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Chromium vs. Chrome: How Do They Compare?

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Chromium vs. Chrome: How Do They Compare?

As a regular user of the internet, do you care about the web browser you use? If you’re reading this article using Chrome, you’re in a large group of global internet users for whom Chrome is the browser of choice.

While Chrome is the undisputed top dog of the browsing world, did you know that it has very close similarities to its name-sharing Chromium? Did you also know that there are substantial differences between Chrome and Chromium?

Whether you’re accessing the internet on a desktop, laptop, iPad, or other mobile devices, your browser provides the gateway to the internet. While you might not have given much thought about the importance of the browser you use, remember that the very act of getting online gives the web browsing company access to a lot of private data. You certainly care about your privacy and you can only hope that your personal data is not being shared with other people. And if you’re using the internet to work like many of us do, you want a browser that guarantees good speed without taking too much of your gadget’s memory. For these and other reasons, it makes sense to choose your browser carefully.

Let’s delve into a full-fledged comparison of Chrome and Chromium to help you figure out which web browser is the superior choice for you.

Chromium vs. Chrome: Side-by-Side Comparison

ChromiumChrome
Launch date20082008
DeveloperGoogleGoogle
Update Mechanism?AbsentBuilt-in
License SupportBasicAdvanced: Includes MP3, AAC, H.264, Adobe Flash
Updates InstallationFrequent but manualAutomatic
PrivacyLimited collection of infoCollects and transfers vast amounts of data
StabilityCrashes frequentlyStable
Add-ons?NonePlenty
Flash Support?Absent (have to be plugged in)In-Built
Print Preview?AbsentPresent

Chromium vs. Chrome: What’s the Difference?

From the above table, we can see that Chrome and Chromium were released by Google simultaneously. Google released Chrome as a proprietary browser but at the same time created Chromium as an open-source project that could be used as the foundation for other browsers. While Chrome dominates the browser market, Chromium is the base on which most browsers are built today. So, what are the main differences between the two and why would you choose one over the other?

Privacy

When browsing the internet, privacy is of utmost importance and you want a browser that doesn’t jeopardize the security of information that you consider private. Chrome is popular for several outstanding features including its ability to automatically collect and transfer a vast range of data. Chrome sends crash reports and user statistics.

The ability to collect so much data is actually a double-edged sword. While such reports could help Google perform needed upgrades, the browser’s ability to collect and transfer historical data about the user doesn’t make many feel protected. There’s so much information that you might desire to keep private but, unfortunately, Google, courtesy of Chrome, already has that information.

Since Chromium does not collect and transfer private data like Chrome does, you might be more inclined to use Chromium. But when you look at the overall picture and the other advantages that Chrome has over Chromium, you might wonder if there’s a way to make your data private. Fortunately, it’s possible to stay private when using Chrome – if you browse using Incognito Mode, your private information stays private.

License Support

If you choose to use Chromium, one of the weaknesses you’ll discover with the browser is the acute limitation in the amount of media content that you can play. Unlike Chrome, Chromium provides support for a limited number of basic codecs such as Theora, VP8&9, Opus, and WAV.

The license support offered on Chrome is immense. In addition to the basic free codecs that you get in Chromium, Chrome enables access to a vast variety of media content. Chrome comes with license support for MP3, AAC, and H.264 codecs, which Chromium doesn’t have. What this means is that if you desired to play MP3 media or use a streaming app such as YouTube using a Chromium browser, you’ll be forced to manually install the required codecs.

And if you’re still using Adobe Flash player, you’ll not be able to use it on Chromium unless you manually write the requisite code on the browser. Chrome helps you overcome such problems as it comes with in-built Flash support.

Stability

Whether you’re writing that quarterly report that your manager is waiting for, watching your favorite movie, or gaming, you want a stable browser. You know how frustrating it is for your browser to crash when you’re in the middle of your activities. Browser stability is directly related to productivity, and if you use a suspect browser, you could be losing a lot of precious time.

For stability, Chrome beats Chromium hands down. Chrome is known for its stability, unlike Chromium, which is notorious for frequent crashes.

Google Chrome icon on iPhone
Google Chrome is more stable than Chromium, which is known for its somewhat regular crashing.

Browser Extensions

As noted above, Chrome is a proprietary product and, as a user, you are warned against installing extensions from sources outside of the Chrome Web Store, as these extensions can pose a security risk. Since Chromium is an open-source product, it provides fertile ground for developers to try new ideas. Ordinary users could find all they require from Chrome but the browser might limit web developers who wish to experiment.

Chromium is ever-evolving thanks to the inputs of many developers. What this ultimately means is that every new version of Chromium will be better than its predecessor. Where Chromium promotes diversity, Chrome would seem to root for the status quo. While you can install countless extensions in Chromium, Chrome only allows you to install the extensions available in its web store.

Use of Widevine DRM

Google uses the Widevine DRM (digital rights management) system to provide protection for media. The protection system has three security levels which differ depending on the hardware used.

Other major content service providers that use Widevine include Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu. To provide an added layer of protection for Chrome, Widevine is embedded in the Chrome browser. Other Google platforms, including Android TV and Android Mobile, have benefitted from this technology.

While Widevine is embedded in Chrome, its absence in Chromium should concern you when you think about the security of your media. If, for instance, you’re using your browser to write or compose music, protection such as the one provided by Widevine ensures that you’re safe from hackers and plagiarizers.

Chromium vs. Chrome: 8 Must-Know Facts

  • Both Chrome and Chromium are browsers that Google launched simultaneously in 2008.
  • Since its inception, Chrome has grown by leaps and bounds and, by January 2023, Chrome’s global market share was over 65%.
  • Chrome is Google’s proprietary browser while Chromium is an open-source browser. Being open-source, Chromium has been used to develop other browsers and some of the famous browsers that have been developed using the Chromium code include Samsung Internet, Opera, and Microsoft Edge.
  • Being an open-source browser, Chromium offers plenty of ground for experimentation and innovation. For web developers, Chromium gives them the opportunity to try out new things that they would not be able to do on Chrome. The community of developers that use Chromium helps promote innovation thereby improving the quality of the browser. While the use of Chromium could be limiting for an ordinary user, it might appeal more to advanced users.
  • Chrome is a much safer browser than Chromium because it comes embedded with Google’s Widevine DRM, which Chromium does not have. The possibility of malicious online attacks is greatly reduced when you use Chrome.
  • Chrome collects and transfers vast amounts of data to Google. The kind of data collected and transferred includes crash reports, your device’s operating system, as well as your personal data. Through Chrome, Google gets a lot of information that some people might want to keep private. Chromium does not send such data and is, therefore, a better choice when you think about privacy.
  • Chrome is a feature-filled browser. It has an update mechanism and comes with built-in support for diverse technologies. When you desire to view online content (Netflix, YouTube, etc.), Chrome enables you to do so while Chromium does not have such an ability.
  • Using Chrome guarantees a smooth, stable, and almost trouble-free browsing experience. When you use Chromium, however, stability is never guaranteed as the browser crashes frequently.

Chromium vs. Chrome: Which One is Better?

A close look at Chromium and Chrome reveals that the two browsers share more similarities than differences. It should not be surprising that the two appear near-identical, considering that both are Google products. For the average user, the features in Chrome ensure smooth operations and the ability to access diverse media. Given that Chromium is severely limited in the amount of media you can access using it, many people are content with Chrome’s abilities. Despite Chromium’s limitations, it’s a platform that allows for experimentation and innovation and advanced users are more at home with it than with Chrome.

A major downside for Chrome and one that makes some people wary of it is its collection and transfer of private data. Chromium never collects or transfers such data and would be the browser of choice for people who are concerned about their privacy. Even though you risk exposure when working on Chrome, you have the ability to keep your personal details private when you choose to work in Incognito mode.

When you consider all the factors that are critical when browsing the internet, like load times, support for multiple devices, crash-free operation, frequent updates, and security, Chrome beats Chromium in all areas except for security. Given that you have a way to ensure that you’re not vulnerable when using Chrome, we are happy to recommend Chrome as a better browser.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chromium?

Chromium is an open-source web browser project that serves as the foundation for many popular web browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. Chromium is developed by the Chromium Project, a community of developers that contribute to the project and work to improve its performance, security, and features.

What is Google Chrome?

Google Chrome is a popular web browser developed by Google that is built on the Chromium platform. Chrome includes many features and enhancements that are not available in the standard Chromium browser, including Google’s proprietary extensions and services.

What is the main difference between Chromium and Chrome?

While both Chromium and Chrome are based on the same open-source code, there are some key differences between the two. Chromium is a bare-bones browser that does not include any of the proprietary features or extensions that are included in Chrome. Chrome, on the other hand, includes Google’s proprietary features and extensions, such as Google Sync, which allows users to synchronize their bookmarks, history, and other data across multiple devices.

Which is more secure, Chromium or Chrome?

Both Chromium and Chrome are considered to be relatively secure web browsers. However, Chrome’s proprietary features and extensions do introduce additional security risks, as they are not open-source and are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as the underlying Chromium code.

Which browser should I use, Chromium or Chrome?

The choice between Chromium and Chrome largely comes down to personal preference and specific use cases. If you prefer a bare-bones browser with no proprietary features or extensions, Chromium may be the better choice for you. However, if you rely on Google’s proprietary extensions and services, such as Google Sync, you may prefer to use Chrome. Additionally, some websites and web applications may work better on one browser or the other, so it may be worth trying both to see which works best for your specific needs.

Can Chrome and Chromium be installed on the same computer?

Yes, both Chrome and Chromium can be installed on the same computer without any conflicts. However, keep in mind that since they are separate browsers, they will not share the same settings, bookmarks, or extensions.

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