As previously mentioned, Google Chome is currently the most widely used web browser. It is also the web browser that is best suited to the needs of the largest number of people. Additionally, it’s part of a global “all-in-one” Google solution.
Google Chrome is above all a minimalist application that’s quite easy to use. Each piece of the interface has a specific role to play and nothing is left to chance. For example, browsing takes place using tabs along the top of a Chrome window, and the size of these tabs adjusts based on the number of tabs open, so that the user can see all pages open without hindrance. These types of details on the design level help make Google Chrome the big player in the web browser space.
Another advantage is that Google Chrome is part of the Google ecosystem, that is, Chrome facilitates access to Google applications like Google Maps, Google Drive, and Gmail. The more the user uses these apps, the more they will be more likely to keep using Google Chrome, since they’re that much easier to access in Chrome, without having to switch between software for daily use.
Finally, Google Chrome does allow for a certain level of user customization. Whether that’s through the graphic theme library or the thousands of available extensions, Chrome is a very modulable web browser.
Google Chrome is nonetheless still controversial, notably among users who are aware of the challenge posed by personal data privacy. On that point, Google Chrome has been singled out for its abusive use of personal data it collects from its users, as described in this article from Forbes.
But personal data collection is not the only problem with Google Chrome. It’s also one of the biggest RAM consuming web browsers. According to Cloudzy, Chrome uses 1000 MBs of RAM with 10 tabs open—20% more than Microsoft Edge with the same number of tabs open.
Finally, using Google Chrome also means adhering more generally to Google’s economic model, as well as more generally to that of the other big tech players. It’s moreover important to remember that Google is the G in GAFAM, the tech giants known for their tax strategies, exploitation of employees, and fast-and-loose conceptions of data privacy.
4 replacement web browsers for Google Chrome users
Whatever the reason is that you’re looking for an alternative web browser, you should know that it’s possible to find a satisfying browser experience outside of Google’s ecosystem. To compare Chrome’s competitors, we focused on 4 main criteria:
Page load speed
Memory consumption (in RAM)
Software features and customizability
Respecting personal data/user privacy
And other criteria that make these individual options stand out
1. Mozilla Firefox, the open-source solution
Mozilla Firefox is, of course, the most obvious alternative and has a number of factors going for it. Firefox is an open-source application, meaning that its source code is available to be viewed by all. The project was developed by the Mozilla Foundation (the non-profit organization that manages the Mozilla community) and the Mozilla Corporation that continues to regularly update Firefox (the last upate as of writing was version 99.0.1 from April 12, 2022).
But that doesn’t mean that anyone can make radical changes to this software, used by 196 million users annually. Proposed changes are studied, tested, and then only if they don’t pose security risks, they are released.
N.B.: The Mozilla Foundation, which develops Firefox, is financed through partnerships and donations, which highlights the collaborative aspect of the free internet for all.
Firefox is considered a stable browser since it is maintained by the Mozilla Community, who are particularly active in terms of security updates.
The Mozilla Firefox web browser offers a true alternative to Google Chrome since the software also supports a very large number of plugins, extensions, and themes for customizing the browser as you see fit.
Finally, the main advantage of Mozilla is its privacy. While Google Chrome tries to collect as much user data as possible, Firefox lets the user choose whether to block the cookies and trackers used by many websites. It offers three levels of privacy:
Standard: blocks most social media trackers, tracking cookies, and other malicious components,
Strict: blocks more trackers and cookies, with a possible impact on the content/appearance of certain webpages
Custom: lets the user configure the types of cookies and trackers accepted or blocked
But even if Firefox has a large number of advantages, it does have one flaw: its RAM consumption is not far behind Chrome’s with 960 MBs used for 10 open tabs (according to the same comparison cited above).
2. Brave, personal data protection
It has several advantages to compete with the big players in the web browser market, like the fact that it’s considered the best browser in terms of online privacy. This web browser blocks most cookies, trackers, and ads by deault.
Brave wanted to go even further by providing its own ads, based on a “win-win” model. The user can choose whether or not to activate these ads, which according to Brave do not violate user privacy. If a user accepts these ads, they will see several types of ads, the revenue from which is split as follows:
55% to the websites on which they appear
30% to Brave
15% to the user
This compensation to the user takes the form of Basic Attention Tokens, or BAT, which is a cryptocurrency created by Brave. That way, once you’ve accumulated enough tokens, the user can either spend them in the form of gift cards on a partner website, or convert them into another cryptocurrency or traditional currency. This advertising model is innovative, particularly for users interested in cryptocurrency and more generally in the blockchain.
According to a test performed in 2020, Brave also boasts a speed 3 times faster than Google Chrome. In this same report, Brave highlighted its lower energy consumption, which saves an hour of battery compared to Chrome and only uses 920 MBs of RAM with the same level of usage.
The software is also competitive with Google Chrome in offering its own free videoconferencing service (Brave Talk) as well as features which Chrome doesn’t yet offer (like save online).
On the other hand, it’s important to clarify that Brave is under active development, which might mean some bugs or flaws are currently present in the software.
3. Opera, the customizable web browser
Opera is also a great option for replacing Google Chrome. It’s one of the oldest web browsers, with its first version having come out in 1995, and its latest version (as of writing) having been published April 20, 2022. The browser was created in Norway and maintains about 2.2% of the market of web browsers in 2022. Opera itself is not open source but some of the software components are.
On the security side, Opera’s strong point is that it provides an unlimited and free VPN that you can integrate in your browser. This VPN protects users’ privacy when using Opera’s browser. In parallel, Opera also offers an integrated ad blocker that can be activated or deactivated on a site-by-site basis. Users can also create a list of websites on which ad trackers will automatically be blocked. That way, you can block ad trackers on internet sites ahead of time, without having to reactivate or block this each time you open a site.
Opera also provides a wide array of integrated applications and features through its browser: workspace organization, integrated messaging, saving files that can be accessed offline, and more. Opera enables a user to organize their browser as they see fit, according to different ways of using it.
Often criticized for its more complicated interface, Opera has wagered on an innovative design for its mobile version to stand out from other browsers. The design of Opera Touch, 2018 Red Dot award winner, is easy to use for users who will be able to use many of the features available for desktop.
As far as performance goes, Opera consumes even less RAM than Brave with 899 MBs for 10 active tabs, but it’s not quite as fast as Google Chrome.
Opera also chose to impose its start page on each new tab opened, an often criticized aspect of using this browser. This fault makes this browser best for users looking to customize their interface, or in other words, more advanced users.
4. Microsoft Edge, the comeback kid
After the decline and end of Internet Explorer, Windows proposed an excellent alternative with Microsoft Edge. Faster, completely redesigned, this web browser is very distant from its predecessor.
Microsoft obviously has the advantage of being present in the operating systems used by PCs with 60.2% of the market on Windows 10 in 2021, Microsoft Edge came pre-installed on all Windows 10 (at least) PCs, giving it a strong boost compared to Google Chrome.
Beyond that, the remaining products offered by Microsoft work in synergy with Edge: for example, grammar and spelling suggestions from Word are also available on Edge. Microsoft also allows for the centalization of products with a Microsoft account which will give you quick access to your tools as you browse the web.
Microsoft also wanted to stand out with a menu bar situated on the right of the screen that has the advantage of of carrying over graphic elements os Windows’s menus/settings, not pushing new users.
In terms of performance, it’s one of the fastest browsers in load speed and it also consumes the least RAM—just 790 MBs for 10 tabs.
Microsoft Edge offers some options for controling your security by blocking certain trackers and identification of risky websites.
Finally, Microsoft’s browser provides access to a wide library of extensions with which you can customize your browser with your prefered add-ons.
The only point that Microsoft Edge does not have the advantage is when the user doesn’t use all of Microsoft’s services. For example, if you don’t use Outlook for your email, you’ll need to access it by typing the address into the address bar or in your favorites, while Outlook is available directly on Microsoft Edge’s start page.
Each of these alternatives to Google Chrome offers unique advantages, according to your specific needs. However, if you ask us, the best alternative is Mozilla Firefox, since it offers a range as wide a range of add-ons, extensions, and other features as Google Chrome does. When it comes to security, Firefox provides greater control over cookies and trackers on various websites.
If you want to go further, here’s our guide to alternatives to Google’s online apps!