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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Editor

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Comments

tom4455, This article no longer has an editor and therefore, the content has become outdated. Regarding Chrome, it is beyond the remit of this category - Best Free Web Browser - to investigate Google. HTH

If you're worried about Google and their less than crystal clear privacy policy, but you still want to use Chrome then there are plenty of alternatives out there. I run Comodo Dragon. Basically it is Chrome but with the Comodo logo on it instead. has all the same features runs all the same add-ons and extensions, even uses the same themes (anything you download of the official chrome site will work on Dragon). But Comodo don't collect any data from you.

I also notice Comodo have produced an "own-brand" version of Firefox called IceDragon, think I may try that out too.

If you do a Find on this page for "IceDragon" you will find me raving about it, a bit lower down on this page.

Rob
PS I am so annoyed with Google's sloppy Windows Installs, and it's dreaded auto updater (dreaded if you don't have a powerful PC), that I refuse to install anything Google.
I do have a version of Dragon, because one can make it portable.
You did not mention how simple it is (tick a checkbox, during the 'Install') to make them portable. (I rave about that, and having multiple versions, in my post lower down this page)

This article currently has no editor. The content will be updated as soon as someone volunteers to take it over. MC - Site Manager.

When browsing with IE9 I have to delete many cookies at the end of the session. Not so with FF and Comodo Dragon. I realize with the last two it is due to my settings an extensions. However, what settings and/or add ons can I use in IE9 to eliminate or minimize so many cookies accumulating?

Firefox is becoming significantly slower and more bloated in recent versions, with longer waiting times just to start the program and frequent freezes during usage, which doesn't come as a surprise when you consider all the unwanted and unnecessary "features" Mozilla keep adding to it while forcing them enabled by default on users, without giving them either a choice or fair warning.

It has become normal procedure with each new update of Firefox to come to terms with the existence of such new "features" at the user's expense and while casually reading about them from outside sources, and then have to go hunting for mysterious entries in about:config or hidden and coded profile files in your system.

The stealthy addition of WebRTC (a communication and tracking technology that raises issues against your online privacy) enabled by default in the latest Firefox release without, as usual, a easy or evident way of being disabled and the impossibility of having it removed altogether, is the latest, and for many users perhaps the last, drop.

This is not the lightweight, efficient and transparent browser that made me and other people dump slow, heavy and privacy-unconscious Internet Explorer years ago. Firefox has evolved into pretty much what it set out to defeat all that time back, and I can no longer recommend it.

I think that either Mozilla should seriously consider modularity from this point on so that each new feature can be easily informed to and opted out by the user if he so wishes, or a fork derivation stripped off of the clutter... or maybe even simpler than all that, perhaps the time has come to ponder switching to a different, lighter and more open browser once again, one on which the developers answer the community to better serve its interests instead of ignoring it and doing the exact reverse of their expressed wishes.

For the time being, I have reversed to an older version of Firefox and I manually modify the user agent reported by it to avoid site incompatibility. But I expect to switch to a different browser soon unless Mozilla catches up with their sorry act.

Do you have any browsers in mind if and when you do switch? I would like to get reader's opinions on PaleMoon-if it suffers from the same issues you mentioned- and general overall opinions on Qupzilla as well. Thanks

Hi Mate,

You should really try out PaleMoon Browser, Qupzilla, Opera 12.15 and Seamonkey.All are excellent browsers.

Comodo IceDragon is FireFox, but they have trimmed it slightly for performance issues.
HOWEVER the great news is there is a single checkbox during the Install, that allows you to make it portable. This has many benefits, and one of those relates to this discussion.
Once you have 'Installed' the program, say into -
C:\PGMS_NoInstall\_BROWSERS\IceDragon_MASK\icedragon.exe
You can run it, and tweak it to the way you like.
Then copy the folder, and rename it to say -
C:\PGMS_NoInstall\_BROWSERS\IceDragon_VB\icedragon.exe
I would change it's appearance (theme) to something distinct.
You can create multiple clones from your Mask folder, each with their own distinct name and theme.
The only proviso that I offer is, never have two running at the same time.
Back to the point being discussed, if you are tempted to update say IceDragon_VB, zip the folder first, and back it up somewhere. If after updating the IceDragon version, you get disappointed, you can revert to the earlier version.
Comodo IceDragon is the best thing since sliced bread.

Rob
PS For you Chrome lovers out there, snap out of it.
But if you must use Chrome, Comodo has a portable version of Chrome called Dragon.
Who knows it may avoid ONE of the things I hate about Chrome, and that is Google's messy installs, and updaters running in the background.

I'm not sure yet, and frankly I'd rather not be too specific since it might come across as favouritism for a competitor, given my above appreciation of the recent problems with Firefox, the browser I've been using for years and which I used to be a big fan of.

I will just say that it won't be any of the two major competitors, in both cases because of what companies they are owned by, given my appreciation of their actions and stance on privacy and individual rights.

I still need to do some testing, but I expect it will be one of the relatively less known browsers (I will make sure to check out the ones you mentioned, too) - in my experience, the good, no frills, transparent, safe, fast and nimble software is the one coming from small or independent groups of people (before they become too big for their own good and the good of their users).

I would agree on those points, but I think the reason for Firefox's slow startup is because it have to load its components, while with IE some components of the browser is already loaded along with Windows.
Now I'm using IE, and I like its Windows intigration features, but too bad few sites took advantage of it.
I do still like Firefox for its customization and no rebooting the system when installing, and also of its huge add on directory, and also its rapid development cycle compared to that of IE.
Also, IE have 1 very annoying problem, and that is it loads some unnecessary iFrames and adds, even with the 'do not track' feature enabled, while Firefox didn't and so thus loads a bit faster.

"... We See In Every Direction is a Web browser for collaborative, synchronized surfing ... Users can type, click and change URLs in real time together; they can jockey for control of the browser – akin to fighting for the TV remote – or choose to sit back and let their friends take care of the surfing ...": http://ineverydirection.net/

Here is another tweak you can do in about:config
I love the little Google Search box that shows top right.
(PS You can also have choices of search engines for that box)
If you highlight some text and drag it to there, then it does a Google search for you.
What I don’t like (HATE), is that it clobbers your current Tab.
If you know of anyone who likes that, post their address, and I will get them removed from the gene pool.
If you wish to change that behavior, and get the search results into a new Tab, then go into about:config and go to -
browser.search.openintab
It probably is showing False, so double click the line to change it to True

yes a good about config tweak , i have my Firefox set to open in new tab as-well

I notice that I have Flashblock Add-In, so that may be why my Flash's don't play automatically ?
But I believe in my other PCs, they too do not play automatically, and I suspect that NoScript is preventing auto play.
Could I be correct ?
Rob
PS Everyone should be using noScript.

NoScript blocks flash if you have it set that way in Options>Embeddings>Forbid Adobe flash. If that option is ticked, flash content wont play unless you allow the page by whitelisting it or allowing the page temporarily.

Even if you don't have that setting ticked, sites with flash content might require you to allow scripts in order for the videos to be displayed. For example, if you like to watch a Youtube video, the video wont play unless you allow youtube.com.

Bo

Of course, if you have FlashBlock installed, it won't allow flash to play automatically :D. But, with latest versions of Firefox, you do not actually need FlashBlock, as the feature is now inbuilt in Firefox. You just have to turn that feature on via about:config. Look for plugins.click_to_play, and set it to true from false by double clicking on it. Yes, NoScript might block flash too sometimes, if it's being done via a script.

Using Firefox for about 3-4 years now, very good.
But, what really disappointed me is that Firefox always hang when Flash contents are loaded. Flashblock can no longer block Youtube on latest Firefox 21 beta.
Internet Explorer is a very good option, with its deep integration with Windows 7, and is the first browser that I had ever used and know, and seems most friendly with screen readers.
But, IE has limited number of add ons, and I need to use third-party programs to back up my profile!
Chrome looks interesting, but screen reader, particularly Jaws, does not work too well with it, but at least it does not hang when Flash contents are loaded, and like FF it has dozens of extensions, the combined address and search box is very cool (IE has it too), the sync feature rocks, and starts up very fast.
Now I don't know whether to remain using Firefox or go back to IE. I will have to leave Chrome out until screen reader support has improved.

supanut, Firefox has the feature to block flash and java, but it's kinda hidden. It's been there since a few versions. To turn that feature on, open about:config, and search for string plugins.click_to_play. Toggle the value from false to true. Flash content will not load up automatically now.

Oh wow, it worked! Thanks very much for this tip! I didn't even know that this feature was there!
Mozilla should make it visible to normal users though, since normal users would probably not bother with about:config thing; rather, they will probably look under Firefox options window.

Welcome :). Well, if you follow the changelogs of new releases, you will know what's new. We also discuss about the new releases in the forum. Maybe they will make it as an option in later releases, who knows.

Anupam, I've tried looking for this "about:config" in FireFox and can't seem to find it. I've clicked on the small brown "FireFox" rectangle with the downward-pointing triangle - not there. I've hit "Alt" on my keyboard to bring up the hidden menu bar - not there. I'm puzzled. What am I missing? Could you be more specific about where to look?

(BTW, I'm still on v19.0.2 - haven't upgraded to v20 yet).

Joe, you have to enter about:config in the address bar :). There, it will show a list of all hidden configurations. Search for the string via the search box that I told above. Double click to toggle the value. Pay attention to the warning that comes when you type about:config and hit enter. Keep track of what you changed.

Thanks Anupam! That did it. [You live and learn all the time :),even at the expense of looking like a fool sometimes, lol.]

Pleasure :). And don't worry about how you learn it, but learning is important :).
the about:config feature in Firefox is one of it's really great features and it reduces the need for some add-ons , like home page redirect and flash block like Anupam said.

Thanks Juxxize. That's certainly a big plus. I'll check it out.

I have used Chrome since the beginning. It was by far the fastest browser, but now I find it extremely slow in initial opening. It can take as long as booting up the machine, a couple of minutes. I have tried disabling all extensions and having only one tab open but it is still very slow. If it wasn't for all the extensions and the fact I have four machines which need to be synchronised I would have tried another browser long ago.

btw the best browser since 2002, it still has features like the awesome link list that no other browser does, is morequick.com's Greenbrowser. Unfortunately it isn't fast as it's built on IE.

1. Check if any security software is interacting with the browser, and try disabling them (eg. firewall, antivirus). 2. If Chrome was still slow to startup after disabling the extensions, the next thing to do is to try disabling plugins. Type "about:plugins" in the address bar and disable all of them and try restarting the browser again. Then enable each plugin one by one, until you find which plugin was causing the problem. 3. Also try cleaning your browsing data, history etc. It might help sometimes. 4. Uninstall the browser completely and Re-install again, or try switching to another version.

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