Chrome's About PageWeb browsers, like all software, get updated from time to time. It’s important for many reasons – security, design, usability – that you’re using the most up to date browser you can.

In the last few years, web sites have become much more interactive. New kinds of websites, “web apps,” let you do in your web browser the types of things you used to have to download an application to do. You’ve probably heard of Google Drive or Google Documents – these are web apps that rely on modern web browsers to operate.

If you try to use one of these fancy new applications on an outdated web browser, you might find that it just doesn’t work.

Let’s say you’re using Mozilla Firefox. If you click on “About Firefox” (this is located in the “Firefox” menu on a Mac and I think it’s under “Help” in Windows), you’ll find out what version you’re using and you can click “Check for updates.”

It turns out my Mac is waaaaay behind, because the current version of Firefox is 12 or 13. Definitely not 6. You might now be able to guess that I never use Firefox.

I found this to be a particularly troubling issue in my school. All of our computers come with Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari pre-installed. However, they’re all horribly outdated. To make matters worse, the security settings on the computers prevent them from being updated without an administrator password.

So What To Do…?

If you can’t update the web browsers on your school computer, there is one potential alternative: Google Chrome.

Google Chrome is a relative newcomer in the field of web browsers, but it is by far my favorite. For our purposes today, there are two important benefits to Chrome.

First, it installs itself in your user folder rather than in a protected system folder. The technical details aren’t all that important; what is important is that you can usually install and run Google Chrome without having an administrator password.

Second, Chrome will automatically update itself without ever asking you. Once you install it you’ll always be up to date.

Modern web applications, like Google Drive, let you do amazing things in your web browser. However, you can’t take advantage of these apps without a modern web browser. So do yourself a favor, and update your browser of choice to the latest version. If you can’t do that, try installing Google Chrome.