If you’ve ever had your personal identity stolen online or been irritated by the same adverts following you everywhere you go on the web, you’re not alone.
The terrifying amount of information that companies of all sizes are collecting about us every day on the internet is increasing exponentially as time goes on.
Now more than ever, it’s important to browse the internet as privately and securely as possible, safe in the knowledge that hackers and advertisers aren’t using your personal information for their own gain.
More and more people are choosing to anonymise their online browsing activity through VPNs (virtual private networks) or web browser privacy modes such as Google Chrome’s Incognito. But which is the better choice, and why?
Incognito’s key features and limitations
Since it’s already built into Google’s Chrome browser, Incognito mode is a quick make-do option for anonymous browsing.
It will stop tracking cookies being dropped as you surf the web, and therefore advertisers aren’t able to follow you around websites or build up a picture of your personal interests, behaviours, and browsing history.
It’s an extra layer of much-needed security and a good habit to get into if you’re logging into sensitive online portals like your bank accounts. Going Incognito is also great if you do screen sharing or presentations because it saves the potential awkwardness of prefilled suggestions or your browser history being on display.
However, that’s about Google Incognito’s limit. It doesn’t hide your IP address, location, or your browsing activity from your ISP. The same is true for the private browsing modes built into Firefox, Safari, and all the other popular web browsers. For truly private and secure browsing, a VPN is the only option you can really trust.
Next level security with Virtual Private Networks
Unlike Incognito, a VPN hides your location and IP address so that you can lift restrictions on international content and access more of the Internet, connect to your office network securely, access UK web content from abroad, and much more.
Even better, with a VPN you can rest assured that not even your ISP is tracking your browser use or micromanaging your internet connection, enabling you to bypass deliberate speed throttling and avoid network congestion.
VPN vs Incognito
The main advantages of using Google Chrome’s Incognito browsing mode are:
- It’s prebuilt into the Chrome browser free of charge, with minimal setup required
- It stops tracking cookies being dropped so advertisers can’t build up a profile of you or use your habits to make predications about your interests, life, or behaviour
- Incognito hides your browser history from public view
- It provides extra security for online banking and other sensitive login portals by not saving any input information
- It’s a reasonably safe way to let a friend use your computer, with minimal supervision needed
Incognito’s significant limitations are that your ISP and Google can still track your activity as they wish, and your IP address and location remain exposed.
The main advantages of VPNs are:
- Other than cost and setup, all the advantages that Incognito has, plus:
- Hiding of your IP address so hackers and corporations such as Google can’t utilise your information or habits
- Hiding of your location to enable you to access more of the web, including international media content
- Greater connectivity options for connecting to other networks, such as your home or office
- Better security and privacy when browsing than Google Incognito
- Your ISP can’t throttle your internet speed
- You can bypass ISP congestion (particularly important for faster Internet speeds during peak hours)
There are only two minor disadvantages to using a VPN: there’s a small cost involved, and you need to set up the VPN connection on your computer yourself.
However, both of these points are mitigated by the fact that VPNs are extremely affordable – in fact they’re one of the cheapest digital services you can buy – and take only a minute or two to set up, so the significant advantages of enhanced security, privacy, and freedom far outweigh the minor niggles.
In conclusion, VPNs are much more advantageous for optimising both your web browsing experience and your online privacy simultaneously. Take a look at our at-a-glance comparison table of the best VPNs and ensure your web browsing is completely secured today.