Is Your Browser Current?

Learn how using outdated technology can hurt your business.

by Auctiva.com staff writer
- Oct 27, 2009

Think back to the last time you updated your Internet browser. If you can't remember it, odds are you should update very soon. You could be missing out on valuable features such as faster load times, better-looking Web sites and—more importantly—added security.

Just visit YouTube or another site that features video or lots of images and see how long it takes to load the page. If you're sitting at your computer for several minutes waiting for something to happen, it may be time to upgrade.

As an online seller, you have more important things to do, such as listing new inventory. And faster page loading could mean faster listing, too. Let's check out the advantages of "keeping up with the Joneses" and using the latest browser.

Understanding the basics

Before we dive into the benefits of updating your browser, let's cover some basics. You may be wondering what a browser really is. Many of us probably don't give it much thought: They're just the icons we click on when we want to go online, which is partially true. But more specifically, browsers are software applications that allow us to display and interact with text, images, video, music, games, etc. Commonly used Internet browsers include Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera and others.

A browser will take you to your preferred search engine (Google, Yahoo, etc.), so you can look for the information you want or need. You can download the latest version of a browser for free—and usually in a matter of seconds—by going to the browser's Web site. Search engines also continually upgrade their technology to enhance features and correct bugs in their systems.

Who doesn't want pages that load faster and display the way they were intended to? Don't know what we mean? Just take a look at these two Web pages. Both of these are the same page, but this first screenshot is how the page appears in the latest version of Firefox—and how it should appear.

screenshot1


Now look at the screenshot below. This is how the page appears in Firefox 2, which was released in 2006. See the difference?

screenshot2

Ask yourself, are you really seeing the Web site you're looking at the way it was intended to be seen?

Obtaining the right look

Also keep in mind that different and dated browsers might affect the way your Web site displays, not just the way you see other sites. For examples, rounded corners on your search box might show up as regular corners on a dated browser. If you link to a Web site from your Auctiva Commerce or eBay store, make sure to view that store and update it in the latest browser. If you don't, you might get e-mails from viewers letting you know your site doesn't look quite right. Rounded corners might be a minor design inconsistency, but some differences—like the way your text and graphics display together—could be significant.

When you're doing business online, you can never have too much security

Improved security

Seeing a Web site the way it was intended to be seen is reason enough for excitement, but upgrades also mean added security. That's because as issues arise with a browser's older version, the company works to correct problems. And when you're doing business online, you can never have too much security. Updated browsers can protect you and your buyers from phishing scams and malware.

Let's face it, security is a big issue. According to the Consumer Reports State of the Net survey, one in five online consumers was a victim of cybercrime during the last two years. That cost Internet users a total of $8 billion.

Social networking site Facebook was recently hit with a phishing attack intended to get users' passwords and allow hackers to access their personal information. In that scam, users who responded to e-mails with the subjects "areps.at" or "brunga.at" were taken to a fake Facebook page where they were asked for their passwords.

Within hours of the attack, a spokesman for Facebook was asking users to help prevent future attacks by updating their browsers so they would have strong anti-phishing features. But in case you're not sure what browser to update to, here's a brief description of some good options recommended by Auctiva's IT team:

  • Firefox 3: Firefox's popularity has grown recently because of the browser's speed, security and add-ons, which you can install to customize your browser. The drawback is, if one tab crashes, all of your tabs will crash. And there are some requirements for your computer if you're going to install Firefox 3.

    But Firefox features a password manager, so you don't have to repeatedly input the same passwords. As with most browser upgrades, upgrading to a newer version of Firefox will not affect your bookmarks or browsing history, although some extensions may not work until they also have updates.
  • Google Chrome: This new browser employs minimal design and technology to allow you to browse sites faster, safer and easier. Chrome is stable, gives users a private browsing option and has great crash protection. Google recently released Chrome 2. The browser runs pages that are heavy with JavaScript about 30 percent faster than the previous version, Google reports. And the latest version corrected more than 300 bugs that caused crashes. However, Chrome does not have ad blocking, and has limited bookmarking and customization capabilities.
  • Most browsers allow you to import bookmarks or favorites to your new browser

  • Internet Explorer 8: Internet Explorer is one of the most popular browsers around. Version 6 of the browser has several known security problems because of a plug-in, or add-in, which makes it susceptible to virus attacks. Plug-ins are hardware or software that interact with applications to add functions such as audio or video. Many people have criticized the browser in the past, but the latest version, IE 8, is more secure. It also has good crash protection. If any add-ons cause one of your tabs to crash, only that tab will be affected. IE 8 will also reload the page you were on before the crash. However, installing the latest version takes a while and uses a lot of memory.
  • Opera: Opera is another browser you may want to try. Some say it's the fastest, but it's not compatible with some sites. The browser is especially good for older computers since it does not bog them down. It's also the most compliant with Web standards. More than 20 million Internet users surf the Web with this Norway-based browser.

Final words

Don't worry about losing your bookmarks or favorites when you upgrade or change the browser you use. Most browsers allow you to import bookmarks or favorites to your new browser. Sure, it may take a few minutes to learn the new browser's features, but all browsers share the basics: back and forward buttons, an address bar and a search bar.

"Using the most recent version of a browser will lower the risk associated with drive-by-downloads and other Web-based attacks, which start by targeting the browser," notes Steve Ragan of The Tech Herald.

So consider taking the next few minutes to make sure you have the latest browser. You'll be glad you did.


About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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