Are you concerned about your privacy online? Then you should understand what incognito mode does and what it doesn’t.

All modern browsers offer a private option; “incognito” in Chrome, “InPrivate Browsing” in Internet Explorer, “Private Browsing” in Firefox, and “Microsoft Edge” in Safari. All these private browsing features and tools undoubtedly sound reassuring; however, they won’t cover all your tracks nearly as much as you think.

One thing is for sure; Incognito mode will surely keep some things about your browsing private. However, it’s significant that you be aware of what incognito hides as well as what it erases from your phone and computer together with what it doesn’t.

Therefore, you clearly understand what the modes do and what they can’t in your browser, then you’ll be able to know when they’re most useful.

But first, what exactly is the incognito mode?

What’s Incognito Mode?

This is merely a private window within just your regular browser- it’s where you can surf the internet without having to worry about your history being saved on the device once you finish browsing.

It means that cookies – little bits that identify data following you around online, plus other traces from your history are not saved after your private browsing session.

Apparently, it’s the browsing mode that you’ve been looking for, right?

Unfortunately, you might not be incognito in your incognito mode.

Wait, what? That still, you might not be anonymous!

First, let’s show you how you can go incognito in different browsers.

How to go Incognito on Chrome;

  • Click on the three dots in the top right of your Chrome browser
  • Then select “New Incognito Window” from the dropdown

Besides, you can do it by opening incognito mode via the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N.

Private Browsing on Firefox;

  • You start by clicking on the 3 horizontal lines in the top right of your window
  • Then select “New Private Window” from the dropdown

Alternatively, you can do it via the shortcut; Ctrl+Shift+P.

Private Browsing in Safari; with safari, it’s a walk in the park; you simply select File>New Private Window

What Incognito Mode Does

Incognito Mode ensures that you surf the internet like a new visitor to every site you visit. Each site you land on while incognito assumes that it’s your first time visiting the site, meaning no saved cookies, auto-fill web forms, or login details waiting for you.

However, in case you sign into a personal account when in incognito, your data will be saved. But if you exit entirely, it won’t be remembered but will help advertisers and websites collect identifying data.

Also, you have to understand that opening a new incognito mode window while having another open may not start the second session, especially in Safari.

Now, let’s jump into what Incognito mode can help you with;

Incognito Prevents Cookies

Cookies are placed on your computer once you visit a website so that when you go back to that site again, they’re used to identify you. It’s a useful scenario as it allows you to be logged in even if your device is rebooted.

Unfortunately, you can be tracked using cookies. Moreover, they can be used to tell your browsing history (all the sites visited). That way, you’ll get targeted ads or even used to identify your political, religious, or sexual preferences.

So, how will you stop cookies from tracking you?

  • First, disable third-party cookies, as well as consider deleting all cookies each time you restart the browser.
  • You can go incognito on articles and sites that you don’t anyone to pry their eyes on
  • Install Privacy Badger to ensure that you see the cookies that a site uses and block them appropriately

Incognito Mode and Browser Fingerprinting

Perhaps, cookies might be arguably the best method for collecting data online, but browser fingerprinting is slowly but steadily taking over the mantle. In the case of browser fingerprinting, every site you visit gathers information about the fonts already installed, the add-ons, or even the extensions you use.

That data is enough to be used to identify you; however, it doesn’t tell exactly who you’re on the internet.

How to prevent browser fingerprinting;

  • Ensure that you run the best browser that doesn’t use extensions or fonts
  • Be careful with the extensions you use, as some are detectable

Incognito Mode Prevents Prying Eyes from Family Members

Once you’re done with your computer, somebody else can easily access what you’ve been doing online. However, with an incognito mode, you’ll be able to block anyone looking to access whatever you do online.

Sometimes you might think about deleting your history, but why want to raise some unnecessary suspicion – just go incognito!

What Incognito Can’t Do

So, at least by now, you have an idea of what incognito mode is capable of – it’s about time to understand what it can’t help you with.

First, you have to know that incognito mode doesn’t make your online browsing anonymous. Anyone capable of seeing your internet traffic – your employer or school, government agencies, your ISP, people snooping on your wireless connection – all can see your internet activity. Perhaps, shielding such activity is only possible if you use sophisticated tools with encryption, such as VPNs.

Also, the incognito mode offers little security protection. Particularly, it doesn’t prevent downloading malware or a virus to your device. Moreover, it doesn’t offer protection for the transmission of credit cards or any other personal information to a site when filling an online form.

Therefore, it’s evident that incognito mode might not be working the way that most folks think it does. If you’re indeed looking to browse anonymously, then you must consider using the best VPN service, and if you need a couple of quick recommendations, then ExpressVPN or PerfectPrivacy can be your best option.

Bottom Line

So, you might be wondering, is incognito mode really private?

There’s no denying that incognito mode has its benefits; for instance, it can help you hide your browsing history from the prying eyes of others, hide your browsing routine from advertisers, and it can help avoid browser fingerprinting.

However, incognito mode won’t be immune to search engines, your internet service provider, and network administrators. Therefore, all those incognito limits highlight how hard it can be to stay invisible on the internet. Perhaps, to ensure that you limit being tracked down online, ensure that you invest in the best VPN service as well as a browser that’s entirely focused on privacy.