The Best Browsers for Windows: Popular Isn’t Always Better (2024 Update)

Posted on Jul 10, 2023 by Julia Olech

If we were to wager a guess, you’re reading this article through Google Chrome with about 17 other tabs open. Your computer or phone is most likely begging you for mercy, overheating more than global warming heats up the Earth. It’s a good guess — according to StatCounter, Chrome holds over 62.85% of the browser market share, making it the most popular option not just for Windows, but all devices.

Popular doesn’t always mean better, though. Chrome might be easy to use and make your life simpler, but it lacks in areas like privacy protection, areas where other browsers exceed. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best browsers for Windows to help you make an informed decision about which option is best for you. 

What Are the Most Used Browsers on Windows 10 & 11?

According to Statista, Google Chrome is the most popular browser with over 3.2 billion users worldwide in 2021. Its popularity is in part due to its simple interface, lightning-fast loading speeds, and… it being already there when you buy an Android phone. Chrome also seamlessly syncs data across all of your devices, so you can work and browse whether you’re at home or on the go.

Microsoft Edge is also among the most popular Windows browsers, but StatCounter revealed its market share stands at just under 10% — a tiny fraction compared to Chrome’s 62%. That said, it’s an easy choice for many as it’s pre-installed on every Windows PC. Edge also matches and even outperforms Chrome when it comes to speed, usability, and privacy. However, due to Internet Explorer’s bad reputation and shocking performance, people don’t consider it a worthy option and mostly use it to download their favorite browser.

Then, we have Firefox, AKA the forgotten browser, despite being considered one of the most privacy-conscious options. Why? Because in the Chrome vs Firefox debate, Mozilla’s privacy and security features often get overlooked in favor of performance, user-friendliness, and intense marketing. As you might have guessed, it’s not pre-installed on all Android devices. However, Firefox’s outstanding internet security pushes it up in the race for the most popular Windows browser.

Best Browsers for Windows, Ranked

Quick Guide: Best Browsers for Windows in 2024

  1. The Onion Router (Tor) — Encrypted connections for enhanced privacy and security, but can heavily slow down your speeds.
  2. Mozilla Firefox — Fully transparent and privacy-focused, but doesn’t support HDR streaming.
  3. Brave — Uses ad, tracker, and malware blockers to keep you safe, but can be tricky to update.
  4. Epic Privacy Browser — Makes privacy a right not an option with solid built-in security settings, but doesn’t allow browser add-ons.
  5. Opera — Quick and easy access to your favorite websites with Speed Dial, but offers a limited extension library.
  6. Opera GX — Lets you adjust RAM and CPU usage to allow for smooth gaming, but can be visually overstimulating.
  7. Microsoft Edge — Works and looks similar to Google Chrome with full support for your favorite add-ons, but doesn’t work with older systems.
  8. Vivaldi — One of the most customizable and user-friendly browsers, but you have to register and provide your personal details to use it.
  9. Ungoogled Chromium — Stripped-down version of Google Chrome for increased privacy, but requires daily manual updates.
  10. Google Chrome — Seamless sync between all your accounts and devices, but comes with serious privacy concerns.

#1 The Onion Router (Tor)

😀 PIA privacy rating 10/10
Pros Cons
  • Encrypts your connection

  • Perfect for increasing your internet privacy

  • Identity Button wipes your browsing history

  • Customizable level of protection
  • Heavily slows down your speeds

  • Often blocked by streaming and torrenting websites

  • Traffic still visible at final destination

  • Though it’s known for being used for the Dark Web, Tor is a top choice for private browsing on the surface web as well. Utilizing the Onion Routing technique, the browser moves your traffic through an intricate network of nodes. The process encrypts your connection, making it almost impossible for anyone to trace or monitor your digital footprint. You also get a temporary IP address, so your real location doesn’t leak to the wide web.

    Since Google isn’t the most secure search engine, Tor uses DuckDuckGo to keep your searches private. The engine doesn’t log or store your data and it stops targeted ads. This often leads to more accurate search results since they’re not influenced by paying advertisers. Tor’s Identity Button feature also wipes your browsing history every time you end your session. 

    You can fine-tune the balance between privacy and functionality using Tor’s Security Slider. Simply slide to the desired security level (Standard, Safer, Safest) to enable or disable JavaScript and other features associated with potential vulnerabilities.

    Keep in mind Tor doesn’t guarantee complete anonymity, and your traffic is still visible at the exit node. Tor has incredibly slow browsing speeds, which is great if you want to reminisce about the days of dial-up internet. This makes streaming and torrenting almost impossible — especially since many websites can sometimes detect Tor and block it altogether. 

    #2 Mozilla Firefox

    😀 PIA privacy rating: 9.5/10
    Pros Cons
  • Large selection of add-ons

  • Fast and smooth browsing

  • Open-source code for 100% transparency

  • Abundance of privacy-focused features and settings
  • No HDR streaming support

  • Occasional site compatibility issues

  • Firefox stands out among the competition due to its commitment to privacy, speed, and customization. It emphasizes your internet security with robust encryption, an ad blocker, and a promise not to sell your data to third parties. Firefox is based on a fully open-source code, making its software completely transparent — something many browsers lack. 

    How can it maintain such a tight privacy promise? Mozilla is a not-for-profit company, so it doesn’t want to make money using your data. It was created with internet security in mind, which is why it comes with a range of handy privacy tools, like sandboxing, enhanced tracking protection, and a Facebook Container extension. This stops Facebook tracking your activity while you’re using the app.

    It’s also a great option if you frequently switch devices. You can use Firefox Sync to take your settings, extensions, and bookmarks on any device.

    Mozilla’s newest addition, Firefox Monitor, continually scans for signs of your email and passwords in data breaches and lets you know if you need to update any of them. This warning feature extends to website tracking as Firefox notifies you if a platform you’re on tries to extract your information.

    Firefox is also one of the fastest, most customizable browsers. It boasts a huge library of extensions which you can use to improve your productivity or just make your browser look cool. That said, Firefox can sometimes be RAM-heavy, especially if you have a lot of tabs open. It also doesn’t support HDR streaming.

    #3 Brave

    😀 PIA privacy rating: 9/10
    Pros Cons
  • Customizable browser add-ons

  • Built-in protection from ads, trackers, and malware

  • Brave Talk — a built-in video call software

  • Comes with a built-in VPN, but you have to pay for it
  • Not easy to update

  • Some features are still in beta

  • With a focus on privacy, speeds, and user control, Brave is a refreshing browser alternative. The browser blocks ads and trackers by default, speeding up site loading times. It offers automatic HTTPS upgrades and even has a built-in Tor option you can enable for private tabs.  

    Brave utilizes its own search engine — Brave Search. Though it’s still fairly new, the feature uses proprietary search algorithms, free from bias and advertiser influence. Each result is ranked based on how relevant it is to what you’re looking for. Brave Search also doesn’t track or collect your search data, making it more privacy-conscious than other engines. 

    Brave isn’t just a digital fortress. Its clean interface much resembles Chrome, making it easy to navigate. It uses a Brave Rewards system, letting you opt-in to view ads and earn Basic Attention Tokens (BATs) which you can spend to contribute to your favorite websites and content creators. 
    As Brave is a fairly new browser, some of its features (like Tor-based private tabs) are still in beta. This means they’re not yet finished and may not work as intended. Luckily, it’s only temporary and you’ll receive a full version as the browser receives new updates.

    #4 Epic Privacy Browser

    😀 PIA privacy rating: 9/10
    Pros Cons
  • Constantly works in a private mode

  • Protection against tracking, fingerprinting, and data leaks

  • Built-in proxy with servers in 8 locations

  • Wipes all browsing data when you close it
  • Doesn’t allow add-ons

  • Not compatible with password managers

  • When it comes to private browsing, Epic makes no concessions. It gives you all the privacy features you can think of, plus some more. One click connects you to a secure proxy, hides your IP address, and encrypts your browsing activity. Add “Do Not Track” requests, regular history wiping, and DuckDuckGo as the default search engine, and you get impressive protection for everything you do online.

    In fact, Epic lets you stay one step ahead of anyone trying to spy on you. You can check exactly who’s trying to monitor your activity and what trackers Epic blocks every time you use it. This means no fingerprinting or data collection, just a clear view of nasty internet spies you can show your tongue to.

    In other words, Epic’s security likely rivals Tor’s, but you get much better speeds. The lack of tracking and ads frees up a good chunk of your bandwidth, so Epic loads websites faster than many other browsers. 

    Annoyingly, it doesn’t allow add-ons to protect you from malicious extensions common in browser libraries. This means you don’t get to use an external password manager, discount code finder, custom theme, or dozens of other handy features.

    #5 Opera

    🙂 PIA privacy rating: 7.5/10
    Pros Cons
  • A built-in VPN and blocker for ads, crypto-mining scripts, and trackers

  • Doesn’t use code specific to Google’s services, improving privacy

  • Battery-saving mode

  • Privacy tabs, which operate like incognito windows
  • Removed Opera Turbo

  • Can be slow compared to other browsers

  • Having undergone a redesign, Opera is rising like a phoenix from browser ashes with an all-in-one service. Its new sleek minimalistic design gives it a sophisticated feel and saves you from sensory overload. Opera also features built-in integration with popular apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, and supports all Chrome add-ons

    Opera doesn’t skimp out on privacy either. Site-specific permissions let you adjust security settings on a site-by-site basis. Its built-in VPN masks your IP address and activity, while the browser blocks ads, trackers, analytics scripts, and much more. Opera also includes a DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH), which encrypts all of your DNS queries. This makes it more challenging for third parties to monitor and tamper with your traffic.

    You don’t have to start a new browsing session on different devices. Opera Flow syncs your accounts and shares data between its mobile and desktop apps. It’s a must if you work on multiple devices as you won’t lose your research, bookmarks, or calendar invites.

    Sadly, Opera removed the Turbo feature, which compressed images and other data-heavy website components to load pages much faster. However, you can rest assured your laptop won’t die with Opera’s battery-saving mode, making slow downloads more bearable. 

    #6 Opera GX

    🙂 PIA privacy rating: 7.5/10
    Pros Cons
  • A built-in VPN

  • Easy sync between the desktop and mobile version

  • Twitch and Discord integration

  • Offers free games with GX Corner
  • Due to their volume, some features can be difficult to find

  • The aesthetic can be overstimulating

  • It’s not an editing error — Opera’s so good it earned two spots on the list. Developed with Windows gamers in mind, Opera GX saves your computer’s resources as you can adjust its RAM, CPU, and network bandwidth usage. The lower you go, the better your AAA games run since they get to use more of your PC power.

    In terms of security, Opera GX matches the mainstream Opera browser. You get a built-in VPN, tracker and ad blocker, enhanced DNS protection, and anti-crypto mining. These work to lower your ping, decrease lag, avoid in-game hackers, and improve your gaming sessions.

    The browser’s main page displays the latest gaming news. You can add a calendar, which automatically updates with game release dates for platforms of your choice. Need to keep up with a gameplay walkthrough in Runescape? Not a problem either. Opera GX offers a video pop-up, letting you watch YouTube as you play.

    The interface, as befits a gaming product, consists of neon colors and a non-stop electronic soundtrack. You have a choice of various themes to turn the browser into a game-like Matrix experience. Be aware if you get easily overstimulated though — it could turn browsing into a migraine.

    #7 Microsoft Edge

    🙂 PIA privacy rating: 7.5/10
    Pros Cons
  • Fully customizable start page

  • Allows for grouping your bookmarks into categories

  • Supports all Google Chrome add-ons

  • Uses less resources than Chrome
  • Will keep asking to make it a default browser

  • Won’t work on an older system and requires at least 1 GHz of CPU processing

  • Microsoft Edge is a mighty successor to Internet Explorer, built into every Windows device. The browser seamlessly integrates with the system and all Windows services. Its interface is simple and clean, so you won’t have problems navigating it. You won’t experience compatibility issues either as Edge is based on the same code used by Chrome.

    Security is also on par with top rivals. Edge doesn’t use FLOC — software which tracks your ads even when you disable cookies. SmartScreen shields you against cyber threats, while Password Monitor constantly runs your passkeys against data breaches. If any combination becomes compromised, Edge immediately alerts you and suggests changing vulnerable passwords.

    The Windows browser also comes with a Microsoft Defender Application Guard. The advanced feature offers extra protection against malware as it identifies and sandboxes potential malicious websites. This stops them from infecting your whole PC, so you don’t have to worry about ransomware, spyware, or other digital threats.

    Edge implements various innovative features. Collections make organizing research easy, Immersive Reader enhances readability, and Vertical Tabs help keep your browsing organized. However, it will keep asking you to make it your default browsing option. It’s admirable, but screams attachment issues. 

    #8 Vivaldi

    😐 PIA privacy rating: 7/10
    Pros Cons
  • Unusually high level of customization

  • Excellent tab management system

  • Built-in ad blocker

  • Mouse commands and shortcuts for efficient web navigation
  • No syncing between desktop and mobile versions

  • Requires you to register with full name, email address, and birthday

  • Vivaldi prides itself on extensive customization. Whether it’s navigation settings, color schemes, background images, or renowned tab management, you can spend hours tinkering with each option. In addition to standard bookmarks, Vivaldi has a notepad, so you can keep your thoughts in one place. You also get the option to nickname your tabs and search engines.

    It gets better. Vivaldi generates a graph based on your browsing history, so you can see where you spend most of your time. This can either be a blessing or a curse, depending on how much you procrastinate. 

    Vivaldi also values your privacy. You can browse the web knowing your PC is free from trackers and intrusive ads, plus control website permissions and decide how platforms handle your data. Turning off autofill and search suggestions helps limit just how much data Vivaldi can collect and store, too.

    Depending on how you customize it, Vivaldi can be a breeze to use. Its innovative tab management lets you group certain tabs together, making it easier to find what you’re looking for. You can also enable Quick Commands to access various features using keyboard shortcuts.

    #9 Ungoogled Chromium

    😐 PIA privacy rating: 6.5/10
    Pros Cons
  • Reduces “phoning home” instances, so it doesn’t send your data to Google

  • Offers the same speed as traditional Chrome

  • Doesn’t use integrated web services

  • Resistant to browser fingerprinting
  • Crashes more often than Chrome

  • Needs manual updates

  • Geared towards advanced tech users

  • Ungoogled Chromium is a simplified, stripped-down version of Chrome, one that doesn’t come with data tracking and privacy concerns. In fact, Chromium makes its privacy pledge from the get-go as it enables all security and privacy settings by default. Cross-site trackers, cookies, malicious ads, and unsolicited site permissions have no place here.

    The browser shares the same engine with Chrome, but their similarities end there. You won’t find Google-specific features, and it frees Chromium from “phoning home”. This simply means it doesn’t send your data to Google, keeping you safe from any third parties the tech giant works with. 

    Since Chromium is a community-driven project, it uses open-source software offering full transparency. You can easily inspect the code and modify it, and even spot security vulnerabilities if you’ve got what it takes. This also allows developers to release daily security updates, which is great for your privacy.

    Ungoogled Chromium offers the same speeds and website compatibility as Chrome, so you’re not missing out. Though it requires manual updating, this can increase your security as you aren’t subjected to unknown vulnerabilities. However, Ungoogled Chromium can be a bit techy to use, so if you’re not great with technology, you may struggle at first. 

    #10 Google Chrome

    😐 PIA privacy rating: 6/10
    Pros Cons
  • Very fast website loading

  • Seamless synchronization across all

  • An extensive add-on library

  • Built-in password manager
  • Very resource-hungry

  • No tracking protection or ad-blocker

  • No CNAME uncloaking

  • Little to no control over website permissions

  • Shares personal data with third parties

  • While Google doesn’t offer special features, Chrome is fast and easy to use on every device. Due to its popularity, most websites cater their code to Chromium to ensure full compatibility. This means almost all websites you visit work best on Chrome, and may look odd in other browsers.

    Chrome’s malware detection blocks phishing and malware attacks in real time. The browser runs security checks on websites you visit and warns you if you’re about to use a dodgy platform. You can manually adjust multiple privacy settings, including cookie management, and control site-specific access to your camera, microphone, and location.

    Unfortunately, the browser is tied to Google’s ecosystem, so it shares your data with Google and third parties. It’s not just basic details either. Chrome logs your location, browsing history, product interaction, and activity patterns, to name a few. Google may soon prevent ad blockers from working on Chrome. This creates a whole plethora of new issues and exposes you to more data infiltration. 

    If you use Chrome on mobile devices, expect serious overheating issues since the browser loves to overload your RAM. It’s great if you want to save on central heating, but it might hinder your productivity and device’s longevity.

    What Is the Most Private Browser for Windows?

    Speaking strictly from a privacy standpoint, Tor is the most secure browser. It’s designed to maintain your anonymity by obscuring your browsing activity. It bounces your connection through network relays and hides what you do online. It also doesn’t store your data and doesn’t work with third parties. 

    Tor’s security comes at a high cost of speed as the browser is often extremely slow. This makes it a no-go for streaming, torrenting, and even for watching videos on YouTube. We recommend it only for basic browsing — unless you’ve got the patience of a saint.

    If you don’t want to give up on fast internet connections, and still want privacy, Firefox has the best browser for Windows. Its Enhanced Tracking Protection (or ETP) blocks over 2,000 trackers on social platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Firefox also comes with an ad blocker to stop malicious pop-ups in their tracks and can delete your history and cookies when you’re done browsing.

    However, since few browsers encrypt your traffic, we recommend you combine Firefox with a reliable VPN to improve your online privacy. PIA comes with military-grade encryption, a robust Kill Switch, leak protection, and a very strict No Logs policy

    Pick the Best Browser for Your Windows PC

    It can be difficult to figure out which browser for Windows is actually the best. From Firefox and Opera to Epic and Ungoogled Chromium, every browser has unique features depending on its priorities. These can range from ultra-fast speeds or a wide choice of extensions to unbeatable security and privacy. Our list includes a round-up of options offering the best balance of it all, so you can easily find something to suit your needs.

    Even the most secure browsers can be intercepted by third parties, so connect to PIA to keep your traffic hidden from malicious actors. And you get to try it risk-free as every subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


    What’s the best browser to use for Windows?

    Mozilla Firefox is the best browser for Windows as it helps you stay anonymous online, offers fast speeds, and is easy to use. Its open-source transparency makes it the most trustworthy since you can check exactly what’s going on behind the scenes. Firefox is also a non-profit browser, which means it’s not interested in selling your data to earn its keep.

    Firefox offers efficient memory management and the option to disable JavaScript, increasing site responsiveness and page rendering speed. You also get a huge choice of extensions to customize your browsing.

    Which is the best browser to use with Windows 10?

    Though it depends on your personal preferences, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, and Google Chrome are some of the best browsers for Windows 10. All offer the best speeds and unique features, such as integration with Google/Microsoft services or a built-in VPN service. With the exception of Chrome, all these browsers also heavily focus on your privacy and security.

    What is the #1 best browser?

    Based on market shares, Google Chrome is the most popular browser — but it doesn’t mean it’s the best as this depends on your needs and preferences. Take a look at our best browser recommendations and see if you can find something to suit you better.

    Regardless of which browser you choose, use PIA VPN to improve your online privacy. We have apps for all major operating systems, including Windows, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

    What is a better browser than Chrome?

    Any browser on the list can be better than Chrome — it depends on what’s important to you. If you want more privacy and security, Firefox, Brave, and Epic are solid options with built-in ad blockers or VPN encryption

    Edge and Ungoogled Chromium use the same code as Chrome, so they’re easy to navigate and offer fast speeds. Opera GX is made specifically for gamers and lets you adjust CPU and RAM usage.