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April 15, 2010 by admin 

Why you should use Firefox

By now, just about everyone has heard of Firefox, and most understand that it’s an
Internet browser similar to Internet Explorer. You’ve also probably been told that you should use it because it’s more secure. But what does that mean to you? Why should you give up Internet Explorer, one of the most familiar programs that you use on a daily basis so that you can say you’re “more secure”? Well, I’ll tell you why, and also explain dozens of other benefits that Firefox offers that will make your online surfing safer and definitely more entertaining.

The topic of security between Firefox and Internet Explorer really grinds down to open source versus proprietary software, which I will only touch base with at this time. Naturally the two programs have completely different features, but the “secure” part refers to the architecture of how the programs are built and how quickly newly discovered security flaws are patched. The beauty of an open source project, like Firefox, is that countless programmers world-wide contribute their expertise to continually enhance Firefox to perform as stable and secure as possible. When a security flaw is discovered, it is often patched within hours of the discovery. Very often by the same person or persons that discovered the glitch. With proprietary software like Internet Explorer, a potential security issue has to be reported to Microsoft, researched, and then their team will develop a patch and release it hopefully within the month. Some mischievous weasel seeking to hijack some data, or otherwise cause trouble is very aware of this and will exploit IE as their number one target. Firefox’s code is reviewed by experienced programmers across the globe to ensure safe Internet browsing. Assuming your a “hacker” (I use the term loosely) and your goal was a malicious attack on an unsuspecting user’s workstation, would you attempt to crack a program written by a global army of coders, or Microsoft’s IE team? That’s what it means when they say Firefox is a “more secure” browser.

There are also several features that set Firefox apart from it’s competitors. Tabbed browsing was an idea that Firefox popularized, and is now emulated by several other browsers fighting to usurp Firefox from its ever-growing command in the ongoing browser war. This function enables you to open up “tabs” in the same browser window so that you can view several pages without having to launch the same program several times. Internet Explorer 7 now offers this exact same feature. However, have you ever tried to completely erase your tracks from the browser history? In Internet Explorer 6 there about so many places you have to go (history, temporary files, cookies, etc…), and they are all in different locations. Firefox makes this easy by going to “Tools – Clear Private Data”, and it swipes clean all your personal information out of the program (another idea IE 7 copied). You can also customize the placement of the toolbars and icons, and add, remove, or rearrange buttons the way you want them. For example, if you want to add a button to open a new tab, you go to “View – Toolbars – Customize” then drag and drop the “New Tab” button to where you want it to sit in the navigation bar. This way you won’t have to hit “File – New Tab” or press “Ctrl+T” to open new tabs. The same process can be repeated for the other available buttons. For a complete list of Firefox shortcuts click here.

Now comes the best part of the Firefox revolution; themes and extensions. Extensions are basically additions to the browser created by various contributors that enhance or add features to the browser. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of extensions available so I will only mention some of the more popular ones. DownThemAll! is an incredible extension that will enable you to download every picture on a website, instead of having to click each pic, right-click, and choose “Save As”. Forecastfox allows you to specify a specific location and then displays the current temperature complete with a clever symbol of the current weather (sunshine, clouds, etc…) in the bottom right hand corner of Firefox. Another more entertaining extension is StumbleUpon. Ever wonder how other people find all the cool stuff on the Internet? Using StumbleUpon, you can specify your individual interests, and when you click the “Stumble” button it will take you to a random page in one of the categories you specified that others have ranked as “Thumbs Up”. From there you can rate it thumbs up, thumbs down, or simply Stumble again. Just try it, you’ll see what I mean and how fun it can be. There are several other extensions that I’m sure you’ll find interesting, just go here to check them out.

Firefox Themes allows you to customize the look and feel of the browser design. Themes can be thought of the same way some other programs refer to “skins”. You can select a theme that is more sleak, perhaps reflects your personality, or stick with the default. The best way I can describe this awesome feature is to go there and browse around.

But how do you keep up with the latest versions of Firefox, its themes, and its extensions? When a new version of Firefox is released, it will actually download the updates and notify you that the next time Firefox is restarted it will automatically install the newest version; which is exactly what it does. To update themes and extensions, go to “Tools-Extensions” and “Tools-Themes”, respectively, and click “Find Updates”. If there are any new versions available, you click “Install” on each one and the next time you restart Firefox you’ll have the latest and greatest version.

Hopefully by now you understand that no matter what proprietary browsers do to try to keep up, it’s hard to compete with the collective ideas of the entire world. Not to mention that Google heavily endorses Firefox, so many of the gadgets offered work hand-in-hand with some of Google’s products. These techneaks should help you add some personality to your browser, what it means to be “more secure”, and how to have a little more fun on your side of the Internet.

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