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We take a look at the performance and features of the big four internet browsers to see which one will serve you best in 2017.

The web browser is by far the most important piece of software on your PC—at least for most users. Unless you’re at a workstation crunching numbers or editing the next Star Wars you probably spend the majority of your computer time staring at a web app or a website.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve always got the best tool for the job, and in 2017 that does not include Internet Explorer. If you still want the built-in option for Windows that would be Edge, but it’s hard to stick strictly with Edge when you’ve got other choices including Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

Let’s take a look at the four major (and modern) browsers to see how they stack up in 2017.

(If none of these internet browsers strike your fancy, head over to PCWorld's roundup of 10 intriguing alternative browsers.)

Browsers in brief

Chrome

chromelogo

The current people’s champion, Google Chrome tops the metrics charts of both StatCounter and NetMarketShare by a huge margin. Google’s browser has built a dedicated fan base thanks to its massive extensions library, and the fact that it just gets out of your way to put the focus on web content, not the browser’s trimmings.

Chrome isn’t quite as simplistic as it once was, but it’s still very easy to use. There isn’t much to Chrome except a huge URL bar—known as the OmniBar—plus a space for extensions, a bookmarking icon, tabs, and that’s it.

Yet Google still finds a way to hide all kinds of features inside the browser, including deep integration with Google’s services. This allows you to sync your bookmarks, passwords, open tabs, and more across devices. Chrome also has multi-account support if you need it on a family machine, a built-in PDF viewer, built-in Google Translate functionality, a task manager, and the always handy Paste and go context menu item.

If there’s one complaint people have about Chrome it’s that the browser eats up available memory. Our browser testing in 2015 showed that Chrome was definitely a memory beast, but two years later it fared pretty well in our tests.

Firefox

 

mozilla firefox logo

 

For users who love extensibility but want greater privacy than a Google-made browser can provide, the open source Mozilla Firefox is your best bet. Firefox paved the way for other browsers to become extensible, and while Firefox’s add-on catalog is pretty good, it now pales in comparison to the Chrome Web Store. Like Google, Firefox has a sync feature.

Where Firefox has really shined in recent years is with the browser’s incognito mode. All browsers have a private mode that lets you browse without any of your activity being logged in your saved history. But most of the time these private modes still allow websites to track your activity for that specific session. Firefox does away with this by including an ad and tracker blocker when using incognito mode.

Opera

 

operabrowser

 

Before Chrome, Opera was a popular choice among power users—a position former Opera CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner is trying to take back with Vivaldi. Opera today is really one of the more under-rated browsers around. It’s based on the same core technologies as Chrome (the Blink rendering engine and the JavaScript V8 engine), which means it can run many Chrome extensions—there’s even an extension for installing extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

Opera’s also got a few unusual features like Turbo, which saves on load times and bandwidth by compressing webpages on Opera’s servers. It’s also got a nice security feature called domain highlighting that hides most of the URL so that users can see easily and clearly if they’re on Google.com or google.com.scam.com—with scam.com being the actual website.

More recently, Opera introduced its own take on the social sidebar with one-click access to services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. Like Chrome and Firefox, Opera also has its own cross-device syncing feature.

Microsoft Edge

 

microsotedge

 

Microsoft Edge is still a work in progress. You'll see below that its performance is getting better, but that’s not all there is to the browser in 2017. The Edge extensions library is tiny, its sync functionality is near nonexistent, and it doesn’t get updates nearly fast enough—though that is expected to change with the Fall Creators Update.

Despite its shortcomings, Edge has several helpful features that will appeal to some. Edge is deeply integrated with Windows 10’s inking capabilities, as well as with OneNote, making it easy to clip a webpage, annotate it, and save it to a notebook. Cortana is also a big part of Edge. You can use Microsoft’s digital assistant to quickly search for information, compare prices, or get a quick calculation.

Like Chrome, Edge has a casting feature. There’s also a nifty set-aside tabs feature to stash a collection of websites, the ability to read ebooks (great for tablets), and an MSN.com-ish new-tab page.

Benchmarks

That’s enough of an overview for our four contestants, let’s get down to business. To see which browser is worthy of your bandwidth in 2017 we used a variety of testing tools. For judging JavaScript we used JetStream, and the now unsupported Octane 2.0 and SunSpider 1.0.2 benchmarking tools. Then we turned to WebXPRT 2015 and Speedometer to challenge our browsers under simulated web app workloads.

Finally, we took a look at CPU and RAM usage. Similar to what we did in 2015, we loaded a set of 20 websites in a single window in quick succession using either a batch file or the command line depending on the quirks of the browser in question. Once all tabs began loading, we waited 45 seconds, and then checked the CPU and RAM usage. The idea was to see the amount of system resources the browser would use during a heavy workload.

One difference from 2015 is that Flash was turned off for each browser—benchmarks were done with and without the plugin in 2015. In recent years, most browser makers have de-emphasized Flash, enabling it as “click-to-play” and blocking nonessential website elements that use Flash. Since the web is moving to a Flash-free existence we decided to live the dream right now.

For these tests our rig was an Acer Aspire E15-575-33BM laptop loaded with Windows 10 Home (Creators Update), a 1TB hard drive, 4GB RAM, and an Intel Core i3-7100U. Each browser was tested over a hard line internet connection.

Edge makes big gains

Looking at both Jetstream and SunSpider, Edge won top marks by a wide margin. SunSpider has been deprecated for some time and is no longer supported, but the result was still surprising. For Octane 2.0, which is also no longer supported, Firefox and Opera vied for top spot, with Chrome the laggard by a wide margin. For this set of benchmark scores higher is better with the exception of SunSpider.

browser performance jetstream2

The JavaScript test Jetstream shows Microsoft Edge hanging tough.

browser performance sunspider

SunSpider also shows Microsoft Edge with a performance edge, loading JavaScript quite a bit more quickly than others.

browser performance octane

 

Chrome makes the poorest showing in the Octane test.

Moving on to the more modern Speedometer test, which quickly iterates through a bunch of HTML 5-based to-do lists, Chrome came out on top. Google’s Blink-based cousin Opera came in second, with Edge and Firefox way behind. The numbers were much closer for WebXPRT 2015, which uses a wide number of web apps, from photo collections to online note-taking to data sets. Edge came out on top there, while the others were closer together with only a few points separating the back three. Again, higher is better for these tests.

browser performance speedometer

Chrome narrowly edges out Opera in HTML-5-based tasks.

browser performance webxprt 2015

Edge makes another good showing in the web apps realm.

Finally, we come to the memory and CPU test. Slamming an average PC with 20 tabs of mostly media rich sites all at once is certainly going to chew up a good chunk of CPU and memory. These browsers did not disappoint in that respect.

Despite its reputation, however, Chrome was tops here, using less than 40 percent CPU power, followed by Edge. The results were similar for memory with Chrome using the least. Take those impressive Edge numbers with a healthy dose of skepticism, however, as during testing the PC froze, and we couldn’t access task manager as swiftly as with the others. The fact that the whole PC slowed to a crawl suggests Edge’s numbers don’t tell the whole story. Based on that experience, power users with multiple tabs open in Edge would feel some serious pain trying to get work done.

browser performance cpu usage2

It's true that running media rich content in multiple tabs will tax your system's CPU.

browser performance memory usage

As with the CPU test, Chrome's reputation as the biggest resource hog is undeserved these days.

As for Firefox, you may notice that the browser chewed up CPU usage, but was relatively low in memory usage. The reason for that, as Mozilla reminded us, is that Firefox alone is transitioning from one browser process to four. Whereas Chrome and Edge use multiple processes for each tab. The idea behind the latter is that individual tabs running on separate processes won't take down the whole browser if they crash. That approach does use more memory, however. Mozilla is trying to find a middle ground. On the one hand, Firefox helps maintain overall PC performance under heavier workloads, but it's not great if you want dozens of sites to load as quickly as possible. 

And the winner is...

So who wins? Here’s the way we see it.

Once again, Edge gets honorable mention for making some serious gains in performance and earning some truly impressive scores. But when you factor in customizability and how Edge fared in the live site stress test, it still has some work to do—like offering a wider extension library and the ability to sync across devices. 

As in our previous showdown, Chrome continues to capitalize on these strengths, and even improves in the performance department by addressing its past resource issues, making it, once again, our first choice.

Opera again earns second place since it performed relatively well in the live stress test, and can be set up to take advantage of nearly all the same conveniences Chrome can.

As for Firefox, it’s also a fine choice. Mozilla’s browser definitely gets the job done, it’s very customizable, and its open source roots puts the browser in a league of its own.

Source: This article was published pcworld.com By Ian

Categorized in Search Engine

Opera’s latest update for its desktop browser makes its easier to stay on top of conversations from various messaging apps, by baking their services right into the app.

Fire up Opera and you’ll now be able to access Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram right from the browser’s sidebar. You can switch between them whenever you like, pin the messaging tab for easier access and use shortcuts to jump from one service to the other.

Additionally, you can quickly share images to these services by dragging and dropping photos on the messenger’s icon.

I was grateful for desktop versions of these apps when they launched, because they freed me from having to pick up my phone to reply to messages ever so often. But with so many of them to juggle, the number of extra browser tabs adds up quickly. Franz, which is a free app that lets you run multiple messengers in a single window, helped a bit – but it’s nice to have all my browser tabs and chats in a single app.Opera previously added features like a built-in adblocker and a free VPN service. You can grab the latest version of Opera for Mac, Windows and Linux here.

Source: This article was published on thenextweb.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

When did you last try a new browser?

THE BEST WEB BROWSERS

1. Google Chrome

2. Opera

3. Microsoft Edge

4. Mozilla Firefox

5. Vivaldi

Read on for our detailed analysis of each browser

Most of us tend to choose a web browser and stick with it for years. It can be hard to break away from your comfort zone – especially when you've become used to its quirks – but trying a different browser can greatly improve your experience on the web.

Whether it's enhanced security, improved speed, or greater flexibility through customizable options and plugins, the right browser can have a huge effect on your online life. Here we've put the biggest browsers through their paces (plus one that you might not be familiar with) to identify the one that does the best job of ticking all those boxes, but if you have a particular concern then read on to see if there's an alternative that might be better suited to your needs.

1. Google Chrome

With Chrome, Google has built an extendable, efficient browser that deserves its place at the top of the browser rankings. According to w3schools' browser trend analysis its user base is only rising, even as Microsoft Edge's install numbers are presumably growing. Why? Well, it's cross-platform, incredibly stable, brilliantly presented to take up the minimum of screen space, and just about the nicest browser there is to use.

Its wide range of easily obtained and installed extensions mean you can really make it your own, and there's support for parental controls and a huge range of tweaks and settings to ensure maximum efficiency.

But there are downsides, and potentially big ones. It's among the heaviest browsers in terms of resource use, so it's not brilliant on machines with limited RAM, and its performance doesn't quite match up to others in benchmarking terms. And with Google's tentacles running through it, you might be uncomfortable with the ways in which your browsing data may be used.

Download here: Google Chrome

2. Opera

An underrated browser, Opera's killer feature is a superb Turbo mode for slow connections

It's sad that Opera makes up only around 1% of the browser market, because it really is a quality browser. It launches fast, the UI is brilliantly clean, and it does everything its rivals can do with a couple of extras thrown in for good measure.

The key reason we'd at least recommend having Opera installed alongside your main browser is its Opera Turbo feature. This compresses your web traffic, routing it through Opera's servers, which makes a huge difference to browsing speed if you're stuck on rural dial-up or your broadband connection is having a moment.

It reduces the amount of data transferred too, handy if you're using a mobile connection, and this re-routing also dodges any content restrictions your ISP might place on your browsing, which can be mighty handy. Opera automatically ducks out of the way if you're using secure sites like banks so your traffic is free and clear of any potential privacy violation.

There's also an integrated ad-blocker - which can be switched off if you're morally inclined in that direction - and a battery-saving mode which promises to keep your laptop going for longer.

Download here: Opera

3. Microsoft Edge

Edge - Microsoft's new, user-friendly browser - offers full integration with Windows 10

The default 'browsing experience' on Windows 10, Edge is an odd one. Quite why Microsoft needs to be running a pair of browser products in tandem is beyond us. The company's reason, it seems, is that Edge represents the more user-friendly end of Redmond's offering while Internet Explorer scales a little better for enterprise.

Integration with Windows 10's core gimmicks seems to be Edge's main strong point. It happily runs as a modern-skinned app on Windows 10's tablet mode, and works with Cortana. It's also highly streamlined for the current web age, doing away with insecure protocols like ActiveX and forcing you into Internet Explorer if you want to use them. We're more used to browsers failing to render newer pages than we are to being told off for visiting older corners of the web.

Curmudgeonly grumbles aside, actually using Edge is a perfectly pleasant experience. It's super-quick, hammers through benchmarks, its integrated reading mode makes complex sites more palatable, and by sandboxing it away from the rest of the operating system Microsoft has ensured that Edge won't suffer the security breaches of its older brother.

Download here: Microsoft Edge

4. Mozilla Firefox

A divisive choice these days - Firefox is very flexible, but can feel sluggish with lots of plugins installed

Once the leader in overall popularity in the browser war, Firefox is now now a slightly sad third place. It's not clear why; while it lags behind its main competitors in terms of design, keeping the search and URL boxes separate and leaving buttons on display where others have removed them, it's regularly updated on a six-week schedule and has a raft of extensions available.

Firefox tends to hit the middle-to-bottom end of benchmark tests, however, and we did find it a little sluggish to a barely noticeable extent. Recent additions like built-in support for Pocket and Hello aren't going to be to everyone's taste, but some will love them. And that about sums up the Firefox of today; incredibly divisive, despite being a solid browser with a quality rendering engine.

If you're looking for an alternative take on the same structure, Waterfox may fit the bill. It's built on Firefox code, removes many of the restrictions and integrations of the main release, and purports to be one of the fastest browsers around.

Download here: Mozilla Firefox

5. Vivaldi

Build your own ideal browser with Vivaldi's unique docking and tab-stacking features

Here's something a bit different. We all spend probably far too much time sitting in front of our web browsers, and up-and-comer Vivaldi wants to make that as pleasant and personal an experience as possible. Itself build out of web technologies like Javascript and node.js, Vivaldi can adapt its colour scheme to the sites you're using, and indeed the structure of its interface is entirely up to you.

There's a built-in note-taking system, you can dock websites as side panels while using the main window to do your main browsing, and we love its innovative tab stacking tech, which allows you to group up tabs and move them around to avoid the crowding that so often plagues other browsers.

It's not the fastest and it's not the most fully featured, lacking any official support for extensions, but Vivaldi is relatively new and we don't doubt it'll receive further expansion as time goes on. It's a refreshing and creative take on web browsing, and one to watch in the next couple of years.

Download here: Vivaldi

6. Microsoft Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer is fast and efficient, but less expandable than Firefox and Chrome

Microsoft Internet Explorer has seen some ups and downs in its long tenure, from dominating the browser charts to languishing behind its main two competitors. This is partly an issue of choice - particularly the browser choice that Microsoft was forced to give customers after a court ruling - and partially because older versions fell behind the rendering and compatibility curve.

There are no such issues with Internet Explorer 11. It's clean, powerful, highly compatible, and it demands less of your RAM and CPU than equivalent pages would on Chrome or Firefox. Plus it one-ups both of them on WebKit's Sunspider benchmark.

That's not to say this browser is perfect. Google's V8 benchmark sees it struggling, and IE isn't quite as able to handle add-ons and extensions as many of its competitors. So while there's no reason to avoid IE like there might once have been, if you're looking for a more customised browsing experience you're out of luck.

Download here: Microsoft Internet Explorer

7. Tor Browser

Not just a browser – Tor offers a whole package of browsing tools with security at its heart

Tor Browser is, perhaps unjustly, most regularly associated with the seedy underworld of the dark web. While it's true that you can use this web browser to access otherwise unlisted sites, Tor's privacy aspects - where your traffic is routed through random nodes the world over, making it very hard to track - are its real asset.

Tor Browser is really a package of tools; Tor itself, a heavily modified version of the Firefox extended support release, and a number of other privacy packages that combine to make it the most secure browsing experience you're likely to find. Nothing is tracked, nothing is stored, and you can forget about bookmarks and cookies.

You'll need to alter your browsing habits to ensure that you don't perform actions online that reveal your identity - Tor Browser is just a tool, after all - but for a secondary browser useful for those private moments it's a great choice. Run it from a USB stick and nobody need even know you have it at all.

Download here: Tor Browser

Source: techradar.com

Categorized in Online Research

As soon as Version 40 is launched, Opera will be the first web browser that can boast its own free VPN service to increase security and privacy during navigation. The feature started its first testing back in April and can really be a unique opportunity to re-launch one of the oldest desktop browsers in the market. Most standard browsers such as Chrome and Firefox offer a "private mode" that simply maintain privacy inside the computer, in order to avoid other users to check the history and nothing more. A VPN service instead helps to keep at bay any potential intrusions or unwanted prying eyes by adding encrypting software, blocking tracking cookies and hiding the user's IP address.

Anyone who is browsing through a commercial or public Wi-Fi hotspot usually uses a VPN to add an additional layer of privacy and to protect himself against Wi-Fi sniffers or advertisement trackers that spy on users' internet habits. The most secure VPN services currently available on the market offer various features other than just avoiding that sensitive information gets into the wrong hands. Bitcoin anonymous payments, no-log policies and location hiding are just some of the most appreciated among them, although paying a monthly fee to access one of these services can add up to monthly expenses. Opera will be the first one to offer this service for free and without bandwidth cap, also adding the opportunity to get around geolocation-locked contents, such as movies or TV series that cannot be streamed from that location.

Krystian Kolondra, Opera’s desktop browser chief, explained that inclusion of VPN functions is going to be a standard feature of new browsers, and this tool will be as essential "as the lock and key is to your house.”

However, the major downside is that Opera's VPN is not a "true VPN" but just a proxy that redirects all traffic to SurfEasy, a company subsidiary that usually offers this service for a monthly fee. The traffic encrypted is only in the browser, so everything that is sent through any other network function such as chats, virtual drives and email clients is not covered. Although SurfEasy promised not to store any users' browsing habits and information on its servers, Opera will still get insight on all the details coming from clients' surfing history. This "proxy" feature will just re-route traffic through five locations: Canada, U.S., Singapore, Netherlands and Germany, leaving the vast majority of the European traffic yet uncovered.

Author : CLAUDIO BUTTICE

Source : http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/opera-adds-a-built-in-vpn-feature-for-secure-web-browsing/article/477581

Categorized in Search Engine

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