The best web browsers make it simple and easy to access the internet and better control your online privacy and security.
Browsers in general will offer some degree of personalization and customization options. Some will demand more of your system resources, while others are relatively lightweight when it comes to impacting system memory.
We've compared these browsers across various aspects, from their interface and security to their speed and system requirements. We looked at what operating systems the browsers run on, the overall ease of using the browser, and customizability, among other factors.
Read on for our complete guide and discover the best one for you. We've also reviewed the best backup software and the best VPN for business. Remember though that all these browsers are free (there used to be a time a time when you had to pay for them), so you can always down them all and test them in your own time to make up your mind.
Once you've chosen the right browser, you might be interested in safeguarding against dangerous domains with the best URL filtering software. And although many browsers will have their own, you may also want to consider using the best password manager instead to keep your credentials even more organized and secure.
Overall, though, below we list what we think are the best browsers currently available.
We've also listed the best firewalls.
1. ExpressVPN: the best VPN service for your browser
We have reviewed more than one hundred VPN providers, both free and paid, and our top recommendation right now is ExpressVPN. Given the risks of using free VPNs, the $6.67 per month price point is absolutely worth paying. Plus, it comes with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee too.
2. Surfshark VPN: - the best cheap VPN option
If ExpressVPN is too expensive, look no further than TechRadar's #2 VPN—Surfshark. From just $1.99 per month, it's a fantastic, premium option that's unbelievably simple to use and has become a TechRadar favorite. It offers most of the same features as the other top services for less money.
3. NordVPN: the fastest VPN around
Chances are, even if you don't know a lot about VPNs you may have heard of NordVPN. They advertise on TV, they sponsor sports teams and they've been a leader in the VPN market for over 7 years. Nord doesn't quite lead the way like it once did but it's still a fantastic service from $3.49 per month.
The best web browsers of 2024 in full:
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Best web browser overall
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Older readers will remember Microsoft as the villains of the Browser Wars that ultimately led to the fall of Netscape and the rise of Firefox, and later on Chrome. But Microsoft is on the side of the angels now and its Edge browser has been rebuilt with Chromium at its heart. It’s Windows’ default browser and there are also versions for iOS, Android, and Mac.
The latest Edge is considerably faster than its predecessor and includes some useful features including Read Aloud, the ability to cast media such as inline videos to Chromecast devices, integrated AI tools including Bing Chat and Image Creator, and a good selection of add-ons such as password managers, ad-blockers, and so on. You can also download web pages as apps which then run as stand-alone applications without having to launch the whole browser. That’s useful for the likes of Google Docs or Twitter.
There are lots of customization options and we particularly liked the Privacy and Services page, which makes potentially confusing settings crystal clear. Elsewhere, the Site Permissions page gives you fine-grained control over what specific sites can do, including everything from pop-ups and ad blocking to MIDI device access and media autoplay.
Edge looks like Chrome and works like Chrome, but we like it more than Chrome: it’s noticeably faster on our Mac and the customization options are superb.
Read our full Microsoft Edge review.
Best web browser for security
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Firefox has long been the Swiss Army Knife of the internet and one of our favorite browsers. It can alert you if your email address is included in a known data breach, it blocks those annoying allow-notifications popups, it blocks “fingerprinting” browser tracking and it brings its picture in picture video mode to the Mac version.
As before it’s endlessly customizable both in terms of its appearance and in the range of extensions and plugins you can use. Last year’s overhaul dramatically improved its performance, which was starting to lag behind the likes of Chrome, and it’s smooth and solid even on fairly modest hardware.
Firefox, one of the best browsers for a long time, is certainly a great choice for any internet user. It comes with a diverse range of features, beats Chrome in terms of privacy, is easy to use, and is also lightning-quick.
Plus, it doesn't ask for too much space either, so you don't have to think twice before installing it. What's more, Firefox also has multiple customization options — whether you want to stick to the default theme or experiment with a thousand other themes, the choice is yours.
Read our full Mozilla Firefox review.
Best web browser for collecting content
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Opera sets out its stall the moment you first run it: its splash screen enables you to turn on its built-in ad blocker, use its built-in VPN, turn on its Crypto Wallet for cryptocurrency, enable in-browser messaging from the sidebar, and move between light or dark modes.
It’s a great introduction to a really good browser, although if you’re a gamer you should check out Opera GX instead: that’s designed specifically for gamers and features Twitch integration and Razer Chroma support.
Opera is yet another Chromium-based browser, so performance is speedy and you can use add-ons from the Chrome library. It also has some interesting ideas of its own such as My Flow: if you’re constantly emailing or messaging interesting links to yourself, Flow enables you to do that more elegantly by making it easy to share content from Opera on your phone to Opera on your computer.
But that's just the start. Opera's more advanced features include Aria, a powerful OpenAI-powered assistant which makes it easy to explain or summarize complex content, generate ideas and recommendations, translate text, or create new content of your own: emails, blog posts, letters, even poems or songs.
Although some people still see Opera as an also-ran in the browser world, it's improved in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the latest innovations ensure it's a browser to watch both now and in the future.
Read our full Opera browser review.
Best web browser for a mix of everything
Reasons to buy
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If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery then Microsoft’s adoption of the Chromium engine for its own Edge browser must be making Google feel pretty good about itself.
But there are some areas in which Microsoft’s contender actually beats the big G, most noticeably in resource usage: Chrome is infamous for its hefty resource demands and it can run really slow on lower-end hardware and RAM (albeit more on Windows than ChromeOS, queue conspiracy theories).
The Memory Saver mode is designed to address that by freeing up resources from tabs you're not currently using, but Chrome remains pretty hardware-hungry.
Chrome is by no means a bad browser. Quite the contrary: it’s a brilliant browser with a superb library of add-ons, cross-platform support and sync, excellent autofill features, and some great tools for web developers.
It can warn you if your email’s been compromised, it has secure DNS lookup for compatible providers (Google’s own Public DNS is one of them) and it blocks lots of dangerous mixed content such as scripts and images on otherwise secure connections.
Perhaps best of all, if you're tired of suspicious websites asking you to 'click every tile containing a bicycle', Chrome now includes new ways to tell sites you're a human, not a bot, hopefully reducing the number of annoying captchas you'll see.
However, all this kind of gets rolled back by the fact that Chrome is owned and operated by Google as a means of collecting data from its users, regardless of what the company says about privacy. Secure it is, private it isn't.
Read our full Google Chrome review.
Best web browser for customization
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Vivaldi is the brainchild of former Opera developers, and like Opera, it does things differently from the big-name browsers. In this case, very differently. Vivaldi is all about customization, and you can tweak pretty much everything from the way navigation works to how the user interface looks.
Chromium is once again under the surface here (which means you can use most Chrome add-ons), but what’s on top is very different from other Chromium-based browsers. You can pin sites to the sidebar, stick toolbars wherever suits and adjust pages’ fonts and color schemes; have a notes panel as well as the usual history and bookmarks bits; customize the way search works and give search engines nicknames; change how tabs work and get grouped and much, much more.
You can even view your history in graph form to see just how much of your time you’ve been spending on particular sites. We particularly like the tab stacks, which are a boon for anyone who tends to end up trying to keep track of dozens of open tabs.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to fiddle with interfaces instead of getting on with stuff, it’s a potential productivity nightmare – but it’s fantastic for power users who know exactly what they want and how they want it to work.
Read our full Vivaldi browser review.
Best web browser FAQs
What is a web browser?
A web browser is a tool that enables users to surf and access websites that are on the internet.
There are plenty of web browsers, but the most popular options are Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Opera.
How to choose the best web browsers for you?
Selecting a web browser to use for the long term is a very personal thing, and will depend on your individual browsing security, privacy and accessibility needs. From a technical perspective, it will also depend on what your computer is able to handle in terms of processing speed, and memory capacity.
For example, if privacy is your primary deciding factor in a browser, Firefox or Brave browser will be your best bet. Although if you're used to using Google software and products, opting for Chrome may be a better option.
How we tested the best web browsers
We've tested the best web browsers on factors like interface, speed, security, and other accessibility features. We evaluated their customizability, cross-platform support, and system requirements.
We also mentioned if the browsers had additional security features like VPN or proxy.
Also see our reviews for the following browsers:
- Brave browser review
- Safari browser review
- Tor Browser review
- Avast browser review
- Mullvad browser review
- Maxthon browser review
- DuckDuckGo Private Browser review
- Phoenix browser review
- Aloha browser review
- Opera Mini review
- Firefox Focus review
- Samsung Internet Browser
- UR Browser review
- Epic Browser review
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.
- Daryl BaxterSoftware & Downloads Writer