Since you’re here, you must be wondering about all this talk of browsing the web anonymously. It almost sounds like something you would do if you were performing illegal acts. ‘“What do you have to hide?”’ is almost always the usual response.
For the uninitiated, browsing the web anonymously can be a murky water to dive into. You hear talk of companies targeting you with advertisements based on your search history, and strangers reaching into your privacy.
And it’s all true, at least on a surface level.
Why You Should Browse Anonymously
If you weren’t aware already, websites like to track your information, whether it’s for malicious intent or not, usually the latter. Websites like Facebook, for example, can target you with ads of products you searched for merely hours beforehand. That kind of on-hand information doesn’t sit well with a lot of people once they are privy to that realization. Once you know it happens, no one can blame you for wanting to shield yourself from some company picking at you for data.
Privacy is a major concern, and it absolutely should be–even if it’s something as innocuous as an advertisement. Unfortunately, the advertisements you see could be a reflection of your browsing history. And that kind of information is no one’s business but yours. If it isn’t hurting anyone, no one needs to know your browsing history, hence, wanting to browse the web anonymously.
So, how can it be done? Believe it or not, there exists several methods to get you started and a few advanced options.
Take Advantage of Private Browsing
Private Browser, Incognito Mode, InPrivate Window–these are all examples of browsers with a private browsing feature. Private Browser refers to Mozilla Firefox. Incognito Mode refers to Google Chrome. And InPrivate Window refers to Microsoft Edge.
Private browsing does a lot for your browsing needs. Switching over to private browsing means your browsing history isn’t kept in a neat folder. That way, no one can see websites you visited, nor will there be any auto-completed web addresses in the URL.
Browsing like normal, you’re susceptible to first and third-party cookies. Both of which track your activity on a website in varying degrees. Browsing normally means they’re kept around, but in private browsing, they’re deleted when you close your browser. No one will even know you were there.
1. Locate and launch Mozilla Firefox.
2. Press Ctrl + Shift + P to launch a Private Window.
3. Alternatively, you can right click on Mozilla Firefox on your taskbar. In the menu that appears, click “New Private Window.” This bypasses the need to close your previously opened window.
1. Locate and launch Google Chrome.
2. Press Ctrl + Shift + N to launch Incognito Mode.
3. Alternatively, you can right click on Google Chrome on your taskbar. In the menu that appears, click “New Incognito Window.” This bypasses the need to close your previously opened window.
1. Locate and launch Microsoft Edge.
2. Press Ctrl + Shift + P to launch an InPrivate Window.
3. Alternatively, you can right click on Microsoft Edge on your taskbar. In the menu that appears, click “New InPrivate Window.” This bypasses the need to close your previously opened window.
Buy a VPN Service
The reason you’d want to buy a VPN is because only the good ones will cost you a bit of pocket change. And it’s well worth the investment.
Imagine browsing anonymously, and your data being highly encrypted. Not only is your data encrypted, it’s being route through different servers. And browsing data isn’t the only data being locked behind a figurative steel box.
VPNs are absolutely necessary if you want a highly anonymous browsing experience. Sure, some of the other methods in this article could reduce the amount of information getting out, but it never cuts to the very core. Imagine trying to cut through a steak with a plastic butter knife. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than not having a knife at all.
If you want a real knife to cut through your steak, then you get yourself a VPN, like ExpressVPN or NordVPN. You’ll have to throw some cash at them, but if you go with a free VPN service, it’s almost guaranteed your data be easily decrypted. Aim for a VPN service that doesn’t keep a log of your visits and search history. If you do, any time an authority figure demands your logs, there will be nothing to give.
Install a Privacy Browser
This is different from private browsing simply because private browsing isn’t the greatest of solutions. Your internet service provider (ISP) can still track your browsing history. It defeats the purpose of private browsing, though it still has its applications on a surface level.
Web browsers like Tor Browser, for example, are ideal. It’s essentially private browsing with a dash of VPN. Your web surfing shenanigans are encrypted and gets routed through other servers. And what better way to enhance your privacy browser is a secure search engine.
Use a Private Search Engine
Google is certainly one of the most well known offenders when it comes to collecting data. With all the apps it has available–Gmail, YouTube, Google search engine–it’s no surprise there would be an excess amount of data to pick from.
Sure, that information can be helpful in providing links to articles and suggested topics based on your sensibility, but what if you wanted to pull away from that? After all, targeted ads are a result of that kind of collected information.
Enter, private search engines. For example, DuckDuckGo is a private search engine. Simply switching over could chip away at the information getting out about you, moving you closer towards anonymity.
The number of reasons to ignore browsing anonymously are next to zero. There doesn’t exist a good reason not to browse anonymously. And now you have the tools to make it happen.