What is incognito? Is private browsing mode really private?

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Online privacy and security are indubitably important! Here, at Invisible Browsing VPN (VPNOnlineFree), we’re glad to see more and more awesome people, like yourself, becoming aware of this increasingly tangible issue.

There is no secret that when you browse the internet your browser (and not only) stores information about you, such as websites you visit, information you fill in forms, and cookies. The cookies allow sites to recognize you by remembering your ID and preferences and based on the information collected you got customized browsing experience and you are served targeted ads.

Incognito mode or Private mode is one of the most known and widely used online privacy tools that almost every browser and some apps & services include. In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into it and let you know what Incognito browsing actually is, how to use incognito mode, and what it will protect you from. We will also offer you some alternative solutions for the online security and privacy problems that are NOT solved by solely going into Incognito mode.

What is the incognito mode?

The Incognito word itself means to hide a person’s true identity. So, the Incognito mode is a way to hide yourself as you travel the web. Incognito mode is better know to be found in web browsers as it hides your browsing history so others can’t see the web sites you’ve visited, what you’ve searched for and the contents of forms you’ve filled on your computer. In other words, it makes you partially invisible (and we will explain later why we mentioned only partially).

What does incognito mode do?

“You’ve gone incognito! Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity. However, downloads and bookmarks will be saved.”(Google Chrome Incognito Mode)

By simply opening a new window in Incognito Mode, and the browser shows you directly what incognito mode does and doesn’t.

incognito window in each browser

Shortly, incognito mode removes local data stored during the web browsing session on your device. Websites store cookies and browsing history, while searches, files, trackers and other files are temporary saved. All of these are blocked, deleted or disabled by the Incognito Mode after your browsing session, keeping your online activities private from other users of the same device.

So, what can private browsing do:

  • It keeps your search history private
  • It doesn’t store any cookies and site data after your session
  • It doesn’t store any information entered in online forms

And this leads to the main benefit of private browsing: maintaining your privacy on public PCs (or on personal computer used by other persons as well).

What can’t incognito do?

You’ve noted that we previously mentioned that incognito mode affects only specific devices and browser-related data on this devices. Any other data is not affected by the Incognito Mode.

As the incognito window warns you itself, your activity might still be visible to websites you visit, your school network administrator, your employer and your ISP (internet service provider). Having your online activities traced can cause a number of privacy concerns, so you definitely have to find a solution for this. In order to conceal your online behavior, you have to hide your IP address.

A VPN service is the best option to go for as it completely hides your data, location and browsing history. You will become completely undetected from ISP and any other third parties trackers. Furthermore, a VPN connection will encrypt all your Internet traffic so you get a safe online experience.

The Private browsing mode does NOT hide your IP address.

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Consequently, the browse in private mode is not a security feature and it shouldn’t be used as one. It does not protect you from malware attacks nor does it creates firewalls. Malware can be downloaded using Incognito mode as easy as without it and it does not affect malware that may be on your device already.

How do you go incognito? (incognito shortcuts for every browser)

If you want to browse private use the keyboard shortcuts available below or the step by step alternative instructions and you’re ready to go in seconds:

BrowserIncognito shortcut (keyboard)
Google ChromeCtrl+Shift+N
Edge (Internet Explorer)Ctrl+Shift+N
Mozilla FirefoxCtrl+Shift+P
Safari⌘+Shift+N

🕶How to go incognito on Google Chrome

The easiest way to go Incognito in Chrome is with the keyboard shortcut combination Ctrl+Shift+N for Windows or Command+Shift+N for MacOS. Or, if you prefer to use the mouse, go to Chrome menu on the upper right (the three vertical dots) and select New Incognito Window from the list.

🕶How to use incognito in Edge

The keyboard combination for browsing privately in Microsoft Edge (the former Internet Explorer, IE browser) is Ctrl+Shift+N for Windows or Command+Shift+N for macOS. This will open an InPrivate window.

If you prefer the mouse over the keyboard, click on the Edge menu at the upper right, the three dots arranged horizontally, and choose New InPrivate window from the menu. The new window will allow you to browse in private.

🕶How do you go incognito in Firefox

The incognito shortcut for the Mozilla Firefox browser is Ctrl+Shift+P for Windows or Command+Shift+P for macOS.

Alternately, a new incognito window will open from the Firefox menu, the three short horizontal lines at the upper right, after selecting New Private Window.

🕶How do you go incognito in Safari

Even though Safari is the last one on our list, it deserves to be mentioned that Apple’s Safari was actually the first to introduce private browsing. To open a new incognito window on a Mac, the same shortcut Chrome uses must be typed: ⌘+Shift+N. Or, by selecting New Private Window from the File menu.

FAQ about incognito mode

Now that we’ve seen that the browsing in private mode is not really private, here are the most frequent concerns that rise about this subject.

Is incognito really safe?

NO, it’s definitely not. It protects your browsing only from others who physically use the same computer as you do by deleting the cache and cookies AFTER you closed your browsing session. The online traces you leave through your real IP are still visible and can be used to watch every move you make online.

Can incognito mode be tracked?

YES, and it is. While you’re in an active session, all data is available to your network administrator, ISP, search engine, and anyone else who’s trying to snoop on what you’re doing. Like most of the browsers warn you:

” this doesn’t make you anonymous to websites or your internet service provider, it makes it easier to keep what you do online private from anyone else who uses this computer” (Private Window from Firefox).

Here is a detailed article about why is your ISP tracking you and how easily you can block ISP tracking.

Does incognito hide your ip?

NO, it does not. You can simply put this to a test by visiting www.xmyip.com with your regular browser and then visit the same site using incognito mode and you’ll see the same IP displayed both times.

The only secure method of hiding your IP is the usage of a VPN connection. By hiding your real IP and by encrypting your Internet traffic, a VPN will bring you peace of mind while assuring online privacy, online anonymity and online security. Not to mention the many other advantages of using a VPN.

Is incognito the same as VPN?

NO, these two have absolutely nothing in common.

Incognito mode only stops your browser from storing the browsing history, the cache, and cookies after you close your browser. Even this doesn’t happen every time, because if your browser or computer freezes mid-session, all data will remain on the computer after you restart it.

A VPN is a secure tunnel that will encrypt all your traffic, not only from your browser but on all programs which are connected to the Internet.

Incognito vs VPNs – The Bottom Line

Private browsing is not anonymous browsing

To briefly sum it up, when you put on your Incognito cape, anyone that might have access to your device will be unable to see your online traces, however, it will not have any effect, on other villains, like your ISP, work/school network administrator, and the websites that you sign in to.

If you are looking for true online security, privacy, and anonymity, you should consider using a VPN service that will change your IP and encrypt all your Internet traffic because that is how you become unknown online.

Private browsing mode is not really private, unless you’re using a VPN

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