5 Facts about Brave vs Firefox
- Brave and Firefox are Free and Open Source (or FOSS)
- Both provide a more secure and private browsing experience compared to Chrome or Safari
- Brave runs on Chromium and uses the Blink browser engine, both created and managed by Google. Firefox uses Gecko, its own proprietary engine.
- Firefox requires you to sign up with a Mozilla account. Brave doesn’t require an account.
- Brave is considered a Web3 technology due to its BAT (Basic Attention Token) System.
What are Brave and Firefox?
Privacy and security have been a concern of users since the dawn of the web. As the Internet has grown and evolved, so too have the dangers. Hacked social media accounts are a common occurrence, and people have lost a lot of money to nefarious actors. Not to mention the everyday invasions of privacy by corporations like Meta (Facebook), Google, Amazon, and Apple. These huge tech conglomerates have been accused of controlling our data and the way we see the world. What ads we see, what products we are suggested, and what content we interact with.
In the midst of all these concerns, some alternative options have emerged. There has been a bevy of new browsers that promise to change the way we use the internet. They claim they are working to make the internet more secure, private, and user-focused than ever before. At the top of this conversation are Firefox and Brave, two free and open-source browsers that have put privacy and security at the forefront of their offering.
Anyone who has been on the internet for more than five years has almost certainly heard of Firefox. Born from the ashes of the early internet browser Netscape, the first version of Firefox was launched on June 5th, 2002. The now legendary developer Mozilla originally launched the software under the name Phoenix. I take it the reason for this name is not lost on you. After a few years, a lot of updates, and a dizzying amount of name changes, Mozilla officially trademarked the name Firefox, and Firefox 1.0 was launched on February 9th of 2004.
The project was a free and open-source browser that focused on speed and user experience. Since users had access to the source code, those with the know-how were able to improve the browser all on their own. Firefox also pioneered some very important early features like pop-up blocking and the use of internet tabs. To be clear, they didn’t invent these features, but they are credited with popularizing them.
At the time, Microsoft had a near monopoly with Internet Explorer, and Mozilla’s Firefox showed up as a faster and safer alternative. The third version of Firefox was downloaded over 8 million times. Over the years, Firefox has continued to improve its security and privacy features with things like Enhanced Tracking Protection and Cookie Protection. Today, Firefox is still very much at the top of the browser conversation, but there are new up-and-comers looking to overtake the old standby.
Brave was founded in 2016 by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich and CTO Brian Bondy. Eich had been embroiled in controversy as Mozilla CEO due to his opposition to same-sex marriage and his personal donations to campaigns seeking to further the marginalization of LGBT communities. He stepped down in 2014, and he and Bondy began working on what became Brave.
Brave was founded with the idea that it would be a fast, free, and open-source browser that puts security, privacy, and the users at the front of its business model. As part of this plan, Eich co-created the Basic Attention Token, or BAT, to drive user engagement and give users incentive to watch ads instead of forcing them to. Brave blocks most ads right out of the box. However, it does include some banner ads.
It features many of the same security and privacy features as Firefox but by default instead of as an option. You do have the option to block ads completely on either browser, and Brave just makes it easier. While Firefox has had years to improve and refine its service, Brave is relatively new, and it is still very much a work in progress. It still functions rather well and gives you a good browsing experience, but there are still some kinks to be worked out.
Before we move on, we should probably talk about the FOSS community. FOSS stands for Free and Open-Source, which both Brave and Firefox are. To break this down, free just refers to the fact that the browser is, well, free. There is no fee involved to start using either browser.
Open-source just means that the source code for the browsers is available to all users. So, users that identify problems can make suggestions or even implement their own improvements to the software. Members of this community have been flocking to Brave because of its embryonic nature, but there is still a dedicated FOSS community surrounding Firefox.
How to use Brave and Firefox
Of these two options, Firefox is probably the most user-friendly. It has all the features that you would expect from a modern browser. Tabs, extensions, robust privacy settings, etc. It’s all here and ready to use right out of the box. To get the most out of Firefox, you do need to have a Mozilla account. This gets you bookmarks, fill-in passwords, and currently open tabs. It works like any other browser account would.
Firefox also has a great feature called Multi-Account Containers. This helps separate your different digital presences. For instance, you can have different containers for your work and personal emails and accounts. This allows you to keep your online “lives” separate and organized. This is available as an extension to Firefox and not built in out of the box, which has drawn some criticism from users.
It is hard to talk about how to use Brave without talking about BAT. As mentioned earlier, BAT is tokens you can earn and use on the browser. Brave blocks ads by default, but it offers crypto tokens if you do decide to watch ads. This way, you are not forced to watch ads to get the content you want but are incentivized to watch so you can earn these tokens. These tokens can be used on several different things on the browser, but one of the main uses is tipping.
Tipping allows you to send some of your tokens to creators or businesses that you support. So, if you are a fan of a YouTuber, you can kick some tokens to their Brave wallet as a way to support independent creators and small businesses. On paper, this seems like a nice way to incorporate web3 practices, but this system has come under fire. Some people will remember the Tom Scott situation.
Basically, Brave users were giving tips to popular user Tom Scott. Which was great, except for the fact that Tom Scott wasn’t on Brave and didn’t have a Brave wallet. So, Brave was just pocketing these tokens and not telling fans. Plus, with the recent downturn in crypto as a market, who knows what the value of these tokens will be over time. I touched on the crypto economy a bit in our Web 1.0 vs 2.0 vs 3.0 comparison, check that out if you want to learn more.
The Difference Between Brave vs Firefox
Brave and Blink
Brave was built using Chromium and Blink browser engine. This gives it a similar feel and UI to Google Chrome. It also accounts for Brave’s speed over other browsers. So, despite its claims against Google and Chrome specifically, Brave doesn’t exist without the systems that Google built and maintains.
That said, it shouldn’t impact your decision from a privacy standpoint. Chromium is open-source and available to anyone. Just because Google created it and maintains it doesn’t mean Google has any say over Brave’s privacy or business practices. The fact of the matter is Chromium is super-fast, and using it as a base is what has allowed Brave to quickly create a speedy platform with a clean, straightforward UI and powerful security features.
Firefox and Gecko
Firefox uses Mozilla’s own browser engine, Gecko. Built in the early days of Mozilla.org, Gecko was well-received by internet users looking to get away from Internet Explorer. Over the years, Gecko has evolved and modernized, but it is still owned and maintained by Mozilla itself.
This is what separates Firefox’s UI from many Chromium-based browsers today. It has a clean layout with suggested sites lined up just below the search bar. It does come default with the Google search bar, but there are rumors that Firefox is working to make Bing the default browser.
Firefox might be built using Google systems, but it does owe its continued existence to Google. Full 90% of Firefox’s revenue comes from Google’s search royalties. Google is currently the primary search engine on Firefox. So, while both Brave and Firefox try to carve out a space from under the thumb of big tech, players like Google cast a hell of a long shadow.
Firefox offers Enhanced Tracking Protection to block social media and web trackers of all kinds. You can select what level of protection you need. There is a standard for basic protection against tracking, which blocks all trackers and ads, or custom, where you can choose what trackers you want to block. In addition, Firefox can block crypto mining scripts, fingerprint trackers, and cookies from various sources.
Brave does block ads, fingerprint trackers, and cookies right out of the box. It also encrypts all your data with automatic HTTPS connection upgrades. Brave also displays a number of trackers and cookies it has blocked for you on the homepage, in case you were interested. It does have one feature that has drawn some criticism from users, whitelisting. This is the practice of allowing some websites to bypass Brave’s security features, sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Due to Brave’s strict security, these sites and others like them may not run properly on the browser. While this makes sense from a business perspective, some have seen this as a negative for Brave.
According to tests from TechRepublic using Basemark’s web3 benchmarking tool, Brave runs just a bit faster than Firefox. In my own testing, this was just slightly noticeable, but it was noticeable. Brave is leaner than Firefox, with less bloat and a more active community of developers working on improvements to keep the UI clean and fast. Not much more to say here other than Brave is the clear winner in the speed department.
Brave vs Firefox: Summary
So, which is better? Well, neither…or both. It isn’t really about which is better. Firefox and Brave are both amazing browsers for users that are seeking a more secure alternative to Chrome or Safari. They both have incredibly robust security features and offer great performance.
It comes down to personal preferences and needs. Brave has more web3 integrations with the Brave wallet and BAT. Plus, it uses Chromium and Blink, so you can get an experience that is like Chrome without the security risk. For users looking for more from Chrome but want to keep the Chrome feel, Brave is the one for you.
As an everyday browser, however, Firefox is hard to beat. If you aren’t interested in the Brave wallet (it can be hidden in settings) and are looking for a different experience from Chrome, Firefox is what you want. It is easy to use and very secure. But things on the web are ever-evolving, and it’s exciting to see what the future holds for these two browsers.