Why It’s Time To Ditch Google Chrome

Fifteen years ago, the uselessness of Microsoft Internet Explorer was a running joke on the internet. Everybody other than total IT novices knew that it was full of holes. Everybody also knew that IE was the most likely browser to become targeted by hackers because it was the world's most-used browser. The message that IE should be abandoned eventually filtered down from the most computer-literate web users to those at the other end of the ladder and the world gave it up as "a bad thing." Microsoft eventually followed suit, at first pushing Edge as an 'alternative' to Internet Explorer, and then finally ending all support for IE 11. Shockingly, that abandonment didn’t come until August 2020.

We have grave concerns about anyone who was still using it to get online by then.

For a short while, after IE started down the path to terminal decline, Mozilla Firefox was the most popular alternative browser. No sooner had we become accustomed to using that, though, Google came forward with Chrome. After that, a revolution seemed to happen overnight. Everybody wanted to use Chrome, and Firefox was left clinging on to a tiny segment of the browser market. Even Microsoft Edge couldn't compete with the ubiquity of Chrome. Google had won the browser wars, and the game was over - or at least that's what everybody thought.

Here we are in late 2020, and people’s feelings toward Chrome are changing. It’s no longer the new kid on the block, and it’s starting to look its age. It’s become what Internet Explorer used to be - too big for its boots, too popular, and too easy a target. Respected tech professionals have started to tell us that Chrome is no longer the best choice for casual browsing, and we’re inclined to agree. Here’s why.

Poor Ad Blocking

There's a conflict of interest here for Google. The company is sustained by advertising revenue, so making it difficult for adverts to appear in the company's own browser would be akin to shooting oneself in the foot. If you're using Chrome to browse the internet without a handy plug-in like AdBlock switched on, you probably still live in an early-2000s world of pop-ups and flashing banners. Google doesn't want you to block ads because you're harming their business model when you do.

Even when you do have AdBlock switched on, there's a limit to how effective it is. There are certain types of advert that Google simply won't allow you to block. You can't navigate your way around the web ad-free with Chrome. You'll need Vivaldi or Opera for that.

Chewing Through Memory

Is your reasonably-new laptop running slowly even though you only have a couple of programs open? Is it difficult to open more than a few windows simultaneously? Don’t pick up the phone and call a technician. There’s almost certainly nothing wrong with your machine. It’s far more likely that Chrome is eating far more of your system memory than it has any right to.

Google is entirely aware of this problem, and yet it does nothing about it. Microsoft tried to get a handle on it for them by introducing a new RAM-saving feature targeted specifically at Chrome's excesses. Google responded by switching it off and putting the decision down to 'performance issues.' The company promises that it's currently experimenting with fixes, but frankly, that's not good enough. There's no reason for Chrome to take up so much memory or drain so much of your battery. To be honest, we don't even know what it's doing with all that memory, and it makes us a little suspicious.

Bad Plug-In Support

We get that not all plug-ins are helpful, and nor should they be. We'd still like some say in whether we run them or not, though, and Google doesn't allow us to have it. Consider Flash, for example. Flash is a dying format and will soon become a thing of the past. Flash, however, used to be the way online games were coded. If you remember NewGround, you remember using Flash. If you were around to play the first generation of online slots, you were probably using Flash then, too. Times have moved on since then. The online slots websites of today are coded using HTML5, and that's the right way to make websites. That doesn't make it right to cut everyone else out of the deal, though. If we happened to come across a vintage online slots website and got an urge to play money casino, we'd like to have the freedom to do so.

There’s no way to turn Flash on within Google Chrome, and there’s no way to manually override the security settings on several other extensions or features either. Edge still allows you to do that if you want, as does Firefox. It almost feels like Chrome doesn’t trust us, and that’s too big a say for a browser to have.

Hunger For Data

Google, as we alluded to earlier, is an advertising company masquerading as a search engine. Google wants your data so it can make money out of it. Every time you use Chrome, you’re feeding them that data. Unless you’ve switched several options off in the settings of your browser, it’s probably collecting far more data than you’re aware of.

Even if you have turned off everything that you ought to have turned off, Google is still sucking down a lot of raw information with minimal justification. If you’re logged into your Google account at all times, Google knows where you’ve been on the internet. It might even share some of that data with the websites you’ve visited. We’re not saying that we don’t trust Google with data privacy, but what happens if the data they’ve shared with a third party gets breached? Whenever you browse the web with Chrome, Uncle Google is always peeking over your shoulder and making notes about what you’ve been getting up to.

The long and short of this story is that it’s time to move on from Chrome. Best practice on the internet changes all the time, and it’s been too long since anyone re-evaluated their relationship with the world’s most-used web browser. Use Firefox if you want to. Experiment with Vivaldi or Opera if you’re feeling adventurous. Perhaps even give Brave a try. You don’t know what’s out there until you go looking for it - and you’ll probably be surprised at how much difference it makes to your browsing experience.