Browsers? Just what are they, and which one should I use?

When we talk about browsers in the tech world, we are not talking about your spouse wondering around the book store!  We are talking about one of the ways you interact with the internet.  So, when you want to do a search online, or check your bank balance or otherwise “use the internet”, you do so using a tool we call a “browser”. Browsers are just that – a tool.  They allow you to type something simple, like a web address, or a question in Google, and the tool, the browser, translates your typing into the “1s” and “0s” that are the basic underlying way everything gets done in the digital world of computers. Now there is obviously a lot more to it than that, and there are very specific rules, called protocols, for how it gets done. But as a user, the beauty is you don’t need to know any of that, you just have to type!

So, with that background, what browsers are there? On Windows based computers, Internet Explorer (IE) is installed as the standard browser by Microsoft. On Apple computers, Safari is the Apple-installed browser.  On other devices, like phones and tablets, there may be others installed as the standard browser by the manufacturer. So, you can use whatever is installed, and that’s the end of the story.  BUT, we don’t recommend that.  For two reasons, first, there are other browsers made by independent parties that we feel are better, because they are more secure, and/or faster.  Second, it’s a good idea to have a second browser on your system in case the first one breaks. I like to use the analogy of cars. If you have a car you like and it works well, everything is fine.  But what happens when the car breaks down?  It would be nice if you have a backup to use even if you don’t like it as much. Or, maybe your backup works really well in some conditions (perhaps it’s an SUV with snow tires so works well in snow and ice, but gets lousy gas mileage) but your normal vehicle works great most of the time. Browsers are the same.  Use one you like, just have a second on installed just in case.

So what independent browser do we like? Keep in mind this is a very personal decision so what we like may not be what you like. (Take a look at this article, “Which Browser is Best? Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Internet Explorer”, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2365692,00.asp for another take on browsers).  That said, our favorites are Mozilla Firefox (https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/) and Google Chrome (https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95346?hl=en).  They both are free, are fast and you can customize both of them easily (of course as Geeks we love that!).  Firefox in particular can be configured very easily to be private, remove web ads, and do lots of other things.  It’s my personal favorite. Chrome is super fast, but I worry a bit about it because it is made by Google, whose corporate goals include learning everything about you so they can serve ads to you based upon your interest/income/needs etc. (I don’t like that, but you might, so again, a personal choice).  I’m not saying they do that in Chrome, but they certainly could, so it just makes me nervous.

So, bottom line, install a second browser. If you feel uncomfortable doing that yourself, call us! We’d be glad to help, and can also configure it so it has the right blend of speed, security and privacy that you feel most comfortable with.

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