With Google Chrome now dominating web usage, followed by Firefox and Edge, you’d think there are very few choices when it comes to web browsing. But the reality is there are still plenty of other options. Here are five web browsers you can try if you’re looking for something a little different.
When looking at the alternative browsers one thing is clear; privacy is a major focus. Almost every browser challenging the big three is touting its privacy credentials with ad and tracker blocking, integrated VPNs and other features the key selling points.
There’s also a focus on rendering engines with some offering the ability to switch between different rendering engines for displaying pages. But switching browsers isn’t always easy.
While all the alternatives provide migration tools, if you rely on your browser to save passwords and other data, then you’ll find yourself probably needing to re-enter that information again. If you’re anything like me, that can be very challenging and further increases the value of a decent password manager.
There are dozens of different browsers available. I’ve picked out five alternatives. If you have another you like, let us know.
Of all the privacy-focussed browsers, Brave is probably the best known.
I looked at Brave about 18 months ago noting that its focus is on performance and privacy. It remains a great browser and well worth considering if you’re trying to wean yourself from one of the more popular browsers.
There are versions for Mac, Windows, Android and iOS.
Although Brave is free and open source, there is an option to run privacy-friendly ads to support the developers.
I visited a bunch of websites using Brave and didn’t hit any problems. The app gives you a running count of the number of trackers and ads it blocks as well as a measure of how much browsing time it has saved you which is neat.
Opera is a great looking browser boasting nice integrations with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. It sports the same tabbed interface most browsers sport but it adds a handy menu so you can see a list of all your open tabs if you’ve got more than can be easily ready across the top of the screen.
It has an integrated ad blocker and a cryptocurrency wallet as well.
But it’s big ticket item is the free and unlimited VPN. Once enabled it can make your browsing activity more private, virtualise your location and give you an IP address that hides you a little more as well.
Performance was good and, as you’d expect from a very mature product, it didn’t miss a beat when displaying pages.
In a sea of browsers that look very alike, Vivaldi is a breath of fresh air. Instead of limiting you you a bunch of tabs across the top of your browser window, Vivaldi lets you place tabs down the side of the screen, displaying each one as a thumbnail of the pages you’ve been viewing.
Vivaldi shares a lot of its look from Opera. For example, it as the same “Speed Dial” page, with quick access to your favourite websites. It supports multiple search engines as well.
If you’re using a shared PC, Vivaldi is handy as it lets you create separate user profiles. Or, you can create different users for different purposes. For example, you can create a personal persona and a work one so you can keep bookmarks and other personalisations that are appropriate for each setting separate.
It’s a great option with a stack of extras scubas being able to take snapshots of webpages you can annotate, easily arrange multiple open tabs adjacent to each other and lots of options for customising the interface.
As another privacy focussed browser, Avant Browser doesn’t follow any of the design cues you see in other applications. Although it was quicker than the other browsers I tried out, the unusual appearance was quite jarring.
For example, it doesn’t use the standard minimise, maximise and restore buttons, the toolbar is very thin and the icons and other design elements look a throwback to the 1990s.
However, unlike many other browsers that are based on a single rendering engine, Avant Browser lets you choose and toggle between Trident, Gecko, and Webkit – the engines behind Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome.
While competent, I think there are better options.
Tor Browser is a modified version of Firefox with a very strong privacy focus. It doesn’t store any of your browsing history, cookies or anything else that could be used to look back through your browsing habits.
It doesn’t even support bookmarks.
When you use Tor, your browser traffic is rerouted through multiple nodes across the world making it vey hard, perhaps even impossible, for your browsing actions to be tracked. But that also means it’s slower than other browsers.
There are Windows, Mac and linux versions and you can access the source code as Tor Browser is open source. That’s a good thing as it means the code can be examined by anyone to check that it lives up to its privacy promises