Today, when we go to use the internet, the first thing we do is open our browser, whether it be Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or something else. In fact, browsers have become so synonymous with the internet that most of us think of them as the same thing. But they’re not.
A browser is a tool we use to access the internet, and not all browsers are the same. Some offer features that others don’t and the browser you choose to use will impact how safe you are while on the web and also how fast you can surf the pages you want to see.
However, most people don’t know this. They assume all browsers are the same, and so they stick with the one that comes default on their computer or phone, or they simply continue to use the one they’ve always used.
But this is not a smart approach. We spend so much time online that we owe it to ourselves to make sure we are having the best possible experience. Just downloading the first browser you find instead of picking the one that works for you is the equivalent being a commuter who doesn’t spend the time to make sure they have the right car for their needs.
To help you make the right choice, we’ve reviewed the many different browsers out there and come up with our list of the best web browsers for 2020.
Before delving into the best browsers of 2020, it’s important to know what exactly a browser is. This will help you better understand why it’s important to find the best one.
In simple terms, a browser is a program that finds information on the internet and displays it for you on your device. It interprets codes on websites that tells it where information is and what it should look like. To find the information, it uses what you type into the URL bar, and then once found, it displays the HTML codes (the technical language for the internet) found on that website and converts them into familiar text, images, video, etc. In other words, the stuff we’re used to seeing on the internet all the time.
In most cases, browsers also save information about sites you’ve visited before, a handy feature that helps make your internet experience faster and more convenient.
In many ways, the invention of the browser in 1990 by Tim Berner-Lee helped give way to the modern internet. It made it possible for users to access information stored on remote computer networks, helping to create the web as we know it today, which appears to be one giant network but which is really a combination of many different networks.
As a result, you can think of your web browser as a portal to the internet. No one except those with a high level of technical expertise can access the web without one and that should be reason enough to make you want to find the best one.
Even if you understand what a browser is, you might still be questioning why it matters which one you use. After all, they all seem to do the same thing.
But this is an oversimplification of how browsers work. Yes, in the end, they all do the same thing – they present you with the internet. But each browser is built differently, which means it interacts with your computer in a different way and also impacts the type of experience you can have on the web.
As a result, when choosing a browser, it’s important you understand what you want to use it for as this will help make it easier for you to pick something that will truly meet your needs.
It should now be clear that finding the right browser is critical. So, to help you, we’ve reviewed the many different options and came up with a list of the best browsers in 2020.
Around two-thirds of all internet users choose Google Chrome as their default web browser, and there’s a good reason for this: Chrome remains one of if not the best browser on the market.
One quick look at Google Chrome and it’s easy to see why this is the case. The minimalist design maximizes the viewing window, meaning you can get more content on one page than with other browsers.
Also, Google Chrome works on a wide range of devices, and since everything is interconnected through your Google account, you can enjoy seamless transitions between devices. For example, if you save a bookmark on your computer, you will be able to access it on your phone. In some cases, if you’re viewing a site on one device you can instantly change to view it on another.
Of course, other browsers do this as well, but Google has, again, found a way to do it that is intuitive and highly useful to its users.
One other big plus about Google Chrome is its many extensions. Much like apps, extensions are added to your browser and allow you to customize your browsing experience. These extensions are made possible by Chromium, the code that is behind Google Chrome, and this has become the industry standard, giving us even more reasons to choose Google Chrome as the best browser.
Another thing we like about Google Chrome is its emphasis on security. For example, Google now places heavy emphasis on HTTPS, which is a type of website code that makes it easier to browse securely and stay away from hackers, and it makes it really easy to know when you’re on a site that leaves you vulnerable.
And lastly, Google Chrome remains the fastest browser on the market, and this is a big reason why it has been able to claim such a large share of the browser market.
However, Google Chrome isn’t without its flaws. The biggest thing it has against it is that it consumes a lot of your device’s memory or RAM. This means that when using Chrome, especially when you have lots of tabs and windows open, the rest of your computer will likely slow down. And there’s not much you can do about it. This is built into the core functioning of the browser.
Another downside to Chrome is privacy. It’s a Google service, which means you know your activity is being tracked and logged. Google claims this is done to provide you with better service, but many feel this is a violation of privacy, and concerns have been raised about what Google does with all this data. Whether or not this is important is up to you.
But even with these drawbacks, Chrome remains the browser to beat.
Although less than ten percent of users choose Firefox as their default browser, we suspect this will change soon. This is because Mozilla has addressed some of the concerns surrounding its browser in the last update, and this may help them regain some of the ground they’ve lost over the years; Firefox was once the browser of choice for a majority of users.
Part of the reason we suspect Firefox to become more popular is that its most recent update made it much, much faster. So much so that it can now compete with Google Chrome. And since Firefox doesn’t rely nearly as much on your system’s RAM, you can browse at these high-speeds without having to worry about sacrificing your machine’s ability to do other tasks.
Firefox also added a few security features, such as password-less login, which helps build in two-factor authentication to almost all you do, as well as a feature that allows you to block ad trackers, something people interested in maintaining some shred of privacy on the internet will enjoy.
Part of the reason Firefox is built this way is that Mozilla remains a non-profit company and Firefox is open-sourced software. This means anyone can work on it and developers aren’t motivated by money, so there are not as many incentives to make the browser work to track your information and activity.
In reality, there aren’t a lot of things we don’t like about Firefox. But if we had to choose, it would be the extensions. There are countless extensions available, but not nearly as many as with Google Chrome, largely because Chrome is the more popular browser. So, while it’s likely you’ll find a lot of extensions, it’s also possible some of your favorite sites or apps don’t support a Firefox extension, which can be frustrating.
The other thing to look out for is how Firefox grows. As mentioned, it’s so high up on this list because of some big changes made over the past few years. If developers can’t keep this up, expect Firefox to suffer.
Although Microsoft used to dominate the browser market with Internet Explorer, things have changed quite a bit, largely because for many years Microsoft produced an inferior product.
However, things have changed, especially now that Edge is on the market.
Edge first launched as part of Windows 10 and it remained an afterthought to most, but since then, it has improved considerably. It’s one of the faster browsers out there, but it doesn’t consume too many of your computer’s resources, which is good.
Microsoft actually partnered with Google to launch Edge and built it using Chromium, which means all the extensions you know and love on Chrome will work flawlessly on Edge as well. In addition, you no longer need to have Windows to use Edge. It works on a variety of platforms, including iOS and Linux.
All of this has helped restore Microsoft as an important player in the world of browsers. Some 14 percent of users now choose it as their default.
The downsides to Edge are largely cosmetic. The design is not nearly as elegant as with other browsers, and this leads to a slightly lower quality experience.
Microsoft still really pushes its browser as part of its Windows system, which makes sense but some users may find it a bit intrusive. In addition, Edge doesn’t offer the same levels of privacy since Microsoft is interested in your browsing history. If this is a concern of yours, you may want to choose another browser from this list.
With just 1 percent of people using Opera as their preferred browser, you might be surprised to see it so high up on this list, but when you take a look at its features, you’ll be surprised it’s not more popular.
Probably the best thing about the Opera browser is the Opera Turbo feature. This works by compressing data so that pages can load more easily, which makes this browser an excellent option for those who have to deal with slower internet connection speeds.
This feature also limits the amount of data that is transferred, so this is also a great mobile option, especially if you have monthly data caps.
In terms of layout and design, Opera is about a sleek as it gets, and it has many of the same features as Google Chrome and Firefox, specifically when it comes to the functioning of tabs. In fact, Chrome and Firefox copied many of the features that Opera created to improve their products.
Lastly, Opera comes with a few other neat features that help make it a bit better. For example, it has an integrated ad blocker and a built-in Virtual Private Network (VPN), helping you have a safer and more private browsing experience.
Although there’s a lot to like about Opera, it has a few downsides. For one, it doesn’t have anywhere near the same amount of extensions as Firefox and Chrome, which could limit your ability to use it with other services.
Also, Opera doesn’t offer the same device-to-device synchronization that we’ve become accustomed to with Chrome and Firefox.
But if you’re willing to look past these negatives, we think you will be pleasantly surprised with how Opera works and how it improves your web experience.
A relatively unknown browser, Vivaldi offers some interesting features that make trying it out worth your time.
Far and away the best feature of Vivaldi is the customization it allows you to do. You can set everything, from the window size to the fonts, the menus, and much more.
Vivaldi also has an interesting feature that allows you to stack tabs on top of one another. This makes it easy to stay organized as you’re working on many different things at once, and this is something you can currently only do with Vivaldi.
Lastly, Vivaldi is also built on Chromium, which means you will have the full gamut of Chrome extensions at your disposal should you choose to use them. All you need to do is go to the Chrome store and click “Add to Chrome.” The browser will automatically set it up.
Vivaldi has two main disadvantages. The first is that it is not as fast as the competition, and the differences in speed are noticeable. However, some may find this is an acceptable price to pay for a browser that allows you to go so in-depth with customization.
The other downside to Vivaldi is that there is a bit of a learning curve to make the most of it. So many customizable features can make things a bit difficult to navigate. But if you can get over this and learn to make use of the many different things Vivaldi can do, we think you’ll be pleased. But we also understand many people might not make it to this point.
The last browser on this list is Apple’s proprietary product: Safari. However, as you will see, it makes it onto this list more for its practicality than its performance.
The main advantage of Safari is that it works seamlessly with other Apple products. This makes sense as Apple designed Safari with its devices in mind and vice versa.
But the specificity of Safari goes beyond just the surface. Using Safari can also improve the overall speed of your Apple device, and in the case of iPhones and iPads, it can also help improve battery life.
Because of all this, Safari is the best browser for those who want to remain within the Apple ecosystem and who aren’t worried about the better performance they could be getting with a different product.
However, for everyone else, it doesn’t make much sense. And it seems the world agrees with us – just 6 percent of all internet users choose Safari, and the majority of those people are owners of Apple products.
The first knock on Safari is that it’s not the fastest browser out there. Not by a long shot. So, if you’re looking to maximize the speed with which you can surf the internet, you should probably look elsewhere.
The other major issue with Safari is that it is about as far as you can get from open-source software. This means Apple has its hands on every aspect of the program, which for some can be quite troubling, especially if you’re concerned about privacy and security. Apple will tell you there’s nothing to fear, but we also have plenty of reasons to doubt this claim.
This also means that you won’t be able to make use of extensions like you would with the many other browsers on this list, which holds back the functionality of Safari and keeps it from being a better browser.
All in all, Safari isn’t terrible, but for anyone other than an Apple enthusiast, there aren’t many reasons to make it your browser of choice.
As you can see, there is much more to a web browser than meets the eye, and there are more options besides Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
We hope the information provided here has helped you better understand what a browser is and how it impacts your experience on the web, and we also hope that you’ll be able to use this information to make an informed choice that leads you to the browser most suited for your needs.