Brave Browser - Better than Google Chrome?

Andrew LeniartIT Professional | Freelance Journalist
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I constantly test drive different Web Browsers yet none have inspired me to write a review about any one of them. Brave is the exception to that rule and in this article, I'll try and point out the reasons why I think that Brave is indeed far superior to Google Chrome.
Pre-Ramble: Brave is available for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iOS, iPhones, and Android devices. This article is based on the Windows 10 version of it.

Recently, some clients of mine have found that Chrome misbehaves in a variety of ways, most recently being that on some Windows 10 installations, Chrome tends to randomly close down for no apparent reason. Now given that Google Chrome is a well established and solid browser, I suspect the problems a lot of folks are experiencing is because of recent Windows 10 update and/or the lack of Google Chrome updates to address the changes in Windows 10.

Introducing a Google Chrome Look-a-Like Browser

For a few months now, I've been using the Brave Browser as my default web browser on Windows 10, just to see how well it compares to all the others available. The beauty of Brave, when compared to Chrome, is that the learning curve is very small indeed. It looks and performs in a very similar way to Google Chrome, except that I find it considerably faster.

Here's a snapshot of what it looks like on my computer. (Click the image to see a full-sized version of the pic)



Installation

Installing Brave is pretty much like installing Google Chrome. Once you have it installed, it can import your Bookmarks from the following browsers:

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • An exported Bookmarks HTML file from any other browser

Extension & Browser Themes Availability

The extensions and themes available to you for Brave pretty much mirror what is available for Google Chrome. Just go to the Chrome Web Store, select any extension or theme that you like and install it in exactly the same way you install them to Google Chrome.

I've yet to strike an extension on the Google web store that would not work just as well with Brave as well, apart from one. That's the "Application Launcher for Drive (by Google)" - The application launcher doesn't seem to want to play with the Brave browser, but I've been too slack to email Brave support to try and get a resolution for it.

Brave Settings

The settings in Brave are much the same as in Chrome or any other browser, with a few neat extras. You can configure:

  • Profile Names & Icons, Appearance 
  • Themes
  • Show or disable the Home button
  • Use a Wide Address Bar
  • Show or Hide the Bookmarks Tab and Bar
  • Font Size
  • Customise fonts to suit yourself
  • Page Zoom
  • Configure the Search Engines Brave will use
  • Brave Rewards Button (more on that later).

Social Media Blocking

With Brave, you can choose to allow, or disallow the following:

  • Google Logins
  • Facebook Logins and Embedded Posts
  • Twitter Embedded Tweets
  • LinkedIn Embedded Posts

Some Handy Built-in Extensions

Brave installs with a number of extensions that you can configure or leave turned off if you prefer.

  • Crypto Wallets - Provides an Ethereum wallet and Dapp browser inside Brave
  • Hangouts - Uses Hangouts component to enable screen sharing and other features in the browser
  • IPFS Companion - Uses IPFS companion extension to support IPFS in the browser
  • Media Router - Uses Media Router component to enable Chromecast in the browser
  • Private Window with Tor - Tor hides your IP address from the sites you visit
  • WebTorrent - Uses WebTorrent to display torrents directly in the browser. Supports torrent files and magnet links
  • Widevine - Asks when a site wants to install Widevine on your computer

The " Private Window with Tor" I personally find very useful. Using TOR browser technology, your public IP is automatically hidden from any website you visit. This eliminates the need to install the Tor Browser if that's all you want to use it for and I use it for that purpose quite a bit.

Also, just like in Google Chrome, you have the same quick configuration options accessed from the top right of the browser.

Here are a couple of snapshots to check out...





The main differences between Brave and Chrome

Speed:  First and foremost, I've noticed that (for me anyway) Brave performs noticeably faster and doesn't slow down during extended use when browsing the web like Google Chrome often does for me. The developers make the claim that Brave loads pages 3x to 6x faster than Chrome and Firefox, and I have noticed that with my own eyes, so as far as I'm concerned, that claim is true!

Advertisement and Popup Blocker: There are many sites that will refuse to allow you to read if you have an ad blocker installed and active. One excellent example of this is the Australian Daily Mail news site. When I visit that (and some other) site(s), I get the following error.

(Click the image below to see it in full size)



Visiting the same news site with Brave and having its Ad and Popup Blocker active does not trigger the block, yet both advertisements and popups are indeed blocked! How long that will last I can't say, but its blocking functions have yet to stop me from visiting any website that does not allow viewing or reading with an adblocker active.

Privacy and Security

The privacy and security Brave gives you far outweighs what you get with Google Chrome unless you install a number of extensions into Chrome so you can get the same benefits that Brave provides out of the box.

Here's a list of security features that come as default with each Brave install,  quoted from their website:


Experience unparalleled privacy and security
Brave fights malware and prevents tracking, keeping your information safe and secure. It’s our top priority.

We’re not in the personal data business
Our servers neither see nor store your browsing data – it stays private, on your devices, until you delete it. Which means we won’t ever sell your data to third parties.

Customize your shield settings
Choose your settings on a per-site or browser-wide basis. See how many ads and trackers are being blocked by Brave every day on the New Tab Page.
Security meets simplicity
If you’re willing to research, download, and install multiple extensions, and carefully configure and correctly maintain settings in both the browser and extensions, you can match some of Brave’s privacy and security.

Brave does all that work for you. Simple, right?

Whenever possible using the HTTPS Everywhere list, Brave automatically upgrades to HTTPS for secure, encrypted communications when an ordinary browser would use an insecure connection.

Defaults that matter
Browse confidently with default settings that block phishing, malware, and malvertising. Also, plugins, which have proven to be a security risk, are disabled by default.

Sync your devices bravely
Brave Sync, currently in beta, can be enabled to encrypt and synchronize your preferred settings and bookmarks. However, Brave does not have the keys to decrypt your data.


Comparing the above list of features to a default Chrome install, Google Chrome;

  • Does not fight Malware without the use of third party extensions
  • Can and does see and store your browsing data on Google servers
  • Does not have a built-in application or extension that shows you how many items, scripts, and Cross-site cookies were blocked.
  • Does not install with default settings that block phishing, malware, and malvertising.
  • Does not automatically disable plugins by default which have been proven as a security risk if a user installs them.



Another great feature that Chrome lacks is  " Brave Rewards ". Totally optional to join or use, the Brave Rewards program allows you to earn by viewing private ads. If you have (I don't) the needed skills, you can even become a creator yourself and start earning BAT from tips, contributions, and referrals.

Concluding

As mentioned at the start of this article, Chrome is a very well established, popular and widely used browser all over the world. I continue to like it, but since trying and using Brave for a few months, not so much. I'm a convert. Brave just works better for me and gives me less trouble than Google Chrome does and has in the past.

Indeed, the only reason I continue to use Chrome (along with many other browsers) is to continue collecting data for a future article I will be writing comparing the benefits and negatives of available web browsers, and not just Brave and Chrome. That article is still a ways away though so I hope you got some value out of this write-up.

I hope you found this article useful. You are encouraged to ask questions, report any bugs or make any other comments about it below.



Note: If you need any "Support" about this topic, please consider using the Ask a Question feature of Experts Exchange. I and other experts monitor the questions asked and would be pleased to provide any additional support required.
 
Finally, if you think this article was helpful and useful for EE members, please do click the "Thumbs Up" button below. It also provides me with positive feedback. Thank you.


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Andrew LeniartIT Professional | Freelance Journalist
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Helping others to help themselves...

Comments (8)

Andrew LeniartIT Professional | Freelance Journalist
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Author of the Year 2019
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Commented:
Hi McKnife,

I am astounded to see how easy you fly over these arguments.
What do you mean by "fly over these arguments"? I'm honestly unsure what you're saying I'm doing here? I wasn't aware I was "arguing" about anything? I consider this a discussion about our opinions, not an argument over technicalities :)

See, chromium is a Google project (and Ryan Schoen, the author of that 2017 blog entry, works for Google). Both browsers are chromium based, so most of the functionality that you see is based on the same code.
Agreed they're based on the same code, but Chrome and Brave will have different code altogether. I wasn't aware that Ryan Schoen worked for Google, so I'll give you that one :)

Brave adds extensions that I might not want. Yes, you want them and I can agree with a lot of your findings regarding their quality, Personally, I still prefer to choose the extensions that I want, including what popup-blocker and so on.
Every single extension you may not want can be easily disabled in Brave's Settings if you don't want them, even the superior popup-blocker. Not sure why you might want to do that, but if you do, the functionality is there.

The links I quoted are describing technical aspects that both browsers are using. They use a lot of the same protective methods so I found it simply questionable to claim that chrome does nothing in these 3 respects.
As I said in my article, in a default install of Chrome, it does none of those things, and a lot of those things Brave does do them (and more) after a default install, which is ideal for non-technical users. Sure, Chrome can be secured down just as well, but not without installing third-party extensions. That was my point.

I have been using chrome for years
Me too. Many, many years in fact, and it might surprise you that I'm currently using it as my default browser in Windows 10. I've never said I didn't like Chrome, I think it's a great browser, but because of my comparison testing and data collection of several browsers performances and default installs, I often switch to other browsers and use them as default for a month or two.

That includes browsers like Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Edge Dev edition, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and a couple of others that slip my mind at the moment.

I make a point of saying that in case you think I'm some sort of 'fanboy' of the Brave browser just because I've written a glaringly positive review about it. Brave is a Chrome look-a-like though and given the choice, I would recommend Brave to non-technical users over Chrome every day of the week including Sundays, for reasons I stated in my article, the least not being faster performance and better out of the box user protection. It has its own problems, just like every other browser, but that's to be expected. It's still early days for Brave development.

I find it very useful to bring up the browser privacy topic, since we all "pay" for the chrome browser with our telemetry data.
As do I. (Find it useful and interesting to bring up I mean)

I agree: that is a strong reason to convert.
In all honesty, that's not the reason I like it so much as I'm not that fussed about Google or Microsoft knowing what websites I'm visiting from time to time. In the grand scheme of things, to Microsoft and Google, we are a grain of sand on the largest beach in the world - I'm just not that interesting to spy on so if they want to track what sites I visit, so far as I'm concerned they can knock themselves out.

What's most important for me, is all about the UI, performance, speed, security, and reliability. I have yet to test a browser that even comes close to Brave in all of those respects and if you give it a fair go, I'm tipping you'll probably agree. As I said earlier, I'm very interested in hearing your take on it, because the feedback I've had from clients I've switched from Chrome to Brave has been nothing but positive.

Cheers, Andrew
Basem KhawajaClinical Pharmacist

Commented:
Hi Andrew,

Kudos on another winning and very informative article on Brave Browser. I learned a lot from it and from your input on my question. You are a very excellent asset to the EE community. Keep up the good work!

Basem Khawaja, R.Ph.
Andrew LeniartIT Professional | Freelance Journalist
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Author of the Year 2019
Distinguished Expert 2020

Author

Commented:
Thank you for your kind words Basem, and also for endorsing the article. Appreciate it :)

Regards, Andrew
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Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
"What's most important for me, is all about the UI, performance, speed, security, and reliability. I have yet to test a browser that even comes close to Brave in all of those respects and if you give it a fair go, I'm tipping you'll probably agree. As I said earlier, I'm very interested in hearing your take on it"

After almost 3 months of using brave as default browser, here's my take:

Speed - no notable difference to chrome or edge. If there is, I can't notice it.
Reliability - as good as others - no difference to chrome as it was never unreliable to me (I administer a whole company browsing with chrome as default)
UI - similar to chrome
Security -  the add blocking works good, still I came across three sites where I had to turn shields off in order to be able to read the content. The overall concept is convincing.

What I don't understand, is why they don't update their browser as soon as chrome does. For example, today, the latest chrome is 83.x and brave is not using it, but still on 81. It misses several security updates introduced in chrome 83. This problem has been
brought up in the forums but not even a single reply. The brave release schedule tells me, brave will move to chromium 83 not before June 9th, that's means, with brave, I will be running a browser based on an old chromium engine, unpatched for more than 2 weeks (chrome 83 was released on may 21st.)

As this is not the first time that brave is behind on updating (compare release dates to https://chromereleases.googleblog.com/ ), I consider it dangerous to use it for the inexperienced user who tends to visit dangerous sites.
Andrew LeniartIT Professional | Freelance Journalist
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Author of the Year 2019
Distinguished Expert 2020

Author

Commented:
Hi McKnife,

Speed - no notable difference to chrome or edge. If there is, I can't notice it.

The place it really becomes noticeable is Social Media sites like Facebook. Unless you don't spend long sessions on FB, you won't have noticed, but I've found conclusively that if I use FB for an hour or more, its response time will slow to a crawl until I close and re-open Google Chrome. That does not happen here with Brave.

Other than that, interesting feedback on your experience. Thanks for sharing it.

Regards, Andrew

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