We all value our privacy when surfing the internet, but we may not always understand the best way to protect ourselves. Modern browsers now allow for private browsing by using “Incognito Mode” in Google’s Chrome browser and “Private Browsing” in Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Everyone uses them, but how safe are these features? How much information are you really protecting, and how exposed are you?

For the most part, browsing privately will only keep your local PC, tablet, smart phone, or Apple device clear from any browsing history, and nothing else. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will still have all of your transaction history as well as all of your entire logs. This is not ideal if they are ever hacked, as your private data is at risk of being stolen and used by cyber criminals. Let’s break down the differences between browsing privately and using a VPN to see exactly which one is more beneficial.

What do each of these solutions offer?

Incognito mode and VPN both do the same thing on the surface: keep your browsing private. However, browsing privately only means that a local copy of your browsing history will not be stored locally on your device. That’s fine if you don’t mind remembering all of your saved login details for every single online service that you use, but for everyone else, it can get a little tiring. This is because an incognito session has no profiles associated with it, so none of your saved credentials or favorite websites can be automatically filled into the input areas of a website.

VPNs, on the other hand, offer an entirely different solution to the same problem. Instead of simply not saving your history and session data to your local device, a VPN relies on a secure connection between you and your VPN provider. As far as any other external entities are concerned, you are connected to a secure server, and all of your traffic is encrypted. This means that you and your service providers are the only ones aware of your online activity. And what’s more is that the VPN providers that offer the best services will generally not keep any logs or history of your online activities.

Additional features

Unfortunately, incognito browsing is very limited in the scope of what it can do for you and your privacy. Since the connection to the internet is not encrypted in any meaningful way, it still exposes the traffic between you and your internet destinations, such as social media sites, online banking institutions, and work-related web portals. Having your traffic intercepted and then used fraudulently can cause untold headaches for you, so it is never a good idea to operate over the internet without some kind of encryption service, such as VPNs.

VPNs are another matter, however. There are plenty of additional features that they offer users that wish to enjoy not only the privacy of an encrypted internet connection, but also the value that is unlocked when geolocation services can be used to their full potential. One such VPN host is Express VPN. Users can connect to any country that hosts a VPN server that is within the network of their VPN provider, and all of the browsing benefits that come from that region can be enjoyed by the VPN user. Perhaps you cannot access a website from your home country due to a routing issue or a technical problem, then connecting to a VPN offers your network traffic a different route that it can take. This gives you additional security and options in times of internet connectivity outages.

Overall safety

Safety should be your number one concern when you are browsing the internet. This is especially true if you are using private information such as banking credentials or transmitting sensitive data. Going incognito in your browser can add some limited safety features, such as disabling your plugins that could help hackers to identify you, but that is not always convenient. Many browser plugins offer users an enhanced online experience, such as discounts, free deals, and other value added services. By using incognito, you effectively disrupt the flow of free goods and services to yourself, which is less than ideal.

Using a VPN, on the other hand, does not require that you disable. All of your browsing data is encrypted and secure, so no matter what applications, plugins, or services you wish to use. This gives you the best of both worlds: all of the value and convenience of a normal, unprotected internet browsing experience, and the privacy and safety of a VPN connection. Most of the well-known VPNs also guarantee your privacy and safety, and offer protection via many different safety protocols such as LT2P, IPSec, PPTP, TLS, OpenVPN, and more. Nord VPN is an excellent example of a VPN provider that offers excellent safety features, with double encryption being one of its greatest assets.

Broader protection

Incognito is a localized, single device solution for people that wish to use a website or websites without leaving behind any personal information. This is a safety precaution that some people use when browsing on public Wi-Fi connection or an internet café computer. Anyone with the right software and malicious intent can intercept your communications, regardless of whether or not you are browsing in a private browsing mode. This limits the safety of an entire group of people, because unless everybody decides to use incognito mode to communicate via the web, all parties connected could potentially be exposed to undue risk.

VPNs have found a clever way of dealing with these problems, and they are able to do this very easily. By connecting your internet modem or router to your VPN provider’s service, you can encapsulate your entire internet connection in one single tunnel. This means that every single device on your network can browse the internet in complete privacy and not have to worry about prying eyes digging through private and personal information. A handy feature, known as a kill switch, automatically kills all of the traffic that tries to pass through your router or modem if the VPN connection should drop for some reason. This protects you from broadcasting data when the service goes offline, potentially exposing your traffic when it is not encrypted.

Another way that VPNs allow for multiple user and device privacy is by offering multiple logons with a single account. This means that your entire family can enjoy the protection that is synonymous with VPN browsing, while still enjoying all of the features that they normally would when browsing the internet.

Conclusion

It is very easy to see why a VPN is a better choice not only for internet browsing, but for general internet usage altogether. By linking multiple devices to a single VPN account, you not only guarantee the safety of your users and their devices, but you also open up geo-dependent services legally, without having to resort to location spoofing, software, or copyright infringements. If you are ever in a tight spot, and don’t have any access to a VPN service, then incognito browsing is certainly better than not trying to protect yourself at all. As a long term solution, there is no simpler way to make yourself invisible on the internet than to sign up with a VPN service.

 

Maria Novak
Our senior reviewer, Maria, has been tinkering with computers since a childhood spent in her father’s workshop. Her passion for technology – and her ability to explain complex concepts in an approachable way – is unequaled. She is a regular contributor to the Top 5 VPN blog.
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