Difference between Browsing and Surfing

When you search the Internet, do you know whether you are browsing the internet or just surfing? Next time you go on the Internet, you may relate to the following points to decide whether you are browsing or surfing.

What is Browsing?

When people visit a website, they cannot open it without using an online browser. A browser is a program that allows the user to type a search term and reach the source to gain more information. In simple terms, browsing is an act of looking for information and reading about a specific topic with a particular goal or aim in mind.

Browsing is a focused search, hence faster and less time-consuming than surfing. People will have a pre-defined plan chalked out in their minds before they browse. It makes it easier to locate the exact information in less time if they use browsing.

What is Surfing?

Surfing refers to searching a particular information using Search Engines. Surfing is generally time consuming than browsing, as the user tends to search and locate the required information over the web.

Surfing is exploring many pages to reach the desired information. It helps us expand our knowledge. Typically, people who use the internet look for random things to supplement their knowledge.

Surfers start with a keyword or phrase. They enter the word in the search box and run a random search until they get what they want.

The act of surfing exploits the power of various search engines. It can be just looking for information without using a web browser. Surfing is when a person does not know what they will get as the search result.

Surfing is a broader term than browsing. Browsing can transform into surfing when a person expands the search horizon to get a wide range of information when there is a doubt about a particular source of information.

A surfer carries surfing over many pages and allows you to search the sites at random. During surfing, the user is not explicit about his search but seeks a wide range of information.

Examples of Browsing & Surfing

Surfing relates to a leisurely act of going over the Internet, but browsing is a more focused search with a specific goal.

  • An example of browsing is when you search a glossary or dictionary on the Internet for a specific meaning or explanation.

  • You surf when you open various sites on the Internet and move from one page to another page without focusing on a specific page.

Difference between Browsing and Surfing

The following table highlights the major differences between Browsing and Surfing −

Key Browsing Surfing
Definition Browsing is the process of searching with target. Browsing is done using web browser. Surfing is the process of reading without any explicit target. Surfing is done using Search Engines.
Target Browsing is targeted on particular websites, as the user knows where to look what is required. Surfing is random and most popular/relevant searches shows the user the website he/she need to visit.
Speed Browsing is a quick and a straightforward process. Surfing is a more time-consuming and challenging task than browsing.
Information Source Using browsing, information is centered towards one topic. In surfing, results are centered towards multiple topics


Browsing is looking or searching for specific information on the Internet with a purpose. Surfing is looking for information on the Internet with no apparent goal. Surfing is a casual search in an undirected manner, but a person does browsing with an aim and a direction.