Whether you are using Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari or any other browser, you are certainly going to come across an incognito or private mode. Apparently, the incognito mode keeps your browsing secretive.
While the incognito mode keeps certain aspects of your browsing private, you should be aware of what it hides and erases and what it doesn’t from your computer or phone.
What does the incognito mode do?
The best way to understand incognito mode is: your web browser forgets the session as soon as you close the incognito window. Nothing will remain in the browsing history and even the cookies that have been created will be wiped promptly.
What are Cookies?
Cookies help sites to remember if you’ve visited them before and also keeps your items in your shopping cart intact even if you forget about them for days.
It is because of the cookies, you are usually pestered to signup for a site’s newsletter the first time you visit the site. However, if you visit your favorite website in incognito mode, you won’t get recognized and you may be asked to sign up for the newsletters all over again.
This is the kind of anonymity you get when you go incognito mode. Simply put, the incognito mode helps you start again. You may try loading up Gmail or Twitter in incognito and you will see that these sites won’t log you automatically as they normally do.
Similarly, an incognito mode can be useful in accessing more free articles from a paywalled site. While such sites won’t be able to identify if you have visited their site before, they use other methods to figure out.
Whether it is Chrome, Firefox or any other browser you’re using, it will not remember which sites you’ve visited or what you’ve searched for when in incognito mode.
You’re probably familiar with the frequently visited website appearing as you type into the search box. However, when you are in incognito mode, anything you’ve visited or searched for shouldn’t appear in these suggestions. You’ll notice that you cannot reopen a tab once you’ve closed it while in incognito mode. It is as if your browser has forgotten that you ever opened it in the first place.
An important use of the incognito mode is that you can sign into multiple accounts at the same time rather than signing in and out. Incognito mode is also helpful when you need to run quick searches on sensitive topics that you do not want to show up in your browser search history or in the future.
While all your incognito activities will be erased as soon as you close the windows, it is true only as far as your browser and device you’re currently using are concerned.
Remember, tracking and data mining today extends way beyond a single browser and a single device.
What Incognito mode does not do?
If you log in to Amazon, Gmail, or Facebook in incognito mode, your actions will not be anonymous or temporary as far as those services are concerned. Though the cookies and tracking data are wiped off when your session is over, they can still be used when your session is active, linking your activities with various accounts and profiles.
For instance, if you have signed into Facebook, it may not be able to see what you’re up to on other sites and adjust its advertising according to even in incognito mode. While blocking third-party cookies in your browser can stop it to some extent, the reach of ad networks and tracking technologies is so great that it is difficult to stop it completely.
Google has seen troubled waters for this practice. When you sign in to Google in incognito mode, your searches are being logged and associated with your account.
Assuming that is how your Google account-preference is set up, it is also using its ad network and tracking technologies on other sites to keep tabs on you there as well. Even if you haven’t signed in anywhere, the websites that you visit can use your IP address, your device type, your browser, etc., to figure out who you might be and add this to other information that is already associated with you.
Some browsers are fighting against this type of tacking known as “fingerprinting”.
Incognito mode does not wipe out files you’ve downloaded and doesn’t hide your browsing details from your internet service provider or your employer. It simply hides your online activities from the browser on the particular device you’re using and from other people using that device.
The limitations of incognito mode tell just how difficult it is to stay invisible on the web.
To keep your tracking down to a minimum, you can use browser focused on privacy such as DuckDuckGo search engine that doesn’t “steal” your data and deploy a steadfast VPN program every time you connect to the web.