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

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Editor

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Comments

Gotcha joe!

Two killer problems (for me):

1) I download a lot of text files. Chrome won't let me do that -- it converts them all to chrome's proprietary html format. I've seen a forum discussion of this. Many people have complained. Google doesn't give a damn. The other browsers offer downloaders a choice of formats.

2) Current Firefox doesn't permit use of current Shockwave Flash. I'm a musician and I can't use a browser that won't let me view videos.

I used Firefox happily for years, but this problem kills it for me.

You had written Firefox as Foxfire, which I corrected in your post. Please take care to write the proper name. Firefox does allow use of Flash. But, you have to allow it manually, since in recent versions, Firefox has implemented click to play for Flash videos.

Tried firefox ultimate. It is terrible. Freezes (not responding) constantly.

"... Light - a light Firefox edition. Many components are slimmed down. So it can start faster and use less memory. By default, Light can run along with official Firefox ...": http://sourceforge.net/projects/lightfirefox/
Firefox Ultimate - Modified and optimized version of Mozilla Firefox: http://sourceforge.net/projects/firefoxultimate/
"... CyberDragon Browser is an privacy enhanced browser that protects your surfing habits. Still in early beta but the following features have been implemented: - Tracker blocker. It will block over 6000 various trackers from following your daily surfing habits. Later version will allow user defined tracker blocker rules that can be exported/imported and also automatic master tracker blocker file updater to always keep your surfing data safe from bad guys. - Very strict, zero-tolerance cookie control. By default, only session cookies that have Secure and HttpOnly cookie attributes set are allowed. Also, all 3rd party cookies are blocked by default. Later version will have ability to define site specific cookie rules to override these global settings. - Proxy fetcher. Will allow you to fetch high-anonymous proxies that you can use to hide you IP-address with just 2-clicks (one click to fetch proxies and second click to select proxy from the list) ...": http://sourceforge.net/projects/cyberdragonbrowser/
Thank you for the suggestion Panzer. I'm constantly reviewing products so I'll take this one in consideration as well.

Good to see Maxthon included :-)

Can I just point out though that as of v4.2 it uses Blink instead of Webkit which they claim has given it a 30% increase in speed. Dunnon about that but it is pretty quick and solid. It's also had multi-thread downloading since (I think) 4.2 as well.

Still not my primary browser but it has functions that I find quite indespensible having got used to them, mostly the resource sniffer and the Quick Apps function which you can use to create Site Specific Browsers for whatever tabs you like. The pop-out video player is also v good.

Thank you for the feedback. Your mention of v4.2 using Blink is a perfect example of how fast the browsers change. This happened right after I posted my review. I agree with your use of Maxthon, I feel the same.

It's always the same browsers listed, and sure, they're all fine, but there are a lot more. I like the torch browser because it makes downloading videos and torrents super easy. http://www.torchbrowser.com/ So really it's all what you need it for.

Hi JJames, there aren't that many browsers that compete with the Mega Browsers for features. Maxthon was added this time, Mac OS was removed because it no longer supports Windows. I did review Torch, and I agree its a good browser, however its not a Mega Browser so I will include it in the Light Browser category when I update those coming up soon. The primary reason Torch failed to meet the Mega Browser category is it lacks syncing features and basically rides on Google's Chrome. We appreciate your feedback.

I am probably biased, but i've been using Comodo Dragon internet browser for several years, and i am very satisfied with it. I am a Webkit fan, so Chrome was a blessing when it came out, along came the Comodo Dragon - a sculptured version of Chrome with some impressive privacy enhancements and amazing speed, now with PrivDog to help you keep your privacy, check this out http://www.privdog.com/
I do not need adblock when i have PrivDog to guard me, also along with incognito Comodo Dragon has Virtual Mode to keep all the crap in the sandbox.
Ok it's just a Chrome with additional security features.

http://www.comodo.com/home/browsers-toolbars/browser.php

Comodo now has Ice Dragon based on Firefox, also worth checking out
http://www.comodo.com/home/browsers-toolbars/icedragon-browser.php

Safari? Apart from being default browser for Mac, there is nothing good about it, it's by far the slowest email client i know of, why even review something people should stay away from?

The only reason people should have iTunes and Safari on their PC is if they have Mac or they use iPhone iPod/Pad and have no choice.

I am having an issue with Yahoo mail and the latest version of Pale Moon. While using this browser as well as the latest FF version,it automatically reverts me to the very basic Yahoo mail format. Trying to upgrade to the newest mail version is not working. Yes I know the most recent Yahoo mail is not receiving much praise but it is better than this almost dysfunctional basic format. Basically I need to enable javascript but even with all extensions disabled it is not working. Also, the choice to do so is no longer listed under Options...Anyone else here encountered this and what is the solution? Any about:config tweaks?

PirateBrowser is a bundle package of the Tor client (Vidalia), FireFox Portable browser (with foxyproxy addon) and some custom configs that allows you to circumvent censorship that certain countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland impose onto their citizens: http://piratebrowser.com/

Bad news on the Security Front: JavaScript and Timing Attacks Used to Steal Browser Data

"Security researchers have been warning about the weaknesses and issues with JavaScript and iframes for years now, but the problem goes far deeper than even many of them thought. A researcher in the U.K. has developed a new technique that uses a combination of JavaScript-based timing attacks and other tactics to read any information he wants from a targeted user's browser and sites the victim is logged into. The attack works on all of the major browsers and researchers say there's no simple fix to prevent it."

"“There’s nothing to patch. There is actually nothing specific that can be individually fixed to prevent this,” said Robert Hansen, a security researcher and director of product management at WhiteHat Security. “It’s a really, really bad one.”"

http://threatpost.com/javascript-and-timing-attacks-used-to-steal-browse...

The good news. To avoid Javasript or IFRAME problems like the ones described in the link, use Firefox with NoScript.

-https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/noscript/-

Bo

I find it hard to believe that people do not use NoScript (with FF)
And that is why I do not use other browsers, as they do NOT have Noscript.

Yes, I do not use NoScript with Firefox, and haven't been using it for years now. There are two reasons for it. First, there was a news about NoScript on the internet, in which AdBlock developer found that NoScript was allowing some chosen scripts, etc, in order to benefit some companies. I don't remember exact details now, but it made me lose faith over NoScript. Although NoScript ddeveloper had apologized for it later, and corrected the mistake. Still, lost my trust. Also, I found out that Firefox opened page much faster without NoScript. Since then, I haven't been using NoScript. But again, I don't venture much into dark places of the internet. And I use common sense and safety practices, so I am fine without it.

In my personal case, pages open "a lot faster" with NoScript. Why? it takes a lot less bandwidth to open webpages when you block flash contents, scripts, etc. That is the way its supposed to be. Perhaps when you tried NoScript you did not have a good internet connection at the time and blamed it on NoScript.

As you know, I am a big believer in NoScript. In my personal opinion, NoScript does more for users (security wise) than any antivirus. In my experience, ever since I being using NoScript (five years), I have never encountered any malware while browsing.

You know how much I believe in Sandboxie containing malware, I feel the same way about NoScript blocking potential malware. NoScript works real well and silently.

Bo

You've ScriptSafe and ScriptBlock for Chrome and Opera that does the same thing.

Hey George, ScriptSafe and ScriptBlock don't do the same thing as NoScript. Please read Giorgios article below (reply to crombierob).

Bo

I did some Googling a while back and everyone that had tried alternatives to NoScript, had not found anything as good.
Which one do you feel is as good as NoScript ?
I would appreciate feedback from others, as well

Rob

To All: Regarding FF and NoScript I must ask that this conversation be moved to the Freeware Forum. The comment section for category reviews is not the appropriate forum. Thank you.

If you like to know why there is no NoScript in Chrome, read this article. Its a little old but still applies, after reading it (and the comments) you ll know why Google does not permit anything as good as NoScript to be available in Chrome.

-http://hackademix.net/2009/12/10/why-chrome-has-no-noscript/-

Bo

Gotta share my love for Waterfox. I like the customization aspect of Pale Moon, and it is faster than FF, but Waterfox opens and renders noticeably faster than Pale Moon for me. I use both regularly with separate, but identical, profiles. Am searching hi & low for new alts not dependent on the MozGoog agenda. The Old 5 are all untrustworthy, IMO. Getting ready to try Kmeleon, I am stuck on the simplicity of Live Bookmarks but fed up with all the over-engineering to influence/report/rig my "experience". I never considered I would live to see a fox jump a shark...

Running windows 7 64bit, do you want a good reliable 64 bit browser,
using firefox version 23 then you should try Cyberfox version 23 this is firefox running in true 64 bit

1/ Why are you reviewing Firefox 13 when it is now at 22?

2/ Chrome seems attractive, but I am concerned about their stated policy of obtaining all the data on a person and make it for sale. Have you looked into this aspect of Google, and if so, what are your conclusions.

Ever since Firefox has adopted the release cycle similar to Chrome, you've a new version released every 6 weeks. If you simply look at the release notes, the changes implemented across most versions is minor and is given new version numbers for every such release. The last version reviewed was v15, and even though the current version is v22, it can be considered as v16 or v15.5 logically, if you compare it to the release of other browsers like Opera. Hopefully the new editor will review the new features implemented.

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