How to Keep Your Internet Browsing Private

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being watched. It’s true in person, and it’s just as true in the virtual world.

In today’s world, it isn’t just the hackers that are watching you (though they are the worst). Large tech companies, data brokers, and advertising agencies also keep tabs on your internet activity.

So what can you do about it? How can you keep your information private when browsing the internet and have peace of mind? Here’s some internet tips for private browsing that everyone should know.

Invest in a reliable VPN

The first step to securing your privacy online is downloading a trustworthy VPN (virtual private network). One of the biggest reasons people can track your internet activity and steal your data is because they know which server you’re connected to. When you use a VPN, your data is tunneled through a server in a different location, therefore keeping your info more private.

Not all VPNs are created the same. Some VPNs store user data, which is why it’s important to find a provider with a “no logs policy.” This is an agreement by the VPN company not to track any user data.

If you’re looking for a VPN and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of the top VPNs you should use. They’re reliable and known for keeping your data secure.

Top VPNs for 2020
VPNMonthly priceNumber of serversNumber of countriesDetails
ExpressVPN$12.95/mo.3,000+94View Plans
NordVPN$11.95/mo.4,98059View Plans
Hotspot Shield$7.99/mo.3,200+82View Plans
CyberGhost$12.99/mo. 6,10089View Plans

Data effective 9/02/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Use incognito mode when browsing on Chrome

Chrome has something called “incognito mode” that stops your browser from collecting any information from the websites you visit. While this might sound like the perfect way to keep your browsing private, it’s limited.

For example, using incognito mode only works one way: while it might stop your browser from collecting info from other websites, it doesn’t stop those websites from collecting your info while you visit. People can still track your info and watch you online, which is why using a VPN is so important.

Guest mode is another Chrome feature that helps keep your browsing data private. It was designed for people searching the internet on someone else’s computer, but turns out, it works just as well when you’re using your own. Like incognito mode, guest mode stops websites from installing cookies onto your computer and tracking your whereabouts.

Whether you use guest mode or incognito mode, it’s up to you. They both serve the same purpose and both prevent any information from being saved.

Clear cookies and browser history

Whenever you sign in to a website or even just visit a site, your information becomes easier to track. In order to stop this from happening, use a  browser history and cache cleaner to remove cookies and other tracking debris that you possibly picked up.

Browser cleaners  work by clearing your internet history (which you can also do manually through Chrome) and removing any of the most basic malware people often use to track your activity.

Download only trusted content

After you’ve cleaned your internet history, be careful what you download. Downloading free things off the internet—like music and videos—is often just a ploy to install harmful malware onto your PC. You probably remember the early 2000s when we all slowed down our computers by trying to get free tunes off LimeWire. Hopefully we learned from those mistakes: always avoid downloads unless it comes from a website you trust.

Use browser compartmentalization

Here’s a trick that’s less widely known than the others. Use multiple web browsers. For example, only access websites where you need to log in to a page on Chrome, and only use Safari when you’re surfing the web. You can even have a third internet browser for shopping.

Doing this keeps websites you visit from having all the information they’d like to have. For instance, if you sign into Facebook on Google Chrome and then search online for “new winter jacket,” you’re going to see tons of coat ads on your Facebook page. This is because Facebook can track your browsing activity once you leave their website, as long as you use the same browser.

Using separate browsers for different activities keeps the same websites you log into from knowing what you’re searching and vice versa. While it might sound like a hassle to change up your browser, there are lots of browser options available besides just Chrome and Safari.