The Browser Review
by Ryan Famiglietti
Courtesy of Pixabay
Browsers. Everyone knows them, or, at least, everyone knows the one that came pre-installed on their computer.
At best, the browser is 99% invisible—a seamless portal to the world wide web. At worst, browsers are slow and ugly—and they use their slowness and its ugliness to mine your data and profit from your indifference. Here, we’ll run down some of the most (and least) common browsers and talk about their perks, quirks, and irks.
Google Chrome: Old Faithful
There was a time when everyone and their mother used chrome. That time, unsurprisingly, is now. It’s pretty fast and has a plethora of extensions that do everything from block ads to replace every instance of ‘Elon Musk’ with ‘Grime’s Boyfriend’.
Perks: Fast; compatible across all systems
Quirks: Tons of extensions; easy to spice up life
Irks: Mines your data on behalf of Alphabet and ‘shares’ (read: sells) it to third parties; private browsing is not a default; ad-block requires choosing from and installing extensions
Microsoft Edge: Internet Explorer’s Slightly Improved Successor
Edge is what currently comes pre-installed on your standard, run-of-the-mill windows machine. It’s slow and lacking in features, but hey, it gets the job done.
Perks: A definite step up from Internet Explorer
Quirks: So boring, that it has no quirks
Irks: Bing is still the default search engine; slow
Tor: For When You Need to Buy a Functioning Surface-to-Air Missile Battery off the Dark Web
Tor is a browser and a decentralised network. That means whenever you access a website via Tor, you first send a request to the Tor network, and then a random computer in the network accesses the site on your behalf. This has the effect of both preventing your ISP (that’s ‘internet service provider’, folks) from knowing what sites you’re accessing and preventing the sites themselves from collecting any of your location data.
Perks: Super, and I mean super, secure
Quirks: Will occasionally dole out privacy tips; uses duck-duck-go as the default search engine
Irks: Slow; screams ‘one time I watched Mr Robot and now I think I’m a hacker’; network prevents torrenting and large file downloads
Safari: Wow, you have a mac. So Special.
Safari is Apple’s version of Edge. This means two things: 1. It’s better in every conceivable way. 2. There’s no way your getting it without selling your firstborn in exchange for a MacBook.
Perks: Fast; simple
Quirks: In-built reader works better than the rest!
Irks: Sometimes webpages just don’t like safari; doesn’t have extensions
Firefox Quantum: Gaming and Tech Recommends
Firefox had a hay day a few years ago and then faded into obsolescence. Now it’s back, and with a vengeance. It’s faster a more secure than chrome, and has a bunch of nifty features that don’t require one to sort through a mountain of third-party-designed extensions.
Perks: Fast; secure; cross-platform friendly
Quirks: In-built ad-block and do-not-track requests don’t require one to turn on private browsing mode
Irks: You have to tell people you use Firefox
Opera: You Hipster
Opera’s a browser. I’ve never met a real life person who uses it.
Perks: I guess you get to tell people you use Opera?
Quirks: Automatic currency conversions; battery saver mode; other ‘convenient’ features
Irks: Slower than everything except for Tor and Edge