What is Incognito mode?

The Google Chrome web browser has an option to open it in Incognito mode. What exactly is Incognito mode and how is it different from Google Chrome's normal mode?

Incognito mode is Google Chrome's privacy mode. Its purpose is to allow a user to enter a privacy browsing state. When in this state the following happens:

  • The web pages you visit are not saved (unless you bookmark them)
  • Information you enter into forms is not remembered
  • Permissions you gave to a website are not remembered
  • Any downloads are saved
  • Cookies and session data are deleted when you close Google Chrome
  • You can login to the same application more than once using different logins in different Incognito mode windows or tabs.
  • Stored passwords are not available

You may then think that using Google Chrome in Incognito mode is a safe way to protect yourself online from prying eyes. This is not the case however as the following is still true:

  • Websites and linked third party sites you visit can record your IP address and user agent string data
  • Your computer's operating system may record data from your session
  • Your home broadband router may record data from your session
  • Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) may record data from your session
  • Any search engines that you used may record your search history
  • Websites may still track or profile you

In Summary Google Chrome's Incognito mode is a useful way of surfing the web without sharing your session history with other users on the same computer, but it does not protect you completely. The devices you use and the networked devices that your web traffic passes through may still record your activity. Consider a VPN if you need to protect your surfing from prying eyes.

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Last updated: 21st August 2021

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