How do Firefox, Chrome stack up to Internet Explorer?

LOS ANGELES — This week the government and many corporate interests urged people to stop using the Internet Explorer browser after Microsoft found a security flaw that could open your Windows computer to hackers.

Microsoft finally fixed the issue Thursday. But the issues with IE could beg the question for some: why not try out another browser?

So today, let's take a good look at browsers — your vehicle for navigating the Internet, specifically the new version of Firefox vs. Google's Chrome.

Firefox this week just got a major update for version No. 29, and it's fun to use. You can move items around by dragging and dropping, sync your bookmarks to mobile, and there's tons of "add-ons" available to make the browsing experience even better.

Think of these add-ons as smartphone apps for the browser. Instead of bookmarks, they are cool little apps that can do some fun stuff. On Firefox, for instance, the extensions include ad-blockers, e-mail notifiers, firewall add-ons and a tool to download YouTube clips directly to your hard drive.

Google's Chrome has even more extensions, and while many are free, many are for sale as well.

I have the Dashlane password manager as an extension to Chrome, which signs me in automatically to the websites I visit. I also use extensions to "clip" portions of a website for screenshots, and a Twitter extension that lists my incoming tweets in a corner of the browser. Searching the Chrome Web store this week, I saw lots of fun stuff on there — like a way to turn my Twitter page background red, or add photos to my Facebook display.

Of course with with Chrome — after Gmail, Google Docs, Google search and so many other daily Google tools — you're further tied in with Google, which now urges folks to sign in to Google when you start using it. Which would bring you to Firefox. If you don't mind Google knowing everything about you, stick with Chrome. It's fast, has great add-ons, and Google claims it's so safe, it can't be hacked. The search giant is even daring hackers to invade Chrome, offering a reward of $2.7 million if they do.

IE has an over 50% market share, with many folks using it on older computers. But the new security patch isn't needed just for older versions of IE, but even the newest version, No. 11, which is advertised as being so strong it "blocks 99% of ...malware."

Clearly IE 11 looks cooler and is the version to have, especially now that there's a fix. If you're an IE fan, be sure to spend some time this weekend updating your Microsoft software.


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