Which browser should you be using?

We get a lot of people asking which browser should I use?. The answer depends a little bit on exactly what the needs of the user are, or are likely to be, but as often as not we find ourselves recommending Google Chrome

Of course, whatever computer you buy – Mac or PC – it will come pre-installed with one browser, but that’s not necessarily to everyone’s tastes and sometimes having the choice can be a good thing.

As a support team, it can often make our lives easier if you have more than one browser installed, even if you only ever use your “default” one. If you happen to have an issue with a website, we’ll often ask you to go to the same website in a different browser to see what happens – it can help us decipher if its a problem with the browser you were using initially, or the website itself is having issues.

So why Chrome?
Well, it tends to perform pretty well at the basic things. Starting up fast, opening up new pages and tabs when it’s already running, etc. In fact in almost all of the categories it wipes the floor with the competiton (Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera are the main contenders).

There are other advantages, too. It’s multi-platform, so you can have it on your home Mac and your work PC. If you have a Google account, you can sync your setup between computers. Bookmarks, homepage, extensions, the lot. You can also set it up to send pages to your phone (iPhone and Android only, as far as I know!) ao you can carry on reading the same article when you leave your desk.

Any drawbacks?
Of course there are. Nothing’s perfect, especially when it comes to software. But a number of them can be worked around. The two main issues we encounter are these:

Various Microsoft websites don’t really “work” in Chrome. Most notably this applies to older (2007 and earlier) Webmail interfaces, but things like CRM platforms can also be affected. Sadly, the only way around this is to use Internet Explorer (but even then things can be ropey – a good tip is to enable compatibility mode)

The other place where Chrome can struggle is when using multiple tabs. Despite its own boasts that it can handle several open tabs simultaneously (it can), it is particularly memory hungry. If you don’t have a lot of RAM installed on your computer (we recommend at least 4GB these days, for all but the most basic of uses) then you can quickly run into problems with even just 5 or 6 tabs open at once.

The chances are Chrome won’t crash, but the fuller your RAM gets the slower your computer will become.

If you do *need* to work with a whole load of tabs open, for whatever reason – we don’t judge, then there’s a couple of things you can try. If you need tabs open to refer back to later, consider using bookmarks, or even a link saving, article reading service like Pocket. That way you can save the link and close the tab.

And if you really need all those tabs? Well, then the best thing you can do right now is switch to Firefox and get some more RAM!