Browsers Windows

Brave Is a Faster, Safer, Non-Google Web Browser Made for Today’s Internet

Ben Stegner 26-04-2017

When you decided which browser was best Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox The browser you're using right now may not be the best one for you. The browser arena changes so frequently that your conclusions from comparisons made last year may be completely wrong this year. Read More , you probably didn’t consider many options outside the main players. On Windows, Chrome is most popular, while Firefox is still a great alternative Chrome vs. Firefox in 2016: Which Browser Is Right For You? I want to explore why people might prefer one over the other, and hopefully those reasons will shed some light on features and aspects that you may not have considered before. Read More . For macOS users, Safari has Chrome beat on resource usage Safari vs. Chrome on OS X: Which Browser Is Right For You? Chrome or Safari? It's not a clear-cut answer. Truth is, brand loyalty is counter-productive. You should revisit your options regularly to see if maybe something better exists. Read More .


If you’re looking for something that’s out of the box or if you have privacy concerns with the above options, the new Brave browser might be for you. Let’s take a look at what this app features and why it’s been gaining popularity lately.

What Is Brave?

Visit Brave at its official website and you’ll see that it’s built on two promises — speed and security. According to the developers (headed by Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich), both improvements come from the browser blocking ads and trackers. Because it doesn’t have to spend as much time loading all the extra tracking and advertising information, it can load pages more quickly. As you likely know, blocking all the intrusive ads means you don’t compromise your privacy as greatly.

Of course, blocking ads means that the sites you love don’t get paid It's About Ethics in Stealing Games Journalism: Why AdBlock Needs to Die A simple, free browser plugin killed Joystiq – and is ruining the Internet. Read More , which creates a real problem for the internet. To fix this, Brave lets you set up micro-payments to the sites you care about. It also has a system in place to replace “bad ads” with non-annoying Brave ads, which are less intrusive for the user but also pay the website.

Finally, Brave is open source Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Many assume "open source" and "free software" mean the same thing but that's not true. It's in your best interest to know what the differences are. Read More , so they encourage anyone who wants to contribute to do so. The developers are striving for a browser that’s made for the modern web, not one in the interests of big companies. Those who prefer Firefox over Chrome for its commitment to a better web should find Brave attractive because of this.

We’ve seen the promise of Brave, but let’s find out what using it is like.


Meeting Brave Browser

Head to the Brave downloads page to grab the browser for your system. Brave is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as Android and iOS. After a painless installation, you’ll see the main Brave page:

brave browser homepage

Brave is based on Chromium, and while it’s not identical, it has some similarities in the same way Opera does. Head to the Settings menu by clicking the small three-dot menu at the top-right of the window, then clicking Settings. You’ll find some basic settings like home page and default search engine, but Brave also includes a few cool settings you should know about.

Brave’s Options

On the General tab, you can choose between three ways to display the Bookmarks Bar. By default it’s set to Text only, which is like Safari. But you can choose Favicons only to save space and identify bookmarks by their icons.


The Search tab contains many built-in search engines.

brave search engines

Google is the default search engine, but you should probably switch this to DuckDuckGo Why This Longtime Google Fan Now Prefers DuckDuckGo Most of us don't remember life before Google search. Try DuckDuckGo. Learn its tricks. There could be nothing you miss about Google. Read More if you’re concerned about privacy. DuckDuckGo doesn’t use advanced tracking methods like Google, and contains a bunch of cool features 8 Search Tricks That Work on DuckDuckGo but Not on Google Google Search is king. But DuckDuckGo has earned a loyal fan following. It has a few unusual features that even Google doesn't have. Read More to boot.

Give it a try if you haven’t already. You can search other sites, like Amazon, Wikipedia, and Twitter, with a quick shortcut in brave. For instance, type :a Towels to search Amazon for towels.


Tabs is the next category. You can choose how many tabs are in a “set” here — open more than that number, and you’ll add a new page of tabs in your browser. This lets you keep track of lots of tabs without extra clutter. Another neat default feature allows you to see a preview of another tab when you mouse over it.

You’ve probably used incognito windows Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing Private-browsing mode has many other names, including "incognito mode" in Chrome and "InPrivate Browsing" in Internet Explorer. Some people refer to private-browsing mode as "porn mode", but it isn't just for porn addicts. It can... Read More to sign into a different account without having to sign out of yours. Brave takes this feature further and allows you to open Session Tabs from the three-dot menu. A session tab essentially runs a fresh browser inside that tab. So if you’re signed into Gmail and switch to a new session tab, Gmail is a blank slate there. This lets you manage several accounts at once.

Use the Security tab to set up Brave to always delete your browsing data on exit. You can also configure Brave’s built-in password manager or enable 1Password, Dashlane, or LastPass if you use one of those.

The Sync tab hosts Brave’s capability to securely sync your data between devices.


As you’d guess, Plugins isn’t too exciting. It lets you enable Flash Player (which is thankfully going out the window) and Google Widevine DRM.

brave shields settings

Set up the default Shield settings on its tab. You can choose to Block Ads (default), Allow Ads and Tracking, or Show Brave Ads. Brave will Block 3rd Party Cookies by default, but you can choose to allow all cookies or block all cookies too. It also includes HTTPS Everywhere — an essential security extension — functionality built-in and ready by default.

Brave Payments

We’ve skipped over the most important tab to cover it in more detail: Brave Payments. This is the company’s answer to keeping websites paid even when you’re blocking ads. Toggle this option on, and you’ll be asked to fund a wallet with a few dollars. This money pays out in small increments to the sites you visit whose ads you block, and keeps your browsing anonymous unlike the current ad system. You can set a monthly budget of $5–$20 so you don’t go overboard in payments.

brave payments

If you choose to pay, you can add funds using a credit/debit card or via Bitcoin. As you browse, the Payments page will collect data about which sites you visit and how long you’ve spent on them. If you visit a site that you’d prefer not to pay, you can switch it off. At the end of each month, Brave takes the money that you’ve provided and splits it according to the sites you visit most.

Ad Behavior

By default, Brave blocks ads, which is why you’re encouraged to pay as replacement. However, they have another trick, called Brave Ads. Under the Shields settings tab, if you choose to Show Brave Ads, the browser will substitute its own “clean” ads to replace the “bad” ones. These ads are anonymous and don’t track you like regular ads do. They also don’t come with huge load time increases like standard ads.

At the time of writing, enabling this option just shows a placeholder where the ad should be with a Coming Soon message. Brave invites you to read their ad replacement page for more information on how they plan to implement this. However, Brave’s ad-blocking does speed up your browsing (most of the time). The browser keeps a log of how many seconds it has saved you, and we’ve benchmarked the speed for both the mobile and Windows versions of Brave.

You set the default shield behavior in the Settings panel as described above, but you can toggle them on a per-site basis, too. On any website, click the Brave lion icon in the top-right of the window, next to the Minimize button. Here, you can see how many ads and trackers Brave blocked, as well as the amount of connections that it upgraded to HTTPS.

To totally disable shields for a website, slide the Shields slider to Down. If you’d rather change a specific setting, expand Advanced Controls. You can change the setting for which ads to show, which cookies to block, and whether Brave should force an HTTPS connection.

The Major Drawback

By now, you’ve likely spotted one of Brave’s major drawbacks — it doesn’t support extensions. If you’re coming from Chrome and its vast library of add-ons The Best Chrome Extensions A list of only the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from our readers. Read More , this is shocking. However, a password manager and ad blocker are the most important extensions you probably use in other browsers — those are already included here. Hopefully Brave adds full extension support soon, but in the meantime you’ll have to decide whether the advanced protection is worth giving up add-ons for.

Aside from what we’ve discussed above, there’s not much more to Brave. It’s a polished program, but the lack of a few major features make it hard to recommend as your main browser. Zero extensions means that you’re better off using Brave for occasional speedy browsing and not for your everyday work. However, if you’re privacy-conscious, you might appreciate the lack of extensions. After all, Chrome can’t control how third-party extensions use your data, and many of them have abused it 5 Shady Google Chrome Extensions You Should Uninstall ASAP Here are some bad Chrome extensions that you should uninstall, plus some tips for avoiding malicious extensions in the future. Read More .

Is Brave Worth a Try?

We’ll see if Brave’s alternative ad model Why the Fight Back Against Ad-Blockers Should Matter to You Now Ad-blocking has changed our browsing experience. The fightback by web publishers is changing it further. But if they defeat ad-blocking, what does it mean for the future of our Internet experience? Read More works out. In theory, it’s a great idea to make ads less awful. It’s hard to imagine most decent people being opposed to giving $10 per month to the sites they visit often in order to see fewer trashy ads. But several parties have to buy into this method for it to work properly, which is asking a lot.

If you’re an AdBlock user, Brave lets you continue to strip out ads without the guilt that comes from depriving websites of revenue. Those looking for something different just for fun of it should enjoy Brave. Power users probably won’t convert yet, but everyone else should at least give it a download. Who knows — in a few years, this browser could completely change the face of online advertising as we know it.

Not feeling Brave? Check out these other completely anonymous web browsers 4 Free Anonymous Web Browsers That Are Completely Private Anonymous browsing of the web is one way to protect your online privacy. Here are the best anonymous web browsers to use. Read More .

We want to hear your thoughts on this hot topic. Do you think that Brave’s advertising model will work? Would you be willing to pay a few dollars per month to avoid ads? Let us know if you’ll give Brave a try, or if you have a better idea for the ad issue, down in the comments.

Related topics: Brave Browser, Online Privacy, Private Browsing.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Jason
    November 30, 2018 at 3:27 am

    Can't read this with an ad blocker turned on, how's that for irony. Sorry but not quite interesting enough to turn the ad blocker off, will read about it on another site instead.

  2. Joanie
    May 25, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    But Brave doesn't have a web store. That's a deal breaker for me. At least SlimJet has access to Google's web store. It's basically google with a twist. I just installed it today and am quite impressed so far.

  3. Ian
    November 14, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    The solution isn't anything as complicated at this.
    The solution is there not being a means for the ads to be "bad".
    Plain, and simple.
    No scripting, no animation or video, just completely static and is just a link that does nothing until we click it.

    I block ads not because they are ads, but because of how they behave.

    If those Brave is using as an alternative actually meet those requirements, then I would say that is a good start but they should not have to be doing that in the first place.

  4. nikde
    September 22, 2017 at 5:01 am

    You know Chromium is open source core of Chrome, right?

  5. Gazoo
    July 26, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    A shame about extensions. They breathe life into a browser. Looking over some of my non-security extensions, I see: a general video downloader, a screenshot util, Wikiwand, unshorten shortUrls, save as MHT, a youtube page cleaner, reader view mode, Webmaster tools (whois, IP, etc), and others... Nice additional features to have.

    I like what Brave is doing. Not ready to try them yet until extensions support is improved a bit. I not only like browsing safely but I like having modern tools to enhance my overall experience and productivity.

  6. Chris Cummings US Army Ret.
    June 21, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    I do not mind ads that are not intrusive and free of malware. That being said the idea of creating a payment account to fund sites turns me off. Not having extensions is a no win for me.

  7. Lee
    May 5, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    It's a shame there is not a 32-bit version. Many of us still have older computers.

  8. JP Norton
    May 5, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    I read your article with interest and will likely give Brave a try for home use. We're currently using satellite for internet and while it's better than dial-up, it's nowhere near high speed. For that reason I'm always interested in making the online experience faster.

    I've been a Firefox user for years and really like it. One of the features I like best is the add-on for saving bookmarks (X-marks Sync) as the purchase of a new laptop isn't a nightmare of transferring my favourites over, but rather just a matter of signing into X-marks. Does Brave offer something like this?

  9. Jonathan Gowdy
    April 29, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Other browsers that use Chromium, like Flashpeak's SlimJet and SRWare's Iron, have also claimed to rely on performance and privacy. I've used both passionately since they have their own unique features in addition to Chrome extensions and what-not, but haven't made any research on either of them considering their claims and conveniences.

    For another non-Google web browser, I've also tried Maxthon, as it had most of everything that could be synced on an online account and multiple web browsing engines.

    I'm still hopping around between new web browsers, so I'll give Brave a shot.

  10. Taiga
    April 28, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    What's wrong with Firefox? Why would I even want to use Chrome? It's probably another fad, isn't it?

    • Joseph Pollock
      May 6, 2017 at 9:18 am

      No, Chrome isn't a fad. It would be pretty good technology if it didn't spy on you. That's why I use Vivaldi. It's based on Chromium, but doesn't spy on you and has many great features. For the purpose of this discussion though, it just works better at rendering many pages that Firefox still screws up.

      I have used Firefox since before it was named Firefox. I used to love it - especially for its extensions. However, over the years, they have treated many extension authors very badly - often with total disregard. AFAIK, their latest plan will require every add-on to be rewritten! All the old ones that still work, but are unsupported (and there are tons of them) will just go away. And since somewhere around version 3 or 4, they started breaking more things I liked than adding in new ones I could use. Currently, about half of my extensions are to put things back that they have broken.

      The one thing that keeps me using it at all is Flashgot Media and DownThemAll. These make capturing audio and video a dream. Chrome/Vivaldi have capture add-ons, but they don't work as automatically and seamlessly as FM and DTA do.

  11. Robert
    April 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Tried it, but without extensions or more config settings it's just too inconvenient for me.
    - it automatically installed into /Users/xyz/AppData/Local/brave on Win x64
    - no support for mouse gestures
    - no support to open a newly entered URL in the address bar in a new tab
    The last two issues could be resolved once extensions are supported (and available), although I had a bit of a hard time finding such ones for Chrome when I tried it (which is quite some time ago I admit). The first issue seems just lazy however.

    The tab preview is a nice feature though, although the opacity change when hovering over the tab is a bit weird

    • Jonathan Sampson
      April 28, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      Hello, Robert!

      I'm an engineer on the Brave browser, and would love to take your feedback to the team. Can you elaborate on the concern with us installing into %appdatalocal%? We place executables here, so they aren't sync'd between machines. The rest of the browser's content (history, favorites, bookmarks, etc) are all stored in %appdata%, so Windows can share them between your machines.

      Extensions are currently supported. Brave keeps a more careful eye on which ones we allow, for the time being. It's not uncommon for an extension to abuse its privileges by sharing a user's information. We want to avoid anything like this. Go to about:preferences#extensions in Brave to see what we support today. We are actively adding support for many others

      • Bob Greene
        April 29, 2017 at 3:50 pm

        Jonathan, does Brave provide an option for its users who do not mind seeing ads to use Brave, anyway? Put another way, if the micropayments account runs dry, does Brave suspend any function?

  12. Jose A. cosquet
    April 28, 2017 at 8:30 am

    ....Opera does all of this, plus VPN out of the box, plus extensions (including Chrome extensions)...

    • epiqpwnage
      April 28, 2017 at 10:38 am

      if you can trust that a chinese company owns opera, sure.

      • Joseph Pollock
        May 6, 2017 at 9:22 am

        That's what Vivaldi is for! ;)

        • Epiqpwnage
          May 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm

          Ahm that's my point. If you want opera functionality choose vivaldi (former opera devs) instead of opera because opera was bought by a chinese company. Anyways vivaldi still has a long way to go. I still go back to firefox and chrome

  13. Marcelo
    April 27, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Vivaldi rules!

  14. Rick
    April 27, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    The fact the they use squirrel to log items even such as pinned items on your task bar and send that info back to their servers is enough to say "stay away".

    It looks like it's even worse than the ads they will block.

    • Jonathan Sampson
      April 28, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      Hello, Rick.

      I'm an engineer on the Brave team. Squirrel is used on Windows during installation and upgrade. The probing of your taskbar is to see if Brave is pinned. We don't consume this data.

      Brave is the only browser to my knowledge that strictly implements Zero-Knowledge Protocols from top to bottom. Brave doesn't want the user's information?we actively avoid the user's information.

      When information is transmitted from one machine to another (when the user enables Sync, or makes a micro-donation), it's encrypted and/or anonymized to prevent anybody from leveraging attacks against our users. This applies in all cases; Brave values your security and privacy over all else.

      You're free to inspect our source code here:

      Kindest Regards

      • Kim
        December 17, 2017 at 5:09 pm

        This is why I use Brave. I want to actively choose who gets to keep my info, not have it available by default. And I'm just a boring housewife with nothing to hide. It's the principle. And Brave makes it easy, imo.

  15. Fik of Borg
    April 27, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    This browser might have advantages over the classics, but ... a 106MB installer???
    That was a whole OS not that long ago!

    • Jonathan Sampson
      April 28, 2017 at 3:25 am

      We're always working to reduce our footprint. Keep watch for further releases where that number gets smaller, and smaller :)


  16. nikitis
    April 27, 2017 at 11:31 am

    The real issue with the ad system is the bullying of other legit small business. Take infowars for example. Their advertising revenue with google ads was cut off because they mention politics in their news coverage. So your not getting accurate ads anyway as a consumer. You're only getting what ads the ad companies want you to see. Therefore, as a user, I choose to boycott the ad agencies and block their ads since they are what I want to see anyway. As for the argument of the website owner, if what they are advertising cannot make them money they really should find a new alternative method to fund their sites. I can say this having run several websites myself, all advertisement free. I ask for donations from my viewership, and this works out well, and you have a faster internet as well. Ad agencies are a blight on the internet that help promote bad sites and bad content, and the web would be a better place without it.

    • Mitch
      April 30, 2017 at 1:57 am

      Totally agree. I do digital marketing since Windows 1. People pay if they care. If you don't get paid, change your platform, boss, or business, or audience. Adapt. My 10 year old earns $$$ with his game-play videos broadcasted on Youtube, because his audience doesn't care about ads. Older people prefer a clear priced offer instead of an ad, because they understand nothing comes for free.

  17. ilker
    April 27, 2017 at 6:39 am

    I couldn't find CSS3 or HTML5 in this article. I think at the year 2017 users now should now that if their browser supports new technology or not, even these are not new. Is this browser support service workers? new API's like fetch, pay etc. or is this support PWA things like add to home screen?

    This browser is fast, wow very good ok better then chrome wow

    • Jonathan Sampson
      April 28, 2017 at 3:22 am

      Hey, Ilker!

      Great questions!

      I'm an engineer on the Brave team (and previously an engineer on the Microsoft Edge team). Standards and the Web Platform are very important things to me. So I'm pleased to share that Brave is at the front of the pack.

      At this very moment, Brave scores a 518 on the HTML5Test. This is better than Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Brave is 1 point behind Chrome (which may be due to a bug in the way the [dropzone] attribute is being detected).

      Another way to think about Brave's support for HTML, CSS, and related features is by examining the engines upon which it is established. Chromium 58.0.3029.81 powers both Brave 0.15.0dev and Chrome 58 (the exact same engine and version). Whatever Chrome has, Brave has.

      If you encounter any issues with HTML, CSS, or JavaScript in Brave, please do not hesitate to reach out to me (@BraveSampson) or the team (@Brave). We're always around, and always willing to file bugs, or lend a personal hand.

      • Ilker
        April 28, 2017 at 6:18 am

        Thank you for your reply.

        I get it now, when I think that its based on chromium.
        But I meant that, we have talk about new technologies that browser has like we talked about plugins or settings page. A user has to know when he or she goes Financial Times PWA website, if he / she can add that website on his / her home screen and use it offline or not.

        I'll try Brave btw, thanks.

      • Bob Greene
        April 28, 2017 at 2:37 pm

        Jonathan, we are very interested in Brave's potential to address an "ownership" problem that has afflicted Firefox users, recently. Mozilla recently served notice its celebrated Firefox browser no longer will be written for either XP or Vista. The ownership issue surfaces when the average user cannot count on protection from an ostensibly user-oriented source like Mozilla Foundation. If everything must have a majoritarian, market-based foundation, that leaves those not traveling with the main herd decidedly at risk. How can Brave help?

        • Jonathan Sampson
          April 28, 2017 at 4:26 pm

          Hello, Mr. Greene.

          You make a very good point.

          I am a regular listener of the Security Now podcast, with Steve Gibson (the man who coined the term 'spyware'). Like many others, Steve has been using Windows XP since it was released. He values the 'hardening' it has received and the security it offers, having been supported for nearly 2 decades.

          Steve was put into a tough position in 2009, when Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows XP. The Operating System had been in use for nearly a decade by that point. In 2014, Microsoft gave another blow to XP, ending Extended Support. Steve would continue to use XP, in spite of these changes.

          With the release of Windows 10, Steve decided he had to move off of XP, but didn't want to move to Windows 10. Steve's new home is now Windows 7. Released, 7 years ago, Windows 7 has received similar hardening to XP.

          Google Chrome was famous for supporting Windows XP when most others wouldn't, or couldn't. But in November of 2015, Chrome too departed ways with their XP users ("…we strongly [encourage] users on older, unsupported platforms such as Windows XP to update to a supported, secure operating system.").

          I mention all of this because of its influence over what we are able to support. Today, Brave operates on Windows 7, Windows 10, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. To extend support back to Windows XP would mean having to invest great amounts of time in back-porting thousands of changes to V8 and Blink (the core components that power Chromium browsers like Brave). As a small startup, that isn't currently feasible.

          I'm sorry that we aren't able to accommodate you on XP. As a security-focused team, our suggestion is for all users to move off of XP and to a more reliable option (such as Windows 7, as Steve Gibson suggests).

          Apologies for the lengthy response. Please let me know if you have any other concerns with Brave. I'm happy to assist as I am able.

        • Bob Greene
          April 29, 2017 at 3:25 pm

          Thanks, Jonathan, for your detailed reply of April 29-- most appreciated.
          We fully understand browsers must proceed on a credible business model, and that is why we believe Brave should be interested in XP. As (still) the world's third most prevalent operating system (of all Windows and non-Windows systems, alike)-- XP offers a rich return on investment.
          Since even Mozilla graciously extended its XP version only another year, Brave would be positioned as the only major browser for XP. Brave-- quite literally-- would have this still considerable global market all to itself.
          And word of that market pre-eminence will travel fast-- while most XP users are not driven by the clock to migrate to another OS, they will be forced quickly to consider Brave, because their current browsers will become dysfunctional on an increasing number of sites.

  18. Mike S.
    April 26, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    This will be difficult to swallow for most sites. They would now have to share revenue with Brave and aren't showing the ads they get paid 100% (clicks, views, etc.) to show. Big media is not overly fond of change they don't implement or control.

    They could be potentially paid more overall if it caught on though. If it did it would likely become fractured as other browser tried the same model.

    If I am making micro-payments as part of the browsing process, why show ads at all? It would be more like paying for ad-free content. I'm all for that if the price is right and I don't need to have create accounts on a load of different sites in order to access content.

    I think most people hit a few regular sites and the rest are just due to following links. Nobody want to create an account to read a single article.

    I have been using Brave a bit lately and find it a bit less polished than established browsers but it works well and is improving.

    • Jonathan Sampson
      April 28, 2017 at 3:28 am

      Hello, Mike!

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      I'm an engineer on the Brave team. I'd love to know more about your experience, and where some further polish could be applied. Happy to file issues, and fix what I can.

      What can we do to further improve?
      (0.15.0 was released today, adding tear-off tabs and more)

      • Mike S.
        May 1, 2017 at 10:35 pm


        I just installed 0.15.0 and will give it a test drive.

        I would like to have the WebRTC leak plugged. You can test that at Aside from that I would need to try out the micro-payment methods in everyday usage. For example, comparing payment on a lengthy article versus a short paragraph with a picture or something.

        I have Brave as my secondary browser and will run with it for a while to see how it does.