Chrome vs. Firefox: The two browsers in direct comparison

Chrome and Firefox are the most popular cross-platform web browsers in the world. This is a good reason to compare the two browsers side-by-side. In this article, we’ll compare Firefox to Chrome in terms of features, security, privacy, performance, stability and usability. For general information and an overview of all current browsers, see our summary of the best browsers.

Side-by-side comparison: Chrome vs. Firefox

Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox
The most widely used browser in the world today According to different statistics, Firefox ranks second or third place in terms of market share (in the competition for second place is Safari, a browser only available on Apple devices)
Cross-platform browser that can be used on desktop and mobile devices Currently the only cross-platform browser that is independent of Google technology (like Google Chrome, browsers such as Microsoft Edge or Opera are now based on the Chromium engine)
Chrome is now the foundation for an entire Google product line, including the Chrome OS operating system, Chromebook and Chromebase laptops/tablets, Chromecast media players, the Chromebit stick PC and Chromebox compact desktop computer For a long time, Firefox was the most popular browser in European countries until Chrome took over
Collection of user data for analytics, advertising and optimisation purposes plays a major role. Offers numerous features to protect user data and control or prevent tracking by websites or social networks.

Firefox and Chrome: Comparing key criteria

Next, we’ll compare the Google Chrome and Firefox web browsers in different areas: What features do they offer? What about security and privacy? How do the web browsers compare in terms of performance? What is there to know about stability and usability?

Features

Both browsers have so many features it would be nearly impossible to utilise them all. Each browser has its own app storewith a library of add-ons if you want to integrate extensions or add missing functionality. One especially useful function in Firefox is the Screenshot feature, which lets you capture the visible screen, part of a page or an entire web page and save it as an image file. The Reader View in Firefox is also noteworthy. This feature allows you to open a clutter-free view of a web page, hiding all content not related to the main article.

Both browsers have a PDF viewer feature. Firefox also includes functionality for reading QR codes (especially useful on mobile devices) and a night mode for easier reading in low light. If you’re using Firefox on a mobile device, you also have the option of displaying the desktop view of any website if the mobile version doesn’t work.

Google Chrome has more extensive add-on libraries than any other web browser. Furthermore, Chrome is highly integrated into traditional Google services, the Google search engine as well as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Translate. In Google Chrome, you can set up multiple user profiles, for example for work and personal life.

If you use Chrome on a mobile device, you can save web pages to read later (and offline) on another device. In Chrome, you can run a Google image search by right-clicking any image. As of Version 74, Chrome also offers a dark mode to reduce eye strain in low light.

Security

Both Firefox and Chrome are safe browsers.

Firefox blocks pop-ups by default, but not ads. However, you can install add-ons to integrate advanced ad blockers or pop-up blockers. Like Google Chrome, Firefox automatically checks a Google database of malicious websites to protect users from fraud, spam or malware. In Firefox, you can use a master password to protect all website passwords saved in the browser.

Like Firefox, Google Chrome does not allow pop-ups and offers ad blocker extensions. However, as the developer of the browser, Google lives on advertising, and consumer advocates fear that Google will sooner or later limit the ability to hide advertising. In Chrome, saved website passwords are protected by your device credentials.

Both Google and Mozilla constantly update their browsers to fix vulnerabilities. Furthermore, Both Chrome and Firefox warn users before opening websites that do not transfer data over HTTPS, meaning pages that are not SSL/TLS-encrypted.

Privacy

When it comes to privacy, many users place greater trust in the Mozilla Foundation, the developer of Firefox. The non-profit foundation does not generate any income from advertising or by collecting or selling data. Furthermore, Firefox offers excellent options for controlling or preventing tracking by websites or social networks.

Google, the developer of the Chrome web browser, makes most of its money through advertising and the use of large amounts of data. Many services that are enabled by default in Chrome, such as autocomplete suggestions for URLs and searches, collect data when you use them. Google Chrome’s privacy policy is long and complicated, giving users little control over their privacy wishes. However, Google Chrome does offer many settings for trackers, data collection and cookies, allowing experienced users to decide how their data is used.

Both browsers offer a mode designed to leave no trace of browsing activity on the device. This mode is called Incognito mode in the Google Chrome browser and Private browsing in Firefox.

Performance

Firefox is considered one of the fastest web browsers for both desktop and mobile devices. Firefox’s memory usage depends on the number of open tabs. On mobile devices, you have the option of disabling images on websites. This allows you to save bandwidth and reduce cellular charges or data usage. In addition, Firefox offers download, video and hardware acceleration options that are designed to optimise performance. Google Chrome is also very fast, but it uses more memory and doesn’t offer any special options for saving bandwidth on mobile devices.

Stability

Both Firefox and Google Chrome treat individual tabs with open web pages as separate processes that do not affect each other. For this purpose, the individual pages are ‘sandboxed’. Even if one tab with an open website crashes, the other tabs won’t be affected. Both browsers use an internal task manager that allows you to close any tab if necessary.

Usability

Both web browsers organise open web pages using tabs, which allow you to open as many websites as you want at the same time. When you do this in Chrome, the tabs get smaller and smaller, while Firefox keeps a minimum size for the tab and scrolls horizontally as the number of open tabs increases. This means that part of the website’s title is always visible in Firefox, whereas in Chrome, you have to look at the icon (‘favicon’) to recognise the website. The tiny tabs in Chrome can cause you to accidentally close a tab by double-clicking it.

Both Google Chrome and Firefox offer various options for personalising the browser’s interface using add-ons such as Themes. By default, the browser’s address bar doubles as a search bar, and you can change the default search engine. Frequently visited websites are clearly displayed on a homepage for easy access.

Google Chrome’s dominant market share means that practically every website is optimised for Chrome, while not every developer bothers to optimise pages for Firefox. This means that a small number of websites may not be perfectly displayed in Firefox.

Both browsers allow you to block or mute open tabs. You can sync websites and other settings across multiple devices in both Firefox and Google Chrome. Both browsers have an autocomplete feature for filling out forms.

Chrome vs. Firefox: Pros and cons

  Mozilla Firefox Google Chrome
License Freely available under MPL 2.0 Freely available under Chrome Terms of Service
Publication 2002 2008
Open source Yes No (only the Chromium platform is open source)
Developed by Mozilla Foundation and open source community Google Inc. and the open source community for Chromium
Default search engine Google Google
Operating systems Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Unix, FreeBSD;several ‘unofficial’ ports for other operating systems Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux x64, Android, iOS, iPadOS, Google Chrome OS
Automatic security updates Yes Yes
Supported media codecs WebM, Ogg Theora Vorbis, Ogg Opus, MPEG H.264 (AAC or MP3), WAVE PCM Vorbis, WebM, Theora, AAC, MP3, H.264
PDF viewer Yes (without plug-in, many features) Built-in plug-in with a limited range of functions, can be disabled
Address bar with search function (omnibox) Yes Yes
Screenshot feature Integrated, with ability to select part of page Via extensions
Reader view Yes No
QR code reader Yes No
Night mode/dark mode Yes Yes (version 74 and higher)
Integrations Via extensions Gmail, Google Docs, Google Translate, Google Image Search, more via extensions
Popup blocker Integrated Integrated
Ad blocker Via add-ons Via extensions; may be limited in the future
Protection from malicious websites Via Google database Via Google database
Password management Via master password Via device authentication
Warning about unencrypted pages (HTTP) Yes Yes
Private browsing Private browsing mode Incognito window
Tabs Yes Yes
Tab groups Yes No
Sandboxed tabs Yes Yes
Tab display Horizontal scrolling with favicon Favicon
Cross-device synchronisation Yes Yes
Autocomplete for forms Yes Yes
Summary

If you’re set on using the leading web browser, Google Chrome is the clear choice. If you prefer to place your trust in open source features and you mistrust Google’s monopoly, Mozilla Firefox is an excellent alternative. Neither of the two browsers is necessarily better. Professionals often install and use both.


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