Top 3 Reasons to Use Private Browsing
Article by George Norman
On 23 Dec 2015
All major web browsers come with a feature that lets you surf the web in privacy. If you use my favorite, Mozilla's Firefox web browser, that feature is called Private Browsing. If you use Google Chrome, it’s called Incognito Mode, and if you use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Edge, it’s called InPrivate Browsing.

It doesn’t matter what the feature is called. What matters is that there are several advantages to surfing the web with Private Browsing mode enabled. Here are the main reasons why you should do so.


1. It’s like you never used the browser at all

When you surf the web with Firefox (or any other browser), you leave a virtual trail of bread crumbs behind you. The browser will store cookies for all the websites you visit, it will remember all the websites you visited, it will store searches for later, it will save a record of the files you downloaded, and more.

Say you share your computer with someone, your wife for example. Since it’s the month of December, you probably browsed the web for a cool gift. By taking a look at your browsing history, she can see all the websites you visited. Come to think of it, she doesn’t even need to take a look at the browsing history. When she starts to type an address in the Awesome Bar, the browser will start throwing suggestions her way, suggestions based on the websites you visited in the past.

By using Private Browsing, it’s as if you never used the browser at all. You won’t leave any virtual traces behind, because the browser won’t store any details about your web surfing. You wife will never know what websites you visited, your surprise is in no danger of being spoiled.

Handy tip: should you forget to surf the web in a Private Browsing window, use the Ctrl + Shift + Del keyboard shortcut to bring up the Clear Recent History window. From it you can tell Firefox to forget everything that happened for the past hour, the past two hours, and more.

2. Get websites to stop tracking you (and load faster)

Ever since Mozilla rolled out Firefox version 42, the browser’s Private Browsing mode comes with Tracking Protection, a feature that can block and remove parts of the webpage that may track your browsing activity. This is great if you care about privacy and you don’t want online trackers to keep an eye on you. It’s great even if you don’t care about privacy.

Here’s why:
  • Faster load times – Tracking Protection will remove parts of the website that track you. Since the browser doesn’t have to load these elements, the webpage will load faster. Webpages can load up to 44% faster, according to former Mozilla software engineer Monica Chew.
  • Fewer ads – Tracking Protection isn’t an ad blocker. But, because many ads track you, Tracking Protection will block them. This means you will see fewer ads when you surf the web.
Right now, no other browser has such a feature. Just Firefox!

“We created this feature because we believe in giving you more choice and control over your Web experience. With the release of Tracking Protection in Firefox Private Browsing we are leading the industry by giving you control over the data that third parties receive from you online. No other browser’s Private Browsing mode protects you the way Firefox does—not Chrome, not Safari, not Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer,” explained Mozilla in this press release.

Based on Tracking Protection, Mozilla came up with Focus by Firefox, a free content blocker for Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. Focus can boost page load speed, reduce mobile data usage, and block trackers.

3. Spend less money buying things online

Believe it or not, many online stores display different prices to different customers. I don’t want to say it’s the browser’s fault, but I will say that the browser is the main culprit. The browser tells the online store your location, what you browsed for in the past, what prices you saw in the past, and various other bits of info that contribute to the online store’s dynamic pricing model.

If you’re from an affluent location, you’ll see a higher price than someone from a developing nation. If you browse from a Mac, you’ll see a higher price than someone who uses a PC.

To make sure you don’t see a higher price, you have to force the online store to show you the default prices. You can do this by using Private Browsing, by blocking or removing third party cookies, or by switching between browsers (use one browser to see what the online store has to offer, use another browser to purchase things from the online store).

Other benefits to using Private Browsing
  • When you have to use someone else's computer, enable Private Browsing to keep your surfing private.
  • Sign into a secondary online account without having to log out from the primary account.

In related news...

You must know that your Internet service provider (ISP) can still track you, even if you use Private Browsing. To prevent your ISP and any other would-be snoopers from tracking you, you need to use a VPN solution. Check out the

3 Reasons You Need a VPN and 5 Awesome VPNs You Should Definitely Get.

Tags: browser, privacy, security, Mozilla, Firefox, Private Browsing, Google, Chrome, Incognito Mode, Microsoft, InPrivate Browsing, benefits, VPN
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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