Best Private Browsers to Protect Your Online Privacy 

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.

Best Private Browsers

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

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:

  • Weekly updates so that any potential flaws are patched fast.
  • You can block all cookies.
  • You can turn off third-party features like autofill and search suggestions to prevent sending data to Google.
  • You have access to end-to-end encryption on sync so that your bookmarks, passwords, and extensions are easily shared and protected when using different devices.
  • Vivaldi supports Fastmail email and integrates seamlessly into your browser.

Firefox

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

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.

Safari

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.

How Other Browsers Track Users

Browsers track users like you in four main ways:

  1. Fingerprinting – Sometimes, when you use a browser to access a website, the site requests data from your computer. This data is your location, language, device, screen resolution, and operating system. What’s it used for? Most sites use it to determine if you’ve been to the website before, or they’ll use it to create targeted ads for you.
  2. Cookies – If you’ve ever saved your username and password on a website, you likely have cookies on your computer. Cookies are small batches of data stored on your computer. Your browser uses this data to identify you and your device while improving your web experience. In some cases, cookies store data based on your shopping habits, items you view, or items you move to a shopping cart but don’t buy. There are several types of cookies, but persistent and session cookies are two you should know. Session cookies are stored on your computer while accessing a site and are removed when you close your browser. Persistent cookies, however, can remain on your computer for as long as the website wants. In some cases, they can be programmed to stay on your computer for years. Persistent cookies recommend things they think you’ll want, and your profile grows as you continue to use the site. This is why websites like Amazon suggest items you may like to buy.
  3. Web Beacons – You’ve likely never seen a web beacon unless you’re a coder. These are transparent images built into the website’s code, which follows how people use the website. It then forces your browser to download this transparent image, which requests and tracks your IP address, browser, and when you accessed the page.
  4. Spy Pixels – Spy pixels are images embedded in an email that track when and how many times you viewed the page, as well as your location and type of device based on your IP address. This information is most commonly used to test an email campaign’s effectiveness or to bolster consumer profiles for the product or service.

Finding Out If You’re Being Tracked

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:

  • Panopticclick analyzes your system to see if it actively blocks ads, invisible tracking, and protects you from fingerprinting.
  • PrivacyTools.io provides tools to protect your privacy against surveillance on a global scale.
  • Am I Unique? allows you to view your browser fingerprint so developers can better understand their weaknesses and shore up defenses to protect data.
  • Disconnect helps you visualize and block websites that are tracking you.

Can You Prevent Tracking?

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:

  • Disconnect – With the Disconnect extension, you control which websites track you and block malicious ads and content.
  • Privacy Badger – Stops advertisers from tracking you between pages and keeps advertisers from loading additional content onto your browser.
  • Use a VPN – Makes it look like you’re browsing from a different location, making it harder for websites to correlate data or identify you on subsequent visits.
  • Browse using Incognito/private mode – Forces the browser to throw away anything you did when you close the tab, including wiping cookies.

Find a Secure Email Provider to Further Your Privacy Protections

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.


Get the best in email by joining Fastmail. Start your free 30-day trial now!

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