How to choose an everyday web browser

Summary :

What is a web browser?

A web browser is a program that will help you browse the web. I think everyone knows that. But every browser has its own features, speed, UI, etc. And sometimes, those browsers does NOT respect your privacy. That's why in this guide, I'm going to show you what broswer respects your privacy and who doesn't.

Firefox based web browsers

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is a very known browser, especially for his "privacy-respectful" side. But in reality, Mozilla has made so much anti-user, deprecations, and shit privacy decisions that Dig Deeper's owner has wrote a massive article where he explains basically everything about the evil Mozilla company. Conclusion, no need to test the browser since we already know the response : it's trash and doesn't respect privacy. Next browser please!

Waterfox

Waterfox is a fork of Firefox (damn, I didn't know) that claims to not collect any telemetry and have limited data collection. Let's verify that.
First, let's look at their privacy policy :
"Your privacy is an important factor that Waterfox (that's us) considers in the development of each of our products and services."
Okay, seems good so far.
"For us, "personal information" means information which identifies you, like your name or email address."
Yeah, all good.
"If we store your personal information with information that is non-personal, we will consider the combination as personal information. If we remove all personal information from a set of data then the remaining is non-personal information."
So they mean that if they get personal and non-personal information, they say it's personal, but if they remove the personal information, then it's not personal. Damn, my brain got hurt for a second. Moving on to what they actually collect on their website...
"We may use cookies, third party web analytics, device information, and IP addresses for functionality and to better understand user interaction with our products, services, and communications."
Why would you need such things? Anyway, maybe it's for a good thing...
"We may also use cookies and/or IP addresses, to help us understand in the aggregate how users engage with our products, services, communications, websites, online campaigns and other platforms."
I mean, I'm okay with the cookies, but my IP address...
Ok, honestly, this isn't the worst part. I've looked everything else and nothing seems wrong to me. Except for one thing...
Remember when they claimed to have no telemetry and limited data collection? In other words, being a privacy-respectful browser. But, to support the owner, you have to do that :
"If you’d really like to help Waterfox out, please consider using the default search (Bing) with adblock disabled on it, it would be such a huge show of support! The default search is fairly privacy friendly."
Fairly privacy friendly?! Are you kidding me?! Bing is one of the worst search engines in terms of privacy. No thank you, I'm not using that.
And the most incredible thing that happened to Waterfox is that Alex Kontos (the owner of Waterfox) is going to get help from System1, a chinese company. (Notice the "privacy browser waterfox" in the URL)
Enough saying, let's move on to testing the browser. (This test will be done with Waterfox Current 2020.02 on a Windows 7 SP1 x64 VM.)
After running Waterfox for the first time, it did 77 unsollicited requests (and probably more since it just keeps getting higher and higher for some reason). That's a lot for a "privacy-respectful" browser, right?
Conclusion for this browser : Absolute trash, owner lies about it being "privacy-respectful", too much unsollicited requests, etc. Avoid this at all cost! Next on the list is...

Comodo IceDragon

Comodo IceDragon is basically Comodo Dragon but based on Firefox. Comodo is a trusted company, so the browser shouldn't be too bad, right? They also claim to respect your privacy. Let's verify that!
I don't think it's really necessary to take a look at their privacy policy, since it regards the entire company and not only the browser (it "just" collects personal information). Let's test the browser directly!
When I run it for the first time, I notice two things. The first thing is that a pop-up just showed after the launch of the browser that says "Set Yahoo! as my home page, new tab and default search engine (applies to all supported browsers)" to "keep my browsing experience safe". I smell the bad browser already, it even wants to change our home page but NOT ONLY for Comodo IceDragon, but to all the compatible browsers (like all the installed browsers on my PC). That's just bad, Comodo.
The second thing is that it made 50 unsollicited requests at, again, my first run of it. I guess it could go higher and higher like Waterfox did, so I'm going to stop there. 50 unsollicited requests is a lot for, again, a "privacy-respectful" browser, don't you think so? And for Comodo, an actual trusted company, that's bad. Why can't they just remove the spyware like LibreWolf or GNU IceCat did?
Now, there is a question that you could ask : Will I test Comodo Dragon then to see if it's better? The answer is : No. And the reason is simple : it will just be the same amount of privacy! (Which is technically trash). Well, this browser has Comodo protection in it, so it's not the worst browser I've ever seen. And it's still better than Waterfox since it made less unsollicited requests. Conclusion : This browser is still a decent choice though. But forcing users to use Yahoo! on all browsers available and making 50 unsollicited requests (and counting...) of a trusted company's browser is just terrible. Avoid this browser if you can. Moving on to the next one!

Basilik

Basilik is a browser created by the same authors as Pale Moon, Moonchild Productions. The browser shouldn't be too bad... let's verify that!
First, they mention that this is still development software, so we won't go hard on them. Plus they made Pale Moon as I said above, so I guess I won't even go that hard on them.
There is no actual privacy policy, but couldn't they just add a button that redirects to Pale Moon's privacy policy? Anyway, let's test the browser then!
Just before I test the browser, there is no mention of privacy on Basilik's website. So my guess is that they didn't remove all spyware that Firefox had. Now, let's test it!
On my first run of it, I got greeted with 9 unsollicited requests, which is definitely better than the other Firefox based web browsers. Well, the amount of requests just goes higher and higher, but it's still alot better than Waterfox and Comodo IceDragon.
Conclusion : This browser is clearly better than the other forks we've seen above. Alot less unsollicited requests, it's made by Pale Moon authors so we can actually trust them more (Pale Moon the safest browser I've ever seen), etc. It's still development software though and might include some bugs, severe or not. Use it if you like development software and like to report bugs, else avoid it, for now (until it's not dev software anymore).

Cliqz

Cliqz is a web browser (and a search engine) both developed by Cliqz GmbH that claims to respect your privacy. Let's verify that!
On my first run of it, I notice 234 unsolicited requests (and counting...). But I think it's because the method that I use blocks the internet, so it tries to do requests but always get a bad status code. It did around 13-16 real unsolicited requests, so that's still something.
The browser offers Cliqz Tab, an all-in-one addon that has an anti-tracker, ad-block, cookie pop-up blocker, anti-phishing and prefer https. But it doesn't only do that! For example, you can change the search engine, block adult websites, share location, search via proxy, and alot more...
The browser also offers Cliqz Offers, it basically finds the best deals for you on the internet while browsing. Pretty useful.
It also offers a feature called "re:consent" which shows what personal data a website collects. That's really useful.
Of course, there are a lot more features that I didn't explain. But the thing is that all of these features are actually useful and won't bloat the software like Avast does for example.
The only cons of this browser is that it still does a lot of unsolicited requests to Firefox's "detectportal" and Mozilla's Cloudflare DNS and the last con is that I couldn't make the anti-tracker, ad blocker etc to work. But it's still a promising browser.
Conclusion : This isn't by far the worst browser I've ever seen, especially for a Firefox fork. It's really worth a try, though I couldn't make the privacy protections to work, and the browser is still doing a lot of unsolicited requests to Mozilla's websites. Use it at your own risk for now, I'll see in the future if it gets better.

Conclusion

The Firefox based web browsers are terrible. Well, Basilik is good, but still development software. Of course, there are still other forks that I haven't tested yet, like SeaMonkey for example. But I think I won't test more of them, because it's the same thing : spyware, spyware and more spyware. Firefox is just so terrible that almost no browser (except LibreWolf and GNU IceCat, but LibreWolf is dead and GNU IceCat is focused on freetardism) has removed all of the spyware. Use these forks at your own risk. Now, let's move on to Chromium based browsers!

Chromium based web browsers

Before I start talking about them, I need to clarify a mistake that people make, and that I've made too. No, Chrome based web browers do NOT exist. Simply because Chrome isn't open-source, but Chromium is. So you should call them the Chromium based web browsers. Now, let's move on to the first browser, which is...

Google Chrome

The worst web browser in terms of privacy and security. A huge browser dedicated to data collection and telemetry. But at least, they don't hide it unlike Mozilla.

SRWare Iron

I already smell the bad, bloated browser here. Why? Because the Spyware Watchdog (rip) already reviewed it and said it was horrible and bloated. But maybe it has changed? Well, we'll see about that.
Fuck their privacy policy, it's all in Deutsch and their English version of the website hasn't been updated since 2016 (atleast, their news), and finding the privacy policy is like a maze. We'll just skip it and go straight forward on testing the browser.
First, at the first run of the browser, I'm being greeted with 18 unsollicited requests. I mean, it could be worse, but I saw something in the search bar : "Effectuez une recherche sur Iron SecureSearch ou saisissez une URL" (translation from French to English : "Search something on Iron SecureSearch or enter a URL". Don't you see the fishy trap? Yeah, Iron SecureSearch. Probably some shit search engine that uses Bing or Yahoo (or even Google) with no protection at all, and that probably spies on us. For a "privacy-respectful" browser, the "Iron sign-in" is enabled by default (basically Chromium sign-in, just renamed) and you have unsollicited requests. This shouldn't be happening. And, if that's not enough, there are already bookmarks like "Iron Forum", "Anonymous VPN", "IP-Secrets" etc.
Conclusion : For a "privacy-respectful" browser, it doesn't fulfill the claim. Their privacy policy is in deutsch per default, their english version of their website (srware.net) hasn't been updated since 2016, and finding the privacy policy is like impossible. The browser isn't even "privacy-respectful", unsollicited requests and a shitty search engine per default, no thank you. Just avoid at all cost. Neeeext browser!

CCleaner Browser

Ah, an interesting one here. As you may or may not know, Avast acquired Piriform in mid-2017. And after acquiring it, they decided to use the notoriety of CCleaner to make... CCleaner Browser! (It's just Avast Secure Browser in a different name, but we'll still review it because why not.) Reading their privacy policy is, again, useless, because it's Avast's privacy policy and it's not for CCleaner Browser only, but the entire CCleaner software and/or the entire Avast suite. But again, they collect personal information, and bla bla bla... Well, let's test it then!
On my first run of it, I've got a brilliant 17 unsollicited requests, and moez because the program that I use to check requests is blocking the browser to check for updates, but I'm not counting that. Still, for a "privacy-respectful" browser, this is a bit too much, but clearly not the worse. After all, it has got nice features like HTTPS Encryption, Extension Guard, Anti-Fingerprinting, Phising and Tracking : but again, these features can ALL be outclassed by addons.
Conclusion : Is it worth it? Absolutely not. Uses Google as default search engine and all features can be outclassed by addons. This is just Chromium with pre-installed addons, nothing more. Also, there is a feature that can show sponsored content (and it's already on by default, of course). Forced Do Not Track request which is useless nowadays and always was. It has a performance tab which "improves computer performance" by just suspending inactive tabs, which modern browsers already do nowadays. Avoid this browser, it is clearly useless and outclassed by addons. Moving on to the next browser!

Microsoft Edge Dev

I think you've heard about the new Microsoft Edge being low on RAM, having a good tracking protection (from Microsoft, damn) and good speed. It is actually time to test it! Again, we won't read the privacy policy, as we all know that Microsoft collects personal information and bla bla bla. Anyway, let's move on to the testing part!
We will be using the Dev Channel, it's Canary but more stable but less stable than Beta. Anyway, let's start!
On my first run of it, I notice 187 fucking unsollicited requests. Well, not too surprising from Microsoft, but still... couldn't they do something better?
Ok, we'll try to set up the browser settings and see if it changes anything.
52 unsollicited requests. Well, it's not the best you can do, but I've made the settings so Microsoft Edge doesn't look ugly on the new tab and has still better privacy-respectful settings than before. Microsoft Edge still offers a good tracking protection as well as a dark mode, but they really force you to use Bing. Changing the search engine is hidden for some reason, and you currently can't change the search engine in the search bar on the new tab.
Conclusion : I've expected better on this browser since I actually love it. Maybe it does a lot of unsollicited requests, well it's Microsoft, but actually, it's worth a try. If you skip the unsollicited requests and hidden search engine changing, it's a pretty good browser overall so you could maybe give it a try. Sadly it's not available on Linux though it's planned (no release date though). Next browser is...

Iridium Browser

Iridium Browser is a browser (damn, so much revelations with B3RAP) that secures your privacy, that's it (from what they claim to do). Let's verify that!
First, their privacy policy is almost like a blank page. They give us no information about if they get any information, the things you would usually see on privacy policies of other companies. Anyway, let's start testing the browser!
On my first run of it, I was greeted with 20 unsollicited requests. From Spyware Watchdog, it's just Google's SafeBrowsing issues. But I don't think so, I think it's more. So I've configured the browser's settings and...
9 unsollicited requests. That's better. But let's try to make even less requests...
5 unsollicited requests. I think it's the best we can do. Actually, Iridium Browser almost fulfills the claim. This is the best privacy-respectful browser we've reviewed in this section. Sadly, the current latest release is from November of 2019. It's still recent, but they aren't that active if you think about it.
Conclusion : Pretty good browser overall that almost fulfills the privacy-respectful claim. You should really use this browser, I highly recommand it. Neeeext browser!

Opera

Well well well... look who we have here : a not privacy-respectful browser. But wait! We'll see how much it is non privacy-respectfulby seeing how much unsollicited requests it makes, and their privacy policy!
First, let's look at their privacy policy :
"Anonymous usage statistics". You shouldn't even collect any usage statistic at all since "anonymous personal information" does NOT exist, it's just dumb.
"When you install an Opera application, a random installation ID is generated.". If it's random and doesn't mean anything, why would you even need one?
"We may collect this identifier, as well as your device ID and hardware specification, operating system and environment configuration, and feature usage data."
Damn... that's a lot! (Well, from a chinese company, not too surprising.) Also, what is the feature usage data? The VPN's usage data so you can even more spy on me? Anyway, let's move on :
"In short, this information helps us to improve our products and services. We have no practical way to use this information to identify you personally."
Excuse me, but my feature usage data is personal. It's an awesome browser after all, right?
"We may store this usage data up to three years."
3 YEARS??!!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This is just too much. Let's stop there and move on to testing the browser!
On my first run of it, I notice 105 unsollicited requests. Damn, that's a lot (but still less than Microsoft Edge).
Ohh, waaait, I'm so dumb! Their free VPN secures your privacy! Of course it does... SurfEasy. I'm out. Their adblocker and "free VPN" can be outclassed by addons, their "free VPN" is just some shit free "unlimited" VPN that tracks you.
Conclusion : AVOID this browser AT ALL COST! It's just terrible and it shouldn't even exist.

Epic Privacy Browser

The Epic Privacy Browser is a browser where the developers claims that it highly respects your privacy and security online. They even claim to have a free VPN. Let's verify that!
At my first run of it, I notice 58 unsolicited requests. But wait! This is mainly because of 3 tabs opened that loaded their website. If we configure everything, we get...
22 unsolicited requests. That's better, but we can always do better.

13 unsolicited requests
. I think the main reason of so much requests is that it checks for extensions updates. Wait... I just got a request from Pale Moon's website... interesting, right?
Also, the default search engine is Yahoo, and there is another option which is Epic's search engine (probably shit anyway). You can't even add a search engine, you're basically stuck with those two.
Conclusion : Clearly not the best browser in terms of privacy and security. It's just like CCleaner Browser, the built-in ad blocker, free VPN, video downloader etc. can be outclassed by addons. And we fact that we can't change the search engine (stuck with two shit ones) and forced update checking is just ridiculous. Avoid this browser and use something better like Iridium which ACTUALLY protects your privacy.

Cent Browser

Cent Browser is a web browser developed by the Cent Studio which claims to be "the most feature rich chromium" and to protect your privacy. Let's verify that!
On my first run of it, I'm greeted with 24 unsolicited requests. Certainly not good, but still not the worst. Configuring the browser's settings and...
13 unsolicited requests. I think that's the best we can do. Apart from the fact that it has a considerable amount of unsolicited requests, the browser is very feature rich, which many people will like. But I still don't recommand it for pure privacy and security.
Conclusion : Yes, this browser is very feature rich, but no, it doesn't respect privacy even if it has a WebRTC anti-ip leak, it can be outclassed by an addon. Use this one only if you want a really feature-rich browser, but if you want privacy, I don't recommand it anymore.

Maxthon

Maxthon is a web browser developed by Maxthon Technology Co, Ltd. And today we'll see if it's a good browser or not!
Installing it is very simple and only requires you a single click (when in the installer).
At my first run of it, I notice 240 unsolicited requests. But wait! The browser loaded their website, and the new tab also loaded images and things like that. Let's configure the browser's settings and...
9 unsolicited requests only! That's already promising here. Now, this isn't advertised as a privacy-respectful browser, but it did much better than some other browsers here.
Conclusion : Pretty good browser, not advertised as a privacy-respectful browser though when configured it makes much less unsolicited requests. I recommand it, I even think it's compatible with Windows XP!

Bright Browser

Bright Browser is a new browser that launched in January of 2020. But is it any good? We'll see right now!
On first run, I'm hella greeted with 65 unsolicited requests (and counting...). We can do better. Let's configure the browser's settings and...
21 unsollicited requests (and counting...). It doesn't seem like a good browser. But- we're going to test if the built-in ad blocker blocks YouTube ads and trackers!
And surprise surprise... it actually does! Well, obviously it's a simple ad and tracker blocker, but it does work.
Conclusion : Here we have some browser that tries to advertise it-self as quite privacy-friendly while you can't disable Google SafeBrowsing and many more Google shit services. Just use Iridium Browser with an ad and tracker blocker and BOOM! You have a good set. Just avoid and use something better and be smart ;)

Conclusion

The Chromium forks are a lot better than the Firefox ones. There are more of them, they are more secure IN GENERAL, they are just better. The best 2 browsers that we've seen is Basilik in the Firefox ones and Iridium Browser in the Chromium ones. Maxthon is also worth a try.

The Alternative

Remember when I've said that Pale Moon was one of the safest browser I've ever seen? Well, the alternative is simply it! Their privacy policy is clear : the browser doesn't collect any personal information except if you want to (like using Pale Moon Sync I guess), but there are also third-parties that makes connections, like geolocation services. Now, let's test the browser!
On my first run of it, it made 15 unsollicited requests. This is mostly due to the start page. Let's configure the browser's settings and...
No more unsollicited requests! Congratulations, this is the safest browser now! Pale Moon is also based on Goanna, a fork of Gecko. The interface seems kinda old to me, but it's okay. (Pale Moon is based on a very old version of Firefox if you didn't know.)
Conclusion : This is clearly the best browser here. No unsollicited requests if you configure the browser's settings, okay interface, Goanna-based engine and works with almost all of the modern websites nowadays (just for example that you won't get the modern YouTube UI, you will get the old one). I highly recommand this browser, use it if you can!

Last updated : March 14th 2020

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