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Brave browser review: A zippy browser that protects your privacy

Brave Browser homepage
Brave Browser homepage (Image credit: Windows Central)

While people often discuss the number of apps on Windows 10, the web browser is likely the most important app on any PC. Brave Software recently launched Brave browser, a privacy-focused browser that natively blocks ads and cross-site trackers. Brave browser has been in beta for several months, but I've tested Brave browser 1.0 for several weeks and come away impressed. In fact, after this review, it's easy to recommend Brave to anyone who wants a quick browsing experience.

Brave browser is free and works with popular extensions because it's powered by Chromium. You can grab it directly from Brave Software's website.

What you'll love about the Brave browser

Brave browser blocking tracking

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Brave browser is an easy sell. It's free, fast, and makes the web feel quicker. The first time I booted up Brave and went to a website, I thought, "holy cow, this is fast." That experienced was repeated several times in my testing. Sites boot up quickly, render well, and let me jump around the web in a way that just feels zippy. This is mainly due to what Brave blocks automatically. Ads on websites are hidden natively, and cross-site trackers are blocked as well. That means there's less content for Brave to render and fewer things to get in the way of you enjoying the web. The Brave homepage even has a tracker that tells you how much time you've saved over time as well as how many ads and trackers are blocked.

Brave is built on Chromium, so it works with popular extensions that developers likely built with Google Chrome in mind. This gives Brave the same benefit regarding extensions as other browsers like the Chromium-powered Edge and Vivaldi. I'm not a heavy extension user. The only extension I use on a regular basis is Grammarly, which unsurprisingly worked well. I tried out some other extensions that also worked well, though you'll have to try out your own set to see if Brave can work for you.

One of the things I like most about Brave is how much it does natively to speed up the web. You can block ads, cross-site tracking, and other elements on the web with extensions, some browsers do some of it natively, but Brave blocked them right out of the box. While most users reading this wouldn't mind installing a few extensions or personalizing a browser, it's nice that I can just recommend Brave to a friend and not give them a to-do list to make it work.

Brave Software states that Brave browser loads websites "up to 3 to 6 times faster than other browsers and introduces significant memory and battery savings on desktop and mobile." Brave browser uses "Brave Shields" to block third-party ads, trackers, and autoplay videos. You can customize these shields or turn shields off entirely for specific sites if you'd like. According to Brave Software, Brave browser also uses significantly fewer resources than other browsers. While I didn't break out a stopwatch on page loading times, I can say anecdotally that Brave browser backs up these claims.

What you may dislike about the Brave browser

Brave blocker Windows Central

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

There isn't much to dislike about Brave browser, especially as a general consumer of the web. The biggest issue of Brave affects people like me, content creators. I'm a full-time journalist, and I earn at least a portion of my pay through advertisements. I never use an adblocker because I know that if everyone used an adblocker on my articles, it'd be harder for me to earn a living. I don't say this to guilt anyone or change their opinion on ads. I'm just pointing out that I view the web as a creator, not just as a reader or viewer.

On the bright side for creators, Brave has a reward system that can earn people money even if someone blocks a website's ads. The Brave Reward program is powered by blockchain and allows people to see a specified number of ads through their PC's notifications. People earn rewards when they see these ads and then can choose to contribute to a creator if they'd like. This reward system is an interesting approach and will be more successful as more people use Brave. Brave software states that 8 million people used the browser while it was in beta, so we'll see how many users the browser has after it's been fully released for a while.

Should you use the Brave browser?

If you want a zippy browsing experience that makes your entire experience on the web feel quicker, you should try Brave browser. It blocks ads and cross-site trackers out of the box and significantly speeds up the web. It works with popular extensions, renders websites well, and is an easy browser to jump into.

The only complaint I have about Brave selfishly comes from the fact that I make money by creating content for the web. But even though Brave blocks ads and other things natively, the Brave Rewards system can be used to contribute to creators. It's nice that Brave Software has this in place to allow people to reward sites and creators they like even if they block a website's ads.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

8 Comments
  • I bought a lifetime license for AdGuard once supercheap. Brilliant program. Blocks all ads and trackers system wide. So all installed browsers, in app ads, YouTube and many other sites where standard ad blockers often fail because they are detected.
  • Yeahh I don't trust them that much. Firefox is still my preferred privacy browser.
  • Why am I need to use it when I already have Firefox?
  • I just wish Windows Central / Sean Endicott would stop marketing Brave as a privacy focused browser. Build in adblocking, yeah (not a huge boon though since one can just install ublock origin which is likely better), but privacy focused compared to e.g. Firefox? Not really (I explained it in more details here on the previous WC Brave article -> https://www.windowscentral.com/brave-browser-now-available-bringing-spee... ).
  • First, I don't advertise anything here. I'm a journalist and I cover Brave as news and review it as an app. Second, you can turn off BAT if you'd like, right? You opt to use Brave rewards. Third, if you're going to quote their site on privacy you should also quote their explanation "While the ads you see are based on your interests, which are inferred from your browsing, Brave Ads is private and anonymous. The data are stored on your device, and are entirely inaccessible to us. No personal data or browsing history ever leaves the Brave browser on your device. "
  • To the first half fair enough. The latter concerning the data, there is no such thing as anonymous data since there are always patterns to find out who is who. So you have to believe them that the data is not send (partially) to their servers or such. I personally find it to be a bit too vague, something like Adblock Plus makes more sense than (just greenlight ads that follow strict but fair rules and if chosen that do not track) and seems more transparent.
  • What about the option to turn it off? You don't have to use Brave Rewards.
  • Would this completely disable all the trackers? Personally I am actually for ads to support creators but more static ones so they won't unnecessarily spread malware and track people. Maybe I am wrong here but it seems like Adblock Plus (+ Firefox or Edge) does this purpose better than the Brave browser (except for people that don't understand add-ons I guess). Firefox on top of that also does not use chromium so that might also make it better privacy wise (iirc chromium browsers make a few calls to the Google servers, though it is not entirely clear what they communicate). I do apologize for being slightly to direct in my previous posts, I think you raised some decent points and your writing is good. edit: I found some more possible red flags concerning Brave browser;
    "Various components in Brave make connections to our online infrastructure. We create temporary server logs whenever we receive these connections. These logs include your IP address and a brief summary of the action performed — such as checking for an update. We keep these logs for up to a year and use them to ensure the smooth operation of our online infrastructure. "