Why it makes sense sometimes to run different programs

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 16, 2016
Updated • Feb 5, 2017

Windows users have quite the options when it comes to programs for tasks they run on their devices.

If you look at web browsers for instance, there is Internet Explorer / Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, and a truckload of others.

Most users probably stick to one program that they favor for one reason or the other, and use it exclusively or nearly exclusively.

Why use Microsoft Edge if you prefer Chrome or Firefox, right? The same scenario is true for other types of applications: media players, screenshot taking tools, email clients, backup programs you name it.

There is nothing wrong with picking a favorite and sticking with it. However, being a bit more flexible when it comes to the choice of programs you run on your system may be beneficial in certain situations.

Let's take a look at some scenarios.


Everybody's favorite TV and movie streaming service. If you want to play Netflix in 1080p on the desktop or on mobile devices on Windows, you either have to use the Netflix application if available, or use Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge for that.

Chrome, Firefox and other non-system browsers support up to 720p only currently. Now, this may not be a problem for all users. If the screen is small or low-res for instance, it won't make a difference. Also, if your Internet connection is unreliable or outright slow, watching in 720p may improve your experience.

Still, if you want 1080p on Windows, you need to use one of Microsoft's browsers for that.


Performance may differ widely across different applications. If you stream Twitch.tv using a browser for instance, you may notice a huge jump in resource usage while the stream is active.

The same cannot be said if you load the stream in your favorite video player, say VLC Media Player. If you do so, resource usage is significantly lower as compared to streaming Twitch in a web browser.

Adobe Flash

Most modern browsers support Adobe Flash. Some ship with it included -- Chrome and Microsoft Edge / Internet Explorer 10+ -- while others support Flash when it is installed on the system.

While you can install Flash on the system if you want to use it in Firefox, you could alternatively use a third-party browser like Chrome to access Flash content.

This may be beneficial to system security as you may benefit from faster updating times, and limit access to Flash at the same time.

Battery life

Microsoft and Opera ran battery performance tests recently that showed that the browser's were less memory hungry than others.

Microsoft claims that Edge does better battery-wise than any other browser on Windows, Opera that the browser's Battery Saver mode improves battery significantly.

If you are using browser's on a mobile device, battery live may be important especially if you are on the go or at a location where you cannot connect the device to a power outlet.

Battery life is not limited to browsers though. PC World ran a comparison back in February 2016 that pitted several media players against each other in a 4K run down test.

The surprising result? Microsoft Movies & TV, the default video player on Windows 10 beat third-party media players such as VLC, Media Player Classic or PotPlayer by a very large margin.

In fact, it managed to run the 4K video more than twice as long on a laptop than any of the other players.


All browsers support the downloading of files. However, if you want to download files in bulk, say a full gallery on an image hosting site, videos, or large files, you may benefit from using specialized tools for that.

When I tried to download a new ROM file from a Chinese server this year, I noticed that downloads started in browsers were terribly slow. I switched to a download manager instead, and download speed improved almost immediately.

Downloading one or two images displayed on a page or pages is fine, but what if you want to download hundreds? Yes, you may download them one by one using the web browser of choice, but will spend considerable time doing so.

A program like Bulk Image Downloader, or a browser extension like Down Them All, may speed up the downloading considerable.

Now You: Have other examples where switching programs is beneficial?

Why it makes sense sometimes to run different programs
Article Name
Why it makes sense sometimes to run different programs
Find out why it is beneficial sometimes to use different programs for certain tasks -- media playback, streaming, or web browsing -- on a computer system.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Anonymous said on July 17, 2016 at 5:33 am

    This is a great point Martin.

    Humans are naturally prone to becoming creatures of habit. And like you said, it’s fine to have your favorite, go-to apps and programs.

    But making yourself more open and flexible, by using a different program for a certain task (if that different program performs that task better than your favorite program), is the best way to go.

    This means installing a few different programs/software that perform the same task, and gradually learning which software will perform a certain task more efficiently or better.

  2. Fred said on July 17, 2016 at 4:33 am

    It’s a good idea to have more that one programs for a task, a work.
    For example the browser that Martin spoke, sometime when you encounter a problem, a bug, it’s easier to check rapidly another browser to see if the bug happen in the other browser.
    I do that too on my smartphone and it is useful to see if a software had a bug, example white page when scrolling in the last Firefox beta, and no problem in previous version of the program.
    It’s good to for stability too, for example you re doing a hard work on a program that it need very long task. If the program crash you need to begin again most of the time. Using a different program can help a lot.

    Another little word, Thx for this website, good information for computer geek and all people :)

  3. Mike S. said on July 16, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Well said, Henk, re your last paragraph.

    But no matter how another’s choices appear to us on the outside, people always always always act in their own perceived self-interest.

    That’s the prime directive of all conscious beings. :)

  4. Henk van Setten said on July 16, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    “… other examples where switching programs is beneficial?”

    Sure, my own case: bandwidth. When you live not in a city, but in a place where internet is available only at very low speeds and at a high price per Mb ratio.

    In that case, you will often switch to a browser that can offer its own server-side data compression to reduce bandwidth usage – as pioneered very well by Opera.

    Moreover, in this situation you will often not use a browser at all, but instead choose a dedicated desktop app. Even for tiny tasks, because all those little things add up. So for example, when I need to convert some units (feet to meters, etc) I won’t go to Google, but instead use a small unit converter program on my local PC. Same for things like dictionaries: no internet-based apps, but harddisk-based ones such as WordWeb.

    One positive side effect of switching to local software is of course that compared to using web apps, this is better for your privacy, too.

    Of course all this also extends to media streaming. My alternative for Spotify is the simple 1by1 software with my own digitized music collection. But I guess this falls outside the scope and kind of “switching” that was meant here. Still, let me add that my Netflix alternative remains Windows Media Centre with an antenna tuner – though not as a matter of choice.

    Our entire village gets its internet squeezed through one single many-miles-long, 70-years-old, breaking-prone phone cable. Having a choice in matters such as streaming high-quality Netflix videos, Martin, sure is a luxury – one that I hope you are grateful to enjoy.

    Meanwhile, of course I am very happy that over here at least we have horses. Real horses, with real smelly horseshit. If I actually preferred being able to see horses streamed on HD video, then of course I would have moved into a city apartment years ago.

    Switching to different computer programs always comes down, basically, to being aware of what your specific priorities are. What factors will determine your choice? Speed? Reliability? Flexibility? Safety? Interface design? Costs? And so on.

    The same goes for life as a whole: we all should be aware of our own personal needs and priorities. Maybe one problem with life is that so many of us, while busy choosing the perfect Netflix browser or chasing the next Pokémon, forget to reflect on what their most essential priorities in life are – until it’s too late to make a real switch.

    Sorry for this bit of philosophy. Couldn’t help it.

    1. A different Martin said on July 18, 2016 at 12:24 am

      I agree wholeheartedly with your life priorities, but … why not have it all? I don’t know what country you’re in (and what anti-consumer laws and regulations you might be subject to), how far you are from a major Internet hub, what you and your fellow villagers’ disposable income is like, or how much value you put on faster Internet, but a while back, I came across an inspirational* account from a Norwegian who lived over 8 miles away from from his closest telephone central office and who set up his own fiber-optic line to it, shared with three other households. Here’s the direct link to his detailed comment:


      On the other hand, if you don’t want the availability of fast Internet to make your village attractive as a bedroom community for yuppies, I can understand that, too.

      *It’s inspiring to me, because I live in the US, where ISPs have essentially bought private, un-price-controlled monopolies from most state legislatures and municipalities and where to overturn those arrangements, you need to have enough clout to get the Federal Communications Commission to federally pre-empt them. (That’s what the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, did for its $70-a-month symmetric 1GB fiber-optic service, covering a service district of 600 square miles.) That’s why American Internet service is generally slower and around twice as expensive as it is in most of Europe, and why service in the rural US is absolutely miserable. (Just read the main article for the comment I linked you to.)

    2. FREEMAN said on July 17, 2016 at 6:42 am

      Why not use a satellite internet provider ?

  5. Ray said on July 16, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    That PC World article about video player performance was enlightening.

    Who knew that Microsoft’s own video player would drastically beat third-party favorites like VLC and MPC-HC? Good to keep in consideration when on a flight.

  6. Ron said on July 16, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Good article Martin. The timing couldn’t be better, because as of today I keep getting served the mobile version of your website in Pale Moon (even when I click ‘Desktop’ at the bottom I’m still served the mobile version). I have to use my backup browser (Firefox) to view the Desktop version. Did you change anything on the website recently?

  7. Anonymous said on July 16, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Good article Martin. For browsers, I mostly use Pale Moon, but also have Firefox as a backup. Which is kind of ironic because as of today, I keep getting served your mobile version of the webpage in Pale Moon. Even if I click Desktop I still get served the mobile version. Did you change anything on the website?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 16, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      I enabled mobile caching. Have turned it off, let me know if that changed the issue.

      1. Ron said on July 16, 2016 at 8:29 pm

        Yeah, it seems to have fixed it. Thanks. Also sorry for the double post (the one below this is also me). I didn’t think this first one “took.”

  8. stilofilos said on July 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Compatibility issues can be an other reason.
    Talking about photo filters, I experienced that some filters perform marvelously in one host, while continuously crashing in an other.
    No idea why, but on the same computer that was, so that is not the reason. And that one host isn’t either, as other filters do perform well there, too.

    I’m using a few different font tools as well, while not one does everything I need.

  9. stilofilos said on July 16, 2016 at 11:58 am

    This is certainly true when you want to work on your images. There are quite a lot of softwares that offer different possibilities, or one offers a better tool for, say, resizing, while another tool is better for colour enhancement, or yet an other for shadows or contrasts, adding text, 3D extrusion, selections, layers, …
    I am e.g. using Faststone as my base, cos it already offers a lot of quality tools by itself, but it is no host for 8bf filters. For that I use Irfanview. And there are quite some professional tools that I got from SOS or GOTD and that offer more possibilities.
    An added advantage is that in Faststone you can bind-in the other tools and comfortably pass images on to them with one click for one operation in one tool, and get the image back to continue in an other tool.

    An other topic is notebooks. I use EssentialPim as calendar and address book, but I don’t want to keep other notes in it. Not that I do, but you could use it in a team, together with the notes that the team needs, and want your other notes away from other users. Also here, different flavours offer other possibilities or are simply better for one purpose, like integrating or not images, webpages, rich text, and for me very important : unicode. I just saw that Cinta Pro is on SOS today, touting its superior comfort in collecting notes so that you avoid always having to open the right book first to save them in. Could be a sufficient reason to add it to your toolbox and enhance your workflow.

    1. Mike S. said on July 16, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks, Martin!

      1. Mike S said on July 17, 2016 at 5:29 pm

        Thanks, stilofilos. :)

      2. stilofilos said on July 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm

        Sorry for the delay, but yes, indeed : Sharewareonsale – Do keep an eye on it, they have lots of nice giveaways and sales.

    2. Mike S. said on July 16, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      stilofilos, may I ask what SOS is? I’m aware of GOAT and BitsduJour for free/reduced software but not SOS.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 16, 2016 at 8:40 pm

        Shareware on Sale presumably: http://sharewareonsale.com/

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.