Incognito vs. VPN: Does a “Private Browsing” Mode Really Protect Your Online Privacy?
When going online, you want to feel safe. The desire for anonymity and security is natural. But what do you actually do to protect yourself and enhance privacy when surfing the web? If your answer is the incognito mode in your browser window, we have some bad news for you. Private browsing doesn’t really secure your personal information, since your online activity can still be visible to third parties.
In contrast, a trustworthy VPN (Virtual Private Network) can handle many online security aspects a common incognito mode doesn’t provide.
So what is the incognito vs. VPN difference? And can you combine these approaches to enhance your online security? This post will help you clear things up!
What is incognito mode?
The private browsing mode, also known as the incognito mode, is the way to keep your local browsing experiences private. When using incognito mode on your device, you can hide your browsing history from other users. Also, cookies and website data remain active throughout the current session and are removed once you exit the private window. However, the incognito private mode doesn’t hide your online activity from the internet service providers (ISPs), your boss, or school administrators.
The private browsing mode was first announced by Apple’s Safari back in 2005. Since then, all major ISPs have offered the same feature. It may have different names, but the mode’s functions and specifics remain unchanged regardless of the browser you’re using.
How does incognito mode work?
A DuckDuckGo study reports that only 60% of active Internet users know about private browsing, and nearly one in three of them uses it.
But does the incognito mode actually make your online activity anonymous? To answer this question, let’s look at what private browsing offers and see what it lacks.
Remember we said that the incognito private mode doesn’t allow cookies and ads to track your online activity? Well, this is not always the case. For example, if you enter your Google account, your browsing history will likely be saved and later used by the websites you visit, social media, and ad agencies.
Also, don’t forget that ISPs and system administrators can monitor your browsing history, regardless of whether you’re using the incognito mode or not. Moreover, your location and IP address remain open. It makes your private data vulnerable to various security threats. Some of them may infect your device with malware or even spy on your phone.
In conclusion, private browsing doesn’t really protect your personal information. You can use it to feel secure within your operating system and ensure the other users won’t see what you’ve been up to. However, it’s clearly not enough for your online security.
How to use incognito mode?
If you happen to belong to that 39% of users unfamiliar with the incognito mode, here’s a brief instruction on turning it on with different browsers and devices.
When using your laptop or PC, simply click More and select New incognito window in Google Chrome. In Safari and Firefox, click on the File menu and select New Private Window. Also, you can use the following keyboard shortcuts:
- In Windows and Linux: Ctrl + Shift + n.
- In macOS: ⌘ + Shift + n.
When using your mobile phone or tablet, tap More and select the New incognito tab in Google Chrome. In Safari, tap Private in the Tab Groups list.
Advantages and disadvantages of private browsing
The incognito mode can be highly beneficial if you’re looking for a way to hide browsing history on your device. However, this solution has its downsides as well. Here are the pros and cons of private browsing to keep in mind.
- Convenience. You can access different website accounts from a single device.
- Anonymity within your device. You can hide your browsing history from other users of the same device.
- Accessibility. The incognito mode is free and easy to use. You can access it from any device connected to the Internet.
- Lack of privacy. ISPs and system administrators can still track your online activity.
- No ad blocks. You cannot avoid ads and cookies when browsing in incognito mode.
- Content limitations. Your IP and location remain visible, so you cannot access any limited content.
- Vulnerability. Private browsing doesn’t ensure anonymity and protection against hackers.
What is Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service that ensures a secure Internet connection, protecting your personal data with an encrypted server. A VPN hides your actual IP address, so any third party, from your ISP to a cybercriminal, won’t be able to track your location and monitor your browsing experiences. What’s more, you can use VPN to protect yourself when using a public WiFi network in a hotel, airport, library, cafe, or elsewhere.
VPN is a more complex and powerful solution than the incognito mode. However, its features and capabilities depend on the provider you choose. Some VPNs are free, yet less trustworthy. In contrast, reliable services like VeePN will ensure high-level encryption and multiple helpful features for blocking ads, preventing online tracking, and doubling Internet security.
How does VPN work?
So, what does a VPN actually do to ensure your online privacy? In a nutshell, it creates encrypted tunnels for your journeys through the web. During a browsing session, your IP address is hidden meaning that you are connected to another server provided by your VPN service. As a result, nobody can track your browsing history, location, and Internet activity.
On top of that, unlike the incognito mode, VPN protects you throughout the entire Internet session. So when a website or ad agency tries to collect your data, they will have no chance as your VPN server can be far far away.
Finally, the efficiency of a VPN private browser goes beyond protecting your online privacy. For instance, a service like VeePN allows you to access unlimited content, including foreign streaming media, and even choose better deals when shopping.
Advantages and disadvantages of VPN
A VPN service is an excellent solution if chosen wisely. Let’s look at the most significant benefits and potential drawbacks you may face when you’re planning to empower your browser with a VPN.
- Anonymity. You can hide your browsing history from ISPs, cybercriminals, and other third parties.
- Access to more content. Your IP address is changed, so you can bypass Internet restrictions and access and stream various content regardless of your location.
- Security. Premium VPN services like VeePN use powerful AES-256 encryption. Also, they provide multiple helpful features for preventing Internet threats, blocking ads and trackers, and securing your network connection.
- No Internet throttling. With a VPN, your ISP won’t be able to slow down your Internet since your traffic moves through a secure tunnel.
- Paid services. Most reliable VPN solutions require investments, especially if you want to take advantage of robust features and reliable end-to-end encryption. Free VPNs might serve as an alternative, but your online privacy could be compromised.
- Slower Internet connection. VPN may slightly slow down your connection speed. However, with a trustworthy service, the difference will be almost unnoticeable.
How to combine VPN and incognito mode to enhance your online security?
The difference between VPNs and private browsing is drastic. The incognito mode is helpful if you need to protect your browsing history when using a public or shared device, but it won’t save you from third-party involvement and hacker attacks. In turn, a VPN will help you hide your IP address and keep your data safe. So it’s definitely worth having a trustworthy VPN service in your cyber security toolbox.
But instead of choosing between VPN and incognito mode, you can combine their benefits to feel protected and anonymous when surfing the Internet:
- Connect to the VPN you’ve chosen.
- While using the VPN, open an incognito window in your browser.
If you’re looking for a reliable VPN service, VeePN can help keep your online privacy. Thanks to end-to-end encryption and remote servers, your data will be safe from third-party interference, including ISPs and cookies. Also, you can benefit from the NetGuard feature, which will block unwanted ads and protect you from online trackers. All you need to do is get the VeePN extension for your browser or download the app. From this moment on, your browsing experience will become truly private.
Is VPN better than incognito?
VPN and incognito mode cannot be fairly comparable since they cover different aspects of online privacy. VPN is responsible for encrypting your data and hiding your IP address from curious eyes, while the incognito mode removes your browsing history on the device once the session is over. But yes, in some way, VPN is a more powerful, multifunctional, and result-driven solution, as it gives more privacy and anonymity when surfing the web.
Does VPN work with incognito?
You can use a VPN with incognito, but it’s not necessary. You can use a VPN in incognito mode with Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and other browsers. However, even if you’re not using the private browsing mode, a trustworthy VPN service like VeePN will cover all security measures and protect your anonymity.