For years, Firefox has been the champion of alternative web browsers. With its open source sensibility, vast universe of extensions, plug-ins and skins and its rock solid reliability, Firefox gave Internet Explorer and Safari both a run for their money. But now, Google Chrome is hot on the heels of Firefox, and, in some opinions, has already overtaken the alternative web browser giant. So, which is best for you? As with all showdowns between two excellent products, much of it comes down to taste and allegiances. But if you’re completely split, you might want to consider some of the distinct pros and cons of Firefox and Chrome.
Speed and Performance – Winner: Google Chrome
In benchmark tests, Chrome consistently beats all the competition in terms of page rendering—that includes Firefox, though it comes in a close second. (Of course, if you have a slow Internet connection, your pages will load slowly no matter which browser you use.)
Another issue is how much memory each browser consumes. In this department, Chrome blows Firefox out of the water. Both browsers use up quite a bit of memory when running, but more Firefox users report slowdown issues than Chrome users.
Extensions – Winner: Firefox
The best part of Firefox is its immense gallery of extensions. Firefox is perhaps the most extensible program you’ll ever install on your computer. Practically anything you would want it to do—playback Internet radio, edit pages on the fly, report search engine ranking information, transfer files via FTP, block ads, etc.—can be done using a Firefox extension. Chrome has a growing collection of extensions as well, but Firefox has a big headstart, and for now, it’s more customizable than Chrome.
Privacy – Winner: Firefox
This may be a non-issue to you, but many users are expressing suspicious over Google’s conquest for information about their users. Google, which commands Google Buzz, YouTube, Gmail, Google Profiles, Google Reader, etc. has an immense amount of your personal information on record. And by using Google Chrome, you’re potentially giving them even more insight into your browsing behavior. Though it’s all in the name of improving the user experience, this may creep you out. Google has its hands in a lot of baskets, from display advertisement to smartphone development and maps. Mozilla, on the other hand, is a humble software development company that is less vested in harvesting your personal information. So, if you are paranoid about privacy, go with Firefox.
Compatibility - Winner: Tie
In the beginning, when Chrome was in its beta stage, there were some pages that simply didn’t load correctly in Chrome. You may still have problems when loading complex pages, such as online banking sites and other high security interfaces that may be optimized for Internet Explorer—but that’s true for Firefox as well. Now, rendering errors are becoming more rare for Chrome, and Firefox and Chrome are about equal in terms of compatibility. This is even truer when you consider how many frequently trafficked websites are affiliated or downright owned by Google. You can bet that Google.com, YouTube and Google Docs are going to work best with Chrome.
Which browser is best for you all depends on your priorities. If you’re a current Firefox user and you rely on extensions that aren’t available for Chrome, it doesn’t make sense to switch. But if you can benefit from the speed increase from Chrome, then by all means, go for Chrome. Whichever you choose, you’ll be using an excellent web browser.