When you go on to the web, which browser do you use? Is it Internet Explorer? Firefox? Safari? Opera? Some other browser? And how long have you been using that one without updating it? Is it the current version? If not current, your browsing may not be as secure or enjoyable as it could be. [First published May 2006. Some details (especially version numbers) may be a bit dated.]
Check the version number
Here’s how to tell. If you use Windows open up the browser and go to the Help menu. Choose the last item on that menu — it should say ‘About’ followed by the name of the browser. Mac users you will go to the menu named after the application, for example, Safari, and call up the first item: About browser name. So there’s the first question answered.
But go ahead and select the About menu item. You should see a window telling you the version. That version number might have about a million digits and letters, but the really important stuff is at the start. I run Windows Internet Explorer version 6.0 (with Service Pack 2) when I work on Community Net Aotearoa.
If I’m using Windows for some other reason I use Firefox version 188.8.131.52 or Opera version 8.5.4. When I use my Mac I run various browsers at various times: Safari v 2.0.3, Firefox v 184.108.40.206, OmniWeb v 5.1.3 or Opera v 8.5.4.
How does your browser version compare? Is it older than mine? Is there a newer version available?
Safer browsing; better browsing
It’s not just a matter of boasting that mine’s newer than yours. There are two important reasons why you should keep your web browser up to date.
The first is a matter of safety and security. Believe it or not the bad guys are always trying to get in to your computer and can try to use your web browser to do that. Every browser update fixes security problems that have been exposed in the previous version.
These security problems affect Window users in particular. Computers running the Macintosh operating system or Linux are safer and more secure, but they are not immune. Everyone should keep their web browser up to date.
The second reason is less scary but more personal: newer versions of web browsers do a better job than old versions. The web is changing every day, with new techniques popping up for making websites more useful, more attractive and more powerful. The older your web browser the less likely it will be serving you well.
Most web browsers are free, and easy to install. Check yours today to see if it’s current. If not, check the browser’s home page to see if your computer can run the latest version. If so, download it, install it and surf more safely.
- Internet Explorer: microsoft.com
- Firefox: getfirefox.com
- Safari: apple.com/safari
- Opera: opera.com
- OmniWeb (US$30): omnigroup.com
Note: there are many other really great web browsers. those listed above are simply fairly common.
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, May 2006.