Opera browser review

5.6/10
Last updated: May 13, 2021

Opera is not the most popular browser and not the most secure one as well. While it offers interesting mobile apps and anonymous synchronization with your desktop devices, its privacy issues cannot be ignored.

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An alternative browser on a range of platforms, could Opera be the secure email option you’ve been seeking? Let’s dig deeper and find out more in this Opera review.

Insecure web browsing doesn’t just hand over valuable data for free. It also exposes us to cybercriminals, curious local users, and potentially official agencies. So what can we do?

Well, one first step is to use a secure web browser. It can lock down your local data, erasing your history and password information when you log off. And it can usually encrypt the data you transmit – making you invisible to external observers. And what about the second step?

Opera browser security concerns

Unfortunately, Opera doesn’t qualify as a secure browser. Even if it was, you’d still be protecting your browsing only. Luckily, there’s a solution to that in the form of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It encrypts all of your traffic, be it streaming, torrenting, or gaming.

Want to make Opera browser more secure?
NordVPN adds protection to your whole internet connection.

What is Opera?

First off, not everyone will be acquainted with what Opera is and where it stands in relation to more popular alternatives like Chrome. Actually, it’s one of the oldest browsers of all, having been born way back in 1994 in Norway.

What is Opera?

In 1996, the first Opera browser for Windows appeared, and versions multiplied around the turn of the millennium (even extending to Nintendo DS editions). All the while, the core browser remained free to use but has long been ad-supported as a result.

Into the 2010s, the browser changed dramatically, incorporating aspects of Google’s Chromium platform and generally starting to resemble the search engine’s offering more closely.

More importantly, from a privacy standpoint, the company behind the browser was purchased by a Chinese group in 2016. This might alarm some people, as China isn’t exactly known as a bastion of digital security.

But is this the case? We’ll find out when we check out the privacy features that Opera’s latest versions bring to the table.

Is Opera browser safe?

What about security, though? If Opera fails here, we can write it off for good. But that’s not the case. On the contrary, the browser has some great security features:

  • Private browsing – As you’d expect from a Chrome clone, users can hide their local activity via a form of Incognito mode. This erases history, cache data, and cookies for good.
  • Password manager add-ons – If you want to add extra protection for passwords, good add-ons like Bitwarden integrate seamlessly with the browser.
  • Security badges – When you visit sites, the security badge icon lets you know straight away whether it uses HTTPS and other forms of certification.
  • Google safe browsing – Opera takes advantage of the Google connection to mine a vast database of known attack sites, helping to guard against phishing.
  • Crypto-wallet – Android users can also connect their cryptocurrency reserves with the browser, allowing them to make virtually anonymous mobile payments.
  • Free VPN – at first offered as a standalone service, Opera VPN is now a proxy in the form of an extension that doesn’t work with other browsers. The first mobile version was launched in March 2019 for Android, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be successful enough to make the iOS version as well.

As for the Opera Privacy Policy, this is a pretty tight document as far as browser privacy goes. For instance, it’s nice to read a policy that starts with the statement, “As a general rule, users of our software applications and services are anonymous to us, and we have no feasible ways to identify you.”

There are some data collection procedures, but these are anonymized as much as possible. Mobile versions may also use localization techniques to extract data if users provide permission.

Opera includes a long list of third parties who use the browser and its apps to collect data

However, there’s one big issue to think about. Opera includes a long list of third parties who use the browser and its apps to collect data. It’s good to see this level of transparency, but it’s not encouraging to see names like Facebook, “Yandex Mobile Ads,” and Google Analytics.

Want to make Opera browser more secure?
NordVPN adds protection to your whole internet connection.

How to use Opera

Opera is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and in a “portable” version designed to be stored on a USB stick. And a slightly different version is available for Android and iOS phones, while there’s even a “basic” version for older, less advanced smartphones. That’s a nice touch and characteristic of the creative thinking behind the browser.

Using all of the versions should be fairly straightforward. They are available on the Opera homepage, and they’ll simply auto-install onto your chosen system.

When you’re up and running, plenty of features contribute to ease-of-use, including:

  • Swift load times, usually beating the performance of Chrome or Firefox.
  • An unusual sidebar setup where you can pin frequently visited websites as well as different settings, giving you flexibility about things like privacy and caches.
  • Like Chrome, but unlike Firefox, the address and search bars are combined, saving space and making it easier to find what you need.
  • The browser is fully compatible with voice commands, adding another dimension to web browsing.
  • Syncing is available across versions of the browser on computers and tablets so that you can send over links and documents easily.
  • Icons can be pinned to toolbars in the browser, giving one-click access to external apps like email clients.

And remember, the basic Opera setup is modeled on Google Chrome. So if you’re familiar with Google’s browser, getting up and running won’t be a problem.

Opera browser for Mac

Some browsers offer a stripped-down version for Mac users, but that’s not the case here. In fact, this browser could be the ideal option for OS X users for a couple of good reasons.

Firstly, it’s more memory-efficient than Chrome or Firefox. So your Mac battery should last longer. Secondly, Opera on Mac tends to be faster than the competition (even Safari). And the pinned tabs and favorite icons we talked about earlier add to the user experience in ways that Safari doesn’t. So it’s worth giving the Mac version a try.

However, if you do, don’t forget to use full protection with the best Mac VPN.

Opera browser for Android and iOS

Opera has quite a few versions for mobile browsing, each built with a different goal in mind.

Opera Mini

This mobile browser is built with the core goal of saving as much mobile data as possible. It works not only with iOS and Android but also older and basic phones.

Opera claims that this browser can help save up to 90% of mobile data. It also comes with an ad-blocker, QR code reader, and unbeatable speed in case of a slow connection. However, we recommend safe browsing only with the best VPN for iOS.

Opera Touch

Android and iOS users have a special version of the browser called Touch. Introduced in 2018, Opera Touch is being marketed as a fast web search browser that you can use with only one hand, and it definitely departs from the core Chromium-style model.

The one-handed mode allows quick browsing when you are out and about. Speed Dial provides rapid access to the sites you visit most often, and there are a solid ad-blocker and a special “cryptojacking” defender as well.

Opera browser for Android

Starting with version 51, this Opera browser comes with a built-in proxy named “VPN,” just like the desktop version. It’s also free and easy to use.

Opera browser for Android has an ad-blocker, personalized news feed, syncing with desktop Opera, and speech-to-text input support. If you choose this version, don’t forget to protect all of your traffic with the Best VPN for Android.

What are the most common Opera browser issues?

What are the most common Opera browser issues?

Opera is generally seen as a reliable app with relatively few major operational problems. Having said that, errors can arise, and here are some reasons why Opera might not work:

  1. Opera won’t open. Sometimes the browser simply freezes and refuses to play ball in any way. That’s something all browsers do from time to time. Thankfully, the solution is generally easy. Just reinstall your browser and choose the option NOT to remove your personal files. That way, you will retain your passwords and bookmarks.
  1. Excessive memory usage causes poor performance. This doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, the causes can generally be traced to your cache. Try erasing the cache and seeing how performance changes.
  1. Can’t access Gmail. This is a common issue for Opera users and a really frustrating one. It’s also not hard to fix. The culprit tends to lie with your cookie settings, and by turning off “Block third-party cookies,” you can usually solve the problem.

Opera vs Chrome vs Firefox

OperaChromeFirefox
OwnerGolden Brick Capital Private Equity Fund I Limited PartnershipAlphabetThe Mozilla Foundation
Launched in199520082004
Security featuresPrivate browsing, VPN compatible, free Opera VPN, password manager, crypto wallet, security badges, phishing protection, ad-blockerSandboxing to handle malware infections, ad-blocking available, Incognito mode, website certificate security checksPrivate browsing, Open source code reviews via the “bug bounty system,” Adblocking, Eliminates cookies, VPN add-on, Security alerts
Private browsingYesYesYes
Custom extensionsYesYesYes
Open-sourceNoNoYes
CloudSyncYesYesNo
Available onWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, portable USB, basic phonesWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS

Conclusion

Opera is clearly not the most secure browser in the world. What it offers security it lacks in the privacy department. This browser also suffers from the lack of security add-ons which could make the situation a bit better. Furthermore, its built-in VPN, which should be all about protecting user’s data, does some logging on its own.

Luckily there are more than a few better options for secure browsing. And if you combine it with the best VPN, staying safe online should no longer be an issue.

FAQ

Is Opera safe?

Unfortunately, Opera is not considered a secure browser. Its built-in VPN is logging your data, and there are also other privacy issues. Opera also lacks security extensions.

Is Opera safer than Microsoft Edge?

It is, but only up to a point. While Microsoft Edge suffers from both security and privacy issues, Opera only has the latter. However, that’s not much of an advantage. We recommend choosing a secure browser, such as Firefox or Brave.

Should I use a VPN while browsing with Opera?

Yes, you should. The browser itself has privacy issues, so you’d want to compensate that with a more powerful tool. A VPN will hide your IP address and encrypt your whole traffic, including streaming and torrenting.

Dos Opera have a mobile version?

Yes, in fact, it has three of them. There’s an Opera browser for Android that has an ad blocker. Then there’s Opera Mini, built to minimize mobile data usage. Finally, Opera Touch is designed for browsing with one hand only. The last two versions are available on iOS as well.

Good

  • Very high security
  • Great ad-blocker
  • Anonymous sync

Bad

  • Built-in “VPN” logs data
  • Opera Turbo now mobile-only
  • Privacy issues
 5.6 / 10
Total score
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  1. T and cakies

    I used Opera for years and when China bought them a few years ago I knew it was time to move on from them.It’s like Duck Duck go browser that claims no tracking cookies and my ghostry and Badger found 5 tracking cookies.You can’t trust any of them so use the one that works best for you.


  2. Art Hartmut

    I have been using the OPERA browser from its earliest years, and for a long time my preferred option and wholeheartedly recommending it to other users. They were pioneers. Knowing that money is needed to develop such products, I was not opposed to allow a certain amount of advertising to show up – people who work on stuff like this need to earn a salary. However, when I found out that the original Opera company was sold in 2016 to a company from China I could only shake my head. For a company headquartered in China it is quite impossible (a great hazard!) to work outside of the directives and influence of the country’s government. This means that it is diametrically opposite to what the Opera browser stood for, and the guiding spirit of its Norwegian developers. This puts some very serious spin on what this browser really does under the cover.


  3. Arthur

    I preferred opera in old days. They pioneered many features in browsers like Speed Dial, Turbo, customisable layout, loading page with/without image, fit to width etc many of which were later co-oped by Chrome and other browsers.

    Presently the thing spooking me is Chinese ownership. I would be more inclined to use Firefox.


    1. David Chibi

      I am personally happy for a Chinese or Russian company to handle my security as opposed to any western based company knowing that all communications are intercepted by our “security” apparatuses. I currently use Yandex and kaspersky and find they work well.


      1. Danish Anwer

        I agree 100 percent to your comment. The western countries are more of a risk to the users all over the world. Edward Snowden showed to the world about the extent of spying done by NSA with collaboration with big companies. I think Facebook, Alphabet, and other companies are a bigger threat than Chinese or Russian firms.

        Alphabet has stolen $500 through Google Play using a scam gaming app. And they decline to refund the stolen money. I trust Chinese companies more than the corporate pigs in America.


        1. JamesD

          I would not touch Opera with a ten foot pole now that it is owned by a Chinese corporation. For safe browsing, try Brave.


  4. Jared G

    I tried Opera for a while but I didn’t like very much, I felt it was some kind of slow Firefox, even though it’s older. I’m using Chrome now because it’s simpler for everyday usage you have to admit that (mostly with googledocs and stuff). But It’s true Opera is safer.


  5. Otto Matthews

    Opera is the most reliable internet browser. I wasn’t quite sure if it was the safest to be honest, bu after reading your review I was convinced. Don’t use Chrome or Explorer anymore!


    1. denial

      wait i thought opera isnt safe

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