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Iron Browser is a Privacy-Conscious Version of Google Chrome

This article was written by Asian Angel, the newest member of the How-To Geek writing team.

If you have not tried Google Chrome’s goodness because of the privacy concerns of Google’s tracking IDs, worry no more. Now you can enjoy all the goodness of Chrome without sacrificing your privacy with SRWare’s Iron Browser.

SRWare has taken the open source Chromium code and modified it in order to ensure privacy for the user… but it looks and works almost exactly the same.

iron-browser 

For those wondering what modifications have been made, the following Chrome functions have been removed and/or disabled in the Chromium code: Client-ID, Timestamp, Suggest, Alternate Error Pages, Error Reporting, RLZ-Tracking, Google Updater, and URL-Tracker.

As with Google Chrome, users are able to pull tabs from the main window to create new separate windows. Users may also combine (or recombine) separate windows back into a multi-tabbed main window. Iron also has ad-blocking capabilities built into it. While not on the same level as Ad-Block Plus for Mozilla Firefox, it still does a nice job on blocking the basics.

Iron Browser comes in two editions: the regular install file and a portable version for those who would like to add it to their USB drives. Both versions will easily co-exist on the same hard drive and multiple portable versions are also possible (so long as their “home” folder names are different).

Installation

At the beginning of the installation, you will be able to clearly see the version number being installed. This can be very helpful if you are wanting to compare version numbers with the latest releases of Google Chrome. SRWare does a very nice job of regularly updating Iron to keep up with new features and/or bug fixes that are released on Chrome’s Developer Channel.

install-window-01 

The installation process runs like other software asking for shortcut preferences, etc. as you go along.

During the installation process, this is one area where Iron Browser differs greatly from Google’s Chrome. Iron allows for installation to the Program Files area of your hard drive whereas Google Chrome does not.

install-window-02 

Menus

Once you have finished the installation process, it is time to have a look at Iron’s Command and Tool menus (located in the upper right corner).

toolbar-buttons 

First, let’s look at the Commands menu. There are the usual commands such as copy and paste along with a new favourite — “Create Application Shortcuts”. This can be very useful if you are wanting to open your favourite website as quickly as you would software on your computer. We will take a closer look at creating application shortcuts in a few moments.

iron-browser-commands-menu 

Here you can see the Tools menu that lets you access the options for Iron, importing bookmarks and settings from your other browsers, managing your bookmarks, and the Incognito Private Browsing function.

iron-browser-tools-menu 

Clicking on “New Incognito Window” causes a whole new window to open displaying the following message.

incognito-browsing 

Importing Bookmarks and Settings

Here is a good look at what you can import from other browsers on your computer. Everything is very straightforward and easy to set up.

import-bookmarks-01 

Opera and Safari browsers do not display at the moment, but Google Toolbar does show in the drop-down menu available.

import-bookmarks-02 

Options

The options for Iron Browser are split into three tabs. Here you can see choices for start-up/home page preferences (including the option to display the Home Button), search engine management (the default installation of Iron has German based search engines, but is easy to change and add to), and whether to set Iron as your default browser.

options-window-01 

The default installation of Iron will have the location for your downloads set as a folder named “Downloads” in your User Account’s “Documents” folder, but can be easily changed (as shown here).

options-window-02 

The third tab will have a scrollbar (the Options window can not be resized), so both screenshots are included to give you a good view of the options available here.

options-window-03 

options-window-04 

Address and Bookmark Bars

Now it is time to have a closer look at the Address and Bookmark bars. As you can see, the user interface is clean and minimalist even with the Home button displayed. Creating new bookmarks is as simple as clicking on the Star button which opens a small window for quick bookmark name and location editing. If a website is already listed in your bookmarks, the Start button will display as yellow (as shown below).

address-bookmark-bars 

Here you can see the quick-edit window for new bookmarks.

bookmarking-window 

More detailed editing (or addition) of bookmarks can be made using the Bookmarks Manager.

 iron-browser-bookmarks-manager

 Creating Application Shortcuts

If you have a favourite website that you would like to set up as a shortcut, it is as simple as going to “Commands” and selecting “Create Application Shortcuts”. The following type of window will display with the icon, a brief description of the website, and the ability to select the type of shortcuts that you would like to create.

application-shortcuts 

Conclusion

Iron Browser is a wonderful light-weight browser that is quick and “snappy”. If you are looking for a nice browser to add to your current selection or are just wanting to find out what all the fuss is about, then Iron Browser is definitely worth giving a try.

Iron Browser 2.0.178.0 (Installer & Portable Versions) – SRWare

Akemi Iwaya (Asian Angel) is our very own Firefox Fangirl who enjoys working with multiple browsers and loves 'old school' role-playing games. Visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 06/3/09

Comments (10)

  1. Gerry

    Very nice browser and a very nice review.

    Thanks Asian Angel.

  2. 1fastbullet

    Well, Richard, you have succeeded in finally getting my attention regarding this Google Chrome thing.

    I’m fortunate, maybe, that my Windows machine has been down for an unreasonable length of time while I upgrade and modify it. Ubuntu Linux has managed to consume the remnants of my limited time on things like finding drivers for web cams and such. I’ve been having far too much fun to worry that I didn’t have the newest of Google’s means to invade my privacy. That Iron has seemingly addressed these privacy concerns is a good thing, indeed.
    Unfortunately, and as I’ve mentioned, my Windows machine lays in pieces around my feet, on the shelf over my head and in any other appropriate nook or cranny, while I finalize the paint scheme and await back-ordered parts. As a consequence, I’m afraid that this good news about Iron will continue to escape and elude me.

    Question: What are the chances that a Linux equivalent of Iron might materialize between now and when (and, of course if) I ever get the stinking Windows machine back up and running again? I only ask because, while I absolutely (insert heart) my Firefox browser, I equally and absolutely despise that it repeatedly crashes at will, if for no other reason than it CAN.

    Please keep me posted, as it would be a waste and a shame to wake up some fine morning and realize that shooting many, many large holes in my monitor and tower was not simply a dream I had enjoyed the night before.

  3. 1fastbullet

    My apologies to Angel, as I didn’t take the time to read the “By” line. Kindly forgive the oversight.

  4. Asian Angel

    @Gerry – Thank you. ^__^

  5. Asian Angel

    @1fastbullet – Not a problem. ^__^

    As for your question, I just checked SRWare’s forum pages for references about a Linux version and found this:

    Iron Pre-Alpha for Linux Download (posted on May 26)

    http://www.srware.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=382&sid=686edbadb12bcae35f5904841e670f65

    Hope this helps! ^__^

  6. 1fastbullet

    Far out, Asian Angel. I thank you beyond your imagination. If it pans out as something good, I’ll be back to drool at your feet.

  7. Asian Angel

    @1fastbullet – You are very welcome! ^__^ I hope that you have a lot of fun with the Linux version! ^__^

  8. Mike J

    Iron is my #2 browser.It is intuitive & easy to use, & snappy. This looks like a great & informative review, & I will study it, & tweak Iron when I get a chance.
    Thanks.

  9. JSButler

    Bit of an additional info on this topic, I just re-installed XP on a new machine, brought it up to service pack 3 before letting windows auto-update loose online (download but let me choose mode)….

    The new’ish Browser choice by microsoft now includes a lot more recent version of SRWare Iron to set as your default browser.

    A version 6 is in the works by SRWare but even 5.0.382 has many functions not described in the above, the contents manager for instance – When setting it up allows you to switch everything of, dont want geolocation services tracking/linking everything you do? switch it off, java-script/pictures/plugins etc all can be disabled, which enables you to filter the online crap you dont need (a bit like training a spam filter for emails – you slowly build a white list of sites allowed to show you pictures or use javascript etc). You know something is blocked on a site because a relevant icon shows in your address bar, to allow the site just click the icon for choices, and refresh, your acceptance of the site element becomes permanent (can be un-done in the content managers exceptions). So typically unless I want to log in to a trusted site, its rare that I allow javascript on a site unless it obviously breaks the whole sites dependancies, but a site like that as far as I am concerned has not been written in a friendly way, so I would seek the info elsewhere.

    Speeds up your whole internet experience because in the background your browser is not getting slowly bogged down by the multitude of advertising methods being forced down our throats daily. And all nicely sandboxed.

    Check out Browser choice.

    Also, in the options, heres a nice homepage alternative you can type in if you are privacy concious.

    https://www.startpage.com/power-search.html

    You can also install their secure search engine if you want to replace google/bing/yahoo

  10. barnabyh

    For a privacy conscious search engine there’s also Scroogle.

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