How Invisible Are You When You Use Incognito Mode?

Does Incognito Mode Really Make You
When you buy something through our retail links, we may earn commission and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

* Private mode, also known as incognito mode, disables extensions
* Works like a regular browser window
* Doesn’t effectively hide your search history

If you think opening a private or incognito window makes you invisible online, think again.

Dear Santa... %title% %title% List Price:%original_price% Price:%price% You Save:%discount_amount% (%discount_percent%) Shop NowCoupon Code: %coupon_code% SPY may receive a commission.

An incognito browser window works like a regular window: you open it the same way, you type in the same search bar and are offered the same search results. However, when you open an incognito window there are no pre-set cookies, form-fills, searches or preferences saved, and every time you close it, all of your searches are automatically erased.

But what people don’t realize is that private windows weren’t meant to hide your browser from the world; they were meant to hide you from your browser. Opening an incognito window is similar to opening up a new tab under a different account. Your personalized settings won’t be there, but that doesn’t mean you’re able to browse anonymously.

Private windows don’t hide your searches from your internet service provider, nor do they prevent websites from recording your activity. If you’re using an incognito window on, say, a public network at work or at school, the system admins will still have full access to all the sites and services you’re accessing. Your employer can still see which sites you’re visiting, and the websites may still keep their own logs.

If you really want to browse anonymously, then you’re going to need to go a step further and block your IP address. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a VPN.

Short for virtual private network, a VPN creates a secure tunnel between your network and the sites and services your accessing. Every time you use a VPN, you’re automatically reassigned a new IP address, making our real address untraceable.

Nothing you do in incognito mode is really all that private, so if you want to browse anonymously, ditch the private windows and use a VPN instead.