Web browsers have come a long way from just offering a way to read email or, you know, browse the web – and the Firefox vs Chrome debate has rumbled on for years now.
Both offer something more akin to a traditional operating system in many ways, full of plugins/extensions and customizable features that mean your browser window can work differently from someone else’s. As with any product competing for your time, though, the question will always remain: which is best? We’re here to answer that very question.
While both Firefox vs Chrome are both some of the best web browsers (opens in new tab), which one beats out the other in this head-to-head? We find out below…
Firefox vs Chrome
As two of the most popular web browsers available today, both Firefox and Chrome are free downloads with plenty of features. However, which browser reigns supreme?
Firefox vs Chrome: Features
Both Firefox and Chrome offer an integrated library of additional functions that can be installed. Firefox calls these “add-ons”, while Chrome calls them “extensions”. Essentially additional tools to help customize and empower your browsing experience, both have huge libraries – but Chrome’s is by far the largest.
Firefox and Chrome are also tailored per user, so you can switch users on each and see different bookmarks, extensions, and more. Browsing history and passwords can be synced across devices, too, which is handy since both have apps for the likes of mobile and tablet devices.
Perhaps Chrome’s “ace in the hole” is that it's tied closely to Google’s suite of web apps. If you’re an avid Gmail user or rely on Google Docs, Sheets, or Drive for work, you can still use Firefox – but everything is just a little smoother within Chrome.
Firefox vs Chrome: Security & Privacy
With so much of our lives spent online in some capacity, security at the web browser level is crucial, as is the privacy of our data.
Firefox and Chrome both offer built-in password managers (although we’d still recommend something like 1Password or LastPass as a first option) but both differ in execution. Firefox keeps your passwords locally, so malware that hits your device could recover that information.
Google, on the other hand, ties your passwords to your Google account. That makes them accessible anywhere you log in, but does bring its own issues if you’re logged in on multiple devices.
While neither browser blocks ads without an add-on or extension (which are easily installed), Firefox runs a stringent anti-tracking layer of protection that does its best to filter out anything that could log data about what you’re doing online. You can crank it up to higher levels, too.
When it comes to potentially malicious websites, both will offer users a buffer of sorts before landing on the webpage in question. This “are you sure you want to do that?” style of approach helps users retreat to safety, but also makes it easy enough to push through – particularly helpful if a site hasn’t been whitelisted as yet, but you need to work on it.
Privacy concerns are just as important as security ones, and Chrome is still lagging behind in that regard. Part of that is Google’s history of being built on customer data, and while you can opt-out of some of its methods, you’ll always be under a watchful eye for how you interact with adverts and other content.
That makes Firefox the clear winner on this, and while it does collect some data to help with maintaining its services, it’s not shipping it by the terabyte to advertising companies.
Firefox vs Chrome: Performance
It’s perhaps tricky to draw any definitive conclusions regarding the performance of each browser because both run on a variety of operating systems and with various add-ons and extensions installed, but for the most part, we can say this is a close-run race.
While Chrome can be a bit of a resource hog, particularly on macOS (where it has a history of draining the battery pretty rapidly), Google has been improving its reputation. In fact, Chrome is now the fastest browser around, with Microsoft’s Edge browser (built on a similar “Chromium” framework) not far behind.
Firefox isn’t as fast and does tend to take up a little too much RAM when you’re using it for multiple tasks, but it’s no slouch – still running faster than stock Chromium. Still, Chrome is significantly faster.
Firefox vs Chrome: Verdict
It’s a tough decision to make, but for sheer speed and compatibility, Chrome is the best browser you can use right now. Its library of extensions is huge, and it’s lightning-fast.
Still, many will balk at handing over such sizeable chunks of data to Google, and that’s understandable. With that in mind, Firefox should be considered an excellent choice, too, if you don’t mind it being a little slower.
Still, there are plenty of options out there. Microsoft Edge has come on leaps and bounds from the old Internet Explorer days, while Opera is another attractive option.
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