When you enter the private browsing mode in your browser, you can safely assume that the sites you visit don’t get recorded by your browser. That doesn’t mean you should feel free to forget these basic facts about going incognito on the web.
1. You don’t become anonymous online. Only your online activity stays secret from the people who use the computer after you. You’re still susceptible to tracking when in private browsing, not to mention that your ISP or Internet Service Provider always knows what you’re up to.
2. Your downloads stay on your computer or phone. Any files that you have downloaded while in private browsing stay on your device even after you have ended the browser session. They don’t show up in your browser’s downloads though. Leaving these sensitive files lying around for anyone to find defeats the purpose of browsing incognito, so be sure to hide, encrypt, or shred them.
@MattLobster I thought private browsing was just to watch porn, actually it's to protect me from a months of ads for things I search at 2am
— Tim Nicholls (@timsteaks) February 2, 2016
3. You can’t escape surveillance. Your browsing history may not be logged in private browsing mode, but your IP address still is. This means that your digital activity in private mode can be traced back to you by any setup that can monitor IP addresses.
4. Technical glitches can make private browsing not so private. Think Microsoft Edge’s flawed InPrivate mode.
Private browsing is one of those things that feels safe because it looks safe. It’s safe as long as you understand what private browsing isn’t and use it accordingly. If you want more privacy than the kind private browsing brings you, switch to a VPN, although that won’t make you 100% anonymous on the web either.
Does private browsing make your feel invisible online?
Image Credit: Digital Online Private Protection Office by Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock