Technology Training

Web Browsers and Search Engines Explained

Most of us tend to choose a web browser and stick with it for years. It can be hard to break away from your comfort zone – especially when you’ve become used to its quirks – but trying a different browser can greatly improve your experience on the web. Whether it’s en-hanced security, improved speed, or greater flexibility through customizable options and plugins, the right browser can have a huge effect on your online life. Here we’ve put the biggest browsers through their paces (plus one that you might not be familiar with) to identify the one that does the best job of tick-ing all those boxes, but if you have a particular concern then listen to see if there’s an alterna-tive that might be better suited to your needs.


WHAT IS A BROWER? A web browser is consid-ered a software application that allows people to access, retrieve and view information on the internet. The infor-mation that may be “browsed” can be in the form of text content on a web page, an image, video, audio etc. The most popular web browsers currently in use are Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari.


HOW DOES A BROWSER WORK? The process be-gins with the user inputting a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) like http, https, ftp, file etc. (example: The browser then dis-plays the resource by passing the HTML (main markup language for web pages) to the browser’s layout engine to be translated from markup to an interactive document that you can view on your screen.




Google Chrome

If your PC has the resources, Chrome is 2017’s best browser! With Chrome, Google has built an extendable, efficient browser that deserves its place at the top of the browser rankings. According to w3schools’ browser trend analy-sis its user base is only rising, even as Mi-crosoft Edge’s install numbers are presumably growing. Why? Well, it’s cross-platform, in-credibly stable, brilliantly presented to take up the minimum of screen space, and just about the nicest browser there is to use. But there is a downside, and potentially a big one. It’s among the heaviest browsers in terms of re-source use, so it’s not brilliant on machines with limited RAM.

Microsoft Edge

Edge is the default ‘browsing experience’ on Windows 10, and is unavailable for older oper-ating systems. Edge is an unusual one!


Quite why Microsoft needs to be running a pair of browser products in tandem rather than making Edge backwards compatible is beyond me. The company’s reason, it seems, is that Edge represents the more user-friendly end, while Internet Explorer scales a little better for business enterprise. Grumbles aside, actually using Edge is a perfectly pleasant experience—And It’s super-quick!

Mozilla Firefox

Once the leader in overall popularity in the browser war, Firefox is now a slightly sad third place. It’s not clear why; while it lags behind its main competi-tors in terms of design, keeping the search and URL boxes separate and leaving buttons on display where others have removed them, it’s regularly updated on a six-week schedule and has a raft of extensions available. Firefox tends to hit the middle-to-bottom end of benchmark tests but despite this it’s still my fa-vourite!

Internet Explorer

Microsoft Internet Explorer has seen some ups and downs in its long tenure, from dominating the browser charts to languishing behind its main two com-petitors. This is partly an issue of choice – particularly the browser choice that Microsoft was forced to give customers after a court ruling – and partially be-cause older versions fell behind the rendering and compatibility curve. There are no such issues with Internet Explorer 11. It’s clean, powerful, highly com-patible, and it demands less of your RAM and CPU than equivalent pages would on Chrome or Firefox. Internet Explorer also isn’t quite as able to han-dle add-ons and extensions as many of its competitors.




Opera is an underrated browser, with a superb Turbo mode for slow connec-tions. It’s sad that Opera makes up only around 1% of the browser market, because it really is a quality browser. It launches fast, the UI is brilliantly clean, and it does everything its rivals can do with a couple of extras thrown in for good measure. The key reason I’d recommend having Opera installed along-side your main browser is its Opera Turbo feature. This compresses your web traffic, routing it through Opera’s servers, which makes a huge difference to browsing speed if you’re stuck on rural dial-up or your broadband connection is having a moment. It reduces the amount of data transferred too, handy if you’re using a mobile connection, and this re-routing also dodges any content restrictions your ISP might place on your browsing, which can be mighty handy. Opera automatically ducks out of the way if you’re using secure sites like banks so your traffic is free and clear of any potential privacy violation.

There’s also an integrated ad-blocker – which can be switched off if you’re mor-ally inclined in that direction – and a battery-saving mode which promises to keep your laptop going for longer!



Brave is a more-or-less standard browser that lets users navigate to websites, run web apps and display or play online content. Like other browsers, it is free to download and use, remembers site authentication information and can block online ads from appearing on sites. What sets Brave apart is its aggressive anti-ad attitude. The browser was built to strip online ads from websites and its maker’s business model relies not only on ad blocking, but on replacing the scratched-out ads with advertisements from its own network. It’s as if a new TV network announced it would use technology to remove ads from other networks’ programs, then rebroadcast those programs with ads of its own devising, ads that it sold. Brave also eliminates all ad trackers, the often-tiny page components advertisers and site publishers deploy to identify users so that they know what other sites those users visit or have visited. Trackers are used by ad networks to show products similar to ones purchased, or just considered, leading to the meme of persistently seeing the same ad no matter where one navigates.

WHAT IS A SEARCH ENGINE? The main purpose of a search engine is to search for information on the In-ternet. They are software programs that search for web-sites based on keywords that the user types in. The search engine then goes through their databases of information in order to locate the information you are looking for. The main search engines currently be used are Google, Bing, and Yahoo.


HOW DOES A SEARCH ENGINE WORK? Search engines send out “web crawlers” or “spiders” (automated computer programs that browse the internet in a methodi-cal and automated manner) to create a copy of all the web pages they have been to so the search engine can then in-dex the pages to create web site listings that facilitate fast-er searches. A user types a query into the search engine and the search engine then sorts through millions of pages in its database to find a match to that specific query. The search engine then produces the results to your query in a ranked order according to relevancy.




Google Search, also referred to as Google Web Search or simply Google, is a web search engine developed by Google LLC. It is the most used search engine on the World Wide Web across all platforms, with 92.74% market share as of October 2018, handling more than 3.5 billion searches each day.


Bing is a web search engine owned and operated by Microsoft. The service has its origins in Microsoft’s previous search engines: MSN Search, Windows Live Search and later Live Search. Bing provides a variety of search services, including web, video, image and map search products.


YahooSearch is a web search engine owned by Yahoo, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. As of October 2018, it is the second largest search engine worldwide across all platforms with 2.32% market share.


Excite (stylized as excite) is an internet portal launched in 1995 that provides a variety of content including news and weather, a metasearch engine, a web-based email, instant messaging, stock quotes, and a customizable user homepage.


For AOL customers, there is no need to step outside the AOL Search function to get Google results because it uses Google’s crawler-based index to provide similar and in some ways better results. Customers not only get search results from the Web in general, but also from within AOL’s massive content library. That gives you the capacity of two searches in one – AOL and Google.

Duck Duck Go

DuckDuckGo (DDG) is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results.[4] DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by showing all users the same search results for a given search term,[6] and emphasizes returning the best results, rather than the most results, generating those results from over 400 individual sources, including crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia, and other search engines like BingYahoo!, and Yandex.[7][8] In February 2019, it had 35,343,668 daily direct searches on average. (originally known as Ask Jeeves) is a question answering–focused e-business founded in 1996. The original software was implemented by Gary Chevsky from his own design. Warthen, Chevsky, Justin Grant, and others built the early website around that core engine. From the mid-2000s, The “Jeeves” name was dropped and focused on the search engine, with its own algorithm.[3] In late 2010, facing insurmountable competition from more popular search engines like Google, the company outsourced its web search technology and returned to its roots as a question and answer site. has been criticized for its browser toolbar, which has been accused of behaving like malware due to its bundling with other software and the difficulty of its uninstallation.



A very clever person used this analogy – If you are sitting in your car, the browser would be your windshield and the steering wheel would be the search engine. So Google Chrome would be the web browser whereas Google would be the search engine.



Google Chrome is my favourite browser of the moment, and has been for some time, but there are still other excellent choices that, depending on your priorities, will serve your Web browsing needs admirably.

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