Life Without Google: Are Firefox and DuckDuckGo Worth Trying?

google v duckduckgo v firefox quantum

I was recently joking with a friend that Microsoft browsers are arguably the most effective pieces of software for achieving their goal. That might seem like a crazy thing to say about both Internet Explorer and Edge but what is their sole purpose? When you get a new machine, you use them to install Google Chrome. They achieve this task brilliantly.

I recently found myself in that situation of using the default browser to install Chrome but then I hesitated. I remember seeing Firefox had launched a new browser, Firefox Quantum, and it was getting rave reviews. I decided to try something new and give Quantum a go before going one step further. Not only was I going to ditch Chrome, I was going to throw out Google Search altogether. You’d be forgiven for thinking there are no alternatives to Google but the truth is there are plenty. My weapon of choice for this test would be DuckDuckGo.

So, if you’re a Google Chrome and Google Search dependant person, is it worth your while making the jump across to unknown territory?

Firefox Quantum: Is Moving to Firefox Hard?

I didn’t feel the move across to be too difficult. Firefox can easily import all your bookmarks which does make like just that little bit easier. The avst majority of plugins I use or very close alternatives were also available for Quantum which made another critical step in the move much easier; passwords. LastPass is available for both browsers. This meant all those passwords that I feared I would lose moving to Firefox were remembered by LastPass and easily moved across – another headache avoided.

I wanted to be teetotal in my move too. I changed the browser of all machines I use on a regular basis inlcuding my smartphone. This meant downloading Firefox’s mobile app. Again, I didn’t feel any inconvenience in this whole moving process at all.

Right, so the moving process TL;DR: It was probably a little easier for me than most because I’m actively using services that backup information, making moving around much easier. Still, I couldn’t see any stage of the move being a particularly big pain in the arse for many.

Firefox Quantum vs Google Chrome: Which Browser is Best?

I’ve been using Chrome for years and always had one complaint about it; it’s an absolute memory hog. Every tab you open and every extension you enable increases the liklihood of your machine having a complete aneurysm. Strangely, even after you close the tabs you’ve been using, memory still seems to be eaten up by Chrome. Firefox Quantum boasts that it requires 30% less resource to run than Chrome. I’m not going to say that those figures are exactly true, but Quantum definitely hasn’t slowed down my machine as much as Chrome.

The Mozilla crew behind Firefox Quantum also claim their lastest browser is twice as fast as previous versions. Again, Mozilla’s claims are difficult to confirm, but the browser feels a hell of a lot faster than Chrome. Personally, I’d say Firefox Quantum is even faster than Mozilla’s claims.

Quantum also jumps on a growing trend in digital at the minute; privacy. It almost seems silly saying privacy is a growing trend, but people are only really starting to wake up to how much of their data is shared online and just how much they are tracked on a daily basis. Quantum is one of the pieces of software, along with Apple’s mobile iOS system, to put the ability to enable privacy options into the hands of people.

Speaking of privacy…

What is DuckDuckGo?

When you feel sick, need to know how to convert miles to kilometers or you want to find out what other film that actor on the telly was in, you turn to Google. Regardless of browser or machine, there’s a fair chance your online question asking leads to a Google Search nearly every day. Believe it or not, there are alternatives out there to Google and one even has a funnier name.

Interest in DuckDuckGo soared back in 2012 following a Google Privacy Policy change. Firefox and Safari began to include DuckDuckGo in their list of search engines, leading to a massive uptake in the service. But just why are so many people switching over to DuckDuckGo?

Well, if you look at that tweet again, check out what they actually say: “we’ve no idea how many people that is”. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track users or store their search histories. If you’re privacy conscious and more than just a little tired of Google tracking every search you make, then DuckDuckGo is worth a try.

DuckDuckGo vs Google: Which Search Engine is Best?

Changing your search engine is a surprisingly hard thing to do, but I don’t mean the actual process itself; that’s easy. The difficult part is placing your trust into a different search engine. I doubted every search result DuckDuckGo returned because it wasn’t Google. The funny thing about Google tracking is that they use all that data to bring you really relevant search results and ads. DuckDuckGo still shows you ads but they are based on the words in your search results alone, not a combination of both which Google does.

What’s the impact of that? Well, here is me making a search for Deliveroo in DuckDuckGo and Google.


search example duckduckgo



eaxmple of google search

Google wins right?

Your personal data is worth a lot more than the inconvenience of looking through a few irrelevant search results. The part of my brain used to Googling things looked at the two searches and sided with Google. My new privacy-focused brain looks at the DuckDuckGo results and focuses on the fact they had no idea where I was, even with Ireland ticked. DuckDuckGo seems to respect the fact I’ve installed an AdBlocker a little more than Google too who’ve discovered a way to get their search ads around that software.

The Big Verdict

With all the tests carried out and after spending a few days using a new browser and a new search engine, what’s the final verdicts?

Firefox Quantum or Google Chrome?

Winner: Firefox Quantum

I was really impressed with Quantum. It’s damn fast, has some nice privacy options, easy to move over to and still provides, more or less, the same extension options as Google Chrome. It ticks every box for me so far and I can’t see myself moving back to Chrome any time soon.

Winner: DuckDuckGo

For me, I like the idea that protecting our online privacy is now mainstream. That’s why I’m such a massive fan of the Invizbox guys. Still, when I started writing this verdict I was leaning towards this duel being a tie. However, given how important our online privacy is there’s no room for complacency and to continue using the likes of Google Search is openly admitting you don’t care about your privacy. Now, if you like the personalised search results that come from being tracked through Google and honestly believe it’s a trade worth making, that’s fine. At least you are very aware of the transaction between you and Google where your data is the currency and Google’s search results are the product. You just need to ask yourself if that transaction is fair.

What do you think? Are you willing to make the switch and see how much you value your privacy?



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Founding Editor of Goosed, Marty is a massive fan of tech making life easier. You'll often find him testing something new, brewing beer or finding some new foodie spots in Dublin, Ireland. - Find me on Threads


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