You may still be tracked even while using a “private” window like Incognito or VPN. Here are the best private browsers to protect your privacy.
Now more than ever, your privacy matters. Your data is extremely valuable to companies, marketers, and other websites and they’re collecting as much of it as they can.
If you’re using the internet, you can be tracked, and your data can be used or sold. Companies can follow you from site to site and create targeted ads using your information.
While it may seem overwhelming to reclaim control of your privacy, there are simple, practical steps you can take to limit the ability of websites and companies to track you online.
First, we recommend getting a secure browser and switching to a privacy-first email provider. Many browsers do nothing to stop the active tracking of your data, which has become the business model for many companies. That said, some private browsers are designed with your safety in mind.
We’ll cover some of the best private browsers that help keep your information out of the hands of third-party companies and advertisers.
Privacy-focused browsers have features in place to limit the collection of your data online. A private browser respects your information and actively ensures that your data isn’t collected and sold to businesses.
These browsers block trackers, cookies, and beacons that can collect data about you, so websites and companies can’t use them to send you targeted ads. If you’re using a less-than-private browser, your data can be collected, from your location to your search history.
While no browser is 100% private, the browsers below make significant strides toward preventing the collection of your data.
Vivaldi is a Chromium-based private browser that is highly customizable. It comes with ad-blockers and tracking blockers built-in. Vivaldi offers more privacy than other browsers and takes advantage of DuckDuckGo for tracking protection and searching, which we’ll cover later.
Unlike many other browsers, Vivaldi doesn’t report the websites you visit to their central servers. They only collect information about how you’re using the browser in aggregate. Since it’s chrome-based, many chrome apps are also compatible with Vivaldi. They never share this information with third parties.
Vivaldi takes the privacy and security of its users seriously. Below are some of the ways Vivaldi goes to extra lengths to protect its users:
Firefox is an open-source browser, which means its code is readily available and visible to all who know how to read it. It’s designed for safety and can be customized to your preferences. This also means there’s no nefarious code or widgets programmed in, as the code gets checked by programmers worldwide every day.
Firefox has a private browsing option that protects against tracking, malware, phishing, pop-ups, and fingerprinting. In addition, you can disable their telemetry function, which sends usage and performance data back to Firefox.
Brave compiles the best features of the chromium codebase and adds a minimalistic design and increased security. All chrome-based browsers can use chrome extensions, which means there should be little difference when switching from Chrome to Brave. This private browser has built-in ad-blockers and blocks websites’ attempts to make fingerprints of you.
In addition, Brave sells its own ads. There is a monetary system involved with their ads, called Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), which gives you a percentage of the profit from the ad when you view it. However, these ads are implemented on your system in two ways: as images in your new tab page or, more intrusively, as system notifications.
In more recent Safari updates, Apple has implemented various privacy features, including a feature that prevents cross-site tracking by default. In addition, you can block all pop-up windows or set which websites can show pop-ups.
Safari minimizes the amount of data it shares with third parties too, and when you use the built-in Smart Search field, Safari only sends the minimum amount of data necessary to finish the search. This means no location cookies and limited cross-site tracking.
Browsers track users like you in four main ways:
Unfortunately, you’re likely being tracked if you use any social media or access free services like Google. Websites, browsers, and even internet service providers can collect and sell your data to marketing agencies. If you’re interested in testing your setup to see if you’re being tracked, there are a few websites you can use:
In short, yes and no. Unfortunately, there’s no singular way to prevent being tracked online completely. However, there are steps you can take to boost your online privacy. There are several extensions and add-ons available for your browsers to limit and prevent trackers and targeted ads online, such as:
Once you’ve found the best private browser, the next step should be a privacy-focused email provider. At Fastmail, we care about your privacy and security. We put you in control of your personal information, which is one simple thing you can do to improve your digital privacy.
We’ll never track your browsing habits, won’t monitor the content of your emails, and we actively block all tracking pixels by default. We’re fully transparent about our data practices, too.
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