3

I've been using QtWeb for a few years now. It's portable and uses only a single 8MB executable, has a very capable built-in adblocker and renders most websites without problems. While I still enjoy using it, it does have compatibility issues with video websites. Also, it hasn't been updated in years. So for reasons of security, but also compatibility, I'm wondering if there are other browsers out there that offer a similar functionality:

  • lightweight
  • portable
  • private browsing mode
  • single executable/very few files (optional)
  • adblock functionality either built-in or through plug-ins/addons
  • compatible with video streaming websites like youtube
  • Windows compatible

To clarify what I mean by portable: An application is properly portable if it doesn't need to be installed, doesn't write settings to the Windows registry and keeps user files like the profile, bookmarks, plugins etc. in its own folder. The latter is especially important.

There is plenty of software out there that calls itself portable, because it doesn't need to be installed, but stores the user data in the Windows user folder making it effectively "unportable", since moving the software to another computer will cause it to lose all the user's personal information.

Update after my answer I gave below: I'm aware that "lightweight" is an incredibly ambiguous term that might relate to physical size, memory usage or CPU usage. Ideally, all of that should be kept as small as possible, but it's impossible to set fixed standards here, so I'm willing to make sacrifices. After the extensive browser test, I have to say though that I don't consider any browser being 100MB and bigger lightweight, especially when considering what QtWeb can pull off with its tiny 7.5MB.

This basically rules out portable versions of Chrome and Firefox.

  • 1
    I use Portable Firefox from portableapps.com - - portableapps.com/apps/internet - - they have a series of different browsers, I haven't tried any of the others, but this list may have what you're looking for. Portable FireFox is a lot of files (294 files, 77 folders, 216mb), but works great. – Baronz Mar 18 '16 at 21:01
  • Thank you. I've been making my own portable FF versions in the past, but I'm also aware of the portableapps-versions. Their version is neither lightweight nor is it fully portable since it dumps its user settings into the user directory instead of keeping it in its own sandbox. – Zerobinary99 Mar 19 '16 at 15:17
  • I use Liri. It's not portable but it has a great UI. I expect you would have a great time with it. – Vln Murthy Mar 19 '16 at 18:00
  • Thank you for your suggestion. There is a portable version available. It's a whopping 130MB extracted and is everything but lightweight. There is no adblocker and no private browsing mode. I tried it on a website and was promptly re-routed to another external page. This is only the third public release and it's developed by students, so I don't trust it in terms of security, making QtWeb the more secure option. Also, its size will increase as development goes on. This is a barebones alpha build and I advise you not to use it if you don't want to get infected with malware! – Zerobinary99 Mar 19 '16 at 19:54
2

I hate to answer my own question, but here are the results of my research. I won't accept this as an answer for a while in case someone does recommend a proper replacement that fulfils my requirements.

The following list is largely based on this wikipedia-article, but also other lists I found online. I only tested those browsers that offered compiled Windows-versions for download and weren't older than QtWeb. My tests included using google.com, youtube and tubeplus.is. The latter was used to test the efficiency of the ad-blockers. It uses different flash based videostreaming services and sometimes serves some nasty popups/popunders that can't be closed.


Browzar 2.0.0.0

Size: 222KB

Portable style: single executable

experience:

  • based on IE rendering engine

  • no video playback on youtube

  • doesn't even render its developer's website correctly

  • long freezes between page clicks that trigger Window's "application is not responding dialog" after every single click

  • froze and crashed when quitting the program

conclusion: unusable


Midori

Size: 160MB

Portable style: dumps user settings into Windows user directory instead of own folder, 1500+ files, 300+ subfolders, portable needs to be started via bat hidden in subdirectory

experience:

  • random crashes

  • can't even render google.com correctly

  • rudimentary out of the box adblocker that kills the functionality of basically any other video streaming website other than youtube

  • laggy program behavior

conclusion: unusable


K-Meleon 75.1

Size: 65MB

Portable style: 350+ files, 100+ subfolders, keeps user files in own directory

experience:

  • youtube works, but warned that the browser was outdated

  • built in ready to go ad-blocker, but with a tiny rule set. During the adblock test a popup was loaded that refused to close and played an audio message over and over so that I needed to close the entire browser forcefully through task manager just to get rid of it. Session was saved though, but that also included the horrible ad.

  • quick website rendering

conclusion: usable, but the adblocker's filter list is not compatible with that of adblock plus and thus would require a lot of effort to fine tune and keep up to date


Liri 0.3

Size: 130MB

Portable style: dumps user settings into Windows user directory instead of own folder, 1300+ files, 68 subfolders

experience: no adblocker or plugin support, page rendering ok

conclusion: useless due to total lack of security features


Qupzilla 1.8.9

Size: 91MB

Portable style: dumps user settings into Windows user directory instead of own folder, 360+ files, 48 folders

experience:

  • quick and correct page rendering

  • built in adblocker with adblock plus compatible list support

  • allows to set location for cache directory (in own folder by default), but the location of the user files

Conclusion: usable, but not truly portable


SlimJet 8.0.5.0

Size: 230Mb

Portable style: keeps user files in own folder, but creates temp files in outside own folder, 800+ files, 120 folders

Experience:

  • built-in ABP-compatible adblocker
  • quick and proper page rendering

Conclusion: perfect if it wasn't for the fact that it's bigger than Firefox and thus everything but lightweight


Palemoon 26.1.1 x86

Size: 48 MB

Portable style: 270+files, 50 folders, keeps all user files in own directory, but makes use of Windows temp folder

Experience:

  • Firefox-derivative that's optimized for size and efficiency

  • supports all Firefox plugins and thus proper adblockers

  • proper and fast page rendering without errors

Conclusion: usable


Opera Portable USB 12.18

Size: 51 MB

Portable Style: 570+ files, 80+ folders, keeps user files in own folder

Experience:

  • comes with rudimentary adblocker, but also supports ABP via plugin

  • proper but sluggish page rendering

  • unintuitive menus

Conclusion: usable


SlimBrowser 7.00

Size: 12MB

Portable Style: 450+ files, 40+ folders, seems to keep user files in own folder

Experience: started with error message that rendered all controls unusable. No webpage could be accessed

Conclusion: unusable


Superbird 44

Size: 150MB

Portable Style: 200 files, 8 folders, keeps user data in own folder

Experience:

  • Chromium based browser --> supports Chrome plugins and thus adblockers

  • very fast program response and render times

  • Iron-clone

Conclusion: usable


NetGroove 1.0

Size: 440 KB

Portable Style: single executable

Experience: requires NetFramework 3.5, couldn't be tested

Conclusion: useless on systems without necessary NetFramework version


Dooble 1.55

Size: 108MB

Portable Style: 440+ files, 50 folders, keeps user data in own folder

Experience:

  • fast rendering, but neither Youtube nor flash video playback works

  • seemingly no built in adblocker, but not all ads were displayed which is probably the result of the lacking flash support

  • supposedly supports plugins, but the menu option does nothing

Conclusion: very limited browser


Avant Browser 12.5

Size: 470MB

Portable Style: 1200+ files, 500+ folders, keeps user data in own folder

Experience:

  • built in rudimentary adblocker which in its default state doesn't work too great
  • built in popup blocker that didn't seem to work at all

  • sluggish page rendering performance

  • seemingly no plugin support

  • confusing browser behavior: New tab automatically loads prior tab's link. Try opening a new one to hide the fact you've been watching porn. Also, waste of bandwidth for people on metered connections.

  • horribly unintuitive interface

Conclusion: bloatware


Comodo IceDragon

Size: 180MB

Portable Style: 1000+ files, 50+ folders, keeps user files in own folder, but also makes use of Windows temp folder

Experience:

  • Firefox based --> plugin and therefor adblock support
  • fast and proper page rendering
  • is not offered as downloadable archive. Portable version has to be installed via installer.

Conclusion: usable


Final conclusion

There doesn't seem to be a single browser out there that could be a complete alternative to QtWeb regarding size, resource usage, feature richness and portability without having to trade off one aspect for another.

After all those tests, the next best alternative to it seems to be Palemoon, but I'm still holding my breath for a suggestion of an obscure browser that might surprise me.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.