Approximate time to read: 3 minutes

Nearly 2 years ago I wrote a comparison of Adobe Reader and Foxit Reader. Both free PDF viewers, I found that the latter was often being recommended to avoid the “bloat” of Adobe Reader.

Unfortunately, and as I noted, many people complaining about Adobe Reader were using old, slower versions.

So, I thought it was time to revisit the two applications and compare them once more.

Before, I kick off I should add that I won’t be using Adobe Reader Lite this time – Adobe has been clamping down on its distribution and, although still available, I suspect that development has ceased. And that’s a shame – Adobe Reader Lite stripped out all the least used features of Adobe Reader and made it a lot leaner as a result. Why Adobe don’t add such a feature I really don’t know. Any-hoo…

Adobe Reader 9.3

A 26.1MB download (although their site says it’s higher), it then consumes 211MB once installed. Installation is sluggish, but it’s clean, with no undue problems experienced.

Uninstalling the software is also average, with some files left behind.

In my previous review I made mention of how the PDF viewers consume more and more memory the more you scroll through a document. That hasn’t changed.

Adobe Reader, with no document open, uses 30MB of memory. When I opened a 13.3MB PDF document, it consumed 39MB of memory. Next, I scrolled to the end of the document and back up again ((performing this test is difficult with Adobe Reader as it tends to not actually flick through the pages when scrolling – instead it remains at the current page and only refreshes it once you stop scrolling. Whilst scrolling, a thumbnail appears)) – the memory usage was now a rather large 92MB. Repeating this increased it to 104MB.

The software is slick in use, with good quality text, even when quite small, and a generally nice look and feel. Scrolling is smooth and it launches quickly. The toolbar is not cluttered and contains the basic requirements. Updates to the software are tracked and automatically downloaded, if required.

Foxit Reader 3.3.1

A sprightly 6.69MB download, it then uses just 11MB on disk space when installed.

Installation is a different matter, however. It’s quick, but desperately tries to get you to install options that are, erm, commercially advantageous to them. First up, it tries to get you to install an toolbar ((and tricky they are too – it installs it when you agree to terms and conditions. At first I thought these were the Foxit T&Cs and, hence, I had no choice, but they’re not – it’s T&Cs for the toolbar)), make Ask the default search engine AND set my home page to Ask.

Uninstalling is also quick and the only file left behind was the main installation folder.

Next up, if you don’t select the customer installation, it will try and install the Firefox plugin. Now, as far as I can tell, this plugin simply allows Firefox to display PDFs within the browser. Unfortunately, there is nothing which states this is the case and could easily look like they’re trying to sneak in more unwanted software.

Lastly, when the installation is complete, it automatically ticks an option that would add eBay shortcuts to your desktop, quick launch menu and start menu.

Opening up Foxit with no document it uses 10MB of memory. Loading my 13.3MB document increases this usage to 17MB. Scrolling down the document and back again and this changes to 36MB. A repeat of this and it’s 53MB.

Foxit is obviously copying the style of Adobe, as it is VERY similar, even down to the images and location of icons. However, the toolbar is cluttered (including a number of options that you can’t use properly unless you pay for the Pro version) and includes an advert. All of this can be changed, though, including the advert which can be turned off.

Scrolling is performed more traditionally. If displaying an entire page on the screen, Adobe will jump one whole page at a time, whereas Foxit will scroll from one page to the next. I prefer Adobes approach of thumbnails and whole page jumps, as it makes it a quicker experience.

Thankfully, Foxit will now open documents within your web browser (well, IE and Firefox certainly works) which was a feature much lacking before.


Adobe Reader is a big, bloated lump. However, it’s also quick in operation and scrolls smoothly. Fonts (particularly smaller ones) appears sharper than Foxit. Foxit, in comparison, is lithe but jerky and just that tad slower in use.

Personally, I’m sticking with Adobe, but there’s many good reasons to swap to Foxit (although I’m still annoyed at their constant pushing of commercial products during the install).

If only there was a way to keep the Adobe experience, but strip it down to be less bloated? It could be called something like Adobe Reader Lite. Oh.

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