Data Doctor - When in doubt, two Internet browsers work best - East Valley Tribune: Business

Data Doctor - When in doubt, two Internet browsers work best

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Posted: Monday, November 13, 2006 3:00 am | Updated: 4:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: Which of the two new versions of Web browsers should I upgrade to — Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 or Mozilla’s Firefox 2.0? — Marcus

A: The quick answer to your question is either, both or neither.

To me, it makes sense to have both browsers loaded, but it may not make sense to upgrade to either of the new versions just yet.

The initial Firefox browser, which launched in 2003, was touted (and rightly so at the time) as far more secure than Microsoft’s browser, and more than 220 million downloads have been recorded since its launch.

While this sounds like a huge number, at last check Firefox had just over 10 percent of the browser market share, while Internet Explorer had about 85 percent. (The other 5 percent is shared among Apple’s Safari, Opera and a few other alternate browsers.)

Because it has become so popular, however, Firefox is just as big of a target for hackers as Internet Explorer. So the initial reason to switch is becoming less of a reason.

The reason that I suggest you have both browsers loaded is that there is very little downside to installing both. IE is already installed, and Firefox does not take that much disk space on today’s computers. But they can be very helpful when you are having issues on the Internet, and it can help you decide which one you like better by using them both in your daily travels.

For diagnostic purposes, if you find that you cannot go to a specific Web site in one, launching the other will quickly tell you if the problem is with the Web site or the browser. This quick test can save you lots of time chasing the wrong end of a problem.

Browsers are one of the most highly targeted software products on the market because they can give hackers quick access to your computer if they can trick you into doing something that gives them permission.

Identity theft is the goal and one of the easiest ways is through a Web browser.

One of the first indications that your system has been exploited is when your browser starts to act up. Symptoms like slow performance, strange startup pages, pop-ups as soon as you launch or any peculiar activity that was not exhibited before will generally point to a browser-based infection (another great reason to have an alternative browser installed).

The reason that I suggest that you not download either for the time being is that both are relatively new, and we are starting to see some folks who are having various issues with their computer after downloading both of the new versions.

In fairness, the majority of folks who have downloaded either are not having any real problems, so if you have already installed either of them and your system is in good working order, there is no reason to change anything.

If you do run into problems, you can generally uninstall either by going to the Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel to revert back to the previous version.

If you want to play it safe, wait for a couple more updates from both before you take the plunge!

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