The best internet browser isn’t necessarily the default one that comes with your device. Whether you’re looking for faster web browsing or more security while you’re online, we’ll help you choose the right internet browser in this guide.
After more than 80 hours of research and testing, we came to the conclusion that Mozilla Firefox is the best internet browser for most people. It boasts fast page loads, quick navigation and, most importantly, secure browsing. We tested each web browser’s default security settings using live malware, and Firefox correctly stopped more malicious downloads – and warned of more dangerous websites – than any other popular web browser.
However, there are a number of very good browsers to choose between, and the right one for you will depend on your requirements. You'll find our pick of the best internet browsers below.
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1. Mozilla Firefox: Best overall
Mozilla's Firefox is one of the fastest internet browsers we tested for navigating between sites and for fully loading pages. It also proved to be the most secure during our in-house tests using live malware.
This browser is compatible with Mac and Windows operating systems, and with Android and iOS cell phones and tablets. It syncs your passwords, bookmarked pages and browser settings so you have access to these – as well as your search history – on other computers and mobile devices.
Mozilla includes a privacy browser so you can search online without cookies or other trackers. And you can set this browser to delete all the cookies, cache and browser history each time the browser closes. Mozilla is nicely laid out and has a clean interface, so it’s easy to find most tools and features. You can have multiple browser tabs open at once in a single window and rearrange their order by dragging and dropping the tabs. If you accidentally close a tab, or even the entire browser, Firefox will recover it for you. It’s difficult to contact live tech support since Mozilla doesn’t offer telephone or chat help. And the email support doesn’t always return messages. Your best bet for one-on-one help is through the user forums. You can also find good information and resources, such as FAQs and tutorials, through the searchable knowledge base.
Read the full review: Mozilla Firefox
2. Chrome: Best for Google Drive
Google Chrome comes standard on most Android mobile devices, so it is a good choice for cell phones and tablets. Plus we’ve found that it works a bit better than Firefox on Android devices. Chrome is also a good choice for Windows and Mac computers.
If you use Chrome on multiple devices, logging in to your account will give you quick access to documents you saved in Google Docs, your Gmail messages and your bookmarks, regardless of the device you’re on. Search history is also saved with your account, so if you’re logged in, terms you’ve looked for will auto-populate when you start typing in the Google search field on any device.
Chrome lets you set icons on your toolbar so you can quickly get to the pages you visit most often. You can also pin bookmarks to the Google Chrome homepage. It has tabbed browsing so you can have multiple viewing windows open at once and easily toggle between them. During out in-house tests, we noticed Chrome didn’t identify as many phishing schemes as Firefox, but it did stop malicious files, including ransomware and Trojans, from opening and infecting our computer. Chrome’s privacy browser is available on all devices, including cell phones, to keep your online activity private.
Read the full review: Google Chrome
3. Microsoft Edge: Best for battery life
Microsoft Edge comes standard with computers running the Windows 10 operating system, but it also works on both Android and iOS cell phones. It isn’t, however, compatible with older Windows versions.
It's much leaner and faster than Internet Explorer, which it replaces. In some respects it's also a better proposition than Chrome or Firefox. That's because Edge tends to use less memory (RAM) so it will feel faster on older computers and tends to use less power, which is important on a laptop. The trade-off is that it doesn't have the wealth of extensions or apps you'll find with the those other browsers.
When we tested Edge’s security, it not only warned of phishing schemes and other dangerous websites, but it also blocked malware files from infecting out test devices. Microsoft Edge includes Notes, a tool that lets you highlight works or passages on any webpage and save them to read later.
You can add icons to the toolbar that link you to frequently visited websites and use the URL field to search the web. Edge has sync capabilities so you can access your bookmarks and search history across all your devices. Microsoft is one of the few internet browser developers that offers telephone support if you are having difficulties with its program.
Read the full review: Microsoft Edge
4. Safari: Best for Macs
Safari is one of the best choices for Mac devices because it is designed specifically for Apple’s machines. It connects quickly and loads full sites faster than any macOS-compatible browser we tested.
Safari takes a moment to learn if you’re not already familiar with Mac computers, and you can’t customize this browser with toolbars, but you still get tabbed browsing like Firefox and Chrome offer. Safari lets you tag favorite sites and has a reading list where you can save articles or parts of websites to read later. While you’re reading an article, Safari has a tool that pushes ads and other distractions aside so you can read without unrelated text or images breaking in.
This browser is the default for iPhones and iPads, and it syncs through your iCloud account, so any changes you make on one device will be available on any device connected to your account. When we tested its default security settings, Safari warned us of malicious websites that had phishing schemes or dangerous links on them. But it didn’t stop malicious downloads, so we had to depend on a Mac antivirus program to gather these threats during the download process.
This is one of the few browsers that has live support. It also has great online resources, like tutorials and searchable FAQs, so you can find answers on your own.
Read the full review: Safari
5. Opera: Good all-rounder
Opera feels similar to Google Chrome because it uses the same base program. But Opera is unique because it features a sidebar where you can pin links to your favorite websites, sort of like a bookmark, or shortcuts to email and chat windows.
You can adjust the settings to hide the sidebar and use more traditional menus and toolbars like other internet browser programs.
Opera is decently fast, about on par with Firefox and Chrome when it comes to initial startup, site navigation and page loading. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, and works on iOS and Android mobile devices. The URL bar doubles as a search bar, and it has stacking, which means you can drag and drop open tabs in the order you want them.
Opera is blocked by several websites that aren’t familiar with this web browser, especially very old and out-of-date websites that haven’t been updated to the most recent browser standards. Also, Opera doesn’t have any form of web blocking or parental controls by default, but you can add these via add-ons.
Read the full review: Opera Browser
6. Maxthon: Best for drag-and-drop
Maxthon is a good choice if you like the feel and user experience of Internet Explorer but have a Windows 10 operating system where Explorer isn’t an option.
Maxthon has some unique features, most notably its drag-and-drop content feature.
This allows you to grab any image or content on any website and drop into a personal message or email message to share or send, eliminating completely the need to clip, copy or save content.
Maxthon also includes parental controls to block specific content based on security levels and site ratings. URLs and information you’ve typed into online forms is automatically saved and autofilled the next time you start to fill out a form. However, you can adjust the settings to stop the autofill of personal information.
This internet browser isn’t very effective at stopping malware downloads or blocking phishing schemes, so we strongly suggest using a third-party antivirus program alongside Maxthon.
Read the full review: Maxthon
7. Avast Secure: Good for privacy
Avast Secure web browser is really good at stopping phishing schemes, and it connects you to Avast’s free antivirus program to help stop online malware from infecting your computer.
It includes typical browser tools like tabbed browsing, session restore and a password manager. Its pop-up blocker is automatically enabled from the moment it is installed, which is becoming more typical of all internet browsers, and it has a privacy browser to keep your browser history from being tracked while online.
Avast is quick at starting up and navigating between pages. And compared to more popular browsers, Avast loaded more quickly. The biggest drawback is Avast is only compatible with Windows computers, so you can’t use it on Apple or Android mobile devices. There is an early access Mac version, but as this isn't yet fully-fledged we wouldn't recommend using it yet.
Read the full review: Avast Secure
8. Avant: Best IE compatibility
The Avant Browser feels very similar to older versions of Internet Explorer, which isn’t surprising because it uses the same primary source code. Avant can be used as either a standalone browser or as an add-on to Internet Explorer, giving IE users updated tools and functions no longer supported by Microsoft.
This internet browser has session restore automatically enabled, which means your tabs and activities are saved each time you close the browser and will be there the next time it is opened. It also automatically updates itself. In our tests, Avant Browser did a decent job protecting against phishing schemes and malicious downloads. It isn’t very fast, though, coming well behind several more popular options in both navigation and page loading times.
It comes in useful if you still need to use Internet Explorer to access certain secure apps that won't allow another web browser.
Read the full review: Avant Browser
9. Seamonkey: One to avoid
SeaMonkey is an open source browser, so you have access to the code and can customize its features.
Users in the SeaMonkey community share ideas and code for features they want to add, and you can join the discussion, even if you don’t write code. There isn’t a central management team that oversees these add-ons or version updates, so you have to be vigilant about exactly what’s being added. It is possible that a version release will be buggy, include tools that you don’t want, or be insecure. In these cases the SeaMonkey community works together to provide patches or new versions to fix these issues.
The current version of SeaMonkey includes a password manager, customizable tools and session restore. It isn’t compatible with smartphones or tablets, and it feels clunky and outdated. Plus, it is much slower than other web browsers we tested. It also does a poor job of identifying phishing schemes and other harmful websites, and it doesn’t stop malware from being downloaded to your computer.
We like the open source community of SeaMonkey, but it's not a browser we recommend you use.
Read the full review: SeaMonkey Browser
Do you need to use a VPN when browsing the web?
You don't need a VPN to use a web browser, but it's a great way to stay secure and anonymous when you’re online. VPNs use encrypted tunnels for your web activity, which prevent anyone else from accessing the data you're sending or seeing what you're reading or downloading – including your internet service provider.
VPNs are so easy to use that they've become increasingly popular over the last few years, with growing numbers of people using them in addition to traditional online security, like antivirus software.
When might you need one? If you’re on public Wi-Fi (at a hotel, cafe or airport, say) it's a very good idea to use a VPN. Want to browse anonymously? A VPN will let you hide your IP address. And if you're abroad on holiday and want to watch your favorite sports or entertainment shows – you'll likely need a VPN that can allow you to use the internet as if you're still in the US.
We think the best VPN service is ExpressVPN. It's fast, offers superb security, and it's very easy to use. But if you're not sure which one is right for you, take a look at our best VPN service guide, where you'll find more advice.
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|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Speed & Compatibility||Security||Features||Ease of Use||File Size||Average Startup Time||Navigation Time||Synchronization||Third-Party Browser Extensions||Windows Compatible||Mac Compatible||Android Compatible||iOS Compatible||Phishing Protection Score||Cache Automatically Cleared||Parental Controls||Password Manager||Private Browsing||Pop-Up Blocker||Integrated Search Engine||Tabbed Browsing||Session Restore||Bookmarks||Voice Interaction||Automatic Updates||Open-Source Development|
|Mozilla Firefox||View Deal||5/5||9||9.8||10||95%||314 KB||4.2 sec||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||92%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Google Chrome||View Deal||4.5/5||8.8||8||10||95%||1.1 MB||1 sec||4.6 sec||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||83%||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Microsoft Edge||View Deal||4.5/5||7.8||9.6||8.6||85%||23 MB||3.5 sec||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||75%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-|
|Opera||View Deal||4/5||8.8||5.8||10||90%||2112 KB||4.5 sec||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||46%||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Safari||View Deal||4/5||7||8||8.6||95%||20.8 MB||3.4 sec||✓||✓||-||✓||-||✓||75%||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Maxthon||View Deal||4/5||8.6||7.4||5.8||80%||52.8 MB||4.8 sec||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||42%||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||-||-||✓|
|SeaMonkey||View Deal||3.5/5||5.2||8.8||7.2||65%||39.15 MB||2 sec||9.6 sec||-||✓||✓||✓||-||-||33%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||-||✓|
|Avast Secure||View Deal||3.5/5||6||8||7.2||90%||4.3 MB||2 sec||4 sec||-||✓||✓||-||-||-||83%||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||-|
|Avant Browser||View Deal||3/5||4.4||7.8||7.2||75%||2.5 MB||1 sec||4.4 sec||-||✓||✓||-||-||-||67%||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||-|
Why Trust Us
We have been testing and reviewing internet browsers for 13 years. And we work so much online, we’ve come to learn a thing or two about web browsers and which ones are the best for certain tasks. For example, internet programs and intranet networks tend to work better on Mozilla Firefox, but software usually downloads more easily via Google Chrome. For Mac users, our testers prefer Safari even though both Chrome and Firefox are compatible with Mac computers.
How We Tested
We downloaded each internet browser to as many devices we could to check the compatibility. Even when a device or operating system wasn’t listed on the browser’s homepage, we still attempted to locate it in the Google Play and Apple store just to make sure we didn’t miss it. And if we couldn’t find an official app, we attempted to download the program from each browser’s homepage.
After downloading the browsers to our test computers, laptops and mobile devices, we recorded the time it took for the browser to navigate from one page to another, and the time it took to completely load the page. As part of this test we navigated to a variety of sites including search engines and content-heavy pages like news sites. We repeated this several times so we could get a good average time for each browser to compare against all the others we tested. Of course, load times can affected by the time of day, type of internet connection and the number of devices connected at once. Still we got a good idea of how reliable each browser is. For the most part there isn’t a lot of difference between the more well-known internet browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Opera.
The biggest difference we saw, and one that is important to consider when choosing an internet browser, is how well each recognized and blocked malware. This includes virus downloads, phishing schemes and untrusted websites that are known to harbor malicious files. We tested internet browsers for security using live malware samples.
For our security tests, we didn’t change any browser settings, using only the default security setup. While we know adjusting some settings will result in better protection, many users are not tech savvy enough to do this effectively. We feel it is better to test the default security settings since this is what the majority of users will use.
After testing how well the internet browsers detect and stop malware on their own, we installed antivirus software programs and performed these tests again. This allowed us to see how well each internet browser works alongside these programs to provide optimum online security to you and your family. It also let us see how each browser behaves with browser extensions.
Web Browser FAQ
How do I install a new web browser?
Your new computer or smartphone should have come with a web browser already installed. On most Windows desktops, this will be Microsoft Edge; Safari is the default browser on Macs. You can search for the browser you want to use in any other web browser. For example, you can search for Google Chrome in the Edge search bar. Once you find the site for the browser you want to use, click the download button and give the permissions for the download and installation when prompted. The web browser will download and install itself on your device.
You can download, install and use multiple web browsers at once. Just know that each browser takes up a lot of memory on your device and requires still more to operate correctly. Chrome tends to use the most resources.
If your computer doesn’t already have a web browser, there are a couple of ways to get one installed. If your computer has a disk drive, you can order an installation disk for your preferred browser. However, since most computers are now made without a disk drive, it is a challenge to find an available installation disk.
The other option is to download the web browser program to an external drive. Most web browsers will fit on a flash (or thumb) drive. This will have to be done from a computer that already has a browser installed since you’ll need to browser to download the program file. Once the file is saved to your external drive, you can connect it to your computer to upload and install your preferred web browser.
Whichever method you choose, just be certain you are visiting the legitimate web browser’s webpage in order to avoid accidentally downloading a malicious file. Several antivirus programs, like Trend Micro, use web detection technology to ensure you are visiting a safe site.
Can I have more than one web browser on my computer?
Yes, you can have more than one web browser installed on your computer. We have found that some websites and programs work best in a particular browser. And there are some software programs that won’t download from certain web browsers. But keep in mind that you need enough hard drive space to house more than one browser on any device. Chrome is a 30MB program, but Google suggests having at least 100MB of hard disk space available for its browser to install and operate properly. Mozilla doesn’t disclose exactly how big the Firefox download is, but several users have reported needing at least 50MB of available space in order to download it, and Mozilla does suggest allotting 200MB for Firefox to run.
What are browser extensions, and do I need to pay for them?
Browser extensions are program shortcuts that are designed to work alongside your browser to enhance your online experience, much like the apps you download to your smartphone. In the past these extensions cost about $5 per year, but most are now free. We had a hard time finding any paid extensions. We did notice that the most popular browser extensions Firefox users downloaded were adblockers and expense trackers, while most Chrome users downloaded educational apps, like Grammarly, and games. Keep in mind that Microsoft Edge doesn’t support third-party browser extensions.
Is Microsoft Edge safer than Chrome?
When we tested internet browsers, we noticed Edge did a decent job of warning us of dangerous sites and of stopping malware from downloading. However, there were still several threats that snuck through because Edge didn’t recognize them. These same threats were quickly stopped by both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Most antivirus software requires you to enable a browser extension to help it monitor your online activity and keep threats at bay, but Microsoft Edge doesn’t allow third-party browser extensions. In other web browsers, the antivirus extensions helped block malicious downloads when a threat wasn’t recognized by the browser’s security settings, and the web browsers, in turn, tapped into the antivirus malware databases through the extension to stop threats they didn’t recognize on their own.
Overall, Microsoft Edge, though decently secure, is not as safe as either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. We did discover a couple of antivirus solutions, such as Trend Micro Antivirus+, that use web recognition technology and will warn you within the Microsoft Edge browser of potential threats without the use of an extension. You can learn more about antivirus programs that are compatible with Microsoft Edge in our comparison of the best antivirus software.