Best free internet browsers

There are three main factors to consider when choosing a browser: speed, security and compatibility/convenience.

If you use a browser on your smartphone or tablet, using one that is also available for your mobile might be the most convenient option for you.

The main options for browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Edge (Microsoft’s newcomer). Here are the the pros and cons for each to help you make an informed choice.

Google Chrome

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.

When it comes to page-load time, tests revealed that Google Chrome is generally the quickest, and while Chrome is usually targeted as a resource hog that slows down other programs by consuming too much RAM and CPU, a recent test from PCWorld begs to differ.

The tests revealed that its RAM and CPU usage is lower than nearly all of its competition, despite offering better load time. And while this may differ on different computers, it’s an impressive statistic.

Chrome’s security is generally ranked very well, but some users have privacy concerns given Google’s personalised ad based business model. Even so, Google is typically quite good when it comes to letting you opt out of their operations.

If you use Google apps, such as Gmail or Google Calendar, then Chrome is probably the browser for you. The ability to sync your desktop client with your web one makes browsing between devices easy, and the compatibility with Google apps is, understandably, unbeatable.

Google Chrome also has a wide range of extensions that allow further compatibility with more websites and products. 

Mozilla Firefox

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.

A veteran of customisability, Firefox has a massive range of free and often user-made add-ons, that are difficult to beat.

Speed tests showed that Firefox is generally quite competitive with Chrome, but, on the whole, it was slightly slower. CPU and RAM usage is quite a bit higher than average, so it may slow your computer down a bit.

Firefox also takes internet security and privacy quite seriously, and recently they disabled Adobe Flash because of security concerns – a bold move given the large scale use and reliance on Adobe Flash, but one that showed their dedication to security and safety.

Microsoft Edge

Available for Windows and Windows phone.

Microsoft Edge is Internet Explorer’s successor, and is available on Windows 10. Built from the ground up, it fixes a lot of the problems with which Internet Explorer was plagued and offers quite a pleasant browsing experience, as Drew recently discovered.

While it certainly isn’t perfect, Edge is a large improvement on its predecessor. But as it is a juvenile browser, some features are still being tweaked or yet to be introduced.

When it comes to speed, Edge nearly keeps up with Mozilla and Chrome, and when it comes to RAM and CPU usage, Edge lies in the middle of the very efficient Chrome and the not-so-efficient Firefox.

Apple Safari

Available for Mac, iOS and Windows.

If you’re using Windows, don’t even bother reading this section as the Windows version of Safari is obscenely outdated.

If you’re using Mac, Safari is a great option for web browsing, and speed tests performed by CNET showed that Safari 8 is a speedy contender for Mac computers.

If you have an iPhone or iPad as well as a Mac, the compatibility is terrific and allows for seamless browsing between all of your devices. There are also plenty of extensions available to customise your experience.

Author’s opinion

I am not overly loyal to any particular browser, and I have used all of the above options, except for the new Edge, quite a lot. My go-to browser is almost always Chrome, due to its fast speeds and its compatibility with my Android phone and Google account.

Read more about browser security.

Read the in-depth performance tests.


YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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