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The best web browser of 2015: Firefox, Chrome, Edge, IE, and Opera compared

Mark Hachman | Aug. 24, 2015
We put the screws to all five modern browsers, testing them in all manner of scenarios. If you're looking for a fast, efficient, convenient browser, we've found two that we think you'll like.

And Mozilla was getting on so well—but with Flash on, tabs essentially descended into suspended animation until they were clicked on, then began slowly loading. It was awful. “Tombstoning” tabs that aren’t being used is acceptable, but please, load them first, Mozilla!

Finally, we tried loading pages, then timing how fast before the page became “navigable”—in other words, how soon one could scroll down. Fortunately, all the browsers we tested did well, although some were faster than others; Chrome and Opera did exceedingly well, especially with Flash turned off. In all, however, we’d say that any browser that can load pages at three seconds or less will suit your needs. (Keep in mind that the time to load pages depends in part on your Internet connection and the content of the page itself.)

browser page load time
Click the image to enlarge

The convenience factor

Since all of these browsers are free, ideally you should be able to download every one and evaluate it for yourself. And each browser makes it quite easy to pluck bookmarks and settings from their rivals, especially from Chrome and Internet Explorer. But manually exporting bookmarks is another story. It’s almost like telling the browser that you’re fed up with it—and Firefox, for example, passive-aggressively buries the export bookmarks command a few menus deep. Even stranger, Opera claims that you can export bookmarks from its Settings menu, but only the import option appears to have remained in Opera 31. 

Many browsers, including Opera, now allow you to sync your information across multiple devices.

More and more, however, browsers are using a single sign-on password to identify you, store your bookmarks online, and make shifting from PC to PC a snap—provided that you keep the same browser, of course.

Chrome, for example, makes setting itself up on a new PC literally as simple as downloading the browser, installing it, and entering your username and password. You may have to double-check that the bookmark bar is enabled, for example, but after that your bookmarks and stored passwords will load automatically. (As always, make sure that “master” passwords like these are complex.)

Chrome isn’t alone in this, either. Firefox’s Sync syncs your tabs, bookmarks, preferences and passwords, while Opera syncs your bookmarks, tabs, the “Speed Dial” homepage, and preferences and settings.

That’s an area where Edge needs improvement. Edge can import favorites/bookmarks from other browsers, manually, but doesn’t keep a persistent list of favorites across machines—at least not yet. But if you save a new favorite in IE11, it’s instantly available across your other PCs. Other browsers—not Edge—also allow you to access your desktop bookmarks within their corresponding mobile apps. 

 

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