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Right now your using a web browser to view this webpage, there are many different web browsers and all do the same basic function (display web pages) but some web browsers can be much better than others, Internet Explorer is the default browser built into Windows (Firefox in Linux and Safari in OS-X), A lot of people dont realise that they can choose their own browser and tend to stick with Internet Explorer.


Why choose another browser?
Functionality and Speed, some browsers have way much more functionality than others, infact, Internet Explorer has the least amount of extra 'Add-On' functionality of all the browsers. Some browsers are quicker than others at downloading and rendering web-pages, some browsers use technology's like Pipe-Lining, Pre-Loading, DNS Prefetching, Ad-Blocking and have faster Javascript engines, this can make quite a difference between browsers, although to date a 'Browser War' has started with each software company trying to out-do each other which has resulted in the slower browsers becoming faster.


What are these Extensions?

Browser Extensions/Add-on's allow users to install plug-ins to give the browser extra functionality, for example I use Adblock Plus (which is the most popular add-on) which removes annoying adverts from within web-pages, it can also prevent the downloading of the adverts which also speeds up the page load time (although the 'blocking of advert downloads' only works in Firefox version and on some web pages in Chrome). There are millions of Extensions/Add-Ons for web browsers, Firefox has the biggest Add-on database as it was the browser that introduced add-on capabilitys, other capabilitys are Themes where you can change the look and feel of your web browser.


Which of the Web Browsers is the fastest?

At this moment in time (August 2011) all of the browsers are in pretty good standing when it comes to speed, as Internet Explorer and Firefox have picked up with new versions that have shown to be almost as fast as the quicker browsers like Chrome and Opera, but tests on all of the latest versions to date show that Chrome still takes the lead but only just, hot on its heels is Opera with Firefox and Internet Explorer not far behind. Its all good and well going off benchmark statistics but you will find that in practice all browsers are pretty much fast enough.


So which Web Browser should I use?

My recommendation right now would be to use Chrome, if not that then Firefox, these Browsers are quick and have great extension capability (especially Firefox), there is also Opera but it's extensions are really very limited and there are only a handfull of them at this moment, on that basis I would not recommend it while better choices exist.


Do you recommend any Extensions for my new Browser?
Yes, below the browser download section is a list of very usefull extensions, but apart from that you may want to visit the extension library for your particular browser, its as simple as installing your new browser then perusing the extension library website (in your new browser) and choosing 'Install' for any add-ons you may like to try out.


Browser Downloads & Extensions:
Downloads - - - Extension Librarys

Google Chrome - - Extension Library
Mozilla Firefox - - Extension Library
Opera Software Opera - - Extension Library
Apple Safari - - Extension Library
Microsoft Internet Explorer - - Extension Library

Recommended Extensions/Add-Ons:
1. Adblock Plus - This is the most popular add-on too date, it removes adverts from web-pages and can sometimes close up the gap that removing the advert leaves behind but this depends on the page layout, it also free's up resources on your computer when removing many flash banners and can help speed up page loading times by blocking the actual download of adverts (Firefox only, Chrome blocks download of ad's on some pages but removes them none-the-less) - Note: Opera and Safari uses Adblock which is a different project to Adblock Plus and Internet Explorer uses AdblockIE (which is a Browser Helper Object and not a proper extension) which again is un-related.
Download -> Chrome - Firefox - Opera - Safari - Internet Explorer

2. W.O.T (Web Of Trust) - This extensions adds another layer of Security to your Web Browser, it does this by grading web pages safe or un-safe to use, links in search results will have ratings (green, orange or red circles) which tells you if the website is safe to visit, you can click on the rating to read more about it, W.O.T works by gathering ratings from millions of other users who have had good or bad experiences with the websites. It will alert you if you visit a web-page thats known to be bad with Spyware or Viruses etc. before you actually get to the page and give you the choice to continue or not. - Note: this extension will probably ask you too sign up to their service after install, this is optional and allows you to rate sites and leave comments about it, if you dont wish to do this just click cancel or close the window, the add-on will still be installed and working.
Download
-> Chrome - Firefox - Opera - Safari - Internet Explorer

3. Thumbnail Zoom - This popular extension is great for viewing photos without having to click on the thumbnails, this is usefull because in most scenarios clicking a thumbnail usually takes you to another page with the photo on meaning you have to click 'back' to get to the list of photos again, this results in lots of too-ing and fro-ing between pages to view photos, with this extension you can just hover your mouse over the Thumbnails (small photos) and it will fetch the full size photo for you and display it next to your mouse pointer (its particular handy on Facebook).
Download -> Chrome - Firefox - Opera - Safari

4. Mouse Gestures - Sick of repeatedly going up to the top left of your browser to flick back or forward through web-pages? well with this handy add-on you can use the mouse to send commands to the browser such as 'Back' , 'Forward' , 'Open New Tab' , 'Home' and much more simply by holding down mouse button and drawing a line or shape, for example simply holding the mouse button and moving left (then letting go) would tell browser to go 'Back' one page, very handy tool to use to speed up your browsing, once you have used it you cant live without it, it also draws the gesture on screen as you do it so you can see which may help for more complicated gestures, most people tend to use it just for back & forwards (left & right).
Download -> Chrome - Firefox - Opera - Safari - Internet Explorer

5. Reminders - If you spend a huge amount of time on your PC then you might find this next add-on quite usefull, you can use it too set yourself reminders on a schedule so you can be sure you will not lose track of time and end up missing any appointments or forget any Birthdays.
Download -> Chrome - Firefox

 

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