What is Brave Browser? Should I make the switch?

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

Brave is a new browser that blocks online ads and website trackers by default. So you can surf the web quicker and more anonymously.

Being a speedier and more privacy-friendly competitor to market-leading Google Chrome is the underlying philosophy behind Brave.

Brave came to market in 2017 and has had stellar user growth growing 2.2x yearly. It jumped from 24 million monthly users in 2020 to over 50 million in 2021. Now, 15.5 million people use it daily. So should you jump on the Brave Browser train? 

What makes Brave different from other browsers? 

If you're looking for a champion among privacy browsers, Brave delivers with a radical anti-ad mindset.  

The browser comes with a native ad blocker that strips online ads from websites. It replaces the stripped ads with advertisements from its network. 

The flagship feature that enables increased privacy is Brave Shields. Turned on by default, it blocks cookies and cross-site trackers. You can also get privacy reports on which trackers it stopped.  

Brave eliminates ad campaigns that follow you through many websites by blocking: 

  • cookies 
  • cross-site web tracking   

The tracking stops because the browser doesn't collect your user data nor store it on its servers like other browser companies do. 

Brave uses machine learning to detect all trackers. Another integrated feature of Brave is HTTPS Everywhere. This forces secured, encrypted connections when both HTTP and HTTPS versions are available. 

Brave has built-in TOR for anonymity enthusiasts. By routing traffic through a network of other computers, Tor hides your IP address and stops ISPs from tracking you. This shields the websites that you’ve visited from prying eyes. 

Brave uses a secure peer-to-peer protocol to fight against censorship called InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). 

Since Brave came to market, other browsers have introduced similar anti-tracking capabilities, and it's now not so far ahead of the competition in that regard.  

However, a radical approach is removing all ads which other browsers didn't consider. But, the browser doesn't block sponsored posts and ads in search results. 

It is available on all platforms and is free to download and use.  

An alternative to Google Chrome 

Google Chrome has a 70% market share. As an alternative, Brave boasts two factors: speed and privacy. Both result from its built-in ad-blocking tech. 

It's not hard to see why you want to protect your data. If your reasons for sticking with Chrome have been: 

  • extensions 
  • compatibility 
  • cross devices syncing 
  • speed 

Brave ticks all of these boxes. Brave and Google Chrome both use Chromium, a free and open-source browser made by Google. But, Brave runs on Open Source code whereas Google Chrome is Closed Source. 

Can Brave run Chrome's extensions? 

Yes, the same extensions you use in Google Chrome are also available in Brave, as the code is the same. 

You won't need ad-blocking extensions, but you might want to install the translate add-on. 

The process is straightforward. Visit the Chrome store, pick an extension and install it. In most cases, it will work seamlessly. 

The History of Brave 

The company Brave Software behind the browser was founded in 2015 by two industry veterans. Brendan Eich, the inventor of JavaScript and co-founder of Mozilla Foundation, teamed up with Brian Brody. The goal of Brave is to create a fast and secure browser that: 

  • eliminates intrusive advertising 
  • stops user data collection by third parties  

How does Brave browser work? 

The best way to see how it works is to download it.

Most advertising platforms try to identify and track you as you move across the web. These tracking methods are becoming more invasive. For privacy-focused users, many feel that online advertising erodes your anonymity. 

Unlike other browsers that show web pages natively and allow sites to monetize through ads, Brave has a different approach. It uses BAT, or Basic Attention Token to reward sites.

Advertisements work differently than typical banners on Chrome or other browsers. It strips down all advertisements on the page, and if you turn on BAT, you can get ads from Brave vault. The browser serves ads as a small pop-up, and if you decide to see the advertisement, it will open up in the full window.

Since Brave doesn't track your behavior, it chooses ads based on locally stored data. Browser keeps 30% of the revenue and gives users 70% in the form of BAT, with the idea to share the digital tokens with the content creators you like or prefer.

Creators should sign up, while users can get Brave-approved ads from the network. However, this different vision of the Internet is still not perfect. For example, the browser still tracks you to serve ads, though it doesn't store your data on its servers and sell it to third parties.

If you chose Brave to browse without ads, their pay-to-view ads and pop-up mechanics might be annoying. Also, the content creators might not be as thrilled, especially if they get lucrative earnings on Google's platform.

Brave does solve privacy issues and lets users decide which websites deserve compensation. If you don't want to participate in BAT, there is no need to get on the bandwagon.

Is Brave browser safe? 

In a world where nothing is 100% safe, if you worry about security, Brave Browser is as safe as most other Chromium-based products, including Chrome itself. The browser security relies on the Google Safe Browsing service that checks URLs and compares them to known problematic addresses.  

Brave has more significant updates in three-to-four-week increments, a relatively slow cycle. Still, the browser has several security features, like a built-in password manager. Plus, Brave allows you to control access to autoplay options on each site. You can also manually use cookies and script blocking.  

In private browsing mode, Brave relies on TOR which allows an anonymous browsing experience and lets you bypass censorship restrictions. Also, as mentioned before, Brave forces HTTPS protocols for better security.  

Shield remains the most powerful tool to block web trackers with additional manual options. It removes ads and prevents trackers from monitoring your online habits.  

You can use the app on default settings or adjust all advanced features of Brave Browser.  

How is Brave browser free? 

It would be unprecedented if you offered a paid browsing experience saturated with free premium competition. Yet, Brave can remain free because it has diverse funding options. Unlike Chrome, which Google funds and serves as a cog in its overall marketing strategy, Brave has a unique business model. The company relies on BAT cryptocurrency tokens with more than a $1.8 billion market cap. More than 8 million users are receiving BAT as compensation for viewing ads.  

The company earns from selling BAT tokens and marketing revenue through Brave Ads. Brave Software says it will use the income to create a new digital advertising platform based on blockchain. 

So, is Brave better? 

Brave gives you speedy load times, thanks to fewer loading needs when the browser blocks all ads. Also, the browser challenges Chrome in terms of speed and Mozilla with its sophisticated default levels of privacy and security. 

Brave browser reviews show that the browser's speed was in the middle of the pack, better than Mozilla and Opera, but behind Chrome and Safari. Brave is a better alternative than Chrome if you're privacy-focused because it's the default option. 

Brave loads less content than Chrome because it doesn't allow web trackers and complex advertisements on-page to load. For people who like less intrusiveness and privacy, Brave is worth checking. 

The browser feels fast and looks polished, but it doesn't come with a robust set of features like automatic translation and some other Chrome goodies we're used to working with.  

Brave is the browser of choice if you align with the radical philosophy that drives Brave and want: 

  • online privacy made simple 
  • stop being tracked online 

Brave has more than doubled its base over the last few years. Although it has a small market share of 0.05%, this rapid growth allows you to find many Brave Browser reviews.  

Brave is almost a philosophical stand on how the Internet should work. BAT cryptocurrency tokens are awarded to users who opt to watch ads and can then use them to reward content creators they like. The idea behind Brave is to block all the advertisement content and replace it with its own approved ads.  

Suppose users don't want to get involved in such payment management. In that case, they can use Brave natively without worrying about the BAT and Rewards system. Regardless of whether Brave Browser will change the nature of online ads and user tracking, it still provides a speedy alternative with robust privacy protections. 



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