Refresher on Internet browsers
Published: Friday, April 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Internet is so ingrained in our digital lives that it's easy to forget how awe-inspiring it really is. Don't believe me?
We know that there were 634 million active websites at the end of 2012 — 51 million more than 2011.
Each site might have multiple pages, so experts guess that the web might have as many as 1 trillion Web pages.
Of course, none of this surfing and searching would be possible without something else that often gets taken for granted: the humble web browser. Many people have misconceptions about browsers. Let's clear them up.
1. A browser is a search provider. When asked what a browser is, it's common for people to start rattling off names such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. In the non-digital world, browsing and searching are similar activities. When you're shopping in a store, you “browse” the aisles “searching” for items. In the digital sense, however, they are two very different things. A search provider is a company, like Google or Yahoo, with a website. When you search, your activity is done on one site. A browser, on the other hand, is the program you use to access the entire Internet. You can access millions of sites, not just search providers. Think of your browser like a TV and websites like channels. If someone asks you what kind of TV you have, you would say Sony or Samsung, not Discovery or Disney.
2. Web browsers are all the same. A browser is transparent technology. For the most part, you don't really think about your browser; you just use it. That's how more technology should be.
Of course, at some point you do need to think about your browser. Just like older TVs can't display the newest movies and shows correctly, older browsers have trouble with newer web standards, such as HTML5. That means you aren't seeing newer websites the way you should. In some cases, they won't even show up.
Then there's the security issue. Every day, hackers generate thousands of new threats that target your computer, and your browser is a doorway that could let any of them in.
So, for those running Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8, Firefox 3, or older versions of Chrome, it's time to upgrade. If you don't know what version of your browser you're using, it's usually under Help>About.
The best part is that they're all free, so you can download and test them out. In fact, you might end up using multiple browsers to deal with multiple tasks.
Firefox is great for people who love to have lots of tabs open at once and like to customize their experience with add-ons. Chrome is geared toward speed and staying out of the way. Opera is a solid all-around browser for speed and features, plus it works the same on every gadget.
3. You're stuck with your default mobile browser. On the whole, the default mobile browsers on smartphones and tablets are less than stellar. iOS users get a mobile version of Safari. Android uses a generic Android browser. Windows Phone 8 smartphones and Windows RT tablets have a mobile version of Internet Explorer 10.
As far as speed and features go, these aren't on par with desktop browsers. Fortunately, there are plenty of third-party alternatives that improve speed, security and features.
Google and Mozilla make mobile versions of Chrome and Firefox respectively. If you use the desktop version of the browser, you can even sync your bookmarks.
Email Kim Komando at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- France bound by role in Africa
- Senate Dems to push Obama nominees
- Investors put squeeze on prospective homeowners’ American dreams
- Startup aims to replace chicken, egg
- How can I delete my search history on Facebook?
- PNC to pay $81M to Freddie Mac to resolve problem mortgages
- Employers say friends can ease work stress
- Pennsylvania, other states considering bids to host Boeing 777X production
- Federal regulator OKs Peoples Gas’ acquisition of Equitable Gas
- Mustang celebrates 50th in grand style
- Consol cuts office workers after Murray deal