- Full customization
- Unrestricted extensions
- No mobile version
- Security updates frequency
Who would have thought that a side project of a 16-year old would become one of the most popular Firefox forks in the world? With millions of downloads, Waterfox gained its popularity back in the day because it was the only Firefox fork that had an x64 build when Windows 7 came out. This meant that you would get the same features as Firefox while also having improved speeds and sending less personal information to the Firefox servers. However, those days are long gone, and Firefox has developed into a faster, more reliable, and more private browser in the past few years. So, why should still you consider using Waterfox now? Well, Waterfox stopped its evolution after Firefox 56’s release, so you can still get the more traditional interface as well as use both newer and older add-ons.
Features & Extensions
Waterfox developer Alex Kontos always had the desire to build his own computer at a young age, as well as making each piece of software his own. Because of this, when he created Waterfox, more than just increasing Firefox’s speed and providing an x64 build of the browser, he aimed to give power to the user. That's why Waterfox is one of the most customizable browsers on the market. You can install legacy extensions, WebExtensions, bootstrapped add-ons, as well as NPAPI plugins like Microsoft Silverlight and Java. In other words, you can do whatever you want with Waterfox and change it to the point that it becomes unrecognizable.
However, even if you don't want to change every aspect of Waterfox, it’s still a nice browser to use. Waterfox comes with the majority of the features that existed in Firefox version 56, like the possibility to take, save, and share screenshots without needing to leave the browser. Waterfox also comes with a sync feature that can synchronize to your Firefox account.
Privacy & Security
If browser customization isn’t your thing, there is another reason why you might want to use Waterfox – privacy. Although Firefox cares more about your privacy than many other popular browsers in the market, there have been situations that have raised concerns in the past such as the installment of Cliqz, the Mr. Robot marketing campaign, and the adding of the pocket feature. With Waterfox you won't ever have these kinds of issues to begin with. Waterfox only sends information to its servers about your OS and browser version for updates, meaning that it won't use your browsing data for targeted ads or other purposes. Basically, Waterfox doesn’t store any kind of personal information.
When it comes to security, Waterfox will block dangerous and deceptive content as well as warning you when websites try to install add-ons or download suspicious software. However, we need to bear in mind that Waterfox is a one-man team, and although security is often updated, it can sometimes take a while to catch up. Nevertheless, there have been no security breaches from Waterfox since its launch.
Waterfox is available on Windows 7 and higher, macOS, and Linux. When it comes to mobile, there was a version for Android but it’s no longer available on the Google store. There’s been no statement about the application so it’s uncertain if the Android version is ever coming back. However, you can still find the mobile app on the web and install its APK file but be careful to make sure that you’re downloading the software from a trustworthy source since some versions may contain malware.
With the amount of customization Waterfox provides, the browser's interface can look and work exactly the way you want. Nevertheless, you can choose between three different Firefox versions – the default Firefox 56 style, a more old-school look via a plugin, or you can download the beta of Waterfox 68 which has the same interface as the latest iteration of Firefox.
You can’t expect to receive excellent customer service when there’s only one person on the team. Waterfox doesn’t offer any customer support on its website, but there are a couple of channels where you can get help. There’s the Waterfox community subreddit where you’re able to add new posts, read through previous queries, or send direct messages to developer Alex. One thing that you get by developing a browser like Waterfox is a loyal and helpful community, something you’ll notice while browsing Reddit. Your other option is through the Waterfox Twitter account where you can also contact the developer directly.
If you’re interested either in privacy or customization, Waterfox is an excellent browser for you. If you think of Chromium as the base of Google Chrome, then you can see Waterfox as the base of Firefox but with the perks of being more private, more stable, and updated automatically.
There’s nothing that you can’t do with Waterfox, and it's built entirely to give users complete freedom to do what they want – you can use it with the interface of Firefox 27+, 56, and 68, or build your own browser through the infinite number of extensions. The only small problem we see with Waterfox is that it takes a while until security patches are done. However, there is no record of Waterfox having a security breach to this day. Without a doubt, this 16-year old was (and still is) able to shake up the browser industry.