For many, the go-to web browsers are Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Edge, and Mozilla Firefox, all of which do a great job of meeting your browsing needs, but they are also quite demanding and consume a lot of system resources. These popular browsers can put extra strain on your CPU, RAM, and even drain your laptop battery faster. Step away from de facto browsing standards and immerse yourself in the world of rudimentary web browsers.
Using lesser-known lightweight browsers is a great solution to the problem of system resources being taken up by a more robust browser with multiple tabs open. These browsers, for the most part, do the same job as their more well-known counterparts, and there is no compromise in performance.
Here is the list of the 5 best lightweight web browsers that you might want to try. Our selection is based on currently supported projects, minimum resource usage, and number of operating systems supported. If you want a more robust web browser with additional security, graphics, and add-ons, then you’ll want to consider sticking to the main ones.
1. Pale moon
A great choice for anyone with a modern processor, any multi-core processor higher or equivalent to an Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 series, is Pale moon. This browser requires at least 300MB of disk space and requires 256MB of RAM, but recommends at least 1GB of RAM. It might seem like a lot of memory and storage, but the installer app is usually much smaller than the installed app, and the browser will probably never 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 are using it on Linux, installation is not necessary, you can just download the file, extract it and run it.
Although designed specifically for Win32, K-Meleon works fine on Win64 and Linux machines with Wine installed. This fast and lightweight browser is based on the Gecko layout engine designed by Firefox and only requires 70MB of disk space for download and 256MB of RAM recommended.
Since it can run on systems that still use XP, this browser was designed to use less resources. You can download the browser from SourceForge.
Designed with minimal graphical interface and featuring keyboard-focused VIM-like bindings, qutenavigator is a dream come true for many Linux developers and enthusiasts.
Installing this browser requires additional installation of several other packages to support it, such as Python 3.6.1 or higher.
One can easily feel intimidated by the learning curve of this browser, but once you get comfortable with it you will be surprised at how efficient it is.
Midori is a great option if you are not a demanding user. It’s an open source browser that offers a decent selection of features. Moreover, it stands out as one of the best browsers in terms of resource consumption.
In terms of features, this browser offers HTML5 and RSS support, anonymous browsing, spell checker, etc. Midori also includes a few extras like font / display and privacy settings. Previously it used encrypted DuckDuckGo as the default search engine to protect the privacy of your information, however, Midori recently switched to unencrypted Lycos to allow much faster performance.
The minimalist user interface is yet another highlight of this browser. Midori has a search bar and a few of the usual buttons but that’s it, allowing 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 strong security to keep all data intact. You get the usual assortment of add-ons, extensions, menus, and more.
IceDragon uses Comodo’s DNS servers to convert a URL to an IP address. Most importantly, this browser has a dedicated virtual container. This means that it does not come into contact with your system, so there is no risk of malware infecting your computer without knowing it.
This lightweight browser gives you the ability to suppress crash and performance reports, and it also scans web pages for potential threats. IceDragon runs on Windows and requires 128MB of RAM and 40MB of hard disk space.
Although it is designed for Windows, Microsoft has taken important steps to make more programs compatible with each other. After all, Red Hat and Oracle are well-known Microsoft companies.
Honorable Mention – Lynx Web Browser
Known as the oldest still actively supported web browser in the world, Lynx is a text browser that works on Linux, MAC, Windows, etc. While not for everyone, a text-based web browser does offer some security features due to the nature of ad and cookie tracking. Since it does not process images or cookies, traditional ad tracking has no effect.
Although Lynx does not 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 wit to work from a terminal window, check out Lynx. There is a reason this browser is still supported.
Lightweight browsers for Linux / Unix based OS
For those using Unix, Linux, or some other Unix-like operating system, you have a few exclusive options. There are a plethora of lightweight and minimalist browsers to choose from, so I’ll just list a few.
Designed with personal security and privacy in mind, the Dillo Web browser presents a small footprint when it comes to using 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 that can use as little as 30MB 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 are not available and it is known to crash so I am listing it 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 known as Epiphany, is a great browser for those who love
What is the lightest web browser?
Pale moon. For the sake of this list, Pale Moon will likely be the lightest. As rare as they are, there may be issues that arise in some of the other browsers that cause them to require more resources than Pale Moon.
Which is the best overall browser in 2021?
Firefox. Even if Firefox is considered a bigger ram rodent than many other lighter browsers, it is still the best in almost every category. It is one of the fastest internet browsers, comes with private windows and reliably blocks malware.
Which is the safest browser?
Firefox, Ice Dragon. Yes, Firefox again. Of the popular web browsers, Firefox is the most secure, and malware rates are consistently low. IceDragon is the safest for lightweight browsers because this browser is the most supported and has a virtual container. This means that IceDragon does not directly interact with your system.
If you want more privacy and security from a browser, check if no-script and ad-block are available as extensions, no-script being more important than ad-block.
The final verdict
It is almost impossible to single out any of the browsers on this list as the best. Each excels in their own respect and the final choice comes down to your personal preferences and boating needs.
For example, if you’re a fan of VIM-style keyboard shortcuts check out Qutebrowser, if you want a browser with less of a learning curve check out Pale Moon. All of them provide a pleasant browsing experience with much less strain on your system, compared to their more rugged counterparts.
Remember that all of these browsers are completely free to download and use, if you don’t like it just uninstall it and try a different one.