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Google Chrome or Firefox – Which is Better?

by Robert Seth on June 9, 2011

Recently during a pretty technical conversation, I was asked why I was not using Google Chrome for my browser. I have long been a die-hard Firefox fan and have seen no reason to switch as yet. However, I had no specific reasons not to switch either. So I thought I’d find something more substantial to share with you that answers this question objectively.

Following is a summary of the best and most dependable information I could find.  I do use Google Chrome on one of my Windows computers.  It’s more of a backup though so when some other browser chokes on a task, I can use it to complete the job

Which Should I Use on Windows: Firefox or Chrome?

There’s no short answer to this question since the general consensus is that neither is clearly better. So instead of a straight out recommendation, let’s consider the pros and cons of each.

First, in regular web browser performance tests, Chrome has regularly beaten up the competition or come in a very close second in most categories.  Firefox rarely wins in these tests. This is not as significant as it might seem however, since most modern  browsers perform very well.  Just because Chrome beats Firefox in most performance tests doesn’t mean Firefox is extremely slow.  It just means that Chrome is faster when the two are compared side-by-side.

A possibly much more important issue between the two browsers is something called browser bloat.  This is the tendency for the browser program itself to get bigger and take more system resources in the process. Firefox usually does well on most memory tests. But many frustrated Firefox users blame this browser bloat for the slow-downs and general malaise they are finding with their browsing experience.

It’s not at all uncommon to see a Firefox installation using up more system resources than any other application running on the system.  In this case, memory consumption is not that big a factor though because both browsers use lots of memory.  But the high memory usage is often accompanied by serious browser slowdowns.  That’s a much bigger problem and is heard less often from Chrome users than Firefox users.

So what causes Firefox users to remain loyal when Chrome performs better almost all the time? One of the biggest issues is extensions. If there’s anything you wish Firefox could do, or do differently, there’s almost certainly an extension that can do the job.

Chrome also has an ever-increasing extension gallery.  But it doesn’t have close to the number of  extensions that Firefox does. While the gap between Chrome and Firefox extensions closes more each day, chances are that you’re still going to have some difficulty finding Chrome replacements for some of the more obscure Firefox extensions.  However, if you only use a few of the more popular Firefox extensions, odds are very good that your transition to Chrome from Firefox would be pretty smooth.

Another reason many people shy away from Chrome is the issue of privacy.  After all, Chrome is directly affiliated with Google. Many people feel that Google already has enough of their personal information. They would prefer to stick with Firefox just to limit the growing piles of information Google has already collected about them, anonymously or not. This is the main reason I have not switched to it full-time. Another reason is that I don’t like to contribute to the elimination of competition and ending up with less browser options to choose from.

At the end of the day, both Chrome and Firefox are excellent web browsers for Windows, and you can’t go wrong with either one. More and more People seem to be happily moving from Firefox to Chrome. Their changeovers have been prompted mostly by the bloat issues mentioned above.

If you’ve been frustrated with Firefox, you might want to try out Chrome to see how you like it. You can always switch back if you decide you still like Firefox better.  On the other hand,  if you’re perfectly happy with Firefox, why upset a good thing? If it’s not broken, why fix it?  You can also do what I did and install both.  That way you can test them side-by-side.

My reason for installing both was so I can have the option of using one when the other fails to do the job.  I still use Firefox most of the time and only fire up Chrome when Firefox either can’t do the job or does it very slowly.

So Which One Should You Use on Your Mac?

The answer to this question is different than for Windows, and much simpler. If you didn’t read the Windows section, you probably should because much of that information also applies here. Chrome has a lot of great things going for it. It’s snappy on OS X and the same extensions that work for Chrome on Windows work in OS X. It also isolates processes so that one crashed tab won’t bring down your whole browser.  It does well at lots of other things too.

Unfortunately though, in many people’s experience, Chrome for OS X is still much too young to warrant complete dependence on it. Remember, Chrome for Mac launched quite awhile after the Windows version and has been around much less time. Like Chrome for Windows, it shows lots of promise.  But it’s also prone to the occasional non-responsiveness and other bugginess that really has no place in your primary browser. It would be nice to give it a full thumbs up if you’re wanting to switch from Firefox.  However, in the opinion of many experts it’s just not ready for that.

So there you have it.  Now it’s your turn.  If you have additional information or insights, or just want to tell about your experiences with this issue, please feel to leave a comment and share with the rest of us.

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Thanks for visiting and come back soon!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelton October 4, 2012 at 8:37 am

Chrome is a really good browser but the main reasons I prefer FF are add-ons and privacy….no matter how fast and dependable Chrome is or will get they will never consider developing or granting access to add-ons that will help grant total anonymity on the web and that alone is my main reason for not giving them the nod….Google is enough of a ‘big brother’ aid already

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Robert Seth October 18, 2012 at 7:44 am

I completely agree with you Kelton. That’s one reason I don’t generally use Chrome either. But it’s there as a backup if necessary, especially for testing.

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David June 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

After years of using Firefox which supplanted Internet Explorer a long time ago (days of Firefox 3.6), I finally switched to Chrome. I still use IE, Firefox and Chrome to test the websites that I develop for CSS/HTML/DOM compatibility. I used Firefox 9 for most of 2012 and recently upgraded to Firefox 12 to see if performance has improved – it has not. Although FF has been stable without crashing, I have encountered 3 malware attacks including RootKit attacks while using FF. However, the main reason for my switch is performance. With Chrome 19, page loads and overall usage is more responsive, plus YouTube videos run much smoother.

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david January 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I don’t like Chrome because:
1: No Menu BAR ( A mean, Really!!).
2: Way too simplistic.
3: No many Ad-dons (plugins)
4: Adblock on Chrome Is rendered useless.
5: I find it complicated to use.

I have over 20 MBPS internet speed and a really fast computer so i never had a problem with firefox using too much resources. I can literally open 10 tabs loading a video on each, and not crash or even wait for a video to load. And it takes me less than a second for a website to load on firefox. 0.10 seconds less is not a difference for me.
English is my second language D:.

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Jocelyne September 25, 2011 at 4:05 am

Hi there,
I didn’t see anyone mention Safari ?
I have an imac and when I first got it used Safari as my first choice.
What is your opinion about Safari? I have had problems with it suddenly quitting and a couple of other minor bugbears.
Recently I went over to Chrome and loved it until I keep getting unresponsive-ness problems. Despite going through forums and tying everything I could, or at least what I understood, it still wouldn’t work. Big shame because I was loving it.

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Robert Seth September 25, 2011 at 7:59 am

Hi Jocelyne, thanks for commenting! Safari is not in this article because most experts feel it is not a serious contender. The problems you experienced with it are common. And, as the article also says, Chrome is not yet the best choice for a Mac. I have both Chrome and Safari on my Mac but only use them if Firefox won’t work for whatever I’m doing. If you really love Chrome, you could do the same. Use if for most things and switch to something else for things that Chrome does not work well for.

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Stacey Myers June 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

As a new user to Firefox, it was interesting to see how it compares to Chrome. Thanks again, for you unbiased comparisons.

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Nicole Gebhardt June 10, 2011 at 3:01 am

Ahh, thank you! I’ve been running both on most days and have decided I have clear preferences for what I run on which. For blog editing, definitely Firefox. For general surfing, Chrome is faster and crashes less. My webcam and some other features seem to prefer Chrome too. Looks like we agree: both win.

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Robert Seth June 10, 2011 at 3:49 am

Thanks for you comment Nicole! I have found the same to be true. Sometimes I even have to fire up Internet Explorer (in Parallels on my Mac) to make some things work just how I want them.

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Lori June 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I mainly use Chrome on my Mac and love it! There are times I also use FF and Safari though. There is no reason to ever limit yourself to only 1 browser.

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Robert Seth June 10, 2011 at 3:48 am

Lori, I certainly agree with that. I use all of them when the need arises.

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Vicky June 9, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thanks Robert!
Since I am a Mac user I will confidently stick with my Firefox and not switch to Chrome as suggested by my brother. He still hasn’t learned the joy of a Mac!

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Robert Seth June 10, 2011 at 3:48 am

You’re welcome!

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