If you’re a Google Chrome user, you might know that this web browser offers an incognito mode. When you browse online using Chrome incognito, it’s supposed to give you more privacy so your online identity can be concealed. This is similar to InPrivate in Microsoft Edge or a Private tab in Safari. Keep reading to learn more!
So how private is Google Chrome’s incognito mode? For a company that has made billions selling your data and online browsing habits to advertisers, it can seem counter-intuitive for Google to offer a mode of web browsing that actually hides your data and online activities.
To get into Chrome’s incognito mode, all you have to do is open the options menu by clicking on the three vertical dots at the top right corner. From here choose the “New Incognito window” option.
When you first open up the Incognito window, you’ll see a message saying “You’ve gone incognito. Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity.”
This message would lead you to think that you are protected from prying eyes. Although it is somewhat true, it’s also important to note that you are not protected against website operators and advertisers who collect your browsing activity and habits for marketing purposes.
Does Incognito Protect Against Viruses?
Another common misconception about Chrome’s incognito mode is that it can protect your computer from malware and viruses. This is 100% not true.
Using incognito mode will not protect against viruses. Any viruses or malware that infect you from your regular browser can also infect you while in incognito.
When to Use Chrome’s Incognito Mode
So if incognito mode doesn’t protect you from viruses, then what is it actually good for?
Well, it does give you a layer of privacy especially when you are sharing one computer with multiple users. For example, on a computer used by multiple members of a family, incognito mode can shield your browsing habits from other family members.
If you have multiple accounts for the same service, you can log into both of them at the same time while using incognito. For example, if you have two Facebook accounts and you want to log into both of them at the same time, you can log into one using your regular Chrome browser and log into the other using an incognito window.
Note that there’s also a catch. While Chrome’s incognito mode does not use tracking cookies to keep track of your browsing habits, a further study by the Vanderbilt University has shown that if you were logged into your Google account via any Google services like Gmail, then there’s a chance your incognito browsing history might be tracked anyway.
How Advertisers Collect Your Information
The more Google products you use, the more information Google has about you such as your location, what you like to watch online, your search queries, and more.
Have a Google Home? How about a Google phone that’s loaded with Google applications such as Google maps? If all your Google products are linked to a single Google account, then this account will be very valuable to advertisers. Same for your other data collected by companies like Amazon and Facebook.
However, this may not necessarily be a bad thing. Having a tailored online account can also give you tailored content. Like watching cat videos? Google can show you more! Made a playlist of your favorite songs on YouTube? YouTube can show you more similar songs!
But for those who are more conscious about online privacy, or would like to take a stand against data collection by large corporations, there are some things you can do to mitigate the extent of their collection powers.
Tip 1 – Don’t Log In to Your Google Accounts
Unless you need to check your emails, try to stay logged out of your Google or Gmail account, especially when you are browsing the internet.
While going on websites and services owned by Google like YouTube, also try to stay logged out unless you absolutely need an account to use the service, or if you’d like tailored content for websites such as YouTube.
Tip 2 – Try The StartMeStick, Our Latest Product
Instead of having an incognito browser, the StartMeStick can turn your entire computer into an ‘incognito system’!
It doesn’t necessarily prevent Google from tracking you (let’s be honest, nobody can hide from Google), but it does add a layer of protection that hides your identity and provides protection from having your personal information collected by your computer’s operating system.
Tip 3 – Use a VPN
VPNs are handy when you want to redirect your internet traffic away from your internet service provider. Instead, it will be passed through a remote tunnel where it will be encrypted so that it will be unreadable for anyone who comes across it.
To prevent websites from getting your IP address, which is linked to your physical location, consider using a VPN to hide yourself online.
Tip: The StartMeStick comes with a built-in VPN. Just another reason to give the StartMeStick a try – click here to check it out.
Tip 4 – Keep Separate Accounts or Use Third-Party Apps
If you have multiple Google accounts, like ones from work or school, consider keeping them separate. Only use one account while at work or at school and use a different Google account when you are at home.
If you have your passwords saved in Chrome Sync note that they’ll be linked to your Google account as well. It can save you the trouble of typing in your passwords each time. But if you want to keep your passwords away from your Google account, consider switching to a third-party password manager like Dashlane.
That way, if your Google account gets hacked, or if you forget to log out of your Google account after your browsing session on a public computer, your passwords will stay safe and protected.
Have any questions about private browsing sessions or the StartMeStick? Leave them in the comments below!