Web browsers allow you to navigate the internet. There are a variety
of options available, so you can choose the one that best suits your
How do web browsers work?
A web browser is an application that finds and displays web pages. It
coordinates communication between your computer and the web server
where a particular web site "lives."
When you open your browser and type in a web address (URL) for a web
site, the browser contacts that server, requests the web page you
asked for, and displays the page on your computer. The browser
translates the code (written in a language such as HTML or XML) for
the different elements of the page (text, images, sounds) into the
appropriate format and displays the resulting page.
How many browsers are there?
There are many different browsers. Most users are familiar with
graphical browsers, which display both text and graphics and may also
display multimedia elements such as sound or video clips. However,
there are also text-based browsers. The following are some well-known
- Internet Explorer
- Safari - a browser specifically designed for Macintosh computers
- Lynx - a text-based browser desirable for vision-impaired users
because of the availability of special devices that read the text
How do you choose a browser?
A browser is usually included with the installation of your operating
system, but you are not restricted to that choice. Some of the factors
to consider when deciding which browser best suits your needs include:
- compatibility - Does the browser work with your operating system?
- security - Do you feel that your browser offers you the level of
security you want?
- ease of use - Are the menus and options easy to understand and
- functionality - Does the browser interpret web content correctly?
If you need to install other plug-ins or devices to translate
certain types of content, do they work?
- appeal - Do you find the interface and way the browser interprets
web content visually appealing?
Can you have more than one browser installed at the same time?
If you decide to change your browser or add another one, you don't
have to uninstall the browser that's currently on your computer - you
can have more than one browser on your computer at once. However, you
will be prompted to choose one as your default browser. Anytime you
follow a link in an email message or document, or you double-click a
shortcut to a web page on your desktop, the page will open using your
default browser. You can manually open the page in another browser.
Most vendors give you the option to download their browsers directly
from their web sites. Make sure to verify the authenticity of the site
before downloading any files. To further minimize risk, follow other
good security practices, like using a firewall and keeping anti-virus
software up to date (see Understanding Firewalls, Understanding Anti-Virus Software, and other US-CERT Cyber Security Tips for more
Author: Mindi McDowell
The above article is reproduced with the kind permission of US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) and the original document may be viewed by clicking here