Browse the internet anonymously

All the newer versions of the major browsers have a feature that allows you to browse the internet anonymously – i.e. surfing without leaving a trace. In this article, we go through the advantages and disadvantages of anonymous browsing. In addition, we explain how to surf 100% anonymously.

 

Why browse anonymously?

 

The benefits

Here are some great reasons to browse anonymously:

  • Privacy: If you don’t want other users of your computer to be able to see which websites you’ve visited, anonymous browsing is the most effective solution
  • Ads: Anonymous browsing can ensure that you don’t see ads targeted specifically to you when you visit different websites
  • Search results: Search results in search engines (such as Google) have long been personalized – meaning your search history affects your future search results. This is true even if you’re not logged into your Google account

 

Disadvantages

The disadvantages of browsing anonymously include:

  • Pre-filled elements: Anonymous browsers do not use stored cookies when opened and therefore cannot use them to remember pre-filled elements such as usernames, passwords, addresses, phone numbers etc.
  • Shopping carts: Although the anonymous browsers can remember the items you put in the shopping cart during each session, all items are deleted if you close the browser. This can easily happen for obvious reasons and is annoying to say the least if you’ve spent a long time searching for specific items
  • Ads: Although many people dislike ads, they are an essential part of the internet – and some ads today are so sophisticated that few people realize they are actually ads. For the same reason, these types of ads bother few people. In addition, it’s often better to see ads that are specifically targeted to you than the opposite (i.e. ads about something you’re interested in are better than completely uninteresting ads)
  • Visited links: Most websites (including Google) show visited links in a different color than unvisited links. For good reason, this feature also doesn’t work when browsing anonymously

 

You’re not completely anonymous after all

However, be aware of the following when browsing anonymously:

  • Storage of cookies: Anonymous browsers store cookies – and thus information about your behavior – while you use the browser in anonymous mode. However, these cookies are automatically deleted when you close the anonymous browser and are not remembered when you start a new session. In practice, this could mean, for example, that a shopping cart in a webshop is able to remember what items you put into it during your visit with the anonymous browser, but that the browser deletes all this information when you close it.
  • Websites store information: Even if you browse in anonymous mode and your browser deletes all cookies at shutdown, individual websites may still store information about your visit.
  • Saved files are not deleted: Any files you save on your computer in connection with your anonymous browsing are not deleted when you shut down the browser, but remain on your computer.
  • Google Account: If you sign in to your Google Account while browsing anonymously, your searches will be recorded in your Google Web History.
  • Changes are always saved: Changes to your browser settings are always saved – whether you are in anonymous mode or not. The same goes for adding or removing bookmarks
  • Exceptions: Your ISP, network administrator and other users on the same network all have the ability to follow your online activities, even if you use a private browser.

 

How to become completely anonymous

The only way to become 100% anonymous is to use a so-called proxy server (or anonymous proxy server). This way, the traces you leave on the internet can in no way be traced back to you and you are completely anonymous.

There are several free proxy servers around the internet, but many of them only work temporarily and also slow down the internet connection significantly, making the online experience slower than usual. One of the best and most recommended services is HideMyAss, which is also one of the oldest professional proxy services in the industry.

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