded for free on Windows, iOS, Linux and Android.