Is the Vivaldi Browser Safe for Searching the Web?

Built with privacy in mind, Vivaldi offers various customizations so that users can protect themselves online.
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The internet is both a wealth of information and a personal privacy nightmare. To earn money, web browsers and search engines collect and use your data. While data privacy laws dictate the ability to provide opt-out options, some websites give you a notice that they’re collecting your data without allowing you to set your preferences. 

To protect your personal information, you may want to try a secure browser. As people become more interested in protecting their data online, more secure browser options become available.

Vivaldi takes a “privacy by design” approach to development, meaning that it follows seven basic principles for protecting data focused on giving you personal control over your information. From a user standpoint, privacy by design means that the company develops the application in a way that your privacy should remain intact even if you do nothing. You don’t have to sacrifice usability to protect your data.

Built with a focus on data privacy, the Vivaldi browser offers customization capabilities that give you a way to protect your data without compromising speed and usability. Here's how it works.

Looking for more ways to protect your online privacy? A virtual private network (VPN) adds more security by encrypting your Wi-Fi connecting and hiding your IP address and other personal info. Find out more in our best VPN apps guide.

In this article
Vivaldi pros and cons
Vivaldi features
8 Vivaldi privacy settings to use
How does Vivaldi make money?
Other private browsers to consider
Vivaldi browser FAQs
Bottom line: Is Vivaldi browser safe?

Vivaldi pros and cons

The Vivaldi browser has been around for a while, but it’s added some new features over the last few years, like tab management and ad-blocker tools as well as updates to the Android interface. Vivaldi gives you an abundance of ways to customize your browsing experience and privacy. But we hope to see Vivaldi shorten its update cycle for security and user experience benefits.

Pros
  • Customizable interface: settings, features, shortcuts, and themes to personalize the user experience
  • Tab management: stacking, hibernation, tiling, and panels for enhanced productivity
  • Privacy and security: tracker and ad blockers, private window, and password manager make data protection easier
  • Employee-owned: easier to focus on user wants without external investors
Cons
  • Limited market share: fewer active users skews community feedback
  • Limited updates: less frequent updates can impact security
  • Few default settings: customization can be time-consuming
  • Limited iOS compatibility: lacks iPhone and iPad apps

Vivaldi features

Since Vivaldi focuses on giving you a personalized experience, it offers a lot of features both for usability and data protection. By understanding the different options, you can decide whether the browser is right for you.

Ad and tracker blocker

The Vivaldi ad and tracker blockers protect your privacy and help web pages load faster. Ads and trackers slow down your browsing experience because the browser has to collect and transmit more information.

The Vivaldi ad and tracker blocker offers several main functions, including:

  • Blocking malware embedded in ads
  • Preventing third parties from tracking your browsing
  • Blocking GDPR cookie dialog boxes
  • Replacing third-party pop-up blocker extensions for an easier user experience
  • Using less bandwidth, CPU, and memory by not processing as much data

Since the Vivaldi ad blocker is built into the browser, you can customize how websites display and what they know about you. For example, since many websites use ads to make money, you can still support them by allowing ads from trusted websites or blocking only trackers.

Password manager

The Vivaldi browser has a built-in password manager so you can create strong website passwords without forgetting them. When you make a new password or update an old one, the browser asks whether you want to save the changes. If you don’t want the browser to save any passwords, you can turn the option off.

Additionally, the password manager has a few other capabilities:

  • Authentication: You need to log into your account to view the stored password.
  • Encryption: Passwords are encrypted with an API function on Widows and a keychain on Mac and Linux
  • Syncing: You can store passwords on devices and in the encrypted Sync server

Search and browsing history

Unlike many other browsers, Vivaldi doesn’t use your personal data as a source of income so it doesn’t need to collect it. By developing the browser with a privacy by design philosophy, Vivaldi does not:

  • Track users
  • Profile users
  • Collect usage data
  • Access browsing history like visited URLs, search keywords, or downloaded content
  • Share or sell information to third parties

Vivaldi collects the following to understand the total number of active users and their geographic demographics:

  • Unique user ID
  • Anonymized IP address
  • Vivaldi version
  • Device CPU architecture
  • Screen resolution
  • Time since last connection to servers

However, Vivaldi does have partnerships with some of the websites in the browser’s default bookmarks. Those websites use cookies, but you can remove any or all of them if you want to limit who gets your information.

If you’re really worried about third-party cookies, you can use the Private Window feature, which is similar to the Chrome incognito mode. The private browsing mode means that you’re sharing as little information as possible with the internet and the browser. With Private Window, you get additional protections like:

  • Blocking third-party cookies by default
  • Not storing your browsing history
  • Storing website cache files in memory to reduce residual file traces

Tab stacking and tiling

If you like to have seventy bajillion open tabs running, Vivaldi has some options to keep you organized.

Tab stacking gives you a way to create groups of tabs so that you can organize your research more effectively. You can create tab stacks around different searches or apps. By hovering your mouse over the stack, you can preview the aggregated tabs. When you click on the stack, you can see all the tabs just like you would if you had separate browser windows open.

With tab tiling, you can compare different websites all in one window. All you have to do is click on the tabs you want to compare, then use the page tiling button at the bottom of the browser. You can choose tile tabs to be displayed:

  • Vertically
  • Horizontally
  • Grid formation

Tab hibernation

The tab hibernation functionality is another way that the Vivaldi browser gives you the speed you need. When you have too many open tabs, you use up system resources like memory and energy.

When you choose the “hibernate background tabs” feature in setting, Vivaldi:

  • Automatically puts tabs into hibernation when they’re not in use, unloading them from the system’s memory
  • Quickly reloads hibernated tabs when you reopen them

While these aren’t data protection features, they give you productivity options that other browsers don’t. With Vivaldi, you don’t have to choose between usability and data protection because the privacy by design development model brings them together.

User profiles and sessions

If you use a shared device, you can have multiple user profiles to let you customize how each person interacts with the browser. You may also want to create different user profiles to separate your work and personal settings.

The Vivaldi browser gives you several options, including:

  • User profiles: store browsing history, bookmarks, extensions, and themes for different people or purposes
  • Sessions: save and restore open tabs, websites visited, and data inputted
  • Profile and session management: create and switch between multiple profiles by clicking on the profile picture to manage data like browsing history and saved passwords
  • Advanced options: open new window in private mode by default, automatically clear private data on exit, or start in a particular profile or session
  • Security and privacy: separate personal and work data, protect history from other people using the device, easily clear browsing history and cookies

Does Vivaldi support extensions?

Vivaldi is built using the Chromium web browser project so you can install extensions from the Chrome web store. However, sometimes these extensions behave differently when installed in Vivaldi. If you need help with an extension, you can use the Vivaldi community Forum to ask questions or contact the extension’s developers.

Vivaldi headquarters in Norway

Since the Vivaldi headquarters is located in Norway, the company has to comply with the country’s strict data protection legislation. Even before the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in 2018, Norway had a robust set of data privacy regulations.

Norway’s Data Protection Authority (DPA), Datatilsynet, takes data privacy beyond GDPR requirements, enforcing the Norway-specific laws as well. Datatilsynet has imposed fines for:

  • Data processing without legal basis or without adequate security
  • Sharing user data with third parties for advertising purposes without giving enough information for people to provide valid consent

8 Vivaldi privacy settings to use

Vivaldi’s privacy and security features let you control your data and help protect our privacy. However, you most likely want to customize your settings so that you get the experience you really want.

How to navigate to Vivaldi privacy and security setting in macOS:

  • Click Vivaldi on the top left of the screen
  • Click “Preferences” from the drop-down menu to open Vivaldi Settings: General window
  • Select “Privacy and Security” from the menu on the left side of the window

Google services

If you turn on the “Phishing and Malware Protection” setting, Google’s Safe Browsing API compares the site you’re visiting against a list of suspected phishing and malware sites. If the site is listed, then you’ll get a warning.

Vivaldi states it doesn’t send your data to the service provider when you use this feature.

Search

When a search engine makes suggestions, everything you type is sent to the chosen engine. By default, Vivaldi turns off search suggestions at both the address and search fields. You can choose to leave all suggestions turned off or allow certain trusted search engines to make suggestions.

Tracking prevention

Vivaldi offers four different tracking options that you may want to turn on:

  • Ask Websites Not to Track Me: Sites can ignore the request, but it offers additional control over data
  • Block Ads on Abusive Sites: Turned on by default, this setting blocks ads on sites that mislead users or use abusive technologies, like pop-ups that prevent you from leaving the site
  • Block Hyperlink Audit Tracking: This prevents websites from tracking user behavior connected to web links.
  • Broadcast UP for Best WebRTC Performance: You may want to disable this default feature to hide your IP address, but you should know that it can impact how websites function.

Typed history

To protect privacy on a shared device, you may want to disable the browser’s ability to display what you’ve previously typed in the Search and Address Fields.

Autofill

While auto filling information like name, address, or credit card makes things easier, it also means that the information is saved to the browser on your device. For ultimate data privacy, you want to turn these off so no one else using the browser can see your information.

Website permissions

When websites need access to interact with your device, you need to give them permission to do it. With Vivaldi, you can set permissions that apply to all websites. Depending on what the website wants to do, Vivaldi gives you three options:

  • Block: Always say no
  • Allow: Always say yes
  • Ask: Answer on a website-by-website basis

From a data protection point of view, you want to prevent websites from doing anything unnecessary, then give back capabilities on a case-by-case basis. Basically, if Vivaldi provides only Block or Allow, choose Block. If it gives you an Ask option, you’re blocking by default and giving back the capability when you think it makes sense.

The settings that Vivaldi offers and some best practices include:

  • Autoplay: Block
  • Notifications: Block
  • Camera: Ask
  • Motion sensors: Block
  • MIDI devices: Ask
  • Idle detection: Block
  • Sound: Block
  • Geolocation: Block
  • Microphone: Ask
  • Bluetooth devices: Ask
  • Popups: Block

Some sites need these permissions to function. For example, web conferencing websites or apps will need to access your camera and microphone if you want to participate.

Tracker and ad blocking

Vivaldi gives you three blocking levels:

  • No blocking
  • Block trackers
  • Block trackers and ads

For the strongest data protection, you should block both trackers and ads. You can make exceptions to the blocking level on a case-by-case basis by adding trusted sites using the “Manage Sources” option.

Cookies

Vivaldi lets you control two types of cookies:

  • First-party: Helps you use the website, like storing items in a shopping cart
  • Third-party: Collects data to help the website, like tracking what you buy across different websites or delivering you ads

If you have more than one person using your Vivaldi browser, then you may want to click on “Session Only” under Accept Cookies. This will reset them when you close out the browser, so no one else can use any saved information.

Under Third-Party Cookies, choosing “Block All” offers the most privacy, but it might prevent some pages from working. If you choose “Block in Incognito Mode Only,” then you accept third-party cookies when you use the regular browser to prevent issues with websites.

How does Vivaldi make money?

Vivaldi makes money with two types of partner deals:

  • Search engine: When people use one of the pre-installed search engines, Vivaldi generates revenue, with the exception of Google. They provide Google pre-installed, because they know people use it, but they do not have a deal with them.
  • Bookmarks: When you use one of the Speed Dial bookmarks on the Start Page, Vivaldi receives shared revenue.

However, you can uninstall any of the search engines or bookmarks to maintain more control over your information. When you click on either a search engine or bookmark partner, you are at the whim of their data collection policies, which is why you want to customize your privacy settings.

Other private browsers to consider

Before you download and use Vivaldi, you may want to research other private browsers like:

  • Tor Browser: Blocks cookies and tracking technologies, anonymizes traffic using a network of servers  
  • Brave Browser: Built on the Chromium engine, includes built-in ad blockers and encrypted connections
  • Firefox Focus: Blocks ads, trackers, and third-party cookies for mobile devices
  • Epic Privacy Browser: Blocks fingerprinting, cryptocurrency mining scripts, and ads, and deletes all browsing data when you exit  

Vivaldi browser FAQs


+

Does Vivaldi track you?

Vivaldi doesn’t track you, but it does collect limited and anonymized information about user demographics including:

  • General geographic region
  • Browser version
  • CCPU
  • Screen resolution

+

Does Vivaldi sell my data?

Vivaldi does not sell your data, but it does have third-party agreements with the pre-installed search engines and applications. You should review the privacy policies of those partners before using them, or you can uninstall them.


+

Is the Vivaldi browser owned by China?

No. Vivaldi Technologies was founded by Tatsuki Tomita and Jon S von Tetzchner. The main offices are located in Norway, Iceland, and the United States.


+

Is Vivaldi safer than Chrome?

Vivaldi is considered a safer browser than Chrome because it offers several built-in privacy features that Chrome doesn’t have:

  • Ad Blocker
  • Tracker Blocker
  • Custom Blocking Lists
  • Secure Sync with Encryption Key

Additionally, since Vivaldi is built on the principle of privacy by design, it does not track or profile user behavior.

Bottom line: Is Vivaldi browser safe?

The good news for privacy-focused folks is that the Vivaldi browser offers a robust set of data protection features without compromising productivity. However, you need to make sure that you customize your settings to get the most value from the browser’s capabilities.

Remember: the Vivaldi browser — or any other safe browser — isn’t a complete solution. While they shield you from third-party tracking cookies, they don’t protect you from cybercriminals who like to steal information by using your network connection. If you want to protect yourself, you should layer multiple technologies, like using one of the top VPN apps to encrypt data and make it unusable when you’re on a public Wi-Fi network.

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Author Details
Karen Walsh is a lawyer and former-internal-auditor-turned-subject-matter-expert in cybersecurity and privacy compliance. Karen has been published by leading industry outlets and quoted by The New York Times and CNN Investigative reporters.