Best Free Mega Web Browser

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Introduction

The selection of web browsers has become more bewildering due to the proliferation of browsers and the increased frequency of browser updates. What will make it easier to choose between them is to be aware of four conditions: popularity, web engines, key features and performance. Read more about these conditions on how to select a browser at the end of this page.

Your final choice will probably be decided by which one you prefer subjectively rather than by objectively comparing feature by feature. It is relatively easy to switch web browsers provided that you are not dependent upon unique features or specific add-ons. I suggest that you install more than one web browser so you have an alternative if you strike any problems with your preferred browser.

This page covers Mega Browsers. You might want to check out our reviews on Lightweight Browsers and Specialised Browsers.

 

Rated Products

Google Chrome  

The most popular, fastest, secure and standards-compliant browser


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free
Supports multiple operating systems, frequent & silent updates, built-in flash and pdf viewer, large selection of extensions, cloud printing, now has a 64-bit Windows version.
Getting slower, newer version has some backward software compatibility.
Read full review...

Mozilla Firefox  

A popular open-source web browser well-known for its add-ons


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Simplified interface, competitively fast, broad cross platform support, very secure, sync & panoramas, thousands of add-ons, excellent website compatibility, large developer community.
Doesn't play well with Adobe Flash Player.
Read full review...

Internet Explorer  

The oldest mega browser bundled with Windows


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Amazing speed, minimalistic interface, pinned sites, improved web standard compliance, download manager with malware protection, tracking protection, hardware acceleration, good OS integration.
Tab handling not as good as others, limited extension support, not as cloud friendly, no cross platform syncing, Windows only.
Read full review...

Opera  

A refreshing web browser that is fast and efficient


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
Fast, feature rich, cross platform support, tab stacking, web standard compliant, built in mail & torrent client, extension & themes support, visual tabs & mouse gestures, Opera turbo, account syncing.
Limited Extension gallery, key features layered in extensive menus.
Read full review...

Maxthon  

A light and fast web browser with some distinctive features


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Small footprint, fast, true cloud sync across devices, split screen view, custom skins, cloud push, cloud download, resource sniffer, dual engine (but only useful for compatibility).
Inadequate tab functions. The core is still lagging some technologies of bigger browsers.
Read full review...

How to Select a Browser

Most Popular Browsers

The most popular browsers globally are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera with about 95% of the online market share and Chrome has half of that. StatCounter's graph of the top five desktop and tablet web browsers for the last five years or so illustrates the decline of IE and the rise of Chrome.

Chrome and Firefox tend to lead the pack technically for two main reasons: strong application support and compatibility with many platforms (Windows, Apple OS and iOS, Linux and other Unix-like operating systems including Android). These browsers also have a range of variations built on the same engines. For Google Chrome this can be quite confusing because the web browser code which Chrome is based on is called Chromium. You will see that there are several other browsers built from the Chromium code-base.

Most Popular Web Engines

Most web browsers create web pages by using software called a web engine. Many of these web engines or layout and rendering engines, as they are also named, are used by more than one browser. This software combines the mark-up content (HTML, XML, SVG, JPEG, PNG, etc.), the formatting (CSS, XSL, etc.), and the scripting (JavaScript) to display it on your screen. Typically a web engine uses a JavaScript engine to process JavaScript instructions. Taking the WebKit engine as an example, it has two components: the WebCore layout engine and the JavaSciptCore engine.

If you are having problems with the engines in your web browser then one way to resolve this can be to choose another web browser that uses different engines.

The four main web browser layout engines being actively developed are displayed in Table 1 in order of age. I have omitted the fifth major web engine in use, Presto which is used by older versions of Opera. You can also view a more detailed time-line graphic.

 Mega Browsers 

 

 Lightweight Browsers 

 

 Specialised Browsers 

Table 1 - Current web engines

Trident
(1997-now)

Gecko
(1998-now)

WebKit
(2003-now)

Blink1
(2013-now)

Microsoft Windows
Internet Explorer
Chrome + IE Tab
Mozilla Firefox + IE Tab
Maxthon
SlimBrowser
Avant Ultimate
Avant Lite
Lunascape
Sleipnir (v.4+)
SeaMonkey + IE Tab
K-Meleon + IE Tab
Mozilla Firefox
Waterfox
Comodo IceDragon
Avant Ultimate
Lunascape
PaleMoon
SeaMonkey
K-Meleon
Chrome (to v.27)
Maxthon
Comodo DragonC
TorchC
SlimBoat
Avant Ultimate
Lunascape
Sleipnir (v.3.5+)
Konqueror (v.4+)
EpicC
SRWare IronC
Midori
QtWeb
QupZilla
rekonq
xombrero
Chrome (v.28+)
Opera2 (v.15+)
Sleipnir (v.4.3+)
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Key Features

Due to modern advances and competitiveness, all of the major web browsers share similar, and what I would call, essential features. Examples of these features are; tabbed browsing, privacy browsing, password manager, download manager, searchable address bar, and cross application syncing. The individual browsers may use different names for their respective features but the functions are basically the same. The reviews will attempt to highlight the key elements of each browser to help you decide which browser may be best for you.

Wiki Comparison of Web Browsers compares web browsers in several categories.  For a web browser to be classified as Mega, it must compare to IE, Chrome and Firefox in all similar categories.

Performance

There are two aspects of performance: compliance with web standards and speed of processing. There are standard tests for benchmarking the performance of your web browser. The best known are benchmarks like html5test, acidtests and Octane but there are several others. They primarily test the compliance of the browser's HTML layout and the processing speed of the JavaScript engine.

You can use these tests yourself but be aware that they won't tell you how well the browser suits the way that you work. That is why I recommend that you select your browser based on the features that you use  because there is not as much difference between the performance of the main browsers. If you decide to test browsers yourself then be aware that your particular combination of hardware, software and browser configuration will affect performance. So your results may be wildly different to other people's benchmark results.

If your hardware is very limited then you should refer to the lightweight web browsers which require less resources.

 

Related Products and Links

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Comments

"... AOL Shield Browser is based on the popular Chromium browser framework and supports most Chrome extensions, apps, themes, and more ...": https://discover.aol.com/products-and-services/aol-shield-browser http://www.softpedia.com/get/Internet/Browsers/AOL-Explorer.shtml

A vote for Pale Moon at least for serious consideration...

As a long-time Firefox user, I've been very happy. Good thorough bookmark capabilities, great extension support (Session Manager, Fast Dial, FxIF, and uBlock Origin are must-haves). Have enjoyed its recent improvements up through v56, but I'm watching for new extensions to replace those being obsoleted by upcoming v57. My temporary workaround is to run code recompiles by lawlietfox (or tete009), which are more optimized for Intel instruction sets and thus a bit faster and possibly crash-resistant; these do not update automatically, so I can control updates and their effect on add-ons.

There's now a credible replacement for FxIF (wxIF). Session Manager has a new replacement, Tab Session Manager, which seems promising (but not debugged yet and probably won't be able to fully replace it). Fast Dial has a new replacement, Quick Dial, which also seems promising, but again, will probably not end up as slick and fast as Fast Dial. uBlock Origin has updated to the new standards. So I could probably survive in the v57+ world with acceptable add-ons. And v57 Firefox is reputed to be much snappier than previous versions. I may end up there, running official builds if everthing works out.

Meanwhile though I've been looking through the Firefox variants based off the Mozilla code - Waterfox, Cyberfox, lawlietfox, Tete Atelier, pcxFirefox, Comodo Icedragon, Pale Moon, etc. Wondering how each is proceeding in the v57+ world. Several have abandoned their efforts altogether or switched to the v52 extended release ("ESR") base so they can squeeze in one more year supporting legacy add-ons before retiring their efforts. Only one of these, Pale Moon, has committed so far to continuing on with a strategy supporting legacy add-ons.

For the last week, I've been trying Pale Moon, complete with my favorite legacy add-ons. I have the user interface looking great. It's been very stable; very few crashes.

Pale Moon forked from version 27 of the Mozilla code I believe, as Mozilla was making big changes for the user interface ("Australis") and other aspects for the version 28 release. They stripped out some code, such as little-used options, to enhance speed and stability, and have continued to release updates for features and security. Compared to recent Firefox releases, Pale Moon is not generally faster, may be slower, but in real-world use I don't notice a speed difference. It does seem to be more crash-resistant; I'm enjoying that. It does not support multiple processes ("e10s", as Mozilla calls it), but I believe it's even more crash-resistant and seems quite light on CPU and memory usage. A few add-ons are essential: Session Manager, Fast Dial, FxIF, uBlock Origin, Zoom Page, Moon PDF Viewer, and Expose Noisy Tabs. Bookmarks can be brought over from Firefox by exporting, then importing as HTML. Passwords and disabled passwords can be brought over from Firefox by exporting then importing with the Password Exporter add-on temporarily enabled in each browser.

So I'm enjoying my Pale Moon experiment and may in fact stay with Pale Moon as my main browser (at least while Firefox v57+ and its extensions evolve further).

Why don't I just give up and use Chrome??? I use Chrome for some things (I like its implementation for multiple users, and I find it slightly more robust for streaming applications, for example), but I still prefer Firefox (or maybe now Pale Moon!) for most things.

Pale Moon looks promising. Waterfox, alas, is a memory pig - 1.6 GB used with a couple tabs open after 30 minutes browsing Amazon Prime Video listings. Too bad.

I'm enjoying Basilisk (from the Pale Moon folks) as my primary browser at present. It's essentially Firefox 55-56 with some esoteric code removed, plus security updates, and fully compatible with legacy add-ons. At present, it syncs with Firefox Sync and, with a few tweaks, runs e10s multi-process. I'm hoping Basilisk stays close to its present form; so far it's really great.

On my old Core Duo laptops, Basilisk, Firefox 55-56, Firefox 57-58, and Chrome are all very close in performance.

I'm also running K-Meleon 76RC, mostly for streaming (Netflix, Amazon Video, cnngo, tune-in). Surprisingly nice.

"Bookmarks can be brought over from Firefox by exporting, then importing as HTML"
Could you elaborate on that ?
Are you referring to the -
- Backup/Restore
or to the
- Import/Export as html

Do they appear in the 'Show all bookmarks" or do they load into a tab like a web page (with url addresses on it) ?
Can they be blended in to existing bookmarks (inserts more folders)

Depending on the answers to above, if they do not blend in to the Bookmarks manager, I discovered I can do this -
If I have a folder in my bookmarks manager for my FF browser program A, I can create an empty folder in FF program B, then go back and select/copy all the URLs in that folder in program A, and paste them into the empty folder in program B
They then end up looking identical to the normal resull as when one bookmarks all open tabs

I used Import/Export as HTML in each browser and they come over into the bookmark menu itself. The organizer for bookmarks was slightly different between Firefox and Pale Moon (perhaps different vintages of the Mozilla code), but the same functionality. I believe doing it this way is incremental to whatever bookmarks you had already in the browser you're feeding. I thought that might be safer than doing it as backup and restore, as that totally replaces all bookmarks I think. And I wasn't ready to wipe out whatever Pale Moon bookmarks might be present.

I had added the Fast Dial extension to Pale Moon before I did this, and I found importing the Firefox bookmarks (as HTML) created a second Fast Dial folder in Pale Moon (coming over from Firefox). I copied its contents into the first Fast Dial folder, then deleted the second folder; that's because the first Fast Dial folder was associated with its extension.

I forgot to mention... Pale Moon has its own extension "store", with a limited number of extensions, and I favored those. But it also points you to the Firefox extension "store" for other extensions, and because the Mozilla "store" perceives Pale Moon as an older version of Firefox (v27), for some extensions you have to look through the older versions of the extension for the one that's compatible. I did this for one or two extensions and they worked perfectly.

"... The AMP Browser is an open source web browser based on Chromium, which accelerates web browsing by automatically loading AMP web pages, saves bandwidth by enabling data compression, and respects privacy by blocking ads and tracking scripts ...": http://ampbrowser.com/ Miniature browser: https://github.com/doreminiature/miniature Min browser: https://github.com/minbrowser/min
Addap's browser: https://www.addaps.com/
NetRunner browser: https://netrunner.cc/

The language used to describe the browser in one of the screenshots is downright offensive. Put me off immediately.

Sushi Browser - "... The Next Generation Multi-Panel Browser ...": https://sushib.me/
"... The Classic Browser uses the Chromium renderer to give you a faster, safer web browser by using its own interface and number-crunching routines...": http://theclassictools.com

Fair point. But only to the point. Example: Panzer pointed to Nano Browser - obvious recommendation; Nano's home page gives info/descriptions and is full of praises; tested it...look in 127870. Search, by-the-way, showed no info aside from Nano's. However, Search is one very helpful tool in many cases, and gives much broader view- not recommendation, mind You, but INFO from various sources. Quite sure, general users aren't limiting themselves to reading just info on , say, browsers creators home pages, or material on GIZMO (which is one of my fav sources; others- Bleepingcomputer. Filehippo, Softpedia); and the reason is- variety of opinions, helping me to decide- to try or not this or that item . Regards. ARaa.

Every Co praises its product, good example- Nano Browser does it in minute details, even repeating some statements .
BUT REALLY IMPORTANT INFO comes from consumers, and THIS IS WHY DIGGING THRU SEARCH IS IMPORTANT.
Such is the reality. ARaa.
Nano Browser...It installs with "CCCP (that's USSR/Soviet Union for those in need of deciphering) setting" ,doesn't import bookmarks, doesn't have settings, its search doesn't work...nothing; that big bunch of boys & girls, pictured on Co home page, produced... what?! No wander not one download site is offering it.
Perhaps, this one "ll be to Your liking, bhai Anupam.
Ciao.

I am not talking about feedback (which is what user opinion is) or praises of the software. I am talking about simple information of the software in detail, its features, etc, which should be provided on the site of the software, without resorting to search engines about it. That's a simple requirement. If there are no details about such information, I don't consider that software worth recommending.

What you are telling about is feedback and it is not information.

I understand that you are a browser enthusiast, and you like to try out different browsers, and so, it would be okay for you to try out different browsers. But, I wouldn't recommend such browsers to general users, and on Gizmo's Freeware, general users form a large part of the visitors.

The new Edge isn't bad...at least so far... But I need a browser that will multi-row tabs before I let go of Cyberfox

Hi,Everyone,
just discovered qualities of 2 browsers, which didn't want try before- AOL Shield and Secure Browser, and was pleasantly surprised :
easily installed ( Acer , Win 7 ), imported all bookmarks from my default ( Slimjet ) and started working without a hitch. Try'em, You just might enjoy.
ARaa.

There is not much information about AOL Shield on its site.

And I couldn't even find the link for Secure Browser via search.

Hi, Anupam,
info on AOL Shield can be found thru Google Search , link for Secure Browser can be found on Softpedia.
ARaa.

What's the use when I have to find out about a browser through a search, when its own site cannot provide the details?

I wouldn't go for such a software.

I agree. Some of the biggest complaints we get here are related to PUP's and privacy issues and both these browsers apply. IMO there is no good reason to use one of these in preference to a recognized mainstream browser complete with a set of appropriate add-ons. MC - Site Manager.
AOL Shield has nothing to do with AOL and is produced by SentryBay Security for AOL and is designed to make money for both parties via search results. Anyone with a standard Windows security suite installed has no need of a browser like this. Secure Browser is produced by Safer Technologies LLC. Most of the programs developed by this company are classified as adware or other potentially unwanted programs. MC - Site Manager.

Right. However, both browsers work just fine for me, so far, and if they make money - let'em . ARaa.

"...AOL Shield Browser is based off of the popular Chromium browser framework, and supports most Chrome extensions, apps, themes, and more ... ": http://discover.aol.com/products-and-services/aol-shield-browser pcxFirefox: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pcxfirefox/ lawlietfox: http://sourceforge.net/projects/lawlietfox/ Tete's private builds of FF: http://www1.plala.or.jp/tete009/en-US/software.html#FIREFOX

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