Most of the major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge) offer a private browsing feature. When you close out this private browser, the history, cookies, and form data will be deleted. Websites collect data on what your searching and where you are going to tailor advertising to you. With companies like Facebook sucking as much information about you as they can, its understandable that some people want to protect their information. One of the most common of these browsers is Google’s Incognito mode, but they all work the same.

How do they work?

When you use a regular browser, it will retain the sessions history and cookies. The history is a chronological list of the site you visit. Cookies are small data files that helps a website appeal most to you. They can retain information entered into the site, like login or cart information, and let advertisers track you from each site. Private browsers store all this information in temporary files that deletes the information once you close out of the tab.

Benefits of a private browsers

One of the biggest benefits of a private browser, is it keeps your information away from prying eyes. For instance, if you share a computer with your spouse and want to purchase a gift for their birthday. If they use the computer behind you, and you used a regular browser, a targeted ad may give away the surprise. If you purchase it on a private browser, that information wouldn’t be available.

Additionally, if you need check your email on a friend’s computer, using a private browser will prevent you from accidentally opening their inbox. A private browser will also allow get around paywalls on some websites. News websites can tack the number articles you view before requiring you to buy access to it.

What Private Browsers don’t do

While private browsers will not retain the history or cookies, it still may be possible to track your web usage through your Internet Protocol (IP) address. You IP acts as locator and identifier for who you are and where you are in the world.

You will see a warning that your employer or school still might be able to see the activity that you do on the web. This is because incognito or private viewing only affects what is locally on the computer, but the traffic still has to go through the ISP.

Even though you are using incognito mode, a determined individual still could see what activity was going on in the browsing session. Extensions on the browser still will work while in incognito and may leave traces of the activity history. You can disable these in the settings. Browser don’t delete the information securely, so there may be information in the computer’s DNS caches. These caches match the URLs to the sites you visit to the IP Addresses. If you are really worried about privacy, be sure to enter ipconfig/flushdns in command prompt to get rid of the DNS information. Lastly, things like an unexpected restart or malware could keep that information on your machine.

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