Chrome vs. Edge vs. Firefox: Which is the best browser for business?

With SaaS applications the new normal, the humble web browser powers the business world like never before. We take a deep dive on the three leading cross-platform browsers.

Three browser logos: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox with an abstract smoke background.
Google / Microsoft / Mozilla / Ruvim Noga

What’s the most important piece of productivity software in the business world? Some might say the office suite. But if you look at the time spent actually using software, the answer may well be the web browser. It’s where people do most of their fact-finding and research.

But that’s only a start. These days, web apps like Google Docs, Gmail, Outlook Online, Salesforce, Asana, Jira, and countless others are accessed via the browser as well. So browsers have become your window to work as well as your window to the world.

Which is the best browser for your business? To find out, we’ve put the three leading cross-platform browsers — Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox — to the test. We looked at the basics, like overall interface, speed, and HTML compatibility. Then we moved beyond that to safety and privacy, the availability of extensions, syncing data and settings across multiple devices and platforms, and extra features. We ended up comparing the tools each vendor provides for IT to deploy, manage, and configure its browser.

So if you’re looking to switch your company away from its current browser, ready to kick the tires of a different browser, or just plain curious about other options, we’ve got answers for you.

Overall usability

The best browsers don’t get in the way of web browsing, but instead make it easier with straightforward features like managing bookmarks and customizing settings. An ideal browser should fade away so the web itself takes center stage. In this section, we’ll look at each browser’s overall usability, including the interface, bookmark handling, and more.


When Chrome was introduced back in 2008, Google took what at the time was a radical, less-is-more approach to browser design: it put websites and their content front and center, stripping out all nonessential browser features. It was the browser equivalent of Google’s stripped-down search interface.

Not much has changed since then. Chrome has held to its austere ethos for all these years, and it’s served the browser well. There’s very little interface visible; it’s pretty much all content.

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Chrome offers a simple, stripped-down, easy-to-use interface. (Click any image in this story to enlarge it.)

As for features, all the usual suspects are here: click the + button at the right of your tabs to open a new tab, click the X on any tab to close it, click the star at the far right of the address bar to add it to your bookmarks, and so on. To manage your Google account if you have one, to add another Google account, or to use account-related features such as syncing, click the user icon just to the right of the address bar — the icon is your picture or initial if you’re logged in, or a generic person’s silhouette if not.

And for more settings and features, click the three-dot icon at the far right of the screen to bring up a menu for viewing and managing your bookmarks, viewing your history and downloads, launching a private incognito window, managing your extensions, digging deep into all your settings, and more.

If there’s one drawback to Chrome’s simplicity-is-all-approach, it’s that it doesn’t make it easy to find some of its useful features, like a miniature media controller for playing music and videos (more on that later). To uncover these kinds of features, you’ll have to click around some.


The new version of Edge, based on the open-source Chromium project launched by Google that also powers Chrome, is everything that the old Edge wasn’t: simple, fast and stripped-down. The old Edge was filled with countless unnecessary features: an e-reader and e-book manager, a way to mark up websites and share the markup with others, and lots of other useless frippery. With Chromium Edge, all that goes away. Microsoft threw in the towel on going its own way with a browser.

The result is a browser with an interface so much like Chrome’s that at a quick glance you might have a hard time telling them apart. Web content takes center stage. Opening and closing tabs works the way you expect it to, and you click the star at the right end of the address bar to add it to your favorites.

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Since switching to Chromium, Edge sports a stripped-down, Chrome-like interface.

To the right of the address bar are the Favorites manager icon (a star with three horizontal lines); a Collections icon (a + sign over documents or folders), a feature that I’ll cover in more detail in the “Extras” section of this article; and a profile icon (your picture, initial, or a silhouette) — click it to manage your Microsoft account in the same way Chrome lets you manage your Google account. The three-dot icon on the far right launches a menu for viewing your history and downloads, managing your extensions, launching a new private browsing window, adjusting your settings, and so on.


Firefox isn’t based on Chromium as are Chrome and Edge, but like those two browsers, it has shrunk down the interface to make more room for web content. Tab handling follows the usual conventions. So does adding bookmarks. And as with the other two browsers, a series of icons to the right of the address bar give you access to other features.

That’s where the difference between Firefox and the other two browsers comes in. Firefox offers more features than the other two browsers via these icons. If you’re content to ignore them, that’ll make no difference to the ease of web browsing. But if you decide to click them, you might get a bit confused.

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Firefox’s interface is a bit more cluttered than Edge’s or Chrome’s.

The far right area of the address bar is a bit cluttered, with three different icons. The leftmost, three horizontal dots, brings up a menu for bookmarking the page, copying its link, emailing its link, sending the tab to another device, taking a screenshot, and other actions. The one next to it, an icon of a shield, lets you save the page to an app called Pocket, which lets you later view all the content on a variety of devices. (More on that feature later in the story.) The far-right one, a star, lets you bookmark the page and manage bookmarks.

Then to the right of the address bar are four more icons, a “library” icon for managing bookmarks, history, downloads and more; a book icon for opening a bookmarks sidebar; a person icon for managing your Firefox account; and a “hamburger” menu icon (three horizontal lines) for a variety of features such as launching a private window, getting access to settings, managing add-ons and more.

It’s all somewhat of a confusing hodge-podge. Firefox would do well to simplify its interface.

The best browsers for overall usability

Chrome and Edge, based on the same Chromium code, are streamlined, simple, easy-to-use browsers. Those who care about a clean, simple interface will favor them over Firefox.

Speed, system resource use, and HTML compatibility

No matter how many bells and whistles a browser has, and no matter how elegant or useful the design, if it’s slow or hogs your system resources you won’t want to use it.  And if it doesn’t adhere to web standards you don’t want to use it, either.

So I put Chrome, Edge, and Firefox through a series of tests to see how each performs in speed, system resource usage, and HTML compatibility. For all the tests, I used a clean, just-launched version of each browser free of extensions, running on the same Windows PC. I didn’t sign into any websites. I ran each test three times and averaged the results.

Speed tests

To test speed of loading pages, browsing, and using web apps, I chose three tests.

  • JetStream 2 is a JavaScript and WebAssembly suite that tests how browsers react to advanced web applications. According to its website, “It rewards browsers that start up quickly, execute code quickly, and run smoothly.”
  • WebXPRT 3 uses HTML5- and JavaScript-based scenarios to test browser performance, including for photo editing, organizing photos using artificial intelligence, calculating stock option prices, encrypting notes, scanning with OCR, creating graphs, and doing homework online.
  • Speedometer 2.0 measures how responsive browsers are overall to running web applications.

For all three tests, the higher the number, the better the browser performance.

The results? A mixed bag. Chrome performed the best in the JetStream 2 test, scoring 107.383, with Edge barely behind at 102.786 and Firefox trailing well behind at 78.47. Edge led the pack in the Speedometer 2.0 test with a score of 93.4 to Chrome’s 90.2, while Firefox scored a lowly 69.6. However, Firefox handily beat the others in the WebXPRT 3 test, scoring 196 to Chrome’s 166 and Edge’s 163.

What does all this mean in the real world? Perhaps not much. I didn’t notice any practical difference among the three during the course of my normal web browsing. However, given the wide variance in performance results, it’s possible that one browser might be speedier than the others in one website or app but not another. So if performance is absolutely necessary for you for a particular website, I recommend you try all three on that one site, and make your decision based on that.

RAM and CPU tests

I also tested how much RAM and CPU each browser used by loading ten websites into different tabs, waiting a minute, then using Windows Task Manager to measure the system resources each browser used. In these tests, lower numbers are better.

Here Edge topped the other browsers. It used 1.275GB of RAM and 5% CPU usage, followed by Chrome with 1.428GB RAM and 7.3% CPU use. Firefox came in last with 1.917GB RAM and 8.4% CPU use. So if you’re multitasking using many different applications in addition to your browser, you may well notice a slowdown in Firefox versus the other two browsers. And in those situations, you’d likely do best using Edge.

HTML tests

Finally, to test HTML compatibility, I used what is generally accepted as the gold standard of HTML testing,

Edge and Chrome were tied in this test, each scoring 528 out of a possible 555 and supporting the exact same web standards. Firefox was a bit behind them at 511. Firefox scored lower because it lacks support for some features including Dolby audio and speech recognition. It lost most of its points for not supporting a variety of forms features, scoring only 52 out of 65 possible points on that section of the test, while Edge and Chrome scored 64 out of 65.

The best browser for speed, system resource use, and HTML compatibility

Edge ekes out a slight victory over Chrome here. Edge and Chrome clock close to identically in the various speed tests and scored the same on the HTML test. But in my tests, Edge used less system resources. Firefox trails the other two browsers in two of the three speed tests, RAM and CPU use, and HTML compatibility.

Safety and privacy

The web isn’t a safe place. There’s malware out there, drive-by-download sites, and plenty of sites that are just plain up to no good. And that’s not all. Even the trustworthy sites may be tracking your online activity and sharing it with others without your knowledge or consent. So we compared how the browsers stack up for security and privacy.


Chrome has most of the safety and privacy features and settings you’d expect in a browser, including stopping malware and drive-by downloads and the ability to limit or stop cookies being placed on your PC. (Its Incognito mode, like similar features in other browsers, lets you turn off browsing history on your local computer but doesn’t actually allow you to browse the web anonymously, as is widely believed.) You get to them all in the “Privacy and security” section of Settings.

Here you can customize your settings by controlling websites’ ability to access your camera or microphone, for example, or by blocking third-party cookies. Third-party cookies are those put on your computer by a site other than the one you’re currently visiting. They’re typically used to track your behavior across sites. Chrome also lets you send a “Do Not Track” request to websites. However, while that may sound useful, it’s not particularly effective, because websites don’t have to adhere to your request.

Chrome does, though, have a “Safety check” feature that examines your browser settings for possible privacy and safety holes, and looks for potentially harmful extensions and possible compromised passwords. It warns you if it finds any issues and makes recommendations about how to fix them.

However, in practice it can be problematic. It found four saved passwords on my machine that it said had been compromised. But when I went to the screen that supposedly listed my four compromised passwords, there were 165 there. In addition, merely changing those passwords in my browser won’t change it on the sites themselves. So the utility of the password-checking feature, at least, leaves plenty to be desired.

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Chrome’s “Safety check” is a well-intentioned feature that offers useful recommendations but falls short in checking on potentially compromised passwords.

Computerworld’s in-depth comparison of the leading desktop browsers’ built-in privacy capabilities ranks Chrome behind Edge and Firefox in privacy controls. Chrome doesn’t let you prevent cross-site tracking, block trackers, or control video auto-play (sound, however, is auto-muted). On the plus side, it does allow you to use a secure DNS provider.


Like Chrome, Edge stops malware and drive-by downloads, and it lets you limit or stop cookies being placed on your PC; control the default behavior when websites request access to your camera, microphone, location; allow you to use a secure DNS provider; and so on. It also has an incognito mode called InPrivate that disables browsing history on your local computer only, and it will send a “Do Not Track” request, although as I’ve explained, its usefulness is suspect.

Most notable about Edge’s privacy protections is tracking prevention, which blocks ad providers from tracking you from website to website. That makes it more difficult for companies like Google, Facebook, and others to build comprehensive profiles of your activities and interests.

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Edge’s tracking prevention feature makes it difficult for companies to build comprehensive profiles of your activities and interests.

By default, tracking prevention is turned on. But you can customize how it works, making it less or more restrictive depending on how much privacy you would like when browsing the web and how much you want to see ads and content that mirror your interests. To do it, click the three-dot icon at the top right of Edge’s screen and select Settings > Privacy, Search, and Services.

You have three tracking prevention choices:

  • Basic allows most trackers and blocks only those that Microsoft considers harmful. You’ll have less privacy but will be more likely to see personalized ads and content.
  • Balanced is the default setting; it blocks more trackers than the Basic setting. Ads and content won’t be as personalized, but sites should still work properly.
  • Strict blocks the majority of trackers from all websites, as well as harmful ads. This gives you the most privacy, and ads and content will have minimal personalization. Parts of websites may not work properly when you choose this setting.

You can customize tracking prevention further by clicking Exceptions. That will let you specify sites on which you’d like to allow all trackers. Edge also allows you to see which ad trackers it has blocked. Click Blocked trackers to see them.

You can also see which trackers have been blocked on any website you’re currently visiting and fine-tune your protection on a site-by-site basis. To do it, click the lock icon to the left of the URL in the address bar, and you’ll see information such as the number of cookies put on your device by the site, trackers blocked and so on. Click the cookies icon to see each individual cookie. You’ll also be able to remove any cookies and block any others the next time you visit the site.

However, Microsoft also uses Edge to collect diagnostic data to, in the words of Microsoft, “keep Microsoft Edge secure, up to date and performing as expected.” That worries some people, while for others, it’s no problem at all. So you’ll have to decide whether it’s worrisome. You can control what data Edge gathers and eliminate some of it. For details, see Microsoft’s “Microsoft Edge, browsing data, and privacy” support page.


No surprise: Firefox starts with the same basic security and privacy protections as Edge and Chrome, including killing malware and drive-by downloads as well as the ability to limit or stop cookies being placed on your PC and control access to your camera, microphone, and location data. On the downside, Firefox doesn't let you use a secure DNS provider, which the other two browsers do.

Like both Edge and Chrome, Firefox has an incognito mode called Private Browsing that disables browsing history locally on your computer, and it can send a “Do Not Track” signal to websites, for what it’s worth — which generally is not much.

It also offers what it calls Enhanced Tracking Protection, similar to Edge’s tracking prevention feature. It halts social media trackers, cross-site tracking cookies, and cryptominers (software that hijacks a PC to run code that creates cryptocurrency like Bitcoin). Mozilla says Firefox can also prevent browser fingerprinting, a technique that can uniquely identify and track your browser, but testing with the EFF’s Panopticlick privacy analysis tool reveals that it doesn’t.

Firefox offers three levels of tracking protection:

  • Standard, the default, is balanced for protection and performance.
  • Strict offers stronger protection but can break some websites or block some content.
  • Custom lets you pick and choose which trackers and scripts to block.
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Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Prevention is similar to Edge’s tracking prevention.

As with Edge’s tracking prevention feature, you can watch Enhanced Tracking Protection in action. Click the shield icon to the left of the URL in the address bar, and you’ll get a summary of what the feature did on that site — for example, that it stopped a social network from tracking you on the site, that it didn’t come across any cryptominers, and similar information. You can turn off Enhanced Tracking Protection from that screen as well.

Firefox also has a useful Protections Dashboard that shows you your protection level and data about what protection you’ve received from it, including the total number of trackers blocked on a daily and weekly basis, by category. To get to it, click the hamburger menu icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and choose Protections Dashboard.

From here you can also sign up for data breach alerts, which informs you of any breaches that have included your email address. For each breach you’re told about your potential compromised data, such as passwords, email addresses, IP address, and phone number. And it offers advice for each breach about how to protect yourself from it, including changing your password, updating other logins with the same password, and using a password manager. Unsurprisingly, it recommends you download and use the Firefox Lockwise password manager to do that.

The best browser for safety and privacy

Each browser offers the same basic protections, and so their defaults work quite well in keeping you safe and giving you the tools to try and protect your privacy. Edge and Firefox go beyond that with their blocking of trackers and related technologies, and the ability to customize how each works. Firefox gets the nod here over Edge because of its useful Protection Dashboard, particularly the feature that warns you if your email address has been involved in a data breach and offers advice on how to resolve it.


A browser by itself is certainly useful, but it can be powered up and customized by extensions. These browser add-ons can do an almost mind-boggling number of things. Want to block ads, use a secure password manager, edit graphics, read PDF files, handle your mail better, or do thousands of other things? Then extensions are for you.

In this section we look at how rich each browser’s add-on ecosystem is, and how easy it is to install, use, manage, and uninstall them.


Chrome’s rise to become the most popular browser in the world was fueled in part by its support for extensions and the vast number of add-ons available for it. There’s no definitive answer for the total number, although one analysis put it at more than 137,000 as of June 2020.

More important than the total number, though, is whether they’re useful. And by any measure, Chrome extensions are exceedingly useful. You typically install them via the Chrome Web Store, although you can also install them directly from a website. But take care that the site is a reputable one. Google does work to make sure the extensions in its store are free of malware, so whenever you install one outside that store, you may be taking a chance.

To install from the Chrome Web Store, when you’re reading a description of an extension, click the Add to Chrome button on the upper right of the screen. You’ll get a notification about the access it will have to your PC, for example, “Read and change all your data on the websites you visit” or “Display notifications.” If you decide to go ahead, click Add extension. After a short time, the extension will install, and you’ll see its icon on the upper right of the screen. Click the icon to use it and to change any of its settings.

When you’ve installed more than one extension, instead of seeing icons for each separate extension, you’ll see a single icon of a puzzle piece. Click it to get access to all your extensions, to use their features, change their options and remove them from Chrome. From here you can also choose to pin icons for individual extensions to the top right of Chrome, next to the puzzle piece icon.

You can also manage and remove them by clicking the puzzle piece icon and selecting Manage Extensions or by clicking the vertical three-dot menu at the top of Chrome and selecting More Tools > Extensions. This takes you to the Extensions page, where you can find more details about any extension, adjust its settings, remove it, or disable it — which turns it off while still keeping it installed. That way, you can easily re-enable it without having to reinstall it.

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Here’s where you’ll manage your Chrome extensions.

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