Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Opera?

Introduction

I'll admit, I was a die hard Internet Explorer user. I hated the idea of people telling me I should switch browsers because of "tabs" instead of windows. It worked fine for me, and I was able to surf the web and get what I needed done. Eventually, I wanted to see what all the hype was about, so I tried out Firefox. I was slightly overwhelmed, and spent a couple minutes looking through and changing the options. After awhile, I stuck with Firefox, based on its extensions and easy bookmark bar located under the address bar, for quick access to my mainly visited sites. However, Firefox is not for everyone. There are advantages and disadvantages to the three web browsers Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera.


Browsing Speed

Opera seems to load pages somewhat quicker than Firefox. The download manager has more options and better viewing on Opera, and can keep track of torrents at the same time. Firefox and Internet Explorer can load flash movies and animated .gifs at about an equal speed. Opera is somewhat buggy with animations. The movies sometime lags and animated pictures in Opera move very slow compared to the other two browsers. Firefox seems to be a more heavyweight browser, as shown in the next example.


Memory Usage

Another factor to consider is how much system resources your browser is using. On a blank homepage, the following is how much memory each browser uses:

IE-2052K, FF-30484K, Opera-4580K

Memory Usage Results
Internet Explorer 6: 2052 K
Firefox 1.5: 30484 K
Firefox 2.0: 30552 K
Opera 9: 4580 K

Winner: Internet Explorer

Memory Usage Analysis

Internet Explorer and Opera use a small amount of memory on a computer, and performance would most likely not decrease noticeably. Firefox, however, can use up a lot of system resources, to the point where it slows down other applications. Of course, these numbers are taken while the browser is on a blank home page, memory usage increases greatly depending on how many tabs and windows are open and the sites you are viewing.


Internet Explorer
  • IE 7 features tabbed browsing as do the other browsers.
  • Many users have not upgraded to IE 7 and continue to use IE 6.

  • Microsoft is currently distributing add-ons for IE.
  • The choices are somewhat limited and some of the extensions actually cost money.

  • IE is the most used browser, websites are generally forced to support it correctly.
  • Since IE is most popular, it is the most targeted for exploits.

Firefox
  • Supports a wide range of free extensions on the Mozilla website
  • Sometimes updates aren't always improvements and extensions refuse to run on some versions.

  • Firefox makes up around 30% of browsers used today, so more sites will support it.
  • More sites will also target it for exploits now that is has become more popular.

  • Features adblock extension that will eliminate most advertisements on sites.
  • Many popups can still get around the Firefox built-in popup blocker. The most effective popup blocker is on Opera.

Opera
  • Opera supports the flash plugin better on AMD64 linux systems than firefox.

  • Built-in feature that will download torrents.
  • There are only basic options for downloading the torrents, most bittorrent clients are better.

  • Opera is one of the most secure browsers because it has a smaller userbase, so it is less targeted.
  • Some sites will have problems supporting Opera because of its small popularity.

  • Many of the extensions for Firefox are built-in features on Opera.
  • There are more options for Firefox with extensions. Although Opera has widgets, they have little use.

Conclusion

Picking the right browser can be a tough choice to make. I would suggest Opera if you want to have a fast, light-weight browser for just general surfing, instead of Internet Explorer. I currently use Firefox and Opera together. I use Firefox for general browsing and Opera for viewing flash content.