Editor’s Note: We’ve updated this guide with a new pick – Ulaa – a new web browser from Zoho.
Browsers are the central programs in our digital life. Without them, we would not be able to visit websites or perform various other activities. While these tools are essential, it is also essential to choose a reliable provider.
Of course, you might still use Google Chrome, which is the most popular browser around. According to StatCounter, Google Chrome occupies approximately 65% of the market. However, just because it stands at the top does not mean other browsers are somehow inferior. In some cases, other browsers will provide more security and privacy, which is something modern netizens should seek.
These days, incidents of security breaches are becoming more common. While it’s true that browsers fail to give you complete protection, there still are some that give you better anonymity when you surf the net. In this article, we bring you the top 5 free browsers that offer better browsing privacy.
1. Tor Browser
To hide your previous surfing activities from the websites you visit, Tor browser uses NoScript. The details of your internet traffic are sent to the Tor Network, ensuring a very high degree of anonymity for you. All your data is encoded in three-layered encryption. Not only does Tor avoid any recording of your internet activity, but it also deletes cookies that were installed after any browsing session.
Tor also offers the onion-like structure for hiding your IP address. The only downside is that Tor won’t be as seamless and fast as other browsers. Thus, it might not be the best solution to your everyday browsing.
- Enhanced anonymity. Tor browser is excellent at what it does. After all, it makes traffic bounce from one node to another. Thus, the surveillance of the traffic becomes complicated.
- Better security. If you worry about malware that transmits online, Tor does not have this issue. Since Tor does not have the biggest community, hackers will likely target more popular browsers.
- Ability to access the deep web. We all have heard frightening stories about the dark web. Yes, Tor could be used to access it. However, the deep web can be a useful tool for finding information or regaining access.
- A way to beat censorship. Tor has an important role in helping citizens overcome unjust internet restrictions.
- Much slower. Speed is something Tor can offer. It performs many actions to secure your browsing. Thus, it is not exactly prepared to offer you the most high-speed experience.
- Lengthy startup. It will take a while for the browser to start running.
- Old-fashioned design. Tor is not the most stylish browser. It might resemble older programs than other browsers around.
Our Take: Tor is the best for maximum anonymity and security. However, it won’t be as fast you would like it to be.
The privacy and security settings Brave offers are reason enough to help Brave find a mention here. Apart from them, certain other features deserve special mention. Features like the automatic HTTPS connection upgrade, the ads and scripts blocking and cookie management abilities, and the built-in password manager make Brave stand out.
You can even customize your security settings for separate sites. If you’re keen to know how effectively Brave has been blocking trackers and suspicious content, simply open a New Tab page for the blocking status. With Brave’s default settings blocking phishing and malware automatically, you still get pretty solid protection even without customizing settings on your own.
- Highly secure and private. Brave contains blocks ads, fingerprinting, and ad trackers.
- A toggle for upgrading unsecured connections to HTTPS. The chances are you have visited websites that still use HTTP. Brave lets you protect such websites automatically.
- Fast like a traditional browser. It is unlikely that you will experience slowdowns.
- Not a sparkly-clean reputation. Brave owners have been blamed for sharing default autocomplete answers with an affiliate cryptocurrency exchange.
Our Take: Brave is a splendid option for people looking for privacy-focused features and a more lightweight experience.
Apple’s default browser, Safari, prevents your entire system from being affected by a virus or malicious link. Safari contains suspicious sites from loading, notifying you of possible danger. Apart from this, it has certain other pretty decent security measures.
The tracking prevention feature prevents advertisers from using your information while also stopping browser fingerprinting. Safari also offers many security extensions, and you get iCloud benefits without the worry of your data being shared with Google. Their bookmarking feature is pretty simple as well.
- Protection from dangerous links. Safari prevent malicious code from running. It will also notify you when you are about to enter suspicious websites. Thus, you will have the option of evading it.
- Advertisers cannot track you. Safari contains a tracking prevention feature, stopping advertisers from collecting your information.
- Many security extensions. You can install many reliable extensions to protect your digital identity even further.
- Fewer updates. Other browsers will present updates more frequently.
- Not as many customization opportunities. Safari runs a tight operation. Thus, you are unlikely to get the opportunities to personalize as much as you would like.
Our Take: Safari is the best option for Mac users, and it can deliver well-deserved privacy online.
Firefox is the best option for those looking to be more specific about managing the privacy and security settings of their browser. There’s a lot of emphasis from Mozilla on default settings ensuring a great deal of privacy from the very moment Firefox is installed.
Nevertheless, you can still block cookies and third-party trackers and decide your security level by customizing the privacy and security settings that are pretty detailed. For complete privacy, you may go for the Strict option blocking every single tracker. With the Standard option, you can have better performance coupled with tracker blocking.
- Many security and privacy features. Firefox blocks many attempts to track you. For instance, the protection includes blocks for fingerprinting and ad-blocking. Furthermore, it lets you turn off WebGL and WebRTC features.
- Mozilla is a non-profit organization. They have no reason to share or sell data related to your activities or other traits.
- Has a private mode. When you browse in this mode, all of your information gets removed as soon as you exit.
- Open-source code. Firefox is a transparent browser as you can find all of its code available online. Thus, researchers can examine the way it works and find backdoors.
- Ram-hungry browser. The browsing with Firefox won’t exactly be lightweight on your system. However, it will perform similarly to other browsers you might be using.
- CSS issues. You might notice certain inconsistencies in websites due to Firefox compatibility issues.
Our Take: Mozilla has so much to offer to anyone looking for a new browser. It is also one of the oldest browsers, meaning that you won’t have to use a title you have never heard of before.
Ulaa is a new privacy-focused browser from Zoho. Available for Windows, iOS and Android, Ulaa is equipped with pre-installed tools that can block website surveillance and tracking, and offers customizable options, built-in browser modes, and integrated productivity tools to ensure user data confidentiality.
Ulaa can synchronize browsing sessions across multiple devices and has five different modes, each offering a unique browsing experience. Personal Mode is ideal for online banking, music and video streaming, or shopping, while Work Mode is designed for dedicated work functions. Developer Mode caters to professional web developers and testers, while Kids Mode provides a safe online space for children to browse. Open Season Mode has no privacy restrictions.
The browser comes with integrated productivity tools like tabs management, Zia Search for existing Zoho users, and Zoho Notebook, a dedicated note-taking space. Annotator is a built-in feature that allows users to screen capture a page or a page section, add annotations directly to web pages and images, and share their edits and notes easily.
- Ulaa provides users with a privacy-focused browsing experience with pre-installed tools to block website surveillance and tracking.
- Users can synchronize browsing sessions across multiple devices.
- Five unique browsing modes cater to various browsing experiences.
- Ulaa comes with productivity tools like tabs management and Zoho Notebook, a dedicated note-taking space.
- The browser includes Annotator, a built-in feature that allows users to screen capture a page or a page section, add annotations directly to web pages and images, and share their edits and notes easily.
- Ulaa is compatible with all Chrome browser extensions.
- Ulaa is a relatively new browser and may have some compatibility issues with certain websites and applications.
- It may take some time for users to familiarize themselves with the different browsing modes and features.
Our Take: Ulaa is built specifically to secure your personal data. It is compatible with all Chrome browser extensions and does not track or share user data with any third parties.
Why your browser matters
Having shared details of the best browsers for your online privacy and anonymity, we now give you some facts on what you risk with the wrong browser. Some browsers might offer poor protection from various online threats. In other cases, their management might be poor, meaning that it contains many unfixed vulnerabilities. In other cases, some browsers might be less capable of protecting your online identity.
And, of course, many people might feel the urge to use Google Chrome. Despite its poor reputation for privacy, Chrome still continues to lead the pack. After all, Chrome is a big part of Google’s data harvesting infrastructure. Furthermore, its dominance allows it to dictate the rules and offer new standards. One of the upcoming features, FLoC, is one of the hottest debates.
Luckily, Google Chrome is not the only option available. And you have the power to use any browser you like.
More anonymous solutions
For a higher degree of anonymity, specialists recommend downloading a VPN. A VPN encrypts the connection between your device and the internet, thereby hiding your IP address. With your IP address hidden, your online identity is hidden as well, which prevents IP-based tracking. With your online identity completely obscured, a VPN offers you unmatched online privacy and complete anonymity.
Your privacy and security are of major concern when you are online. Using the wrong browser can make your activities less secure and private. Pick any of the browsers we have suggested for your safety. Installing a quality VPN helps a great deal and will cover all internet traffic (not only the one coming from your browser). Additionally, install tools like ad blockers that can prevent various ads from loading. While promotional content can be convenient, it sometimes helps various scams and malware spread. Thus, ad blockers can ease your journey by blocking ads and giving you a much safer experience.
Being callous about your online security can invite serious trouble with your important data being stolen. We, therefore, urge you to be cautious. If you assume that the browser you use does not matter, reconsider this assumption. After all, the browser is the main tool you use for accessing the internet. Thus, it should be one of the first entities to respect your digital identity and prevent digital tracking as much as possible.