Incognito Mode: What it does and doesn’t do | #firefox | #chrome | #microsoftedge

Don’t be fooled into thinking Google incognito mode hides everything you do online.

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Google Chrome developed the phrase “incognito mode” to describe an internet browsing option in which your browser deletes your browsing history and cookies at the conclusion of each session. This is known as “private browsing mode” in other browsers like Safari and Firefox.

While the terms “incognito” and “private” may imply that your online activities are completely separate from your identity, this browsing mode merely hides your activity from other people who use your device. It doesn’t hide your browsing from your internet service provider (ISP) or the person in control of your networks, such as your company or school, nor does it protect your identity from sites you visit.

INCOGNITO MODE: WHEN TO USE

Incognito mode is a valuable feature that allows you to rapidly switch between a personalised and a more impersonal version of your web browser. When should you utilise it?

  • On public computers, always utilise incognito or private mode if you have to use a public computer. Your personal information will not be kept in the browser of a public device in this manner. You don’t want to put your data at risk by borrowing a friend’s or family member’s phone or computer—even if you trust them, you don’t want to put your data at risk if their device is hacked.
  • From a different point of view. You could want to run a search without allowing your previous search history to impact your results, or you might want to check how your blog or website looks from the outside. Incognito mode allows you to see how a website would appear if you were visiting for the first time.
  • To access websites that you don’t want to be saved in your browser’s history. You might visit a website that you don’t want to be preserved in your browser history or stored cookies on occasion—perhaps you’re planning a surprise for someone with whom you share a device, or you need to check up information on sensitive health or financial issues. Incognito mode will prevent your activity from being recorded in your browser history for any reason.
  • To see less advertising that is specifically targeted. When you use incognito mode, your browser deletes cookies at the conclusion of each session, which means that sites you visited during that incognito session may not recognise you the next time you surf the web, and you are unlikely to receive targeted adverts from them. This makes web tracking more difficult, but not impossible—logging onto a website allows that site to monitor you, and advertisers are presently working on non-cookie tracking methods.

INCOGNITO MODE: HOW IT WORKS

When you use incognito mode, there are three basic things that happen.

  • The browser’s history is no longer saved. The majority of web browsers save your browsing history for you to access later. Incognito mode disables this feature, preventing you — and anyone else who uses the device — from accessing your browsing history.
  • When a browser session ends, it immediately deletes cookies and site data.
  • Cookies are tiny files that websites use to remember your identity. They’re used to remembering your shopping cart items, automatically logging you into a site, and offering tailored adverts.
  • The information supplied in forms and the permissions granted to websites are not remembered by the browser. If you choose “remember me” on a website that requires a login, your browser will not remember this permission in incognito mode. It also won’t auto-fill forms or make suggestions for searches.

INCOGNITO MODE: HOW TO BE MORE PRIVATE

  • Use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN (a virtual private network) masks your IP address from websites by allocating you a new IP address (or several). While you’re not on a trusted network, such as when using the public internet at a café, hotel, or airport, it’s a good idea to use a VPN. Keep in mind that, even in incognito mode, the VPN provider will be able to access your browsing data, so choose a VPN service you can trust.
  • Use a private search engine like Neeva to find what you’re looking for. Neeva is a private, ad-free search engine that only uses your search history to improve your experience rather than to give you adverts. You can also open a Neeva incognito window if you wish to search in private mode.
  • Modify your cookie preferences. While in incognito mode, setting your browser to prevent third-party cookies can provide some tracking protection. Third-party tracking cookies are automatically blocked by default in Safari and Firefox, but it’s always a good idea to double-check your cookie settings, especially if you use Chrome.

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