How to Surf the Internet in Private
In this world full of website cookies and hidden trackers, it’s hard to not feel like big corporations are spying on you. You may be surprised when seemingly random ads start getting shown to you just because you looked up where to sell your laptop online.
If you’re starting to feel like someone is watching your every Google search, it might be time to consider one of these many ways to privately surf the net.
1. Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides users with a more secure and streamlined access to the internet. They work by re-routing your device’s internet connection from your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) server to your chosen VPN’s private server. They act like middle men between you and your ISP. VPNs hide your identity by encrypting your IP address, keeping you safe from criminals and corporations who may be after your personal information. VPN providers normally charge a monthly fee, but most also offer free options like 30-day trials or money-back guarantees. You can also get a VPN for your phone!
2. Use a private browser window
Users of Google Chrome should be aware of what the Ctrl+Shift+N button combination does by now. This opens up an incognito window that will not save any web searches, website cookies, and any information you input in online forms.
Chrome won’t remember what you do on incognito windows, so you’re free to search for anything without having those searches pop up in Google’s recommended search results or any online form. This results in a less personalized experience overall and less ads based on your incognito searches.
However, your ISP and the websites you visit will still be able to view your activity. Though your searches won’t be totally private, you at least won’t have to worry about having your web searches tracked. Other web browsers like Edge and Firefox have their own private browsing windows too which can be accessed via browser menus.
3. Use DuckDuckGo
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that has been gaining popularity in recent years as a more secure alternative to other search engines.
This website puts the privacy of its users in the forefront of its priorities. It won’t save any of your searches and it won’t profile you; this means that advertisers won’t be able to get their hands on your preferences and you’ll be practically immune to tracking cookies. You’ll still see a few ads pop-up, but they’ll only be based on your search history.
In essence, DuckDuckGo is like a heavily upgraded private browsing window that insists that you keep your information for yourself. You can access it by heading directly to the search engine or by installing it as an extension to Google Chrome.
DuckDuckGo is a free alternative to other paid secure-browsing options. It won’t save you from the onslaught of ads in the internet, but you’ll at least be able to surf the web without feeling like someone is watching your every search.