Why You May Want to Try a Cloud Browser

Key Takeaways

  • Cloud browsers are starting to become more and more popular, with new options launching this year.
  • Experts say that cloud browsers offer better performance than local options, and can even offer better security from malware and viruses.
  • Many of these browsers come with monthly costs and are built more for enterprise and business users, but we could see more personal options in the future.
Styled graphic of a cloud and network

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Cloud-based browsers are starting to become more available with the release of new options like the Mighty browser. In addition to better performance, these types of apps offer better security for users, experts say.

While it is a fantastic tool, the internet also can be a dangerous place. Malware, viruses, and other threats to your privacy and online safety can lurk in just about every corner. While there are many antivirus options out there, experts say using a cloud-based browser—which essentially creates a new environment for the browser to run in—could help reduce some of those risks by preventing threats from reaching your local machine.

“Security is probably the primary factor we should look at,” Bernadette Welch, a cloud-based browsing expert who works with Uke-Tuner, told Lifewire in an email. “When comparing cloud browsers to traditional web browsers, the cloud-based options tend to overrule when looking at security specifically.”

Building Safer Sandcastles

The most interesting thing about cloud browsers is that they take a basic idea—using a browser—and equip it with the power of cloud services. Where cloud gaming and cloud computing are becoming more and more attractive for users, cloud browsing may not seem like that big of a deal. But it can be.

On top of offering less of a load on your local computer, cloud-based browsers also serve another purpose—blocking out unwanted malware.

Might Browser logo

Mighty

A study conducted by Georgetown University in 2018 found that cloud-based browsers like Silo offered better protection against links infected with malware than Chrome did. Of 54 files that the authors attempted to download, eight were able to infect the machine running Chrome. Although 13 were downloaded through Silo, all of those files were deleted upon exiting the browser, never reaching the user's computer.

Of course, cloud-based browsing isn’t 100% foolproof, as noted by the results of that study, but the important thing to note here is that Chrome and other local-based browsers tend to download files before advising you of malware issues. At that point, the malware is already on your computer and could cause issues. Antivirus software can help mitigate this some, but if you’re looking for the fullest amount of security, a cloud-based browser could be worth looking into.

Going Personal

While cloud browsers aren’t necessarily a new thing, most of them are still built with enterprise and business users in mind. That doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the performance and security that they offer as a personal user.

Welch says that cloud-based browsers have become an integral part of her life—both at work and when browsing the internet on her own. 

“Resources are dealt with more efficiently by cloud-based browsers,” she said. 

She went on to say that, in her experience, cloud browsers have been better performing, taking up fewer resources than other options like Chrome, which has become a bit of a memory hog, especially in recent years.

Where Chrome might take gigabytes of memory (RAM) to run multiple browsers, cloud browsers like Mighty say they will let you have 50 or more tabs open without taking up more than 500Mb of your computer’s resources. This difference isn’t as huge with the reported resource usages of browsers like Firefox, but it could still be useful for those with lower-end or older laptops.

Many of these browsers also offer encrypted data, as well as secure machines where that data is stored. Still, if you’re concerned about the implications that can come with trusting your data in the cloud, you always can use a VPN or other security app to help keep your personal info and data safe.

Resources are dealt with more efficiently by cloud-based browsers.

There is another factor to take into account outside of security and performance, though. Cost. Most cloud browsers right now come with a monthly fee, which means you need to determine if that extra performance and sandbox security are worth paying for. If not, then just continue using the browsers you already use. There are plenty of options available that prioritize security for users. 

If you don’t mind parting with some cash every month, though, you may just find that cloud browsing is the perfect fit for you. Either way, it’s something worth keeping your eye on, especially if these browsers continue to increase their security and performance features.

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