What we get up to on the internet is something that most people consider fairly private matter, it’s a little like asking peoples what they like in the bedroom. For years now, we’ve gotten used to deleting our internet histories, browsing carefully and making sure that we don’t leave tabs open for other people to find (you know what I’m talking about), but you’ve probably heard about private browsing options in your browser and wondered what they actually do. Most modern browsers now offer a private browsing option for users to select, though their implementation varies from program to program, but what are the broad pros and cons?
Pro #1 - Your History Isn't Saved
This is a big one for many people - when you’re in a private browsing window, whatever website you go on will be forgotten as soon as you close the tab itself, meaning that anybody who goes snooping through your history will not see any activity you don’t want them to see. This can prove incredibly useful for buying Christmas, birthday or anniversary gifts without other people finding out what you’ve been looking at. It’s also pretty useful for a number of adult pursuits, which I shan't go into great length about, but needless to say, it can prove a lifesaver in keeping your privacy to yourself.
Pro #2 - You Don’t Need To Download Anything
Way back when, there used to be special browsers made with the specific purpose of not saving your search and browsing history. Sadly, having these installed on your computer looked suspect in and of itself, let alone what you were using it for. All modern browsers now come with this functionality built in, whether it’s called private browsing or incognito mode (Chrome), this mode is usually hidden from sight and won’t cause any suspicion.
Con #1 - You Can Still Be Tracked
Private browsing modes are useful for some things, but what they do not do is stop websites from tracking you across the internet. Many services do this, but it’s mostly advertisers who follow you around from site to site, gathering information which will help them display more relevant advertising to you. They do this through planting tracking cookies in your browser, but there are many anti-tracking extensions and add-ons you can download for your browser to stop this practice from taking place.
Con #2 - Extensions Can Gather Data
When launching into a private browsing session, make sure you’ve only got the extensions you want turned on because many of these extensions can gather data, or even make use of your history. A little diligence on the part of the user can stop this problem, but for many, it’s an easily forgotten piece of advice that goes in one ear and out the other.
So then, we’ve discovered that private browsing, whilst being a useful addition to a browser and a much safer way to look at sensitive websites, isn’t the impenetrable world of privacy that many would hope it is. As always, we recommend that you take care whilst on the internet, in private browsing or otherwise.
Author: Peter Brown writes for Gimmitech on the very latest and greatest gadgets.