Why I Left Firefox For Chrome And Why I Came Back

Last weekend I finally had it with Firefox. After one more crash because it was blowing up my resources I decided it was time to give up the ghost and I switched to Chrome.

I had two other alternatives, of course. I could have gone to Opera, which has always been pretty fast, but it just seems so sparse. True, one should probably only think about using a browser to browse the internet, but many of us are looking for certain things from our browsers to enhance the user experience, if you will. I also could have gone to IE8 but decided I just don’t want to go backwards, even though I’ve heard good things about IE9, which I haven’t loaded yet.

Anyway, Firefox had suddenly decided to go nuts on me. It was using some major league resources on my computer, once to the tune of 1.8GB; that’s a lot. It was regularly going over a gigabyte, and that was way too much. Then it started crashing all the time, asking me to send crash reports to Mozilla. Last Sunday it crashed the 7th time in one day and that was that.

So I made Chrome my default browser. I had been thinking about it anyway, but not without some reservation. It’s a Google product, as you know, and almost anything related to Google wants to track you. I wrote a post in 2010 telling people that if you use Google Toolbar it tracks your searches and then you start getting targeted advertising. I know they try to tell us it’s for our benefit but I just don’t feel the benefit if you know what I mean. At least you can turn it off for Google Desktop.

I used Chrome for about 4 days and started to feel that, though it had been running better than Firefox, it had issues as well. For instance, every once in awhile it just hangs for a little bit. I went to check the resources and found that it was using a gigabyte of memory as well; what the hey? It seemed to handle that much memory a little better than Firefox but not entirely; that was shocking.

Then I started missing some of my customization. For instance, I was able to modify the look of Firefox to what I was used to in the past; you can’t do that with Chrome. Also, certain plugins that make using a browser that I’ve come to like aren’t available on Chrome. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t figure out how to get anything onto Chrome whatsoever. Well, I did finally get one thing to work, but that was it.

Yup, I started missing Firefox, but I had to do something to help it stop crashing. I decided to take a look at all the plugins I was running, along with other things, to see what I really didn’t need anymore. I ended up disabling, then removing, a lot of things that I noticed didn’t even work anymore. Firefox 5 automatically disabled some thing it said it wasn’t compatible with, but I use both Stylish and Greasemonkey and it turns out some scripts with each of those weren’t working anymore either, and could have been causing a conflict.

The verdict is pretty good so far. The highest recorded memory since I made the changes is 525MB, which is easily more manageable. The browser hasn’t crashed since I started using it again and I’m happy about that as well. Maybe it’s finally going to behave; one can only hope, right?

But customization is really what puts Firefox ahead of every other browser, and in the end that’s really why it’s my favorite. That’s my story; what’s yours?

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Google Toolbar Tracks Your Movements

Do you have Google Toolbar installed on your browser? I do, and I have to admit that I find it as a convenience in two ways. One, I know I can click on the Google button and it’ll pull up the Google search page. Two, I also use Google Desktop, and the icon for it sits on the toolbar, easy to find.

One thing I’ve rarely done, however, is type my search term into the little box next to the button. I almost never think about it sitting there. What’s funny is that, as I look up there now, I see the search terms I typed into the actual Google window the last time I was there waiting for me, as if I’m going to type them in again. That’s a quick way to search for something; I wonder why I have rarely used it.

Turns out there might have been a good reason not to do it, and I was just lucky. It seems that every time you put a search term into that little window and click the button, you’re sending information to Google telling them what you’re searching for. They in turn use that information to try to target ads specifically to you based on where you live and what you’ve been searching for. They store this information away, waiting for the next time you use it so they can do more calculations, trying to figure you out.

It seems this has been written about often enough, but I’ve always missed it. The last article I saw comes from Mashable, where they found that even if you disable the tracking part of the toolbar it still continues to track your movements.

Of course, you can look at that and gripe, or you can decide to gripe about the issue of Adsense reducing its payments from 75% to 72% to its publishers, of which most of us are. Man, working on getting our money coming or going; how fair is that?

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