Web browsers review and compare

Our browser showdown reveals performance winners.
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The top 5 web browsers go head-to-head

We tested five leading web browsers for speed, safety and versatility. Our results turned the popularity scale on its head, revealing that browsers with the smallest share of the market outperform their more popular cousins.

Web browsers are arguably the most used programs on personal computers today - for communication, shopping, fact finding and online entertainment. They have changed the way we see and interact with the world, putting access to almost any information literally at our fingertips.

The web has evolved from simple pages to an interactive multimedia-rich experience. The better your browser, the quicker and easier you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Standard browser features now include:
  • Tabbed browsing
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication) information feeds
  • Customisation with widgets, plug-ins, add-ons and other extensions designed to enhance your browsing experience. Of course, that means keeping your browser and any associated plug-in or add-on programs up to date. 

A good web browser will provide background security measures against the many tricks and traps used by malware makers, including spam, spyware, objectionable material and ID theft.

Speed and compatibility are basic but important features. Although the speed of your computer, internet connection and the site you’re browsing all play a part in determining your overall browsing speed, you’ll still notice a difference due to the speed of the browser itself. In fact, our testing shows considerable difference in how fast the popular web browsers run, and how accurately they process the major languages of the web, such as HTML and JavaScript.

Web browsers are free to download and some are cross-platform, so you can use several, switching between them for different browsing tasks. Otherwise, you can try them all and then settle on your favourites. 

Whichever you use it’s important to configure the settings of each one carefully, especially in the area of privacy and security.

For more information on Internet, see Networking and internet.

Products we tested

  • Apple Safari
  • Google Chrome
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Opera
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