Firefox Review

Firefox is one of the fastest browsers around, while also offering great security and privacy. Though the interface isn't everybody's cup of tea, it's still a great option for most people and worth trying out. Read more about it in our full Firefox review.

Aleksander Hougen
By Aleksander Hougen (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2019-06-23T16:18:16+00:00
(Editor)
Free
Best Browser Reviews

Mozilla Firefox has been around for a long time, and that means it’s gone through many iterations with varied success. In 2017, it launched its quantum update, which improved the speed and overhauled the design. This Firefox review will give you an idea of how it stacks up against other browsers.

Firefox is among the fastest browsers. It offers a lot of great features out of the box, as well as a solid library of add-ons and extensive customization options. Plus, it comes with strong privacy protection and, because Mozilla is a nonprofit organization, it has little incentive to collect and sell your data.

Firefox is available on most devices and operating systems, including Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, macOS X 10.9 and later, Android Jelly Bean and later and iOS 11.0 and later. For this review, we used a laptop running Windows 10 and an iPhone on iOS 12.3.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Fast
  • UI customization
  • Strong privacy

Weaknesses:

  • Occasional compatibility issues
  • High RAM use at low load

Alternatives for Firefox

Features

95 % – Excellent

By default, Firefox sports a clean and simple interface that isn’t much different from other major browsers, such as Google Chrome. The tabs, address/search bar and bookmark bar are layered on top, and there’s a space for navigation controls on the left.

That said, unlike Chrome, Firefox comes with a lot of customization options for the interface. Every element of the basic UI can be moved around, and several buttons can be added anywhere you like with a simple drag-and-drop process.

Firefox-UICustomization

Firefox was the first major browser to offer external add-ons, and though its library has since been eclipsed in size by Chrome’s, it still offers a wide variety of functionalities, such as tab groups, password managers, built-in notes and much more.

Setting up and syncing your browser across devices is quick and easy. As long as you create a Firefox account, your bookmarks, preferences, search history, logins, add-ons and even open tabs will be synced between your devices. Check out our guide on how to backup Firefox bookmarks to learn more about the process.

Firefox-SyncSettings

That said, Firefox warns that it’s not a backup service, so if you don’t sync more than one device, nothing will be saved if that device breaks or you uninstall the browser. Check out our list of best cloud backup services if you’re looking for a way to get around this.

That might sound like a limitation, but it means that Mozilla doesn’t keep giant records of its users’ synced data, which is great for privacy, especially compared to Chrome, where Google will collect any information about you it can.

On the right side of the address bar are small but useful features. By clicking the arrow pointing down, the address bar extends to show you the last 10 searches you made, as well as alternative search engines, such as Wikipedia, Amazon or Twitter. You can customize those additional search engines, too. Firefox gives you many options to make easily accessible.

Firefox-HistoryAndSearchEngines

Another fantastic feature is the screen capture tool. Located in the three-dots menu next to the address bar, it allows you to take a screengrab of an entire webpage without scrolling. You can also select specific parts of a page to screengrab, which saves you the effort of manually selecting and cropping when you only want to share part of a page.

Firefox-ScreenshotTool

Another handy sharing feature in the same menu is the “email link” option that automatically creates an email using your default email provider, which you can customize, to send the link. There’s also a button to copy the link, though that’s less useful, as well as an option to send the link to one of your other devices.

There’s a reader view, too, which strips articles of unrelated content and formats them into an easily digestible style, as well as providing you with an estimate of how long they’ll take to read. The built-in .pdf reader is also useful, but it lacks advanced features, such as document signing or support for dynamic .pdfs.

Firefox-ReaderView

Firefox also comes with built-in support for Pocket, which is an application that lets you discover and save articles across devices.

Firefox Mobile Features

Firefox for mobile is a lot less feature heavy than the desktop version, but it still comes with handy tools. In the menu at the bottom right, you can disable all images, which is great for those with small data plans or slow connections, as well as enable or disable night mode and tracking protection.

By opening the menu next to the address bar, you can request the desktop version of any site, share or copy the URL and add the current page to your reading list, which gives you offline access to it. When you tap the search bar, the menu is replaced with a QR code scanner.

Firefox-MobileMenus

There’s also a version of the browser for iOS and Android called Firefox Focus. It’s designed to be minimal, comes with far fewer features and focuses on protecting privacy. That said, private mode in regular Firefox does the same job, so its main appeal is the stripped-down interface and minimalist approach to browsing.

Firefox-Focus

Ease of Use

90 % – Excellent

Firefox has a sleek and easy-to-understand interface that makes browsing a simple and comfortable experience. That said, though older web apps sometimes work better with Firefox than Chrome, the latter’s market dominance means that you’ll occasionally run into bugs and problems with modern web applications when using Firefox.

Ease of Use on Desktop

The desktop version of Firefox has a standard layout. Your search bar and bookmarks are placed on the top of the screen, with navigation controls to the left and menus located on the right. The drop-down displaying previous searches and alternative search engines is also useful if you need to use multiple search providers.

Tabs are clearly separated, and rather than minimizing them to the point of just being favicons, Firefox opts for a horizontal scrolling approach, leaving the tabs big enough that you can still read part of the title.

Firefox-ScrollingTabs

Ease of Use on Mobile

Firefox is just as easy to use on mobile. The address bar is at the top of the screen, with a button next to it for reader mode and the menu with options for sharing, bookmarking and requesting desktop websites.

The navigation controls and tab menu are at the bottom of the screen, and the tabs are displayed in two separate overviews of regular and private windows that you can switch between.

Firefox-MobileTabs

Performance

80 % – Good

Firefox is one of the fastest major browsers, clocking in just behind Chrome on desktop and ahead of Microsoft Edge and Opera (read our Microsoft Edge review). On mobile, our tests showed it to be faster than Chrome and Safari, but not by a huge margin.

When it comes to system resources, Firefox has a high initial footprint, using large amounts of RAM when you only have a few tabs open. That said, the more tabs you have open the more efficient it is compared to its competitors, using significantly less RAM than Chrome once you have a lot of tabs open simultaneously.

Security

85 % – Very Good

Firefox receives high marks on security, but as we concluded in our article on which web browser is the most secure, it doesn’t do quite as well as Chrome.

Firefox comes with a pop-up blocker as well as a block on known malicious websites using the Google safe browsing database. It also warns you when you visit a website using an unsecure HTTP connection, though the warning is harder to spot than it is in Chrome.

Firefox-HTTPWarning

Another crucial aspect of software security is the frequency of updates, and Mozilla does well in that regard, too. Generally, if a security flaw is detected, it responds and releases a fix within a day. By default, the browser uses a background service to automatically check for and download updates, meaning you won’t inadvertently keep using an unsafe version.

Passwords stored locally can be protected with a master password, though this is turned off by default, so you have to manually add one to prevent your passwords from being available to anyone with physical access to your machine.

Privacy

100 % – Excellent

Privacy is Firefox’s greatest strength. It comes with strict tracking controls that let you block trackers in all windows, and even customize what to block. For example, you can choose to block trackers and cryptominers but leave cookies enabled. In private mode, all those are blocked by default.

Firefox -TrackerSettings

Firefox also has a great data collection policy. It collects data for development purposes, but that doesn’t include your browsing or search history and the data’s tied to a random numerical identifier rather than your name or user account. If that’s still too much for you, the browser lets you turn it off without affecting performance or functionality.

Firefox -DataCollectionSettings

Because Mozilla is a nonprofit organization and its business isn’t predicated on the collection and sale of its users’ data, it’s far easier to trust it about its privacy measures. The company even releases an annual financial report explaining where its money comes from and how it’s spent.

Though Firefox does great with privacy, if you want to do more to ensure your anonymity, check out our anonymous browsing guide.

The Verdict

Firefox is a great browser, especially if you’re concerned with your privacy. Little information is collected about you by default, and even that can be turned off. You also get a strong private browsing mode with strict tracking and cookie protection.

The browser is easy to use, too, with great, small features, such as the screenshot tool and alternative search engines, packed into the browser. Plus, the large library of add-ons lets you add all sorts of features that the browser is missing.

The main issues with Firefox are occasional compatibility problems with newer web apps and high RAM usage during low load. Though those are real issues, the excellent privacy, design and features more than make up for them.

What do you think about Mozilla Firefox? Do the strong privacy features outweigh the compatibility issues and high RAM use? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

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11 thoughts on “Firefox”

  1. I have been using Firefox for more than a decade. About a year ago I noticed that, my computer gets crippled, if I use Firefox. I figured out that, Norton Anti Virus has something to do with it.
    Yesterday, I right-clicked on Firefox.exe file and selected “File Insight”. Norton showed “Fewer than five users in the Norton Community have used this file.” Are you kidding me?
    It seems to me that, Norton is deliberately doing this to Firefox.

    Reply
  2. you completely ignored the fact SJ\/\/fox does not allow leaving negative r3views for bad extensions, and are dicks and ban people for talking about this fact in the forum. i couldnt even leave BLANK reviews for noscript after getting fed up. needless to say i no longer use suc|<fox and use scriptsafe which is more functional than noscript, not to mention better ui. these people deserve to go broke for getting w0ke and ignoring customers.

    Reply
  3. Weakness: Inability to load continuous scrolling pages especially with many GIF windows within. It will crash. Google is much better in this aspect.

    Reply
  4. Firefox quality is lowering. Videos always start, response time getting worse, global consumption higher

    Reply
  5. I have changed from Chrome to firefox a few years ago, because of performance and resources/memory consumtion.
    Each time I open firefox I have more than one hundred open pages restored, and can work in any pages without issues. Very rarely I have an issue with firefox (with chrome, working with many pages was getting a nighmare).
    I’m still learning
    about more nice Firefox fuctionalities and I’m glad I decided to try/start using Firefox, and hoping to get satisfaction for it for many years to come.
    Thank you so much for this robust browser

    Reply
  6. Many thx for your summary of Firefox. It’s good to get an overview; though I wonder why it chews up so much RAM when less pages/windows are displayed. Does it have anything to do with blank, white or black screen rather than a colour or would it function faster with a few high end image files loaded up whilst working on less pages? Please excuse my ignorance… However thx for some help.

    Reply
    1. I think he meant that Firefox use less RAM at the moment of have a large amount of tabs than others browsers (Google Chrome), and not that use less RAM when you have more tabs.

      Reply
  7. FireFox was very good, very nice until now. Can’t Search using Google any more even if Google is setup on your “Default Search Engine”. Nope now you can ONLY use YAHOO which is shit. So I contacted them and was told to go to the “Add-Ons” but no, it does not exist even though there is a link. You get a blank page. I was also told to use the Troubleshoot extensions – Nope it does not exist either. Firefox has gone to hell.

    Reply
  8. HATE the new version of firefox that came with the update September 2 2020! It requires you to do a complete reinstall every time you want to open a jpg file and when you do all of your settings are deleted and they no longer have as many options! Very few search options shown from the options and it is a pain to add search engines. Although I have been a dedicated Firefox user since it came out and really appreciate the security issues and not being a Google or Microsoft product, I hate hate HATE the new Firefox as of 9/2/2020 and will explore my other options

    Reply
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