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Private browsing vs VPN – Which one is more private?

As people turn to the Internet for news and answers to tough questions, it only makes sense that it would come to know you better than your closest friends and family. When we go online for answers to personal questions, we’re sharing our deepest secrets with search engines. While some people are happy to share that level of personal information with strangers, some turn to private browsing, or incognito mode, to help protect their personal data.  

The thing is, incognito mode doesn’t work the way people think it does. When you open an incognito window, you’re told that “You’ve gone incognito.” The explanation underneath says that your browsing history, website visits, cookies, and information you put in forms, won’t be saved. This is where the confusion starts. 

What the incognito explanation doesn’t tell you is that your browsing information isn’t blocked or hidden from advertisers while in incognito modeSo even though your browsing information “won’t be saved” on your device or available after you close the window, that doesn’t stop the internet from seeing everything you’ve been up to while in that session. Incognito mode That’s why more and more people use virtual private networks, or VPN, to protect their browsing history from prying eyes. If you’re new to VPN, this might be the perfect time to learn about what they are, how they work and why you might choose a VPN over private browsing.  

What do virtual private networks do?  

protects your devices by wrapping your internet connection in a secure tunnel that only you can access. This stops people —like advertisers—from seeing what sites you visit. With a secure connection to the Internet, every search request, every website you browse, is hidden from sight. It’s important to point out that VPN don’t make you anonymous; they make it so only you can see what you’re doing online. You can learn more about VPN in this blog post I wrote late last year. 

What does incognito mode do? 

Incognito modes work by opening an isolated browser window. It stays separate from the rest of your browser tabs or windows, as if it’s on another device. Using incognito mode deletes cookies—the things advertisers use to follow you around the internet—and browsing history, but that’s about it. 

If you check your browser’s cookies while in incognito mode, you’ll see that you’re still picking up cookies as you browse, just like you would with a normal browsing window. While it’s great that incognito mode deletes those cookies when you close the window, that doesn’t help you while you browse. Advertisers are still able to see what sites you’re browsing and target you with ads accordingly. 

What’s the difference between VPN and private browsing? 


  • Encrypt your internet connection 
  • Help hide your browsing from snoops 
  • Help hide your search requests 
  • Help protect your personal information 
  • Can protect multiple devices 
  • Block some types of online tracking 

Private browsing: 

  • Deletes personal data when you stop browsing 
  • Only active in one browser window  
  • Hides Internet activity from other users on shared devices 

Why use private browsing over VPN? 

We wouldn’t recommend using incognito mode instead of a VPN, ever. Incognito mode has its place in your online security toolkit, but it’s not a replacement for other types of protection. If you share a device with other people, like family members or at a library, then you might want to use incognito mode to make sure your partner doesn’t accidentally find out how much you spent on that new TV in the den. 

If you’re concerned with advertisers tracking you and watching what you do online, then you should consider using a VPN to protect your privacy. 

Way’s to get VPN protection 

If you’re already a McAfee Total Protection subscriber,  unlimited VPN usage. Protect your personal information, like your banking information and credit cards, from prying eyes with McAfee Total Protection’s Secure VPN. If you haven’t already signed up, now’s the perfect time. McAfee Total Protection provides security for all your devices, giving you peace of mind while you shop, bank and browse online.  

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