The hunt

The Browser Hunt

It’s a smokey summer Sunday afternoon and I am stuck inside thanks to allergic asthma. This tends to mean surfing Facebook, reading the news, looking at emails, etc. All these activities involve the use of a browser.

Surfing on your phoneNow I’m not the type to sit there surfing on my phone. Heck I even find surfing on my 7″ Blackberry Playbook to be a bit cramped, although not as cramped or as limiting as the way sites display on a phone. I thoroughly fail to see why anyone wants to handicap themselves so badly by doing all their surfing on a phone’s interface! Most mobile websites are dumbed down and some have less than half the functionality you’ll find on the desktop version of the same site. Facebook is one such example. I’ve lost count how many times people have said they can’t do something, I explain how to do it, then they come back saying they are trying to do the task on their phone and the functionality simply isn’t there. So I sit here at my desktop.

This desktop computer illustrates a statement my clients will occasionally hear from me, “I drive beaters and fix Cadillacs”. This machine was at the top of it’s game 12 years ago, and still has specs that rival standard office-level laptops. However, while I’ve babied it over the years and ensured it works as best as it can with aging hardware, it has begun showing it’s age over the past year or so. I’ve installed a dual-boot to Win8.1 and XP SP3, the OS it came shipped with. Because some of the software I need has ported to win8.1 and drawn the line in the sand, I am using XP less and less, sad to say, as I really like that particular OS. So here I am on a 12yr old PC running win8.1. I’ve had to change the video-editing software I use, and I’ve found myself on the hunt for browsers that don’t bog down the system.

browser iconsModern browsers seem built to assume that you have no less than 8gb of RAM and searches online about reducing tab memory size bring up results of people asking how to increase tab RAM instead! My legacy ways clearly continue!

I found that Opera’s latest version, built on the Chromium engine is faster than it used to be several years ago when I had to switch to Firefox. Firefox has become a major resource hog even with Quantum coming out this past fall. I’ve gotten used to have Windows Task Manager open to the Details tab and sorted for RAM usage so that I can periodically kill any browser tab going over 300mb in size. My entire computer will bog right down when Firefox starts using over 1gb of RAM all by itself.

brave browserMy quest for a better browser briefly took me to Brave, which is great for average every-day surfing, but horrible for earning BTC for free. Earning BTC for free requires viewing ads or ad-type websites. Brave isn’t the best browser for that type of surfing, nor does it update its tabs very well to allow for things like leaving an email tab open or other timed tabs. I understand it is a work in progress, so who knows, the timed tab problem may go away. But my search continued. For awhile the choices weren’t very good and I resigned myself to constantly checking the Windows Task Manager Details tab.

This weekend, I ran across another browser that I’ve been testing for the better part of 24hrs now, and so far I am liking what I see. As it is built on the Chromium engine, it showed me one feature I had not previously been aware of for Chrome-based browsers – The Task Manager. This window shows you all the tabs and plugins installed, how much RAM, CPU, etc they are using, and lets you crash each tab’s process if necessary. It’s like a browser version of Windows Task Manager! Opera definitely has this tool, although it is hidden under “Developer Tools” which will cause people who are not developmentally-minded to skip over. But in this new browser, it is under “More Tools”, a much less daunting menu title.

The second thing I ran across in this new browser, is it’s use of cache and how it appears to keep a tighter handle on the resources each tab uses. The browser developers claim this browser has a very light footprint and that it will run far more quickly than other major browsers. So far in my usage over the past almost 24hrs, I have to agree. In fact, the browser’s tight grip on it’s cache actually causes trouble loading large sites such as Facebook, because such sites can’t simply dump their preloads onto the PC and expect the browser to manage it. Last night it took quite a while to get Facebook loaded the first time, and the lower left message kept flashing up “waiting for cache”. However, once FB loaded, browsing was fine. I added a plugin for preventing video autoplay, a bookmark sidebar extension, and found that the only time the browser really would bog down or pause loading anything, was when I had been surfing FB for a long time.

The third thing that amazed me about the speed of this browser and how well it played with other open browsers and other open programs, is the fact that this browser has a built-in crypto-miner. The company used to have an extension but they don’t support that anymore. On top of that, their extension would bog down my computer badly even if set to 1/3 power. In fact, even standalone crypto-miners would bog down this aging machine. The browser company offered mining at up to 8 times the speed of other miners. When I read this, I was immediately skeptical, because of past slowdowns attempting light-weight crypto-mining. I installed this browser to test that feature as well, and to my amazement, that tab of the browser is hardly noticeable even when set to max power! It doesn’t bog down my computer or browsing!

This browser let me go into bookmarks manager to import from other browsers, so I had it import all my firefox bookmarks, settings, passwords, etc. I think I’ve found the browser I’m going to stick with. I’ve now had this browser open all day since just after 9am (it’s 8:21pm as I wrap this up), I’ve only killed the FB tab at just over 300 mb RAM usage, twice. The second time was as I wrote this article.

By now you’re probably wishing I’d given the name of this new browser. This brand new browser that works better on my 12yr old system than any of the big competitors so far, and that even mines crypto without bogging down the system, is called:

cryptotab browserUse the above link if you want to try it out for yourself. Use your google acct to log in so that you have access to the Google Play store to add your favourite extensions to CryptoBrowser, because remember, it is built on the Chromium engine and fully compatible with Chrome extensions.

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