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Firefox Review

Many web browsers from 20 years ago have disappeared as modern ones have taken their place, but Firefox is still going strong. Its add-ons library isn't quite as large as Chrome's and it suffers from high RAM usage, but Firefox has some noteworthy tricks up its sleeve.

Max Pitchkites
By Max Pitchkites (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2022-05-08T08:02:42+00:00 Facts checked by Elisabeth Ivey
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At nearly 20 years old, Mozilla Firefox was one of the dominant web browsers of the pre-Chrome era and remains popular to this day. As we’ll show in our Firefox review, this browser has adapted well to today’s standards by keeping up with modern capabilities like having a library of add-ons, reliable privacy controls and a mobile version.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mozilla doesn’t collect as much data on its users as Google, and dissociates activity from user identities.
  • Firefox will block trackers and fingerprinting activities by default.
  • Firefox can be augmented with extra tools from its add-on library, but occasionally faces compatibility problems with some.
  • Firefox’s performance is fast enough for everyday use, but many other browsers use less RAM.

The industry standards for internet browsers have changed dramatically since Firefox was launched in 2002. Mozilla made several major updates to Firefox’s design over the years to stay in the market while other applications have fallen away. We’ll dive into the fine details of the new version of this classic browser in our review below.

  • Cloudwards conducted a fresh review of Firefox and expanded the review to cover more areas about the browser.

  • Firefox doesn’t quite live up to Google Chrome when it comes to speed or extensions, but it’s a more private browser by far.

  • Firefox can be trusted to protect your privacy in comparison to Chrome, but it’s still a browser that collects user data. You’ll need more than a trustworthy application to stay private online, as we explain in our anonymous browsing guide.

  • Firefox’s security protections have caught up to Chrome’s standards and even exceed it in terms of privacy. Firefox doesn’t collect nearly as much data as Chrome and does a better job at dissociating each user’s identity from their collected data.

Mozilla Firefox Review: Alternatives

Mozilla Firefox: Strengths & Weaknesses

Pros:

  • Reliable privacy practices
  • Add-ons library
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Some compatibility issues
  • High RAM usage

Features

90 % – Excellent

Firefox innovated web browsing when it became one of the first browsers to support add-ons. Google Chrome later perfected the art of augmenting your browser with its own large library of extensions, eventually dwarfing Firefox’s library.

firefox add ons
Expand your browser’s capabilities with Firefox’s vast library of add-ons.

While Firefox doesn’t have as many add-ons as Google Chrome in terms of sheer number, Firefox nonetheless supports the most widely used types of add-ons like ad-blockers, password managers, productivity add-ons and many other features.

Device Sync

firefox connect devices
Synchronize your Firefox data across all your devices for a seamless internet experience.

Users can sync their most important browser data across multiple devices by setting up a Firefox account. Creating an account requires only an email address and takes just a few minutes to set up. Once you’re signed in, you can save bookmarks (read our guide on how to backup Firefox bookmarks), passwords, add-ons and other forms of data to your account that you can access from your other devices.

In its knowledgebase, Mozilla reminds its users that synchronizing your data is not the same as backing up your data — if you uninstall the browser without syncing the data first, it’s gone forever.

The best way to separate user data on a shared computer is to create a profile for each user. Two people can log in to the same browser on the same computer with their individual Firefox accounts to access their personalized settings while keeping it private from everyone else.

It’s also possible to create separate user profiles on the same installation without logging in to your Firefox account, although this is the more tedious option. As Mozilla explains in its knowledgebase, you can add, remove and change user profiles by launching the profile manager on your computer.

PDF Viewer

Firefox is equipped with its own built-in PDF viewer, so no external applications are necessary for opening PDF documents. If you prefer using a different PDF viewer, the Firefox viewer can be manually disabled and replaced with a third-party tool.

The Firefox PDF viewer sports a minimalist design that takes up little screen space. Its modest interface consists of a single horizontal bar beneath the address bar containing some buttons for viewing the document. At the top left is the “toggle sidebar” button, navigation arrows and page count.

Zoom controls are located in the center of the bar, and all the way to the right are buttons for  printing, downloading, viewing the document in full screen and opening the document in a new tab or window. At the end of the toolbar is a button that opens up a menu for more viewing options such as rotating the document and changing the spread layout.

Reading List

iOS users can save pages for offline reading with Firefox’s reading list feature. The next time you anticipate being in a location without an internet connection, the reading list will help you out by downloading the webpage in advance so you can read that page while on a bus, plane or wherever you find downtime without an internet connection. 

Pages added to your reading list will be synced across all of your devices. The in-browser reading list feature is limited to iOS, but PC and Android users can save pages for offline viewing via the Pocket app.

Context Menu

Firefox’s context menu has the same basic features as most browsers — saving a page, copying and pasting text, etc. — but it has a handy screenshot feature we didn’t see in Chrome.

firefox screenshot
Don’t want to screenshot the whole page? Use Firefox’s built-in screenshot tool to precisely frame your image.

Taking screenshots is easy with the “take screenshot” button in the context menu, and can be  enabled by right-clicking anywhere on a page. This screenshot feature can be used to take full-page screenshots and save them to your computer, or you can click on an individual element on the page to screen cap only that one section.

For further precision, you can change the size and shape of the selection box to zoom in on any part of the page you like. This screenshot tool is a handy feature we didn’t see in many other browsers.

firefox inspect accessibility
Firefox includes web development features right inside the context menu.

Firefox has an “inspect accessibility properties” in addition to its usual “inspect” feature. The accessibility inspector is a developer tool used for examining the accessibility properties for any given element on a webpage. This button will open up the accessibility panel of the usual inspect element panel and display all the innards of the webpage pertaining to accessibility.

Dark Theme

firefox dark theme
Use a light theme, a dark theme, or another one of Firefox’s many themes.

Lastly, users can stick with the default light theme or customize it by switching to a stylish dark theme under “add-ons and themes.” Firefox includes a handful of alternate light themes and a button that leads to Mozilla’s add-ons library where you can install more personalized themes.

Ease of Use

90 % – Excellent

Firefox features a client for mobile devices and a desktop version. Both versions have simple, easy-to-use interfaces based on Mozilla’s new Firefox Quantum engine, and they don’t differ too much from one another.

In the desktop version of Firefox, you’ll see that it’s a simple browser with a few buttons and controls surrounding the webpage. At the top is your standard search bar, bookmarks bar and a few more buttons for settings in the upper-right corner.

If you click on the settings icon (the three horizontal bars), you’ll open up a more comprehensive menu of various actions that are otherwise neatly hidden from view when the menu is closed. Firefox isn’t based on Chromium, but its interface and menus are similar to Chrome.

As you type in the address bar, Firefox will automatically populate it with search suggestions based on your search history, bookmarks, search engine results and other kinds of data. Go into Firefox’s settings to manually select what kinds of suggestions will appear in the address bar.

U.S. users have the option of enabling “contextual suggestions” to receive localized search suggestions. Firefox will collect your city-level location data to suggest search results relevant to your area, plus data based on your engagement with the search suggestions. Firefox states that it doesn’t collect or share user data to make these suggestions.

firefox search box
Go directly to an article, search bar or previously visited page directly from the “new tab” page.

Firefox Tab Management

The default “new tab” page will display the Firefox logo at the top, with a Google search bar directly beneath it, followed by a selection of webpages in your search history and articles recommended by Pocket. Google is the default search engine, it can be manually changed under “settings” > “search.”

Once you’ve opened more tabs in an open window than can be displayed, navigation buttons will appear beside your row of tabs. The arrow buttons on the left and right will scroll through the off-screen tabs and another button on the right will open a dropdown menu of all open tabs. You can search for individual tabs here if you have too many tabs open.

Tabs will stop shrinking in size and scroll off-screen as new tabs are added, so some text will always be displayed. This makes each tab slightly easier to identify and click on than with Chrome, which narrows them down to just the favicon. 

Although Firefox used to support tab groups, this feature has been removed, so you’ll have to get an add-on if you want to customize your tab management further.

firefox pocket
Firefox’s Pocket app is integrated directly into the browser.

Pocket is Mozilla’s bookmarking app that enables users to save various internet content like articles, videos and web pages in a curated feed. The Pocket feed can be customized or turned off completely.

Mobile

Firefox’s iOS and Android apps also have simple layouts: the address bar, menu button and reader mode are located at the top of the screen, and the navigation controls are at the bottom.

In the event the mobile version of a website doesn’t have the same features as the desktop version, you can use the “request desktop site” action to view the desktop website on your phone.

Performance

70 % – Decent

Firefox experienced its largest transformation in 2017 with its Quantum update. The Quantum update was a complete overhaul of the browser’s design and the core engine it runs on, which reduced RAM use and boosted speed.

We measured Firefox’s performance by putting it through some speed tests along with Chrome, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera and Microsoft Edge. It came in last place, while Chrome came in first. It may sound like a slow browser, but it’s only slow on paper.

Firefox is fast enough in everyday use for its relatively slower speed to not be noticeable. Read our Chrome vs Firefox and Opera vs Firefox to see how it compares to other browsers.

Benchmark Test:Speedometer
BrowserRuns per Minute
Chrome121
Brave102
Mozilla Firefox95.5
Opera116.6
Vivaldi97.3
Benchmark Test:Jetstream
BrowserScore
Chrome125.917
Brave116.936
Mozilla Firefox80.131
Opera121.802
Vivaldi116.540
Benchmark Test:Motion Mark
BrowserScore
Chrome496.32
Brave444.67
Mozilla Firefox145.93
Opera373.27
Vivaldi285.25

We noticed that Firefox consumes a lot of system resources at once — it uses a lot of memory even with only a few tabs open and no extensions installed. Firefox and Chrome used up roughly the same amount of memory when running the same number of tabs, whereas Brave consumed less RAM by almost half.

Security

90 % – Excellent
firefox enhanced tracking protection
Firefox’s default security settings are enough to block most malicious content, but users can secure their data even more by enabling extra features.

Firefox uses malware protection to protect its users from trackers that spy on your activities across the web. By default, enhanced tracking protection will block things like cross-site tracking cookies, fingerprinting, social media trackers, cryptominers and any kind of tracker hidden in web pages. Firefox manages to block the majority of malicious trackers and ads without breaking website functionality.

Firefox loads HTTP and HTTPS pages alike and notifies you with a red padlock icon when you reach a website over an insecure connection. You can make Firefox load pages over HTTPS by default by enabling HTTPS-only mode. If no HTTPS connection is available, Firefox will prevent you from reaching the webpage unless you manually choose to connect to the site over HTTP.

The HTTPS-only mode is not enabled by default on Firefox. Like with Firefox’s password manager, this is an important security feature but it would afford more protection to all users if it was enabled by default.

firefox updates
Firefox is an automatically updated browser complete with release notes and manual updating capability.

Firefox automatically updates by default. Firefox downloads updates while you use the browser and installs them the next time you launch it. It’s prompt about issuing security patches when Mozilla discovers bugs, so you won’t have to worry about using an outdated version of Firefox.

Pop-Ups & Ad-Blocking

Firefox blocks pop-ups by default and will display a notification beneath the address bar when it does so. The notification bar contains an “options” button that leads to a menu with further pop-up controls, which includes allowing or blocking pop-ups for specific sites or disabling the notifications.

Because some websites rely on pop-up functionality for some of their features, Firefox provides the option to add websites to the pop-up allowlist while blocking all others.

Firefox does not block ads by default, but there are dozens of ad blockers available in its add-ons library. In fact, Mozilla compiled a list of five ad-blocking extensions the company recommends. There are many third-party add-ons compatible with Firefox, but these five have already been vetted by the company for malicious software.

Password Manager

A password prompt will appear each time you reach a website’s login page. You have the option of saving your credentials within the browser and auto-filling the credential field next time you log into that website.

If you’ve chosen to store your passwords locally instead of on a separate password manager service, keep in mind that your locally stored passwords are not secured with a master password by default. Forgetting to set a master password could potentially give someone else access to all of your accounts if you use a shared device, or if your device gets lost or stolen.

Privacy

90 % – Excellent

Unlike Google, Mozilla’s data collection practices don’t center around gathering and selling every user’s data for the creation of targeted ads. Mozilla is a nonprofit organization that only collects as much data as it needs for the ongoing development of Firefox and doesn’t sell your data to advertisers (or buy your data from them).

Mozilla’s privacy policy makes it one of the better web browsers for privacy-conscious users, although it’s not quite in our number-one spot for secure web browsers.

According to Mozilla’s documentation, Firefox doesn’t collect your browsing and search history to make money, but relies instead on distribution deals and partnerships for revenue. The data Firefox does collect on Firefox users includes technical and interaction data that is associated with a randomized identifier instead of your name or email address.

Firefox Data Collection

The technical data pertains to data about the browser itself and includes information on the operating system individual installations are running on, as well as crash report data. 

Interaction data consists of information about the way the browser is used. Mozilla will collect data about navigation patterns, how many tabs a given user has open, the number of times an add-on was used, and other such information.

Mozilla claims that this type of data does not include information about the sites the user accessed, but only the way in which the browser was used. Despite all of this, some users will naturally want to opt out of data collection, no matter how anonymized or minimal the data might be.

If you’re one of those users, you can stop Mozilla from collecting telemetry data by turning it off in the “privacy and security” menu in the settings.

firefox data collection
Firefox doesn’t connect your identity to your collected data, but you can manually opt out of data collection under “settings.”

Private Browsing Mode

firefox private windows
Use the browser’s private mode to avoid saving some or all of your history.

Firefox has a built-in private browsing mode that doesn’t save your search history, search queries, cookies, download entries or cached data. You can open up a private window by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P to browse the internet without recording your history.

Firefox’s private mode offers a granular set of choices instead of recording everything or nothing. You can select which types of data the browser saves and which are not, in case you want to avoid retaining search and form history but keep your browsing history, or some other combination.

Alternatively, Firefox can be configured to not save any data at all, even without using private windows. This is equivalent to using private windows by default in all but appearance.

Private windows, incognito mode and similar features are commonly thought of as privacy tools that will hide your identity online, but that’s far from the truth. Private windows won’t hide your IP address from your internet service provider or prevent websites from collecting personal data about you — it simply doesn’t save browser data that would otherwise be recorded.

Your best bet to boost your online privacy is to use a VPN. Out of all of our favorite VPNs, ExpressVPN is our top choice. Fast, secure and easy to use, ExpressVPN will give you peace of mind by concealing your identity from snooping third parties. Learn more in our full ExpressVPN review.

The Verdict

Firefox has held up well over the years. The current version has the modern appearance of Chrome and similar capabilities, while refraining from collecting as much data on its users. It’s already a good privacy browser by default, but the long list of privacy controls gives each user even more power to customize and fortify their online privacy.

It’s true that Firefox’s library of add-ons is smaller than Chrome’s, but Firefox still has thousands to choose from. Firefox isn’t always compatible with modern add-ons, but unless you need a very specific capability that Firefox can’t accommodate, it should otherwise be an excellent choice for your everyday web activities.

Overall, Mozilla is an impressive and dynamic browser that continues to adapt and improve in the modern era of the internet. Its feature-rich interface and privacy protections outweigh its shortcomings, and it still shows a lot of promise for continued innovation in web browsing.

What’s your take on Firefox? Has it adapted well to modern technology, or do you think its time is up? Do you think Mozilla can be trusted to protect your privacy any more than Google? Is its RAM usage a dealbreaker for you? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading.

Was this post helpful?

28 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
    1. Yes norton is no good but firefox good but i think maybe download source code then change to own preferences and then use

      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
  9. Do I need outside malware protection or does Firefox provide adequate protection?

    Reply
  10. I have been using Firefox for several years and quite happy with it. Few ads, pop-ups until an “upgrade” a couple of days ago. Now inundated with ads, pop-ups on sites I never saw them on before. If this is an improvement they better look up the definition.

    Reply
  11. Version 89 of Firefox was installed today. Just awful. I type in the search box and the data goes to the web page line and I keep getting web page not found messages. UGH. Who designed this change? I will have to go to Chrome or Edge if this is not fixed. I have been working in Information Technology since 1980.

    Reply
  12. My start page doesn’t show what the review is talking about. For example, there is no down arrow (except one just for downloads), and there are no three dots — but there are three bars. I can’t find the screen-capture tool there.

    Reply
  13. I used to love Firefox and used it on all my many devices. I still use it on my laptop, although since reading recent reviews, I haven’t updated it to the most recent version. The mobile device version is so bad, as far as I am concerned, that I have abandoned it. I check reviews every so often, hoping to be able to move back, but that time has not yet come. What makes me more unhappy is the tone of the responses to the very many terrible reviews: We’re sorry you’re unhappy and we’re always working to improve, but… I really think they should do what Microsoft and Coca Cola did. Just admit that the current release isn’t up to snuff, and get rid of it.

    Reply
  14. I was a Netscape user from Gold version 3.5 and upwards to version 9 when the browser was taken over by aol. I switched to the earliest version of Firefox and have followed it down through the many years. When Branden Erich was unceremoniously dumped by the woke crowd in management, I lost faith in the company and only used the browser sporadically after that. Today I see Eich’s new browser Brave over taking Firefox; just desserts I guess. I think Firefox going forward will continue to bleed users until it is gone. Sad but predictable.

    Reply
    1. thanks fore the insight on BRAVE , I did not know where it spawned from…thanks

      Reply
  15. Firefox is THE best browser for privacy, speed and saying no to Google’s monopoly. It is also open source and addons for Firefox are usually way better than Chrome extensions.
    Been using it for 3 years so far so good, 5 stars

    Reply
  16. ff is now a pile of ugly crap . since updating from 88 to the aweful 89 and onwards i might as well use a browser ff is copying at least its done better than a wannabe . ff used to be good but not anymore , so many complaints and dislikes about it and yet ff would rather lose more users than listen to them. do not bother with ff and use something else , its less of a headache than using this rubbish

    Reply
  17. I was using fire and firefox for years but since firefox recent upgrade . i decided to use microsoft edge on my new computer

    Reply
  18. Since I took the time to tell Microsoft that Edge may be the worst software I have ever used and that I only use it in my work computer, I figured I should also take the time to thank the Firefox team for the best browser I have ever used. Everything just works exactly as it should.

    Reply
  19. Used to love FF but since the company went woke, I dumped it. The Mozilla corporation appears more concerned about gender issues than working on reducing RAM usage and so forth. There are better browsers today (i.e. Brave, Vivaldi… even Edge) and my advice would be – go for one of those.

    Reply
  20. Firefox on Mac – strange fonts or corrupt characters. Reinstalled several times. Problems persist regardless of how may troubleshooting checklists I follow.

    Reply
  21. Most ignorant so far. Nevertheless, very useful review.

    Reply
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