Since its debut, Chrome has grown in popularity, though its once-stellar reputation has taken a bit of a hit as of late. Examples of Chrome-only sites are more and more common, reminiscent of the days when Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominated the web browser market. It's been shown to be a massive memory hog as well, slowing down machines as users create more and more tabs. And then there's the impending removal of ad-blocking.
Google announced changes to its permission system last year, which remove the webRequest API’s ability to block a request before it’s loaded. For end users, this effectively cripples all non-compliant ad-blocker extensions on Chrome.
So what to do? My personal advice: Ditch Chrome and switch to its longtime competitor, Mozilla Firefox. It's just as fast, if not faster, than Chrome, and integrates tools to boost your privacy online while making it easier to share and save everything you find on the web.
Here are some reasons to consider making the switch.
Google's search engine has become a verb in the same way as 'hoovering' became a synonym for vacuuming and 'xeroxing' meant photocopying. But not everyone wants to put all their data in Google's basket. There are lots of alternatives to Google when it comes to search. Here are a few.
It's Just as Fast as Chrome
Both Firefox and Google Chrome are, at least in various benchmark tests, pretty equivalent. While Firefox, in tests performed by Mozilla, might outperform Google Chrome when loading webpages in private browsing mode, or use less RAM when dealing with multiple tabs, other independent tests show the browsers are often evenly matched when it comes to performance. At worst, you'll be switching to a browser that's just as fast.
At best, you'll be using one requiring less RAM while being just as responsive.
You Can Still Sync Across Devices
Like Google's syncing functionality that lets you see your browsing activity across all of your devices, Firefox's own syncing functionality makes it easy to send that webpage on your desktop to the phone in your pocket by selecting the option in your URL bar. If you're someone who uses multiple Google accounts on the same machine, you can easily do the same with Firefox's own Multi-Account extension.
Firefox Blocks Trackers Out the Box
Need to stop a site from tracking you? Firefox automatically puts the kibosh on trackers hiding in a web page's code, protecting your browsing data from being recorded by third parties looking to sell you targeted ads. It works in both regular and private browsing mode. That removal of invasive tracking code also means pages load faster compared to browsing in Chrome.
Firefox's Integrated Features are Choice
There are a slew of useful features built right into the browser, mitigating the need to add a bunch of third-party extensions and apps. The read-later service Pocket is integrated into the browser, so you can save any page easily. Like taking screenshots? With Firefox Screenshots, it's easier than ever to click a button and save partial or entire shots of a web page to your hard drive or your cloud-based screenshot repository.
As someone wary of third-party services that might contain malicious code, the fewer extensions I need to add to my browser, the better. Firefox's integrated screenshot tool, easy access to saved Pocket articles, and automatic disabling of invisible browser activity trackers make it a more secure and user-friendly experience compared to Chrome.
Your web browser is probably the most use application on your computer. Chances are it has replaced your email client, many of your productivity apps and keeps you in touch with friends and colleagues through social media and collaboration services. So it makes sense to try and get more oomph from your browser.
Some Extensions Work Across Browsers
In terms of extensions, Google might have Firefox beat, but the company's adopting the WebExtensions API, making add-ons found in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge compatible with Firefox after some minor modifications by developers.
Older Firefox extensions are now considered "legacy" extensions, but you can find potential alternatives by visiting your list of add-ons and selecting "Find a Replacement". If there's no alternative extension available at the time, you'll simply see a page of featured extensions all compatible with the new version of Firefox.
Yesterday’s release of Safari 13.1 introduces stricter third-party cookie blocking features that prevents websites from identifying Safari users and tracking their web activity. This means Apple’s default web browser is now the best choice for stopping third-party trackers, and the first browser—beating Chrome to the punch—to block third-party cookies outright.
This story has been updated since its original publication.