The reference browser for private internet use
We’ve all heard of Mozilla Firefox. It is probably one of the global top three browsers, alongside Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. It suffered a major setback in recent years, with many users turning their backs on Firefox for the irresistible speed of Chrome. Thanks to competitive updates, improved speed and an increasing move away from Google over privacy concerns, Firefox is making a major comeback. Firefox Quantum was released in 2017. The total overhaul of the core engine blew expectations away being twice as fast as previous versions. Better speed, memory and the new fluid Photon design. Move over Chrome! But Is it worth the move? Let’s check out the pros and cons of the latest version of Firefox for Windows.
Mozilla Firefox for fast and reliable browsing
The best browser if you're looking for speed, safety, and privacy.
Firstly, let’s cover Firefox’s most famous feature: privacy. Developed by the non-profit group Mozilla Corporation in 2002, Firefox is a free open source software, and the source code is publicly available for download. The ethical company vision outlined in the Mozilla manifesto upholds the vision of open source software to enable a free internet which anyone can use and contribute to. Does the latest version of Firefox hold these values dear? The incognito browsing mode is the best I have seen yet. Unlike other browsers, Firefox automatically includes ad and tracker blockers in this mode. There are options for even stricter anti-tracking features in the privacy and security tab of the preferences area. Without tracking slowing down your browsing, page loading is faster. It may be no DuckDuck Go, the go-to browser for privacy, but it is a far cry from the continually tracking Google Chrome. One of the new updates the “Pocket” feature is great in that it allows you to save a load of content to one place with a single click but using your “pocket” does come with some in-built advertising.
Firefox is also highly customizable. If you like to personalize your browser then you have a vast array of themes (the fantasy and dark themes are awesome), extensions and plug ins. There are tons of Firefox hacks, you can browse the list of keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys. The simple interface makes it very user friendly. Just scroll down the drop-down menu on the right and browse options to open a private window, customize your settings, use the automatic password saver or sync your internet browsing across multiple devices. Other great features include the in-built screenshots tool and reader view which simplifies web pages for easy on-screen reading. (Top right just next to the url). Once you’re in the Toggle Reader View, you can select “Narrate” and the page will be read to you! There are no options for voices though, the default is female and pretty robotic. You can set permissions for your computer’s camera, microphone, location services and notifications. The bookmarks tab is really well designed, you can drag your favorite items into the toolbar, and there’s an overflow menu on the side. There’s a library section with your history, pocket reading list and synced tabs. Another great feature is the mute – Firefox automatically mutes websites, so no more sudden jingles blasting from your office computer! If you work with HTML5 video, then Firefox is the only web browser that preloads entire HTML5 video – useful if you are working with a slow connection.
What’s the catch? As a recent Chrome user, I did notice a difference in speed. Page loading was noticeably slower, and there was a real difference in time to download images. Web WhatsApp was particularly sluggish. Also, despite Mozilla’s reputation for data privacy, remember the extensions and plug-ins will be third party, and most of the extensions I added on required intrusive permissions. Another slightly annoying feature was that the search function, 'Ctrl+F' does not bring up a scrollbar on the right but comes up bottom left and is quite hard to read.
Where can you run this program?
Firefox is a multiplatform internet browser. You can download and install Firefox on Mac, Windows, and you can run Firefox from Linux. Mozilla Firefox is the official internet browser for Ubuntu. Now that we spend nearly as much or more time on our smartphones, Firefox has adapted accordingly, and you can run Firefox on android and iOS phones, tablets and iPads. The latest version also allows you to sync your devices so that you can access your browsing history, tabs and bookmarks.
Is there a better alternative?
Firefox versus Chrome, and are there even better alternatives? It depends what you are looking for. If it is pure speed and instant page loading, then you simply can’t beat Google Chrome. It comes at a price however; your data is automatically tracked and the default settings are business facing. For privacy, the Epic Privacy Browser and Ghostery Privacy Browser are the most protective. Users who are looking for highly customizable experiences will love Vivaldi, while those who work a lot with video and media should check out Torch (based off Chromium). Mac users have the inbuilt Safari browser, and there is a lot of excitement about the new Opera Browser and Microsoft Edge.
Finding the right internet browser is crucial. Unless you spend most of your time working on your computer offline (or away from a screen altogether) most professional and personal computer use will start by firing up a new internet page. Unless you have a specific need for mega privacy, or niche requirement (video downloading, speed) then Firefox has it all: fast, reliable, highly customizable and the powerful default settings protect your privacy far better than most internet browsers.
Should you download it?
Is Firefox the right browser for you? If you are looking for a good all-rounder, with an emphasis on privacy as well as performance, and options to personalize your browser, then go ahead and download Firefox.
- Downloads may take longer than other browsers
- Search function is not the best one