Six alternative web browsers you should know about

Most people are only familiar with the “big five” web browsers — Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera. But there are hundreds of other browsers out there.

Most alternative browsers are remade versions of [company]Google[/company] Chrome, [company]Mozilla[/company] Firefox or [company]Microsoft[/company] Internet Explorer. Chrome itself is built on Chromium, an open-source browser project; Firefox is also open-source. That means that any developer can take the code, add or remove some parts of it and release a completely new browser.

Why do that, though? The “big five” browsers are already highly customizable. Chrome and Firefox have particularly large libraries of extensions, but generally, you can tailor most browsers to your particular needs. Nevertheless, a large percentage of users may never have visited the Chrome Web Store or gone into Firefox’s Add-ons section.

Some alternative browsers can provide additional functionality for people who don’t want to bother with installing add-ons or don’t know how to do it. Meanwhile, more advanced users who know what they need and can’t get it through installing more add-ons can search for browsers that might solve their problems.

Here are some alternative browsers that might be worth your attention, based on what you need from this kind of software. You don’t have to abandon your primary browser and completely switch to an alternative. Nothing prevents you from keeping a second or even a third browser for bank-related activity, media downloading or online gaming.

For privacy concerns: WhiteHat Aviator

Privacy-based browsers are probably the largest category of alternative browsers. Whether you are concerned about the NSA spying scandal, want to avoid advertising companies collecting your data or conduct financial operations online, you might want a browser that doesn’t collect any private data.

WhiteHat Aviator blocks holes through which most malicious sites infect your computer. It cuts out all ads and disables the media autoplay. This way, nothing on a website you visit can launch without your permission. By default, Aviator opens in Incognito mode and removes all traces of your online activity when you close it. On top of that, Aviator uses the DuckDuckGo search engine by default — a privacy-focused service that  doesn’t link search activity to a user.

For media junkies: Citrio

Dozens of browsers and applications claim that they can speed up downloads, but only a few actually produce noticeable results. Citrio is one of them.

Besides being a browser, Citrio has many additional features, like an integrated bit-torrent client, proxy switcher, video saver and a download manager. The latter is what deserves attention: the download manager not only allows you to resume interrupted or paused downloads, but also speeds them up. Depending on where you download from, you may see a boost between two and five times times your usual speed. This isn’t the only working download accelerator, but it gives noticeable results.

For lightweight browsing: Midori

If you’re running a low-end machine or have decided to infuse a second life into an old laptop, you’ve probably noticed that browsers tend to occupy lots of RAM. Maybe you don’t need all those fancy extensions, Facebook integration and tons of online services. If you need your browser solely for web research, email and a little social media, Midori will satisfy your humble needs without slowing down your PC.

Midori actually originates from Linux, but there is also a Windows version. Not too much to say here: Midori is simple as you would expect, offering tabbed browsing, search, bookmarks, speed dial and some basic extensions (disabled by default). So it doesn’t have much to occupy your RAM with. The simple interface contributes to a lightweight browsing experience without the IE 6 feel so common among other light browsers.

For gamers: Coowon

If you like playing simple web-based games and want to gain an advantage in them, Coowon is a browser that can spice up your gaming experience.

 Coowon is designed with online gaming in mind. It offers multiple separate windows to log in to different game accounts, gamepad support for your Logitech or Xbox controller and a “Boss” key to immediately hide the games and pretend that you’re working. Coowon also increases in-game speed, so if a game makes you wait through several hour for a particular event to happen, you can just fast forward ahead and save your time.

For visually oriented research: SpaceTime3D

Researching a topic online usually requires browsing through dozens of sites, clicking on every link the search engine provides you with just to peek inside and see what’s there. If this is a common situation for you, then there is an interesting alternative.

Okay, so technically SpaceTime3D isn’t a browser. Rather, it’s an application (also available for web) that lets you preview all the pages that Google has found. Instead of clicking on each separate link, you can scroll through all the sites, previewing them and learning about their content. Is it original? Yes. Does this increase your productivity? Try it and see for yourself.

For aliens: Alienforce

A lot of people just love Firefox. Aliens, meanwhile, are probably using the Alienforce browser.

Alienforce is basically nothing more than your usual Firefox, save for some cosmetic upgrades. Though it claims to speed up your browsing, that effect is hardly noticeable. But Alienforce can give you some mixed extraterrestrial feeling of Firefox and Opera thanks to its interface layout and tabbed browsing. If you believe that the truth is out there, then you’ll like this browser.

Victor Clarke is a tech enthusiast, gadgets fan and software explorer. He likes to go beyond conventional ideas and question the facts.