Last week we talked about Google Chrome and its many annoyances. Now it is time to introduce Chrome’s little brother, SRWare Iron. Iron is marketed as a privacy-oriented version of Google Chrome. It is based on the open-source Chromium project, which is what makes up Chrome for the most part. In other words, Iron’s developer took Chrome’s open source code and made his own fork of the browser, minus all the Google junk (and other controversial privacy issues).
In essence, Chrome and Iron are the same browser. That means Iron performs just as fast, and Chrome add-ons/extensions work too. There are subtle differences, but a normal user would not be able to distinguish the two apart from their logos. Here is a summary of the differences between Chrome and Iron, taken from the developer’s website:
Other Key Differences
- If you are a fan of Chrome’s built-in PDF Viewer, I am sorry to say it is not included in Iron. But heck, there are many great alternative PDF readers out there. (I personally recommend SumatraPDF – which also has its own plugin for in-browser viewing) Update: How to Get Chrome’s PDF Viewer in SRWare Iron
- Another built-in element of Chrome that isn’t in Iron is the bundled Adobe Flash Player.
- Iron updates come out less frequently, and there is no auto-update feature (but the developer says it is in the works). When one does come out (usually monthly), just download and install over the old. Fortunately, Iron doesn’t leave old files behind after an update, unlike Chrome.
- Last but not least, Iron has its own built-in Adblock (more on that).
Iron’s Built-in Adblock is a Godsend
If you have ever used both Firefox and Chrome’s version of Adblock Plus, you will agree that the Firefox version is far superior. You will notice that, on many occasions, ads get past Chrome’s ABP filter. The developers of ABP have said that it is much harder to block ads in Chrome because of the way the browser is coded. Here is where Iron’s adblock comes to the rescue.
Using Fanboy’s Adblock List for Iron, you can now supplement ABP for its shortcomings. This will be like double-duty adblocking, but from my experience it doesn’t slow down the browser, and you will have a superior adblock set-up. Just make sure to leave both adblockers enabled because each one alone will not be as effective. (For more on how to implement Iron’s adblocker, refer to this article.)
One concern of many people is the fact that Iron comes from a third-party developer that is not very well known. This is a fair observation and everyone is entitled to their own decision whether to use Iron or not. However, I would like to point out that Iron is open-source, which means anyone can download the source code from the developer’s site and examine for any malicious code. I highly doubt that Iron’s developers have an underlying motive to trick its users. That said, it has been smooth sailing in my experience of using Iron for over a year.
[Download Page] – Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux (Portable-version included)