I was a big Firefox fan. Actually, I still am. And I’ve been using the tool Mozilla carefully crafted for many years. Until a few months ago I didn’t see any need to change my habits. But then things started getting spiky between Firefox and I…
How Firefox let me down
First, some compatibility issues arose between my add-ons. After updating my browser, some of them would work and others would not. If I wanted to use Feedly for example, I had to disable Firebug, the #1 tool for programmers and web designers. This lasted for a few weeks during which I had to enable and disable, close and reopen my Firefox to get one of my add-ons working. Besides this annoying bug, there was also the other issue of great add-ons becoming unusable for what could last from a few days to a few months whenever there would be a new version of Firefox out. It was a bit of a mess.
I could have lived with my add-ons not working, really. But then, since Firefox 7 or 8, Mozilla started eating up all my available memory. I built my computer in late 2009 and although it’s not the big bomb it used to be (back then, 4GB used to be a lot, now it’s okay), I never had memory problems before Firefox decided to take up to 1GB of RAM whenever it was running in the background. No problem running Photoshop and InDesign simultaneously (I have a good video card, I must admit), but Firefox? It slowed down my whole system.
And then, last week, it was the last straw: Firefox 9.1 would randomly freeze on me every 30 seconds or so. I closed everything else, rebooted even, but the issue persisted for as long as my browser was running. I was at an impasse; I simply could not use Firefox anymore, no matter how much I liked it.
So I switched to Chrome. And here’s what I discovered:
It’s much faster
It doesn’t eat up my memory
While Firefox 8 took up to 1GB of my RAM in its worst days and Firefox 9 around 600 to 700MB (an improvement, but still too much), Chrome hasn’t taken more than 500MB since I started using it, and that is while browsing with many tabs open. I can finally jump from a software to the other without having to worry about closing my browser in case it starts swallowing my RAM like a starved beast.
Its appearance is similar to Firefox
Pinned tabs? Check. Compact design? Check. Nice themes? Check. Overall, Chrome isn’t that different from Firefox in terms of looks. I was happy to find that you can use beautiful themes on Chrome too (something that originally made me fall in love with Firefox) and that my add-ons are available on the top right corner of the window. Once I imported my bookmarks, a task that was quite easy, it felt like home again.
The Chrome Web Store rocks
The Chrome Web Store is very simple and user-friendly. It’s populated with attractive images of each add-on and you require only one single click to see previews of it, or a mouse-over to read the description. Firefox’s own Add-on page isn’t bad but it’s not nearly half as attractive and fun as Chrome’s. Google makes me want to come back and install more, just because the experience is so pleasant and easy.
I’m overall very happy to have switched. Chrome is Firefox minus the issues plus the speed. The only thing I miss is Firebug; there is a version of this add-on on Chrome but it’s not nearly as good as on Firefox. It’s quite sad but if leaving it behind means I get to actually use a browser that will not choke my whole computer or freeze every 30 seconds, I can definitely live without it.