Goodbye Google Chrome, Hello Opera

For several years, Google Chrome has been my web browser of choice on my home computer.  I never cared for Microsoft Internet Explorer.  I prefer a browser that is basic, runs fast and displays web content the way it is supposed to be displayed.  Before I switched to Chrome, I had been a fan of Mozilla Firefox.  At some point, Firefox became unreliable and so I moved to Chrome.  My current computer is more than a year old and Chrome had been the only browser that I used on it.

For about the past month or so, the reliability of Chrome has changed.  Too frequently, I would try to load a page and Chrome would just hang, acting as though it was waiting for content from the network, but nothing was happening.  Ultimately, I’d have to close out Chrome and then I could not get it to restart.  After checking the Windows Task Manager, I found that a process titled chrome.exe was continuing to run even though Chrome was not on my desktop.  By ending that running process, I could open Chrome again and make another attempt at browsing.  This week, it became so bad that I was having to close Chrome and restart about every 5 minutes.

As with most computer problems I troubleshoot, I started with an Internet search to see if others were experiencing the same problem as me.  I found a lot of comments about reliability issues using Chrome, but none of the resolutions that people were posting solved my problem.  As much as I didn’t want to have to abandon Chrome, I was left with no other alternative.

There was one main reason I was not looking forward to making a browser switch.  That reason was described by one word, bookmarks.  I have hundreds of bookmarks that I have amassed in Chrome over the years.  When I switched to my current computer last year, I transferred by bookmarks from the old system to this one and I have continued to add to my collection.  Luckily, Chrome makes it easy to export bookmarks.  They can be saved to an html file and I had hoped to import them into my new browser.

I have some experience with the web browser called Opera.   I have run Opera on my smartphone and on my tablet, but I never considered using it on my desktop computer.  It was time to give it a try.

I like the small size of the installation file for Opera.  It seems to be a streamlined program, when compared with other browsers.  I read somewhere that Opera’s code is similar to that of Chrome.  A check of the regular web sites I visit showed that Opera is running much faster than Chrome was.  However, I ran into a problem when trying to set up bookmarks.

My current version of Opera is version 17.  When I tried to find bookmarks, I was quite surprised to find that Opera 17 does not have bookmarks.  They have opted for a page called Speed Dial and one called Stash.  Neither of these locations can be organized with folders to allow categorized bookmarks.  At first, I thought I was missing something.  Surely there must be bookmarks somewhere.  But a search on the Internet revealed that the writers of Opera decided most people didn’t use bookmarks.  Excuse me??  I know very few people who browse the Web and don’t have a ton of bookmarks.  I don’t give up easily and I was not going to be denied access to my bookmarks in this new browser.  It just took a little added setup to make the bookmarks available to me using Opera.

Since Chrome exported the bookmarks in an html file, I was able to open that file in Opera and each of my saved links was available.  The html file is not as easy to search through as it was to use bookmarks in Chrome, but at least they are all there.  Any web page can be saved to Speed Dial or Stash in Opera by clicking on the icon for either page at the far right of the address bar field.  Clicking on the heart icon while displaying my bookmarks html file placed a link to the file on the Stash page.  Since that html file has a huge number of links in it, I opted to break that file down into some smaller individual files, similar to the folders I had in Chrome’s bookmark manager.  I added a link to each of these new bookmark files on the Stash page and I now have access to all of my Chrome bookmarks while using Opera.  When I want to save a new bookmark, it’s going to be a little more work because I will have to manually add the link to the appropriate bookmark file.  I am actually more comfortable with this arrangement because I have direct control of my bookmarks, including easy backup of these files.  With the bookmarks in Chrome, I had my Chrome data backed up, but I was never quite sure I would be able to recover that data should Chrome ever completely die.

So far, I’m quite happy with how well Opera is working.  I haven’t come across any sites that have not displayed the same way as when viewed using Chrome.  It is very nice to not have to restart the browser every 5 minutes.

If you have been a Google Chrome user and you find that Chrome has become unusable, there is a resolution, although it doesn’t involve doing anything to Chrome.  Give Opera a try.

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