The chances are good that when you browse the web, you’re doing so via Google’s own particular browser, Google Chrome. Chrome has anywhere between 47% to 60% of the browser market sewn up. That might not seem that impressive, but the next largest market share is usually given to Apple’s Safari browser at between 13% to 22%. Chrome is pretty dominant, in other words.
Like so many of its products, Google offers the Chrome browser for free. Realistically, it’s been a very long while since you’ve had to pay for browser software at all. Chrome, to put it politely, isn’t without its issues, most notably around memory management. It can be a real hog, even with only a few browser tabs running. If your PC or Mac is running slow, closing Chrome down is a quick and easy way to get a quick performance hit.
Google’s core business isn’t browsers, or even search as many presume. Instead, it makes its money in advertising, and there are concerns about how much of your online data is being tracked when you use its Chrome browser in its vanilla state. You can mitigate this with the right blocking extensions, but that’s also a hassle.
The problem with closing Chrome to save memory or stop tracking, of course, is that it leaves you without a web browser, because you just closed Chrome!
The solution is to at least look at alternative browser solutions. All you need is a little time to download them at most.
Both are lean browsers, which is great if you’ve got an otherwise overloaded machine. That can also mean that they’re often less equipped with extensions and ways to customise your browsing experience.
For many users, Edge or Safari are fine, and as you might expect, they’re part of the operating environment and already installed on your computer. The only thing you’ve got to do is run them.
If you’re on an older Microsoft Windows OS you won’t find Edge, but instead the older Internet Explorer browser Microsoft used to develop.
At one time, Internet Explorer was the dominant web browser, right up until Chrome usage started to peak. Microsoft doesn’t develop IE any more, and that means that if it is your current browser of choice, you should switch.
Not for memory and performance reasons, but to ensure that your browsing stays safe. A browser no longer in development is one that’s much more open to malware exploits over time.
Firefox is often cited as a popular alternative to Chrome, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s as lean as Safari or Edge, but with a robust library of extensions to cover all sorts of usage scenarios. Like Chrome, you can set up accounts to share bookmarks or other web information across devices.
Opera is also worth considering. These days it sells itself as something of a pre-configured jack-of-all-trades. This includes integrated ad blocking, battery management features and even a “free” VPN. You don’t get much of a VPN for “free”, mind you. Its VPN services only operate within Opera itself, not across all your web communications. It can also be rather slow when its VPN is switched on.
Of course, the beauty of the current browser market is that you’re free to try any or all of the above options to see how they compare against Chrome, and decide for yourself.
Some love the innate Apple-ness of Safari, others the flexibility of Firefox or the feature set of Opera. You can easily uninstall them if they don’t suit, and go back to Chrome at any time, but you might just find that a new browser gives your computer a lot of its innate power back.