Q: What (browser) do you guys think? Firefox? Internet Explorer? Chrome? So sick of the confusion! — Candice
A: The Internet browser is one of the most fundamental software programs that we all use and it’s a big battleground for companies trying to convince you that theirs is the best to use.
Unlike security software, it’s okay to have multiple browsers installed on your computer and, in fact, it’s a really good idea to have at least two different browsers installed.
The current breakdown of market share for the top browsers is: Internet Explorer 60%, Firefox 23%, Chrome 7.5%, and Safari at 5% (NetMarketShare August 2010).
There are a number of reasons why you might want to leave multiple browsers installed, primarily because browsers are one of the most targeted programs by those with malicious intent on the Internet.
At any given time, you will see warnings about a newly discovered vulnerability or ‘hole’ in just about every browser, and in some cases, it takes a while for the company to come up with a patch (we post warnings and updates on our Facebook page.
In those situations, you would want to avoid using the browser in question and temporarily switch to another browser until the hole can be patched.
Another great reason to have multiple browsers installed is for troubleshooting Internet issues. When you are experiencing slow or no connection, switching to another browser can quickly help you track down the problem.
If the second browser is just as slow or can’t connect, then you would look towards the actual Internet connection; if the second browser works great, then the problem is likely corruption or infection in the primary browser.
Since Internet Explorer is the most commonly used, it’s also the most targeted by the bad guys. Many people avoid using it, but some financial institutions still only allow connections via Internet Explorer, so keeping it updated and accessible makes sense.
Firefox continues to gain market share, but as it becomes more popular, it also is being targeted more and more by the malcontents in the world.
Google’s Chrome is a great, lightweight browser that’s also very fast, but on occasion, it can run into some issues with obscure websites (foreign language or those that obscure specialty programming code).
Apple’s Safari, which is also available for Windows, can also run into website compatibility issues on occasion.
With all this in mind, you might consider doing what most technically astute users do: Keep two to three browsers installed and use your primary browser for most surfing and keep the others around for troubleshooting and compatibility issues.
The amount of hard disk space that these browsers take up is insignificant on most modern computers (10 to 30Mbs), so getting rid of them to free up space isn’t really going to accomplish much.
The general consensus amongst the tech community as of this writing is that Chrome is the fastest and most secure browser and Firefox has the most flexibility because of the huge number of add-ons that have been created for it.
The user-interface is also different for each of the browsers, so your comfort level with the functionality will have a lot to do with which you use as your primary choice.
There’s really no right or wrong answer for which browser you should use and hopefully the confusion you had about what you should do is now clearing!
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