5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Choose Firefox over Chrome

-By Vaibhav Kaushal

Why Firefox over Chrome? That is one question I’ve been asked all around by almost every other guy who ogles my computer screen. If I were them, I would’ve asked the same question. So, why Firefox, indeed? The answer might sound bred full of paranoia, but hang on, if you will.

Fire on wheels or wheels on fire?

Back in 2008, when nothing existed to challenge IE, the grand badass villain of browsers, it was Firefox, shining a sword and well, cutting through the IE cult. And in there came the browser we know as the grand daddy of memory hog today - Google Chrome. What was great and fantastic about it? Well, to me the answer was a ‘comic’. Who launches their new product with a comic strip, but Google? Now, Google seemed all great back then. I was still on Orkut (though I did have a Facebook account, you see). One of the key points of Chrome was ‘less memory hog’. You take Firefox 4 and compare that with Chrome’s initial release. Blimey, “Firefox is such a bi*ch”. Can’t say about other folks for sure but the reaction was more or less the same. So what do you do now? You install Chrome because Chrome comes from Google and Google is God of the Internet and… you know, that ruling usually ended up in heated conversations.

Firefox vs Chrome

With time, due to the PageRank of Google (I can’t figure out whether it was due to the PageRank or because it was the default address everyone typed when they got online; well, anyways), everyone started getting that notification about “faster way to browse the internet” and there it was - Chrome was booming. It seemed that they wanted to replace the functionality in Google Toolbar (you forgot about that, I bet) and so they went all the way to Apple, took up their webkit engine and piggybacked it to create Chrome. Interestingly, “Chrome:/” is something Firefox developers already knew about - it was something inside the browser. But it was done, Chrome was on the rise and has been rising ever since.

Firefox has since moved forward

Yes, it annoys me and almost everyone else that all Firefox has been doing is to increase version numbers. But that would not be true. Not entirely at least. Firefox has made quite a lot of improvements with time. Reduced memory footprint is surely one of them. When Chrome made it in, one of those things that it boasted about - when one tab crashes, the others will stay proprio come erano prima and the entire browser would not crash on you. With time, Firefox has become quite resistant to crashes as well, while Chrome has had its own share of ‘Aw Snap’s and ‘Dead Jims’.

All browsers, as it stands today on the desktop/laptop front have reached their maturity and perhaps, they have balanced out on each other’s usage share. With time, Firefox has improved its UI and the toolbar and menubar clutter is gone. You have a clean top bar, an address bar and a whole lot of powerful addons. You have tab groups, development tools and everything else that you would wish for. About the only one thing it lacks is - Flash Player, THE Flash Player. Flash player does not come with Firefox by default. But it does not come with IE or Opera or Chromium (Linux and OSS fans) either! And how difficult is it to install the devil anyway? Speaking of standards and improvements, Firefox is almost equal. Talk about render speed - well, yes, Firefox will make you wait for about a quarter of a second when a complex page (Gmail - I call that one complex) loads the first time, but that’s okay. You take that much time to move your hands to the touchpad or keyboard anyways. Updates, features, addons, speed, syncs - you name it, Firefox has it.

So what makes Firefox better?

Well, the question is - if Firefox is as good as Chrome, then what makes it better? Let us first see - why Chrome looks better and while we are at it, I’d ask you to remember that I am not a Chrome hater. It is a perspective I am presenting and that’s about it.

  1. Search On: Chrome seems just as neat as Firefox but the ‘Omnibar’ which lets you search besides serving as an address bar is a nice addendum. Well, guess what, Firefox does it too! You write down a string on the address bar and hit enter. If it an address, it lands you there. Else, with the default search engine listed in the search-field, it lets you search for that text. You have two advantages here. First, you can pick from several search engines without having to go to preferences first. While ‘Bing’ and ‘Yahoo’ might not be just as interesting, Amazon, Ebay, Wikipedia, Twitter etc. might make sense - you get to save bandwidth and time from loading one of those pages and then running a search on them.
  2. Sync, Privacy and Marriage: Chrome syncs all your data with Google servers. Your bookmarks, history and addons information is saved to your Google account. And that’s where it gets all scary and shuddery. You cannot stock up that data on your own servers! The only thing you can do is to switch off sync. So you are left with only two options: 1) You use Google’s servers for sync (for whatever you want to sync) 2) Do not sync what you do not want to send to Google’s servers. Firefox has a syncing feature too, named ‘Firefox sync’. Now, for those of you who don’t have the luxury of having your own servers – you can opt for Firefox (Mozilla) servers (which is default). You might say that Firefox/Mozilla can sell the data to someone – but no they don’t and won’t. They are a non-profit organization and above all, Mozilla is an open organization. Ad interim, Google is all about spawning profit from every single pixel on the web. Incidentally, if you have your name etched on a server, you can use OwnCloud to sync your data! Now you can be quite sure that Google does not know ‘everything’ about you. The only way to save yourself from Google’s ever-ardent hawk eyes pinned on you, while you are using Chrome is to switch off the sync feature in chrome - and that would be a pain. Hence, Firefox! Because you're not married to your browser.

    There might be an argument against that quoting “Chrome allows me to choose a separate sync encryption key which is never sent to Google”. Another one - “Chrome is based on open source Chromium”. They came to my conscience and then blossomed another question serving as an answer - “What if one day they start sending it? Or do they already?” followed by realization of a fact - “Google Chrome is closed source. It’s Chromium that’s open.” I’d rather humbly ask for an option to have my data on a server I choose. Then again, how many people actually choose to change the default and risk forgetting the sync password? Since with Firefox, that’s anyway needed, there is a good chance that you would remember it. This is especially sweet if you are using OwnCloud - that’s because if in worst case, you did forget the password of all accounts on OwnCloud, you would just reinstall it with the same data. Done!
  3. Would you remember me forever?: The orange fox’s lust for memory seems satiable. What once was the best thing about Chrome is now the worst - it hoards up lots of memory. Apropos, Firefox has been continuously improving at the front.
  4. Let’s clean up our garage: Too many tabs do not cause confusion in Firefox - you do not get a really, really long list of crunched up tabs. Instead you get buttons on the tab-bar to scroll through your tabs. You can create groups of tabs and activate one of them using the tab grouping feature - something Chrome still yearns for.
  5. Awesomeness told you his address, yet?: And to end it up – please let me know about one (read: single) addon/extension for Google Chrome worthy of being compared to DownThemAll addon for Mozilla. Just one.

Though Chrome started out Vettel and arrested all the attention, Firefox has been the turtle in the classic rabbit-turtle chase. Though it does not appear to be winning the race, apparently, it is only time that they will improve just as they have been all this time while everyone was busy complimenting Google for the ‘clean looks’. If you ask me, honestly, I am a bit wary about Google’s data collection and that one is enough to make me go have a leak, come back, and open Firefox.

Disclaimer - If you got afraid, this WASN'T a FUD post.

Posted on Dec 20, 2013 03:24 AM
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