Most OWAA members use PCs, so this column is aimed at PC (Microsoft Windows) users. Several programs available today enable your computer to access the Internet. The most well-known is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (I.E.) which comes in different releases, including IE6, IE7 and IE8. Mozilla’s Firefox is a creation of programmers around the world who use “open source” programming to compete with Explorer for free.
The biggest problem with any of the Explorer browsers is security. Since it is the most popular browser, hackers target Explorer to gain illegal access to your computer and its files and passwords. For this reason alone I no longer use Explorer and recommend others do the same.
Browsers can also make your computer bog down and run super slow, causing the PC to crash. Google recently entered the browser market with Chrome, the fastest PC browser on the Internet. Several others also provide safe and fast Web surfing. Here’s a list of browsers and their benefits or drawbacks.
Firefox: Firefox has been proved faster and safer when surfing the Net. It is also the most recommended browser by computer engineers for those using Windows operating systems. Firefox does not support ActiveX because ActiveX is known to be a gateway for hackers.
Chrome: Google’s Chrome uses less memory and is less likely to be hacked because of its design and how new it is. It also offers built-in search features and a task manager to prevent crashes. Chrome uses a unique “tab” system to further enhance Web browsing while allowing users to keep several browser windows open simultaneously. Chrome’s default settings have ActiveX turned off but does allow users to turn it on if they need it. Chrome also has some minor issues with some Java applets. When I encounter any Java issues with Chrome, I switch to Firefox.
Opera: Opera is a great choice for older PCs because it is a smaller program designed to take less memory and run faster on underpowered computers. Opera also works great on PDA devices.
Flock 2 Beta: Flock 2 is a new browser designed for people who virtually live on the Internet. Flock offers a built-in blog editor, photo uploader and a social networking sidebar.
Safari: Safari was developed by Apple in 2003. In 2007 Safari released a version for PC users. Safari has not gained much acceptance by PC users, but continues to be a favorite by a handful of diehards. Safari has too many features to list and could be a bit confusing for the non-techy computer user.
Explorer 8: Explorer 8 is the latest version of Explorer and a definite improvement over IE7. IE8 is less likely to crash, but it’s still a major target of hackers.
When choosing a browser you should consider your computer’s speed and value of its contents. If you have valuable files you should consider using Firefox or Chrome. Always back up your system and avoid keeping sensitive material such as passwords saved on your computer.
John L. Beath is OWAA’s newest president and owner of Pacific Lure Communications. He is a writer/photographer and owner/editor of 14 Web sites and 10 online stores. He is also an Internet marketing consultant for several businesses. For more information about getting connected on the Internet, visit his site at www.webuildyourwebsite.net.