Why browsing in an incognito mode isn’t truly private
Some web browsers that offer private browsing come with a statement that explains why using the feature may not guarantee complete privacy. The goal of private browsing is to prevent information from being automatically stored on your device, like browsing histories or downloaded cookies. Though in some instances, files that have been downloaded or bookmarked may still be saved. Then, the private browsing session expires only when the browser window is closed.
The issue remains: Your activity may still be visible to the Internet service provider, as well as to the organization that provides the Internet connection, such as a school, college, or company. Also, the websites you visit may be able to view your session.
Why go incognito while browsing?
There are a lot of good reasons to go incognito while browsing online, including these:
- Using multiple email accounts. You can open a tab in private mode and log into multiple email accounts without the hassle of logging off from one account and logging into another.
- Using a shared computer or a computer that’s not yours. Sometimes you’re away from your own device and have to use a Mac, PC, or another device that does not belong to you. A private browser should prevent your passwords, search history, and browsing history from being saved on that device.
- Shopping for gifts. Birthdays, holidays, or any occasion — if you’re shopping for a gift for someone on your shared computer, make sure you go private. The last thing you want is an overenthusiastic browser sharing your gift ideas and spoiling your surprise.
- Researching “delicate” topics. Sometimes you might need to research topics that you’d rather not have to enter into that search box. Researchers, writers, college students, and others may need to search for terms that are outside their comfort zone. A private browser may save some embarrassment or help protect confidential medical information.
- Booking travel online. Whether you’re looking for cheap airfares or hotel bookings, a private browser may help. With web tracking disabled, airlines and hotels can’t learn too much about your need or desperation to get desired dates and bookings. This may prevent them from altering fares based on your search history.