Changing Web Browser- moving from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox

Summary : Microsoft Internet Explorer has reached a stage where it is now less safe to use than other web browsers. The incessant problems with Active X and other security exploits found in Internet Explorer now makes it wise to change to some other software. 





As someone who surfs the net 24/7 (and almost every day of the year) I put my personal internet security as paramount. Whether it is a matter of protecting passwords, online banking, or internet shopping, net security is something every surfer should always keep in mind. It is no good simply installing the latest version of Windows (or Linux) on a PC and then hope that someone doesn't hack your computer.

Since I went 'professionally' online in spring 2000, being a Windows user I've surfed the web using the built in browser Internet Explorer (IE). IE is a great piece of software, it is fast and offers a great deal of options to allow each user to configure it to the style they want.  

Until recently, I was very reluctant to make the move to a new browser. I had heard of Netscape, Opera, and Mozilla, but why would I want to stop using the world's most popular piece of web browsing software in favour of something that few people use ?  If 95% of internet users felt IE was okay to use, why should I go against the masses ? 

The nasty people target IE

One highly under-rated fact is that almost all security exploits for web browsers are targeted at IE only*. It is often the case that virus writers for instance simply don't bother targeting people who use other 'minor' software. After all, why would they take the time to write nasty code for a program that is used by just a few % of web surfers?

*Of course, if everyone switched to Mozilla software, then the hackers etc, would switch their time targeting Mozilla instead of IE. As things are, it will be a very long time (if ever) until IE loses it's dominance in the web browsing market.

Active X and Active Scripting

The problem with IE is that unless you are at least semi-professional in terms of IT skills, the default settings for IE will leave inexperienced users vulnerable to attack. Mozilla Firefox does not allow ActiveX scripts to operate in any form, and this is one primary reason why most people are safer using Firefox than IE.

Moving to Mozilla

So, after reading yet another story about the many security holes in IE, I decided to test out Mozilla in June 2004. How difficult was this process to move to a new browser ?
Unbelievably easy !

The download via broadband takes no more than a minute, installation is simple - not even requiring a restart. The best thing about Firefox is that when you first install it, it will import ALL your IE settings - such as Cookies, your internet favourites/history, and all of your custom security settings (if you have them).

As with all software, Mozilla is constantly releasing upgrades, and it is worth visiting the main Mozilla site from time to time to keep in touch with what is happening. There is also a great help guide which is well worth visiting.

*If you don't like Mozilla (although in theory, this is impossible), then you can just revert back to using IE - which you did not need to uninstall anyway. 


Q. Do I have to uninstall Internet Explorer, in order to use Mozilla Firefox ?

No. Actually - for those users that use Windows, you will need to leave IE installed in order to download security updates for the windows operating system. Some users will like to use different browsers for different websites -there are technical reasons for this.

Q. How much does the software cost?

Mozilla software is entirely free, and you don't need to supply any personal details (such as an email) to download it.

Q. How long will it take to download, and where do I download it ?

The software is around 4-5Mb in size -which is relatively tiny, even 56k modems won't take more than 10-20mins to download.
Download Mozilla software

Q. Is the Mozilla Firefox web browser difficult to learn  ?

No way ! Mozilla software is designed to be user friendly - and people who have used Internet Explorer should recognise many common features found in Firefox, although some are named differently. It takes just a few days to get fully acquainted with the software, and to configure it in the way you prefer.

Q. Some websites look different using Firefox, why?

It is true that some of your favourite websites may look different when viewed using the Firefox web browser. Unlike IE, Firefox is designed to comply with all the international standards for web design. There are many websites that do not comply with the basic standards - and this is why some of them may now look somewhat 'odd' or just plain awful. It is not the fault of Mozilla, it is the fault of the original web designer that the site looks wrong.


Mozilla : Homepage for this rapidly developing site - now one of the web's most talked software sites.

Mozilla Support : A really great place to browse if you are curious to learn more about Mozilla before you take the plunge !

Introduction to Firefox : A superb guide by NIDELVEN IT. I suggest you bookmark this guide, it is very useful.

Why you should Dump IE : An article full of attitude, providing a convincing argument to make the switch - by Daniel Miessler



Mozilla Firefox is a superb web browser, even though the software is in a relatively early stage of development. In terms of web browsing, some users may take a few days to get used to some of the differences, but Firefox is very user friendly - with many help guides available on the main Mozilla site. All software is free to download, and it remains the long term intention of the developers to keep it that way.

I also suggest moving away from using Microsoft Outlook, for the same security reasons as IE.  Mozilla's email client 'Thunderbird' is a great piece of software, and for most people it is far safer than Outlook.

The question is this, do you value your personal security/privacy online? If you do, then maybe you'd like to invest a few hours of your time to test out Mozilla's software. What have you got to lose ?

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Page Last updated : 16/07/04