What Is the Advantage of Using an Incognito Window in Google Chrome?

by Laurel Storm

Like most other modern browsers, Google Chrome offers a private browsing mode, called "incognito," which is designed to keep information about websites you visit from being saved to your computer. If you're concerned about your privacy and security, especially when using a public or shared computer, browsing in an incognito window offers several advantages.

Privacy

Browsing the Internet in incognito mode can help protect your privacy, especially when you're using a shared computer. Websites you visit in an incognito window aren't saved in the browser history, whether you find them through a search engine or type their URL directly in the address bar. No matter how frequently you visit a specific website in incognito mode, it will never appear in Chrome's list of most visited websites on the new tab page, nor will its URL automatically complete when you begin typing it into the address bar. Similarly, a history of downloaded files and search queries will not be kept, although any files you downloaded will remain on your hard disk in the location where you saved them.

Security

Any cookies created during an incognito browsing session are automatically deleted when the window is closed. This makes incognito mode ideal if you're concerned about the security of your personal or business accounts, and especially valuable when using shared or public computers. Even if you forget to sign out of a service after you're done using it, the sign-in cookie will be deleted when you close the incognito window, preventing anybody from unintentionally or maliciously accessing your account.

Multiple Sessions

Because cookies aren't shared between normal and incognito windows in Chrome, you can use the incognito window to log in to a second account on any website without logging out of the first one. For example, you could open an incognito window and log in to your work Gmail account while still logged into your personal account in a normal window. Similarly, if a friend comes to visit and wants to quickly check his Facebook account, you can open an incognito window for him to use so you don't have to log out of your own account.

Considerations

Although browsing the Internet in incognito mode increases your privacy and security, it doesn't wholly prevent you from being tracked, since all it does is prevent information about websites you've visited from being saved. If you log in to a Google account in an incognito window and then perform a search, for example, a record of that search will be saved in your account unless you have paused your Google Web history tracking. Similarly, websites that track information about you while you browse will sometimes still be able to do so, depending on the method they use. If your Internet provider tracks what pages you visit, it will be able to do so whether you use incognito mode or not, as will viruses, keyloggers and other malicious programs.

About the Author

Laurel Storm has been writing since 2001, and helping people with technology for far longer than that. Some of her articles have been published in "Messaggero dei Ragazzi", an Italian magazine for teenagers. She holds a Master of Arts in writing for television and new media from the University of Turin.

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