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Firefox

Free
Reviewed
April 2014
by ConsumerSearch
Firefox

Best customizable browser

Pros
  • Highly customizable
  • Simple design
  • Strong privacy settings
Cons
  • Slower than leading competitors
  • Incompatible with Windows 8 touch-screen OS

Bottom line

Firefox is the best customizable browser thanks to its stellar options (with a dizzying array of features), speed, privacy and security. Firefox offers multiple search engines that are easy to use, great ways to organize tabs and a simple, easy-to-use interface. It isn't the fastest browser on the market, but is a solid choice for consumers whether they're using default settings or creating their own personalized browsing experience.

Performance

Fast, customizable and easy to use. While Firefox faces stiff competition from Google Chrome --  which has significantly boosted its features without compromising speed -- Mozilla's browser can be whatever you want it to be: A secure search engine; a private browser; a shopping center; a place to easily manage your tabs and research; a central hub for your browsing that can be used across devices. The options are endless. This is made possible thanks to Firefox's extensive add-ons (about 3.7 billion add-on and extension downloads and counting), customizable features and easy-to-access privacy settings. Is it the fastest? No. But this simply designed browser is by far the easiest to customize, and it offers privacy, security and browsing at a decent speed.

Features

Thousands of add-ons create a personalized browser. Firefox continues to excel at offering add-ons that help users manage everything from tabs to security to privacy, making it the leader in creating a customized browser. (Among Firefox's most popular add-ons is the ad-blocker app.) Newer features include a built-in PDF viewer (but no built-in Flash) and the ability to get easy notifications from social networks in the browser via its Social API tool (the downside: Facebook is no longer supporting it.) Firefox has auto updates, including for its browser extensions, syncing between devices (Chrome's is easier, but requires a Google sign-in) and Firefox's mobile app is fast and laden with features, according to a CNET test review. Windows RT (for tablets) and "Metro" touch-screen Windows 8 users can't use it, however; not surprisingly, Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the best bet for compatibility with Windows 8 desktop.

Privacy and Security

Your privacy is a priority. Mozilla's Firefox has long been at the forefront of privacy settings and continues to offer separate address and search bars -- a must for privacy mavens who don't want the address bar making predictions based on previous searches. Firefox's address bar can work as a search bar (if you so choose) but it offers multiple, tailored search providers (like Amazon or eBay, making shopping easier.) Its privacy settings are easy to find (unlike its main competitor, Chrome) and its Lightbeam tool lets you see who is tracking your browsing. In one informal poll by Naked Security, Firefox ranked as the top browser for trustworthiness, but it performed very poorly in anti-malware lab tests, catching just 4 percent of threats.

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

PCMag.com gives Firefox an "excellent" rating, praising its array of features, speed and privacy settings. The website awards its Editors' Choice award to Chrome, however, because Google's browser is faster and has more built-in support, like Flash and support for HTML5.

Review: Firefox 27, Michael Muchmore, March 12, 2014

2. Macworld (U.K.)

Safari is the winner here, but Firefox is named the best browser for customization as well as its encrypted Google searches and support for full-screen mode.

Review: What's the best internet browser for Mac? , Lou Hattersley, Jan. 31, 2014

3. PC Advisor

Firefox 26 is reviewed alongside Internet Explorer 11, Opera 18 and Google Chrome 31. Editors say that Firefox is a decent performer, offering tons of add-ons that work with older versions of Windows.

Review: Battle of the browsers 2014: which is the best web browser for Windows?, By Roland Waddilove, Dec. 16, 2013

4. Download.com

CNET editors give Firefox a perfect score, the same as Google Chrome. It is also the top-ranked browser by users on CNET's Download.com. Editors like Firefox's newer features like Social API, which embeds social networks in the browser and makes it easier to see updates from sites like Facebook.

Review: Mozilla Firefox, Chris Page, Feb. 19, 2014

5. Download.com

In this review for Firefox's mobile app, CNET editors at Download.com also give Firefox for Android a perfect score, and it has the top ranking for Android browsers. Editors say that Firefox beat Chrome and Dolphin in page-loading speed and call its new main screen "awesome."

Review: Mozilla Firefox for Android, Chris Page, Feb. 19, 2014

6. TechRadar.com

Firefox is named the best browser for add-ons here, but it comes in fourth for speed, behind Safari, Opera and Chrome.

Review: Best browser 2014: which should you be using?, Gary Marshall, March 31, 2014

7. TomsHardware.com

Firefox beats several browsers, including Chrome, in this roundup at Tom's Hardware. Browsers are rated on performance and other factors including memory, reliability, security and standards conformity.

Review: Chrome 27, Firefox 22, IE10, And Opera Next, Benchmarked, Adam Overa, June 30, 2013

8. DigitalTrends.com

While Chrome beats Firefox in this roundup, it's not by a lot. Widder praises Firefox for its improve speed and usability, compared to older versions.

Review: Battle of the best browsers: IE vs. Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Safari, Brandon Widder, March 31, 2013

9. PC Pro

Firefox 22 gets a score of 5 out of 6 in this roundup and is named "the most memory-efficient." The editor says that while Chrome was a much better choice in the past, it may be time to consider switching back to Firefox due to its features and speeds.

Review: Best browser for 2013, Barry Collins, July 27, 2013

10. Naked Security

In this informal poll, Firefox is the most trusted web browser for 50 percent of respondents, well ahead of Chrome, which gets only 27 percent of the vote. Results aren't exactly scientific though as it's unclear how many respondents there were.

Review: Firefox burns Chrome in our trustworthy browser poll, Mark Stockley, Sept. 23, 2013

Web Browsers Runners Up:

Dolphin Browser Free

7 picks including: Engadget.com, PCMag.com…

Opera Mobile Free

5 picks including: Arstechnica.com, Engadget.com…

Safari Free

4 picks including: DigitalTrends.com, Macworld…

Maxthon Cloud Browser Free

3 picks including: Macworld, PCMag.com…

UC Browser Free

2 picks including: PCMag.com, Download.com…

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