Firefox is what I mostly use–it blocks a LOT of spyware from ever being installed in the first place, and so far, for Windows anyway, it has the most compatible browsing outside IE. The extensions available for Firefox are nice too–my favorite one is called MediaPlayerConnectivity, which forces video clips to be played in the programs of your choice instead of having to just view many of them in tiny windows on a web page. Another good one is AdBlock, which gives you right-click options on any non-flash-based ad so you’ll never see ads from that server again, and if you view the page source and find out where a flash ad is coming from, you can block those too. Another one I like, particularly when I’m wanting to print, is one called NukeAnything–it allows you to remove any object on a page (it stays that way until you refresh the page)–an ad, a frame, a text block, anything. Firefox also has an option to “view this frame” which is often quite handy for poorly written pages that have frames that don’t let you see the text in its entirity.
Opera views WAY too many pages the wrong way, and it can’t handle a system with lots of fonts installed–it will view all the fonts completely wrong–and I’m talking where it will choose some extra-fancy font that’s in chinese instead of what it’s supposed to. Opera technical staff’s answer to the problem: Uninstall the extra fonts. Not my idea of a company that cares about fixing problems. One advantage this browser has (which isn’t THAT much of an advantage when you read the next paragraph) is its ability to view the entire page bigger instead of just the fonts, so if you’re looking at cnn.com, you can make the article itself fill the screen if you wish, which is particularly handy if you use a higher desktop resolution.
IE7beta2 has proven to be quite a decent browser. They’ve added tabbed browsing, which a lot of people like but I never use, cleartype font smoothing on for just the use of the browser, and the nicest option, being able to blow up the page–making the entire page bigger, and it does it much better than Opera does–it does the blur effect on graphics that get blown up instead of seeing the pixels. The interface takes a little to get used to, and if you want the original “normal” menus you have to futz with the options a little, but it still has many of the problems with easily receiving spyware, unless you mess with the activex controls, which there are a lot more of now. F11, fullscreen mode, now allows the title bar at the top to disappear like how you can make the windows taskbar to disappear.
An option that is good to use no matter what browser you’re using is to edit the hosts file. Your hosts file is located at C:WINDOWSsystem32driversetc
In it, you’ll find:
127.0.0.1 is always your local computer. If you were to add things into the file that tell the computer that an.ad.site.com is actually on the local computer, and you try to access that site, it will say “this page cannot be displayed”. So, what this means is you can completely avoid having many of these ads ever loading at all, at any time, and you can put in all the sites that install spyware put there as well and you’ll never have to worry about getting spyware from those places EVER.
For instance, here’s what’s after “localhost” in my hosts file. There are websites where you can cut and paste people’s host files. If someone wants me to post mine in its entirity here, I can, but it’s kind-of long.
You add entries like this into the file, save it, close and restart your browser/s, and those sites will never come up. It even works in messenger programs for ads that come up there.
Warning: Do not let the hosts file become too big or it WILL start to bog down your machine.