Hardware

Review: Foxit PDF Reader

Foxit PDF Reader is a no-frills PDF reader that is light-weight and extremely quick loading, perfect for desktops, laptops or even netbooks.

Foxit PDF Reader is a no-frills PDF reader application that is light-weight and extremely quick loading, perfect for desktops, laptops or even netbooks.

Specifications

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • Embedded Linux, Desktop Linux
  • Various Smartphone platforms: Windows Mobile, UIQ 3.x
  • U3 smart drive support

Additional vendor information

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Who's it for?

Foxit PDF Reader offers a viable alternative for businesses requiring a PDF viewer, but who are dissatisfied with the performance of Adobe's PDF Reader. In addition, companies might be uncomfortable with the large number of security vulnerabilities discovered in Adobe's viewer to date, as well as the need to constantly patch it with the latest updates.

What problem does it solve?

Time is money in business, and Foxit PDF Reader allows executives and management to quickly peruse PDF documents without having to waste time waiting for it to load. Unlike heavy-weight incumbents such as Adobe PDF Reader, Foxit PDF Reader excels with slower laptops or netbooks.

Standout features

  • Lightweight and fast: Its lean features allow Foxit PDF Reader to have a small footprint and fast loading times, even on slower workstations or netbooks.
  • PDF Form support: Supports basic PDF operations for filling out and printing of PDF forms
  • U3 smart drive support: Support for the U3 smart drive means that Foxit Reader can be installed on a flash drive for portability.
  • Free: Crucial features such as viewing documents and PDF Form support is free, while advanced add-ons such as the ability to make changes in the PDF are available at a reasonable cost.

What's wrong?

I have been using Foxit PDF Reader for a number of years now, and have not encountered any significant issues with it. On Windows Vista though, I have found that it is necessary to manually run Foxit PDF Reader as an Administrator in order to perform an automatic update. This is an aspect that is not obvious or properly documented.

The many versions of PDF software on the Web site of Foxit Software can be confusing initially. You can check out this Feature Comparison Sheet for a good overview; the one covered in this review is "Foxit Reader."

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Personally, Foxit PDF Reader is my default PDF viewer of choice across my various workstations. While it is true that Adobe's PDF Reader has made great strides in speeding up its loading time, Foxit PDF Reader loads in no time at all, even on a slow laptop with a 1GHz CULV processor. In addition, the availability of PDF Forms support means that it is also suitable for companies that make use of this feature as part of their business process.

User rating:

Have you encountered or used Foxit PDF Reader? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

Read our field-tested reviews of hardware and software in TechRepublic's Product Spotlight newsletter, delivered each Thursday. We explain who would use the product and describe what problem the product is designed to solve. Automatically sign up today!

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About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

23 comments
NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I've never had a problem with it on files as large as 74 MB. It opens quickly, renders rapidly and accurately, and is [u]much[/u] less intrusive than Adobe Reader.

brotherjim01
brotherjim01

Hi there, folks! I've been using Foxit Reader now for about three years, and I prefer it to the more expensive originator. It is indeed a light viewer, but what I find is so very good about this product, is that as soon as you touch the pdf.exe that you have downloaded, BANG! there is the viewer, opened, and ready to do your bidding! I remember when using another viewer which is probably the most often used viewer, this being immediately ready to go into action, was never a part of that viewer's personality! It took as long as it wanted, so that often, I just clicked the X as I watched the "Loading" notification going 'round and 'round. And so I tried Foxit, mainly to see if it would be a better choice in this regard, and I was rather happier than could be at what I found! It's a free download, friends, and I would be quite shocked if after you've seen just how fast Foxit Viewer really is, you will use it as your default PDF viewer from then on! I am only too glad to put keyboard to Internet, and praise the best little PDF Viewer I've ever every used!

colecrew
colecrew

On windows 7 I have a problem with both acrobat and Foxit installed. They keep canceling out the file association of .pdf files. Everytime I want to open a .pdf I must select the program to use. I have changed default many times. Loos like I will just remove Foxit.

dalmas
dalmas

I have and utilze Foxit PDF reader daily from December 2008. I had some problems with the latest version 3.1. In fact after opening 2 problems within 15 days in September I decided to roll-back to the previous version 3.0 (Build 1817) dated back to June 2009. A part from the issues related to the new version (those IMHO are related to a new ?? dynamic memory support, but I can be totally wrong about that), the product is miles away from the messy code of Adobe. Regards Marco

gracewu
gracewu

Its a cool tool..I use it for viewing PDF files.

gracewu
gracewu

I am using it..its really fast

jstribling
jstribling

Foxit is my PDF reader of choice. I do a lot of on-screen reading and it seems easier on the eyes than other readers I have tried. I give it two thumbs up!

agrod
agrod

I use it on almost all clients, I'm tired of Adobe installing the silly Download Manager and Air with Adobe Reader, and not to mention the 90 MB download on EACH WORKSTATION vs the 3 MB MSI installer for Foxit. Some users still use Adobe's reader for the secure virtual signatures and form filling capabilities.

Pringles86
Pringles86

I have encountered an error with a couple of large PDFs both with the firefox plugin and saving the PDF and opening it with Foxit. The PDF won't open, it will open fine in Adobe Reader or Acrobat 8 Pro. Other than that, I do like the speed.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What do you and your organization use for reading PDFs? Are you looking for more functionality than offered by Adobe Acrobat Reader?

tr
tr

I tried Foxit a few years ago, but I had to stick to Adobe for the ebooks provided by the university at which I was taking classes. The documents required authentication via id and password. I did not find any alternative readers that would work. For most of my viewing needs at home, I use Evince, which is the default PDF viewer on my Linux distrobution. We use Adobe at work.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Another suggested product for a review - thank you.

wxtomb
wxtomb

I've been using and have installed Foxit on tons of PC's. First my son had the problem with missing text in printouts. Today we were unable to click on embedded html links within a couple of pdf's. I uninstalled Foxit 3 from all home PC's and replaced it with PDF-xchange. So far so good. Nice thing about the PDF-exchange install...it didn't ask to install any funky software or toolbars, and included addons for both IE8 and Firefox.

GVC2031
GVC2031

Went to Foxit site to download the reader. It redirects to CNET's Download.com. When I attempted to install it, it tried to install a search toolbar with no option to opt out. Canceled install... trashed Foxit.

wxtomb
wxtomb

I've been using and recommending foxit reader for about a year now and have been very happy with it. Until my son needed to print out a pdf form. The form would print without the text. I searched the Foxit forums and found that there was indeed a bug, and the fix was to drop back to an earlier version of the program. The earlier version worked fine. I haven't checked back to see if it's safe to upgrade to their latest version.

AdamMac
AdamMac

I like FoxIT Reader, it is small, fast and I have not had any issues with the 3.1 versions. I still have Adobe loaded, but my default is Foxit and opens up everything I need.

s_t
s_t

I am surprised that you recommend Foxit. About 6 months ago we did an evaluation of pdf readers, and saw many one-line superficial comments on forums promoting Foxit, so we tried it. Immediately, there were simple functionality issues. Quite basic pdf documents displayed as corrupted. Page formatting was wrong - page content often did not fall on the correct page - there were often spurious extra blank pages - and basic alignment of text and graphics was grossly wrong in many cases, and often text that was present in the document was invisible in Foxit's rendering of it. We persevered for a while, e-mailed Foxit's publisher about the issues, and got a fairly silly reply indignantly stating that no-one else was complaining but not addressing the issue we had with it. We re-visited the recommendations we had seen for Foxit on the web, and decided that many of them were biased plants or mindlessly uncritical. It is impossible to use Foxit on a daily basis and rely on it without striking significant issues. We decided that Foxit, if we were paying for it, would be "not of merchantable quality". Fortunately, we were not paying for it. We would not recommend Foxit to anyone; it is a waste of a professional's time for anything other than trivial use in a context where integrity is unimportant. We then discovered the awkwardly-named "PDF-XChange Viewer (Free)" from the equally awkwardly-named Docu-Track http://www.docu-track.com and have been using it even since. It had none of Foxit's issues and has worked extremely well, with the following minor points to note: 1. It has a function called "live update" which reliably updates the software from the web quite but which must be run manually from time to time to check for updates. (We think that this is OK for a free utility, and certainly no worse than Adobe reader which we found, after many years of use, _rarely_ reliably auto-updated itself over minor versions, and _never_ auto-updated itself from one major release to another.) 2. When using PDF-XChange Viewer within the development version of Google Chrome browser, sometimes the pdf file would display with a watermark of "draft" or something similar over it. There was a workaround for this which we never bothered to apply, and the problem seems to have been fixed in a subsequent release. We are happy with PDF-XChange Viewer and have installed it on many clients' systems. We have had no feedback from any of them about any lack of functionality or lack of pdf compatibility. It even does some things better than Adobe's reader in term of allowing the user to set some useful defaults as to how any document will display - it gives more control. As a general comment we are finding that TechRepublic's recommendations of software utilities are proving superficial and time-wasting, and we are now going to down-weight the ideas we read on TechRepublic and possibly stop reading them althogether.

santeewelding
santeewelding

It shows up separately on another free, downloadable removal program -- name doesn't come to mind at the moment, but, you're clever; then, you zap it. Foxit still works. ________ It's, Revo Uninstaller.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

Only diff is that I use 2.3 rather than 3.1 'Course, I tend to despise PDFs anyway.

drzaius
drzaius

Foxit is OK for small files and casual use, but when you've got to do some serious work, it stinks! Badly. Horribly For example; I have in front of me a 6.1MB architectural drawing that Foxit takes 46 seconds to completely render. Adobe Reader does the same in 11 seconds. The file has to mostly redraw when ever you pan and completely redraw when the zoom is changed so the time difference is substantial. If you try to pan or zoom again before the rendering is complete Foxit will often crash. Some editor will swoon over the fact that Foxit opens so quickly. Big deal, so the first time you start Adobe it takes 2 or 3 seconds longer than Foxit. Subsequent openings are almost instant. It seems like every couple of months some site does a little spotlight on Foxit & sings it's praises without actually doing a proper analysis of it. I say let's get the truth out!! Even free is too expensive.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

It is interesting you had so much trouble with Foxit PDF Reader. Is anyone else in the community having similar difficulties? Thanks for suggesting PDF-XChange Viewer. That sounds like a good candidate for a Product Spotlight.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I am surprised by the polarized responses to what seems like a harmless PDF reader. Some really like Foxit and some show a passionate dislike. So you prefer Adobe Acrobat and other Adobe products for your PDF needs? Have you tried any other third-party apps that you liked to some degree?