The 5 Lightest Web Browsers – March 2021
For many, the go-to web browsers are Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Edge, and Mozilla Firefox, all of which do an excellent job of supporting your browsing needs, but they are also quite demanding and consume a lot of system resources. These popular browsers may put an additional strain on your processor, RAM, and even drain your laptop battery quicker. Break away from the de-facto standards of browsing and inundate yourself in the world of bare-bones web browsers.
Using less-known lightweight browsers is a great solution to the problem of system resources getting hogged by a more robust browser with multiple tabs opened. These browsers, for the most part, do the same job as their better-known counterparts, and there are no compromises in terms of performance.
Here’s the list of the top 5 light web browsers you might want to try. Our selection is based off of currently supported projects, minimal resource usage, and the number of supported OS. If you desire a more robust web browser with additional security, graphics, and add-ons, then you’ll want to consider sticking with the mainstream ones.
1. Pale Moon
A great choice for anyone with a modern CPU, any multicore processor above or equivalent to an Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 series, is Pale Moon. This browser requires at least 300 MB of disk space and requires 256 MB of RAM, but recommends at least 1 GB of RAM. This may seem like a lot of memory and storage, but the installer application is usually much smaller than the installed app, and the browser most likely won’t ever use that much RAM.
Although they currently only support Linux and Windows OS, there are currently development projects underway for other operating systems. If you’re using this on Linux, then installation isn’t necessary, you can simply download the file and extract and run it.
Although designed specifically for Win32, K-Meleon runs just fine on Win64 and Linux machines with Wine installed. This fast, lightweight browser, is based off the Gecko layout engine designed by Firefox and only requires 70 MB of disk space for download and a recommended 256 MB of RAM.
Given that it can run on systems that still utilize XP, this browser was designed to use less resources. You can download the browser from SourceForge.
Designed with a minimal GUI and featuring keyboard-focused, VIM-like bindings, qutebrowser is a dream come true for many developers and Linux enthusiasts.
Installing this browser does require additional installation of several other packages to support it, such as Python 3.6.1 or above.
One can easily feel intimidated by the learning curve for this browser, but once you’re familiar with it, you’ll be surprised at how efficient it is.
Midori is an excellent option if you are not a demanding user. It is an open-source browser that offers a decent selection of features. What’s more, it stands out as one of the top browsers in terms of consuming the least amount of resources.
In terms of features, this browser offers HTML5 and RSS support, anonymous browsing, a spell checker, and more. Midori also does include some extras like font/display and privacy settings. Previously, it used the encrypted DuckDuckGo as the default search engine to protect the privacy of your information, however, Midori recently switched to the non-encrypted Lycos to allow for much faster performance.
The minimalistic user interface is yet another highlight of this browser. Midori has a search bar and a few usual buttons but that’s it, allowing the search to take center stage.
5. Comodo IceDragon
Developed by a well-known cybersecurity company, Comodo IceDragon is a powerhouse of a browser. The browser itself has features similar to Mozilla Firefox and robust security to keep all data intact. You get the usual assortment of add-ons, extensions, menus, and more.
IceDragon utilizes Comodo DNS servers to convert a URL to an IP address. More importantly, this browser has a dedicated virtual container. This means that it doesn’t get in touch with your system, so there is no risk of malicious software unknowingly infecting your computer.
This light browser provides you with the option to remove crash and performance reports, and it also scans web pages for potential threats. IceDragon works on Windows and requires 128 MB of RAM and 40 MB of hard drive space.
Although it’s designed for Windows, Microsoft has taken great measures to make more programs cross-compatible. After all, Red Hat and Oracle are know Microsoft companies.
Honorable Mention – Lynx Web Browser
Known as the world’s oldest web browser that is still actively supported, Lynx is a text-based browser that operates on Linux, MAC, Windows, and more. While not for everyone, a text-based web browser offers a few security features due to the nature of ad tracking and cookies. Since it doesn’t process images or cookies, traditional ad tracking has no effect.
Although Lynx doesn’t offer traditional tabs or cookies, there are extensions available that allow you to whitelist and blacklist cookies from certain websites.
If you don’t need graphics or mind working from a terminal window, then check out Lynx. There’s a reason this browser is still being supported.
Lightweight Browsers for Linux/Unix Based OS
For those that use Unix, Linux, or other Unix-like OS, you have a few options exclusive to you. There are a plethora of minimalist designed, lightweight browsers to choose from, so I’ll only list a few.
Designed with personal security and privacy in mind, the Dillo web browser features a small footprint when it comes to utilizing system resources. Written in C\C++, Dillo is a fast and efficient browser.
Requiring only 16 MB of download space, NetSurf is a fast and efficient browser than can use as little as 30 MB of RAM per tab. NetSurf can run on a variety of devices, even embedded systems. Check out this compact browser for a great alternative.
Although there is a Windows version of this, some of the features aren’t available and it’s been known to crash, so I’m listing this as a Linux browser for now.
Developed for the GNOME desktop environment, GNOME Web is a simple and elegant browser that adheres to the design philosophies of GNOME 3. Created with the WebKit engine, GNOME Web, also codenamed Epiphany, is a great browser for those that love
What is the Most Lightweight Web Browser?
Pale Moon. For the sake of this list, Pale Moon is most likely going to be the most lightweight. Rare though they may be, there are some issues that can arise in some of the other browsers that might cause them to require more resources than Pale moon.
What is the Best Overall Browser in 2021?
Firefox. Although Firefox is considered a bigger RAM hog than a lot of other, more lightweight browsers, it’s still the best overall in almost every category. It’s one of the fastest internet browsers, comes with private windows, and reliably blocks malware.
Which is the Safest Browser?
Firefox, IceDragon. Yep, Firefox again. Out of the popular web browsers, Firefox is the safest and constantly rates low in malware. IceDragon is the safest for the lighter browsers, as this browser has the most support, and has a virtual container. This means IceDragon doesn’t directly interact with your system.
If you want more privacy and security from a browser, check to see if no-script and ad-block are available as extensions, no-script being more important than ad-block.
The Final Verdict
It’s almost impossible to single out one of the browsers from this list as the best. Each one excels in its own respect and the final choice boils down to your personal preference and browsing needs.
For example, if you’re a fan of VIM-style key bindings, check out Qutebrowser, if you want a browser with less of a learning curve, then check out Pale Moon. All of them provide a pleasant browsing experience with significantly less strain on your system, when compared to their more robust counterparts.
Remember, all of these browsers are completely free to download and use, if you don’t like it, then simply uninstall it and try another.