Why I Use Firefox


firefox logo

Firefox

On my computer, the one thing I use the most is my browser. It is hands down the most important application on my system. Over the years I have tried several other browsers. Ultimately, I always come back to Mozilla’s Firefox. In my view, no other browser offers any features or usability differences significant enough to become my favorite full-time browser.

Every browser has it’s better points and weaker points. Years ago, it used to be about which browser was the fastest, but then computers and our internet services got so fast the minuscule speed differences between browsers became relatively unimportant. Speed differences now, to the average user, are imperceptible. It takes a special benchmark program to detect the hundredths of a second speed advantage one browser would have over another.

Memory

Next, it was about memory usage, then RAM became fairly inexpensive and all browsers improved their memory management and performance. That, too, has become pretty much a non-issue.

Now days, I think it’s more about the browser’s user interface. And, once again, I find Firefox to be the all ’round preferred choice. It is relatively uncomplicated and easy to navigate. Most of all, Firefox is highly customizable. For example, there are literally hundreds of Themes (skins) with which I can give Firefox the look I want. When I get tired of looking at a theme, it is easy to change to a new one.

firefox-extensions

Extensions

What may be the single biggest strength of Firefox is the vast assortment of browser extensions/add-ons available to customize the browser in so many ways. Extensions can change the feel of the browser, make it easier to use, easier to manage your privacy, add new functionality or change it’s native features to work in a way that suits your own needs or preferences, and so much more.


There is a Firefox extension for just about anything you want to do with your browser, and some you didn’t even know you wanted until you discover them. There are extensions for productivity, entertainment, security, you name it. No other browser has the vast number of extensions available to enhance and improve the browsing experience. That may change on some distant date in the future. But, for now, Firefox is the hands down winner in that category.

Telemetry

Additionally, Mozilla is a non-profit foundation with a mission to protect the Web as a public resource and empower its users. That mission is very different from Google or Microsoft who, more likely than not, would wish to control the Internet and how we use it. I have no reason to believe I can trust either Microsoft or Google with my privacy or personal data. I much prefer the privacy options within the Firefox browser and the related extensions.

Mozilla’s Firefox browser is not shoved in our faces by ultra rich mega-tech corporations like Google and Microsoft. Both of these companies have the huge advantage of conveniently bundling their browsers in their respective operating systems, ubiquitous in computers, cell phones and tablets around the world. Firefox is therefore compelled to be a better browser so that we have reason to seek it out and install it on our devices, on our own initiative. That makes Firefox the underdog. I’m a sucker for the underdog.

I’m also a sucker for a great browser. I’ve tried some of the many specialty browsers that, while based on the same engine as the major browsers, specialize in things like 64-bit code, video rendering speed, legacy interfaces, etc. So far, I’ve seen nothing in other browsers that compels me to switch from what I believe to be the best browser on the planet, for the largest number of people.

As far as I know, there is nothing really wrong with Chrome, except that it has Google written all over it. If you’re not concerned about Google’s questionable data collection practices, that may not be an issue for you. There is much to argued on that issue. If there is nothing really wrong with Chrome, there is nothing really right with Internet Explorer. The beleaguered Mircosoft browser is so hopeless, even Microsoft has finally abandoned it. As for their new browser, Edge, it is bare and unrefined, which may actually appeal to some. But, it, too, is a Microsoft tool for collecting your browsing and Web search interests, just as Chome is a tool for Google’s data collection endeavors.


Nothing’s Perfect

Firefox is my number one “must have” on any new computer. I even use the Android app on my Moto X mobile phone.

There is no such thing as the perfect browser and there probably never will be. Until then, there’s Mozilla Firefox. In my view, no computer is complete without it.

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About the Author

Daniel Banks

Daniel Banks is a computer enthusiast and part time tech. He began his computing career in the early '90s with a state-of-the-art 486 computer. Playing Kong when he should have been working, he quickly became a master at throwing exploding bananas. RAM was measured in kilobytes... computers only came in one color... getting online made lots of noise and AOL was the internet... or, so we thought. Daniel has been building custom computers for himself and others for over 25 years. His current box was built back in 2008, sporting a Gigabyte mainboard, over-clocked i7 Quad Core engine, 8GB RAM, and an antiquated, over-clocked video card that still gets the job done, running a carefully manicured Win7 OS. Don’t ask where he got the OS. Dan has always had a passion for computers and all things geek. We hope you enjoy his articles.

23 Comments

  1. I love Firefox so much, well I use Palemon but it doesn’t stray.

    The only problem I have with PM and FX is that they are too heavy for my laptop, weird.
    Trying to watch a stream on Twitch with Flash is horrible in experience in my laptop. (I even tried Elctrolysis which felt a bit snappier on the browser but it still was horrendous on Twitch due to Flash.) I use MyDefrag but it doesn’t fix anything, just the responsiveness of the UI and browser loading(Start-up and loading of pages). I have to defrag daily to keep the responsiveness, since I am using it constantly and that is just annoying.

    IE using ActiveX doesn’t hog the laptop during the stream.
    So, I guess ActiveX wasn’t heavy.
    Then I tried SlimJet which is Chromium-based and it wasn’t hoggy and performed well. It also uses Flash plugin that Firefox/Palemoon use, tried both plugins Official and PepperFlash. Also, SlimJet still feels light and doesn’t bog the system, even when I hit 80% RAM. While Palemoon and Firefox are being terribly slow due to fragmentation, SlimJet doesn’t slow down one bit.

    Firefox and Palemoon need to balance the resources nicely and Electrolysis is not a good implementation.

    Now, for the good parts:
    The add-ons like Brief that is great on my RSS.
    BarTab that prevents new Tabs from being loaded is amazing. (There is a problem with that add-on, and I have a solution for it, it’s still super annoying. Alas, nothing else compares to this wonderful add-on. SlimJet has a nice feature built in for this but it’s not the same)
    Getting tired of typing, but I could go on and on about the add-ons and settings more choices. Also, better tweaking of the UI to your favor, at least on Palemoon. (I can’t be bothered installing Classic Theme Restorer and I refuse to be okay with Firefox locking the Reload/Stop in the browser, locking-out our freedom and the down-arrow that shows the sites visited)

    I have to add Edge for being hoggy on my laptop as well, with Flash. Odd that IE is lighter, but IE sucks at opening tabs since it drags with many tabs even if it doesn’t eat a lot of RAM nor CPU.

  2. I have been a long time Firefox user and my opinion of it has gone up and down over the years. Like most humans I detest change and major changes to software is near the top of the list.
    I also use Chrome and Opera. Doing so allows me to have multiple presences on the web. Also, I support a local camera club with their web presence. After doing updates to their pages I check the results out in all the major browsers, even I.E. and Edge.

    • ​I don’t generally like change either. But, if you’re Mozilla, you don’t want to look like a ’63 Chevy when all the other browsers a sporting the look of a sleek Shelby Mustang. And, if the change brings real improvement in some way, I will adapt​ to the changes. Adaptability is a virtue. 😉

  3. I use Firefox on all three of my machines just because it WORKS. I run several Linux VM’s and Firefox is still the default Linux browser. Maybe a market share needs to be ran and see how many Linux machines are running Edge, IE, or Chrome.

    • StatCounter’s stats are notoriously skewed. StatCounter counts every visit not just unique visits. So, if a single user running Firefox visits one of StatCounter’s monitored sites (say) 12 times during the given period, that’s then counted as 12 hits for Firefox. Clearly that is one user running Firefox, not 12.

      That’s why most tech sites will stick with the stats from NetMarketShare, who only count unique visits. Frankly, I’m surprised that a site such as ArsTechnica would be quoting StatCounter’s stats – they should know better.

    • ​Whether or not Firefox has been losing or gaining market share has no bearing on whether it is, or isn’t, the best browser in the world. Market share only indicates how many people are using it. Not WHY they are using it.

      Firefox has been losing market share to Chrome for a long time, for the very reasons I explained in my article. As soon as Chrome was ready for prime time, Google added a “Download Chrome” button on the home page of Google Search, the number one Web page on the Internet. If they had placed a “Download Firefox” button on that page, Firefox would have gained market share.

      Firefox doesn’t have a major league search engine, nor operating system, from which to push their browser. Android is the number one operating system in the world. More people own Android phones than own Window computers. This has given Google the means from which to acquire millions of new Chrome users. That doesn’t make Chrome a better browser.

      Hope and pray that Firefox always remains a viable alternative. Because, if Firefox ever goes away, Google will control everything you see on the web, and you won’t have a single grain of privacy left in your online exploring.

      Unless Mozilla finds a better way to distribute Firefox to the masses, they will continue to lose market share. Because, millions of new users will have never even heard of Firefox.

      If we lose Firefox, Google and Microsoft win the Internet. Period.

  4. I do a lot of video streaming and video downloading. Unfortunately, I encounter a lot of issues with Firefox regarding these, such as videos not playing at all, which Google Chrome handles very well. By the way, I’m using Linux Mint 18 Sarah cinnamon 64-bit and Firefox 47.0.1. So I keep both Chrome & Firefox, with Chrome as my default browser & Firefox as backup.

    • That may be because so many videos originate to or from YouTube, which is also owned by Google. Google is not famous for supporting a level playing field to it’s competitors.

      • So then Firefox needs to adjust their ability to stream videos to compensate. Users will only get frustrated (as I am sometimes) and use a supporting browser. It is all about keeping the customers HAPPY.

  5. I use Firefox — reluctantly, for want of something better. I used Maxthon ages ago, it was way better.

    Does anyone know of a powerful bookmark management solution ? Firefox bookmarks are rotten. I have more than 10 000.

  6. Whats wrong with Cyberfox? I use it all the time now and its super fast like no other. No probs to speak of really except maybe I cant get the Norton safe search to work on it.

  7. I use Firefox at work almost exclusively, although I do have IE and Chrome installed. I use it because I like the extensions, the general set up and also the fact that is is run by Mozilla – a non-profit with a mission that I support.
    However at home on my laptop I mostly use IE because of all the streaming video I watch. I tried using Firefox but it couldn’t cut the mustard. (and I’ll admit the Facebook video games I play also don’t work as well 😉 )

  8. This link has just helped me to rescue my Firefox install from terminal slowness, so I’m sharing it because it might be helpful to someone else :

    https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/troubleshoot-and-diagnose-firefox-problems

    There are many such links in Mozilla help, and they seriously overlap. This page is very useful, because it is the only one I found which lays out an (almost) comprehensive roadmap for troubleshooting. Some steps need to be tried before others. The order matters.

    In my case, it was step 2 which worked magic : clear your cookies and cache. I was ready to refresh my profile, a step which is often advocated by Firefox gurus in “don’t know” cases, but which is a pain because it wipes out all your extensions and customisations, which means that you have to set them up all over again (and there’s no surefire way to back them up).

    This troubleshooting how-to is also counter-intuitive, because it advises you to try and reinstall Firefox before attempting to refresh your profile. One would think that the former is a more radical step than the latter, but no : reinstalling does not alter your profile (the big messy blob which is supposed to make Firefox go south every now and then, but can’t be written over carelessly because it contains so much data personal to you).

    However, says the help page, sometimes replacing the software files themselves solves certain problems. This is somewhat nerve-racking, because I suppose there’s a way to uninstall, then reinstall Firefox carelessly which would wipe out your profile as well.

    If reinstalling fails to do the trick, then you have to take the leap and refresh your profile (and if that does not work either, you’ll have to wipe it out completely and start afresh with a new profile).

    I find that Firefox has many such counter-intuitive behaviours. It’s one more reason why I dislike it. People live in their browsers nowadays, a lot of personal information is attached to it, many security issues can happen through the browser, so you really need to trust the one you’re using.

    • I agree that reinstalling the Firefox program itself, rather than clearing the profile first, seems counter intuitive. Particularly because some extensions can leave behind code and alterations after the extension has been deleted, and those alterations can potentially cause mind-bending anomalies. If you only have a few extensions installed, clearing the profile may be the best solution to try first. But, just like doing an occasion fresh install of Windows, wiping Firefox clean and starting over can be a very refreshing experience. I haven’t done it in many years. But, I’m getting to the point where it looks pretty tempting.

  9. I agree that “Unless Mozilla finds a better way to distribute Firefox to the masses, they will continue to lose market share. Because, millions of new users will have never even heard of Firefox” — but I assume you, of all people, know about the SeaMonkey browser/suite; what is your opinion about it? Personally, I use it 98% of the time, and have a ‘spare’ FireFox for a few sites where it works better than SM (and 0.5% of the time, I do have to use MSIE &/or Chrome, which I try to avoid, for the reasons you described).

    • I haven’t use SeaMonkey in years, but I don’t have a problem with it. Many people like it. SeaMonkey is a suite of apps that includes Web-browser, e-mail, newsgroup and feed client, IRC chat, and HTML editing. I have always preferred stand alone apps that do one thing well, versus a suite that does many things so-so. That said, I can’t really judge SeaMonkey simply because I haven’t used it in so long. Mozilla abandoned SeaMonkey so that they could focus their efforts on the Firefox Web browser, not having to divide their resources among the other components of the suite as well.
      By focusing their resources only on Firefox, they have been able to continue refining the best Web browser in the world.

      • Not being a world-renowned columnist, I don’t need to try and determine which is “the best Web browser in the world”, and I think there is no such thing, objectively speaking — but, certainly, everybody must have one which, to them, fulfills that description… As I think is evident, for me that’s SeaMonkey (ex-Mozilla Suite)and not FireFox (seeing as I have both, but use SM 98% of the time, and would use it 100% if not forced to use other browsers in some cases), for exactly the opposite reason it’s not that for you: The integration between the browser and the e-mail client is very useful to me (and, sometimes, having a lame-duck module for editing web pages on hand is useful too, but not for any serious purpose, surely), and I find the controls and parameters for most of the functions and actions I want easier to find and use in SM.

        It seems that most current SM users prefer the way it works and looks to the Firefox one, but I imagine that, for most users in general, the latter seems better and easier to use; I think you’re overgenerous in saying “many people like it”… Unfortunately, the team of (volunteer) SM developers have to use most of what Mozilla does to the Gecko kernel, since both browsers use it (and the differences between the two mean that not all FireFox Extensions/Add-Ons can work in SM. Even the ThunderBird e-mail client has been ‘pushed out into the cold’ by Mozilla, for the same reasons you commented on — but I guess that’s outside the scope of this particular thread.

        • One of the main reasons SM users decided to keep SeaMonkey alive was because they didn’t accept the changes to the UI that were occurring during when Mozilla’s focus became all about Firefox. Most people who use Web browsers don’t make Web pages, so they don’t need an HTML editor. The Netscape/SeaMonkey editor was never a great editor… just a basic editor.
          The move to Web-based mail accounts has greatly diminished the need for a mail client. Ask the average user what RSS is and they look at you cross-eyed. So, for the majority of users, the browser suite option just added a lot of unnecessary bloat.

          I decided way back that change was inevitable. So, I grudgingly let go of the browser suite and learned my way around the UI changes. I still look back sentimentally about the old browser suite era, though.

        • As I expected, you do know SM’s ‘history’, and what you said is quite apropos, except that, for some (like me) the UI changes weren’t the main trouble (although I found FireFox too dumbed-down and making most ‘variables changes’ hard to find and get to, just like MS has been doing all the time), but the loss of the browser/e-mail integration was — so, instead of useless bloat, I was faced with a needless complication and duplication if I used separate apps for e-mail and navigation.

          SM’s HTML Editor is broken and completely outdated, but it’s sometimes useful to make a quick-and-dirty edit to a web page for saving/printing purposes, in large part because it’s just one click away, and integrated with the browser — but that’s all.

          For me, web-based mail is an auxiliary/backup, since I download all messages eventually (yes, even probable spam, which I only discard after I’m sure it’s not a ‘false positive’, aided by SM’s excellent adaptive filters: They can even learn to distinguish ads sent from the authors of newsletters I want to read!), mainly for read-only on a cell phone or when I’m away from my desktop system. Again, I’m sure most users don’t work that way — but I never was into RSS, so at least in that respect I’m ‘normal’, since I can cross my eyes at it, too!

          But I think the deciding factor was the reverse side of what you commented at the end: Yes, change is inevitable, but while there remains a group of competent and dedicated tech people who keep SM up-to-date, I can choose which changes I want to make, and which I just have to accept and learn to live with, in terms of internet use.