Every major browser has its own name for it. Incognito for Chrome, Private Browsing for Firefox, Browse in Private for Safari and Browse InPrivate for Microsoft Edge. They all basically do the same things, but what are those things and are they beneficial to your browsing style?
First of all, what it doesn’t do:
It does NOT obscure traffic from your network administrator, your Internet service provider, the websites you visit or your friendly neighborhood three letter intelligence agencies. It also does not measurably decrease the likelihood of getting malware or a virus.
Then what does it do?
Your browsing history, cookies from websites or cached web content will not be saved to your hard drive. Some browsers will also not retain form entries, search bar entries, passwords (if you opt to store passwords within your browser) or lists of downloaded files. Different browsers have slightly different feature sets, so check with your browser of choice.
How is that beneficial?
People are commoditized on the internet. The information that can be gathered about a person’s browsing habits can be used for targeted advertising or sale to interested third parties. By not allowing cookies to be saved, it becomes much harder for sites to track a user across the Internet.
If you are using a public computer, private browsing can be a good tool to keep casual users from prying into your Internet use on that computer. Keep in mind it will not keep motivated, technically savvy individuals from acquiring browsing information.
Clearing cache and cookies at the end of each browsing session keeps them from accumulating. Occasionally cached items can cause problems with websites, and automatically deleting cached items saves a step in the troubleshooting process.
Having a history of visited sites is handy. Not having a history makes backtracking to a previously visited site on a vast Internet tricky.
This brief overview should put you on the path for making an informed decision on using private browsing. If you have any comments or questions please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org