What is Waterfox? Is it Safe to Use?

Are you looking for a safe, private alternative to popular browsers like Chrome and Edge? Waterfox has the potential to win you over.

Several online browsers are available, and many are marketed as safe and private alternatives to Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. Only a select handful may be said to be safe, and even they all have their drawbacks.

Sometimes promoted as a possible substitute for popular browsers is Waterfox. How wonderful is it, though? Is it as private and secure as some claim?

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Is it Safe to Use Waterfox?

As the name implies, Waterfox is a Firefox fork, meaning their code bases are identical. A lighter, quicker, safer, and more private Firefox has been marketed. The browser was first intended to be a quick Firefox without the bloat. Still, as its creator Alex Kontos stated on Waterfox’s official website, it is now “about the balance of privacy and usability” and “attempts to be an ethical, user-oriented browser.”

2011 saw the initial launch of Waterfox for 64-bit Windows. The Linux version was released in 2016, a year after the Mac version. And in 2020, Kontos transferred ownership of Waterfox to System1, an advertising firm. To put it mildly, it seems contradictory that an advertising company would own an ethical and privacy-focused browser. Still, it’s important to remember that System1 also owns the private search engine Startpage, which has garnered praise as one of the best products of its kind and won numerous privacy awards.


With that said, Waterfox is a very slick and quick browser. It loads quickly, is simple to use, and doesn’t need a lot of system resources. Bing, the default search engine, is not the ideal choice for privacy. Wouldn’t using DuckDuckGo or even Startpage make more sense? Not so, considering that Waterfox makes money via search partnerships, as indicated in its privacy policy and FAQ.

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It is admirable that the privacy policy is brief, clear, and straightforward to read as is. Waterfox does not collect telemetry data, according to the statement, but it will gather specific technical data about your device and operating system to perform updates appropriately.

Since Waterfox lacks a built-in ad-blocker, unlike several privacy-focused browsers, uBlock Origin will likely be the first plugin you need to add. However, you may strengthen tracking protection in the browser by clicking the three horizontal bars in the top right corner, choosing Settings, and then selecting Privacy & Security.

waterfox settings

You can select Standard, Strict, or Custom tracking protection here. In non-private windows, the standard configuration disables cross-site tracking cookies, social media trackers, fingerprinters, and crypto miners. When the Strict setting is activated, the browser also blocks tracking cookies and content in all windows in addition to much of what it already blocks in Standard mode.

How does Waterfox stack up against Firefox, then? Firefox does gather telemetry data by default, unlike Waterfox. However, this feature may be turned off in the settings. In contrast, Firefox is not owned by an advertising firm but rather by the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation. The ordinary user generally won’t notice the difference in speed and CPU consumption, even if it might not be as quick as Waterfox.


Although popular browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge are undoubtedly preferable to Waterfox, other safe privacy-focused browsers like Brave and Pale Moon could have more to offer. This is primarily a question of preference, but switching from Chrome to a safe browser is the proper choice and will improve your security and privacy.

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