If you are concerned about privacy and security, Brave should be your preferred browser
Most likely, you are reading this in Google’s Chrome browser. 67% OF Market owned by Crome and there are several good reasons. Chrome is fast, has tons of extensions and runs on all platforms.
Brave Browser Reviews
Cracks are there in Chrome’s armor, and privacy is one of them. That’s where the Brave browser comes in, and since it just came out of the beta state, I decided to give it a quick spin to see if it can replace Chrome on my devices.
Yes, it’s true, Brave has to do with privacy, and that’s where it stands out the most. Out of the box, Brave blocks a number of annoying website practices, more than any other browser.
Take a look at the right side of the URL bar and you will find the “shield” notification from Brave, a small icon with a counter that shows you at a glance how many things Brave has blocked on a given website.
The list of what Brave blocks is quite extensive, including all ads (which are not included in the count), cross-site crawlers, scripts, cross-site cookies and more. Essentially, you are invisible to the sites you visit, and they will not be able to track you while moving on the Internet. In addition, Brave will attempt to connect through HTTPS if a site allows, and you have not logged in automatically.
Privacy and Security
Brave also prevents things from getting too distracted, by blocking the videos from automatic playback (and providing a notification that this was done). Go to the settings and you can choose which social networks you want to block, including Facebook logins and embedded posts and embedded tweets by default, with the option of also activating LinkedIn embedded posts blocking.
Other options include deciding which cookies to block and whether to block device recognition between sites.
You will also get a much better privacy mode. While all browsers can navigate without tracking your navigation locally, that only goes so far: it prevents someone with physical access to your computer from seeing what you have been doing but does nothing to keep your browsing safe once your packages leave of your computer.
Brave solves this problem by implementing the Tor onion routing network in an alternative privacy mode, which means it will be safe from prying eyes wherever they are.
How does this compare with other browsers? Simply put, Brave is the most private browser by virtue of everything that turns off automatically and when using Tor to keep your sessions perfectly private. Firefox is likely to be next on the line, but it doesn’t block ads by default, nor is it factory set to block as many things as Brave. And while you can get a similar experience in Chrome, you will have to install extensions to get there.
Charge or Pay
I am quite torn by Brave’s next main feature, specifically his effort to fundamentally change how websites make money. As noted, ads are blocked automatically in Brave which can be controversial. All this free content costs money to generate, after all. Ads are not a problem in themselves, it is the type of ads and how intrusive they can create problems, which is why Chrome blocks ads that do not conform to established standards.
By blocking all ads by default, Brave is reducing the revenue of each site you visit, even if those sites are not abusive in the ads they are running. But Brave has an alternative in mind: its Basic Attention Token (BAT) system that is meant to offer websites a new way to receive revenue.
The way it works is simple, although a bit unfinished at this time: instead of seeing ads on web pages, you receive ads through text notifications (in Windows 10, they slide from the right side like any other notification). You get BAT by allowing these ads, and you can increase the amount of BAT you see (up to five per hour) or disable them completely.
Therefore, advertisers pay Brave to show ads through which BAT wins. As you accumulate BAT, you can choose to “tip” sites that participate in the Brave revenue share program. Or, you can let Brave automatically assign BAT (called Automatic Contribution, and it is configurable) to the sites you are most involved with.
Any remaining BAT will accumulate in your brave wallet backed by Ethereum blockchain and will eventually be worth something. However, getting that program value requires delivering certain personal information to Uphold, who is managing things for Brave. The information is extensive, which goes against Brave’s approach to privacy, but, again, we are dealing with real money. You will have to decide if it is worth it yourself.
Keep in mind that there is no link between Brave installations on your different machines. If you use Brave on a desktop PC, a laptop and a smartphone, then you will have three different Wallets accumulating BAT. Presumably, you’ll link that to the same Uphold account to group everything together.
The BAT system is an interesting alternative to the revenue model based on regular advertising that drives the web today. But to make a significant difference, the number of sites that buy in the program must reach a critical mass. I’m not sure what that is, but I’m sure Brave hasn’t even made a dent. You can check if a site supports BAT by clicking on the triangle icon next to the shield in the URL bar, and I guess most of the sites you visit regularly have not registered.
Yes, but how is it like a browser? It’s fast on the one hand
Privacy is vital and the rewards are good, but how is Brave as a browser? After all, that is its main function: to help you access web content quickly and efficiently without interfering. And here is my answer: all browsers, or at least the ones I’ve tried, perform that primary function very well. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, even the now missing Microsoft Windows 10 Edge browser, all are fine as browsers. Brave is no different, which means that it is not better or worse.
That is even truer since Brave is a Chromium browser. Right-click to the right of your tabs, and you will see exactly the same window and tabs controls. The Brave interface is more Spartan than Chrome, with an oddly short address and a search bar centered on the user interface compared to the larger versions of Chrome (and Firefox, and Edge, and Opera). But, in general terms, Brave acts like any other browser, and particularly like any other Chromium-based browser.
This similarity also extends to extensions, because Brave has fairly strong support for Chrome add-ons. Go to More Tools> Extensions in the hamburger menu, and Brave will offer to send you to the Chrome web store. Once there, you will see the same extensions that you would see if you visited the web store on Chrome, and in my limited tests, all the extensions I tried were installed and worked perfectly.
However, it is quite jarring to click on the “Add to Chrome” button to install an extension and keep in mind that Brave will probably display a warning that it cannot guarantee the security of a given extension.
I didn’t do too much objective evidence of Brave performance, because I suspected that, in terms of pure benchmarks, Brave would behave much like Chrome. And he was right: he finished a few points from Chrome in the JetStream 2 benchmark, and far ahead of Firefox.
Also, I tried Brave, Chrome, and Firefox in terms of how much memory they use when they are loaded with a single tab and when 10 tabs are run that point to some popular sites. Brave came in second with 453 MB with only one tab open, worse than Firefox (287 MB) and better than Chrome (551 MB). With the 10 tabs open, Brave was the most efficient with 1.38GB compared to Chrome with 2,594GB and Firefox with 1,517GB.
That’s fine, but how did Brave perform in real-world navigation? The answer should be obvious if you think about it, since Brave blocks many things, including ads, Brave feels much faster in practice than other browsers in its default settings. In fact, the difference can be surprising in sites with a lot of publicity, because Brave is downloading much fewer data and spending less time processing scripts and the like. The ethical concerns mentioned above do not disappear, but they are worth considering.
Although it is not perfect
There is an exception where Brave is a browser huge than others. Because it blocks so many things by default, some sites will not work unless you open the shield and make some adjustments. For example, I was accessing my T-Mobile account to get a warranty claim receipt, and nothing worked. From what I could see, the T-Mobile site was broken.
But then I remembered that I was using Brave, and when I clicked on the shield and turned things off, Brave called this putting his shield down, and suddenly the site started working. I have not encountered such things too often, but when it happens, it is a pain. Such is the price of privacy, I suppose.
There is nothing Negative about Brave Browser. However, here is one: Brave’s synchronization system is highly limited and a pain in the neck. You see, there is no Brave account that you can configure and then access on all your devices. Brave may see that as an invasion of his privacy (but then explain that Uphold account), but it is nonetheless a limitation.
Instead, you should go to the sync settings page to first create and then add devices to your Brave “sync chain”. That means using a QR scanner on your phone to enter the sync string code (24 words long!) Or write to your other computer (s). And despite all that hassle, what can you synchronize? Only markers at this point. No sync history and no sync password.
That is a nuisance. Maybe I should, but my manual system of storing my passwords in an encrypted file on an encrypted volume in my network storage works fine for me. I don’t want to enter a password more than once, so Brave wouldn’t fit very well in my workflow just from this perspective.
Will I use Brave as my main browser?
That is a good question, and my answer is: I doubt it. But that is because I am constantly switching between different browsers just to keep me updated. But if I had to commit to a single browser, I could seriously consider Brave, if it weren’t for the synchronization problem I just mentioned above.
However, I probably wouldn’t invest much in the BAT system, because it seems like a lot of work and not much recovery. And if I’m worried that a site earns money (which is the majority of sites unless they are simply unpleasant), then I will simply list their ads and let them make their old-fashioned money. But if privacy and security are the main concerns for you, Brave is an excellent option that will probably help you sleep better at night.