Private browsing, private mode, or incognito mode is a privacy feature in some web browsers to turn off browsing history and web caching. This allows a person to browse the web without storing local data in the browser history and that could be retrieved later.
Private browsing vs. anonymous browsing
It is necessary to specify that private browsing is not the same as anonymous browsing, since there are notable differences between both concepts:
- When browsing privately, the user’s IP is still recorded, so that the traceability of said navigation can be followed.
- Conventional browsers allow private browsing, but not anonymous browsing. To make an anonymous navigation it is necessary to have a browser like Thor, which allows you to browse the Dark Web.
- Private browsing does not guarantee that plugins will save information or traces of navigation.
- In private browsing remain downloaded files or bookmarks that must be deleted manually.
- Although the browser does not save browsing data, it is not ruled out on the computer to have spyware, Trojans or keyloggers that save information from such navigation.
How to browse in private mode
Private mode also disables data storage in cookies and Flash cookies. This privacy protection is unique on the local computing device, as it is still possible to identify sites frequented by associating the IP address on the web server.
Features of private browsing
Some of the features that define private browsing are the following:
- There is no need to perform history cleaning, including autofill, browsing and personal information.
- It allows you to perform “pure” searches that are not influenced by previous browsing history, networks or recommendations from friends, which can affect and raise the range of certain results above others.
- It serves as a prevention to leave user accounts open on other computers.
- Prevents other users on your computer from finding your search history.
- Prevents the appearance of potentially embarrassing links in suggestions or tabs.
The Mozilla Foundation has conducted a study on the behavior of users when the function is activated and the duration of the session. The results were that most sessions last only about 10 minutes, although there are periods when activation increases; usually around 11:00-14:00, at 17:00, between 21:00-22:00, and a peak less than an hour or two after midnight.