Using a private internet browser is paramount given the threats to your data on the web today. Your data can be sold to third-party advertisers, be used by hackers and criminals, or be spied upon by the government.
While most modern browsers have some privacy and security features, we shortlisted the 9 best browsers for your privacy. These are:
- Tor Browser: the best anonymous browser
- Brave: the best browser for privacy for existing Chrome users
- Mozilla Firefox: the most customizable anonymous browser
- Safari: the best browser for privacy for Mac
- Chromium: a minimalist anonymous browser
- Vivaldi: the best browser for privacy with an in-built suite of tools
- Epic Privacy Browser: the best browser for privacy with an in-built VPN
- Freenet: the best anonymous browsing alternative to Tor
- Librewolf: the best browser for privacy for Firefox users
You needn’t worry about the privacy of your online browsing while using any of these web browsers. However, we would recommend staying away from Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Opera as each of these has major privacy concerns.
For complete online security and privacy, you should consider using a VPN in conjunction with a private browser. Surfshark offers premium VPN features at a reasonable price and is an ideal candidate to pair up with the browsers mentioned above.
If you use the wrong browser, companies can track what you do on the internet. They can even find out your likes, dislikes, age, habits, and a ton more.
But it’s not just about privacy and personal data. Security breaches that could compromise your passwords, sensitive information, or even banking data aren’t rare. For example, Google Chrome, the most popular browser, warned users about multiple serious vulnerabilites in its browser.
Luckily, there are still relatively safe ways to surf the web with privacy-oriented browsers. At the same time, a focus on privacy can mean reduced functionality and efficiency. We tested several browsers on the market to assess which offered stellar security and privacy without compromising performance and compiled a list of our top picks.
Aside from a privacy-friendly browser, online privacy and security are best ensured by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that encrypts your internet traffic and keeps it safe from prying eyes online. A good and relatively cheap option for this additional layer of cybersecurity is Surfshark.
Best Browsers For Privacy: The Definitive List
In the following sections, we’ve provided our ranking of the 9 best browsers for privacy. In looking for the best anonymous browser, we paid close attention to their privacy policies, security and encryption features, previous breaches and security incidents, as well as overall performance and utility.
Now, let’s get straight get into the rankings.
1. Tor Browser – the best anonymous browser
|Internet traffic is passed through three levels of encryption||Pages and content take significant time to load|
|Cookies are automatically deleted after each session||Allows access to potentially harmful sites|
|Prevents snooping and censorship|
The pros of Tor
Tor hides your identity, preferences, and any form of personal data by sending your traffic through at least three nodes in the Tor network. Your data is encrypted at every Tor node (server) it goes through. Unless you insert your data somewhere, this makes you incredibly anonymous. The Tor Browser uses NoScript to mask your prior activity from the websites you’re visiting.
Tor doesn’t just abstain from recording your internet activity, it even deletes any cookies you installed after any session. Due to these strong anonymity and privacy features, Tor is the anonymous browser of choice for journalists and activists operating in difficult circumstances. Frequent and regular updates further add to its overall security.
However, you might notice connection speeds drag when using Tor. The traffic redirection and triple encryption will make your internet slower. This means you should use Tor for activities like browsing Reddit, but if you want to stream a movie, you should use one of the other browsers on the list.
Tor also offers access to some of the most dangerous corners of the internet. Though not all dark web sites are threatening, you could wind up on hacker-controlled domains or sites operating illegally. Of course, Tor is not dangerous in and of itself, it’s up to the user to avoid these potentially harmful online destinations.
On the whole, the Tor browser is one of the safest and most anonymous browsers out there. That’s expected from a browser that lets you access the dark web, but you shouldn’t let the association with the worst parts of the internet cloud your judgment of Tor. US whistleblower Edward Snowden himself praised Tor Browser as one of the best browsers for privacy.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux and Android
2. Brave – the best browser for privacy for existing Chrome users
|Secure and private Chrome-like browsing||Brave’s own ad program has led to privacy concerns|
|Sleek and intuitive interface||Not as fast as Chrome or Safari|
The pros of Brave
Founded in 2016, Brave is an aesthetic option for your private and secure browsing. In terms of security and privacy, Brave automatically has an adblocker installed. Its open-source nature further allays any concerns about data logging and sharing what may be going on.
It also has a few decent security features, including the ability to secure unsafe websites with HTTPS. Additionally, Brave can block fingerprinting attempts, and it can stop unsafe scripts from loading.
However, there are privacy concerns with this project. It has all the tools you need to keep your browsing private, but it’s not 100% privacy-friendly. In April 2019, Brave launched its own ad program. On the one hand, it blocks ads from third parties, but on the other, it shows its own ads, which aren’t as targeted and don’t pay any commission to the creators of the content you’re consuming.
A user also found that Brave was autocompleting URLs related to certain crypto websites that it had affiliate programs with. This casts some doubt over the browser’s transparency practices, especially when it comes to cryptocurrency.
These concerns aside, Brave is an excellent choice for anonymous browsing. It’s very similar to Google Chrome (minus the tracking) and hence a viable alternative for Chrome users looking for an anonymous browser.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS
3. Mozilla Firefox – the most customizable anonymous browser
|Run by a non-profit company||Setting up security features and customizations can be daunting|
|Robust security measures such as tracking blockers and data deletion||Can affect system performance on older computers|
|Open source||Compatibility issues with certain aspects of websites|
|Regular updates and patches|
The pros of Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is a private and anonymous browser run by the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit company. Since the foundation is not geared towards making money, there is no incentive to sell user data to third parties.
Its focus on privacy and security is evident from its vast feature set, which includes hiding your location, blocking tracking, and preventing unauthorized data sharing with third parties. It’s also easy to turn off WebGL and WebRTC features, and it offers a password manager. “Private mode” erases all information you put in as soon as you log off, an excellent choice for anonymous browsing.
Mozilla issues regular updates to the browser which ensures that it’s not vulnerable to any new and recent threats. It also rewards programmers that find a backdoor in their system and notify them about it. Firefox then patches these backdoors pretty quickly.
While there’s no doubt that Firefox is an excellent anonymous browser, its customizations can be confusing for some users. If you need guidance, we’ve put together a complete breakdown of how to set up Firefox as an anonymous browser. If you don’t want to bother ticking every security option you see fit, you can just activate their settings presets.
Another drawback is that Firefox is notoriously RAM-hungry, so if you’re using an older computer, there might be better options, like Brave. While you can improve Firefox’s performance by installing certain AddOns, these are not a part of the standard install.
Firefox also has some compatibility issues, especially with the CSS parts of a site, but there are many active developers constantly fixing these problems, so you should be safe. Just remember to install the best add-ons for privacy on Mozilla.
Mozilla is one of the best overall browsers on this list. It offers a compelling mix of security and functionality. The non-profit nature of the Mozilla foundation gives it a distinct edge over commercial browsers like Chrome and Safari when it comes to privacy and user data. If your device can handle its processing requirements, we’d highly recommend Firefox.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android
4. Safari – the best browser for privacy for Mac
|Protects the system from malicious files||Infrequent updates|
|Built-in tracking prevention boosts anonymity||Lacks overall customization|
|Numerous extensions to configure security preferences as required||Not open source|
The pros of Safari
Safari is Apple’s default browser, even if many people just download Chrome right after they buy a new Mac. It boasts some useful security and privacy features. For instance, it doesn’t let malicious code spread to your connection or browser, and it keeps your data secure in case you click the wrong link. Safari also won’t load suspicious sites, and it’ll notify you of potential danger.
In keeping with Apple’s focus on privacy, a tracking prevention feature was added to Safari in the recent past. As a result, it doesn’t let advertisers use your information, and it helps you stay anonymous when browsing the web by hiding your digital fingerprint. Furthermore, Safari has a lot of security extensions that can be used to enhance overall privacy and safety.
There are, of course, a couple of drawbacks. For one, Safari updates very rarely. That’s a big red flag in case of breaches, and it’d be a big problem for any other platform. But Apple’s software is usually watertight and hence the infrequent updates aren’t as problematic.
Further, Safari is not as customizable as other browsers in terms of privacy and security settings, though you can overcome that with some extensions. Finally, its code is not open source which means we really don’t know how data is being used and who it’s being shared with.
Thanks to Apple’s recent pivot toward privacy, Safari comes out as one of the more private and secure browsers. If you use Apple devices, then Safari is a no-brainer really. However, you want to enable some of its safety-enhancing browser extensions to protect yourself completely.
Supported platforms: macOS and iOS
5. Chromium – a minimalist anonymous browser
|Regular updates and security patches||Lacks some essential codes and software for playing videos and viewing files|
|No data sharing with Google||Hard to turn off WebGL and WebRTC functions.|
The pros of Chromium
Chrome loads quickly, has many helpful extensions, and doesn’t have a bad design. However, users are wary of Google’s data collection and sharing practices due to its sprawling ad-targeting business.
Chromium has all of the good parts of Google Chrome, but without the infringement on personal data and security concerns. It doesn’t send any data to Google, and it’s open-source, so you have an entire community to help discover security concerns and develop innovative software. Moreover, the similarity to Chrome makes it easier for people looking for an anonymous browser to make the transition to Chromium.
While Chromium scores well when it comes to privacy and anonymous browsing, it lags behind as far as usability is concerned. Chromium is kind of like a shell of the fully-fleshed browser you’re used to (Google Chrome). It lacks codecs and a decent flash player. This means that you won’t be able to play videos or even view pdf files in it unless you get your hands dirty and install software on it yourself.
It’s also hard to access certain security settings. For instance, turning off WebGL and WebRTC functions can be quite a challenge. Other browsers such as Brave and Firefox are also safe, but they don’t sacrifice as much usability as Chromium does.
Users looking for a minimalist but private Chrome alternative should look no further than Chromium. You can rest assured that your data isn’t being sold to ads services or to Google. Of course, the minimalist nature means that usability is compromised but that’s just a tradeoff you have to make for privacy and security.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS and Linux
6. Vivaldi – the best browser for privacy with an in-built suite
|Numerous customization options for privacy and security suites||Does not prevent browser fingerprinting|
|Additional mail and calendar clients for improved productivity|
The pros of Vivaldi
If you’re looking for a Chromium-based browser that combines security with flexibility and customization, look no further than Vivaldi. The increasingly popular browser combines some essential security features with a variety of customization options. The browser also comes with robust password protection and management.
In terms of its security, Vivaldi comes with an integrated ad blocker for a peaceful anonymous browsing experience. The search engine settings are highly customizable and feature privacy-friendly options like DuckDuckGo. Additionally, it also blocks idle APIs which can sometimes render a device vulnerable to malware.
Vivaldi really shines when it comes to product options and settings. It offers different versions, each of which features an increasingly integrated set of tools. For instance, users can stack tabs on desktop and mobile, adopt a split-window view and utilize other features like in-built translation and note-taking. The in-built Calendar and Mail apps are very useful for users who prefer integrated apps.
One drawback in terms of security is that it doesn’t prevent browser fingerprinting. The private browser would’ve been higher on our list if it was fully open source. While most of its code can be audited by third parties, it is still not fully open source. Moreover, some concerns also arise because Vivaldi collects data like user IP addresses, albeit in an anonymized manner.
Vivaldi’s integrated suite of tools makes it a unique browser. The fact that these tools are offered with little to no compromise when it comes to user privacy makes it an excellent overall choice. That said, the inability to prevent browser fingerprinting is a significant drawback.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android
7. Epic Privacy Browser – the best browser for privacy with an in-built VPN
|Extreme privacy protection features||Limited functionality features|
|In-built VPN||Not fully open source|
|Automatic deletion of data, passwords, and history after each session|
The pros of Epic Privacy Browser
Epic Privacy Browser is another Chromium-based browser that maximizes privacy and security for its users. It makes a whole host of changes found in regular browsers to augment user privacy. For instance, it stores no history, keeps no logs, prevents third-party cookies and retains no cache. Several kinds of data, including history, indexed databases and passwords, are deleted every time you close the browser. WebRTC-linked IP address leaks are also completely prevented.
The browser also provides comprehensive protection against tracking and fingerprinting. The in-built VPN is another useful feature to facilitate anonymous browsing. The website claims that the VPN can connect to servers located in eight countries and can be used to unblock leading streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Disney Plus.
This extreme focus on privacy does come with some downsides. Since no data is retained by the browser, the general ease of use that customers are used to can be affected. For instance, it becomes impossible to look up the web pages one’s visited in previous browsing sessions.
While Epic is happy to share its code with developers for audit and inspection, the source code is not completely open, similar to Vivaldi.
Epic’s singular focus on privacy and security makes it a great option for users concerned about their private data. It also has an in-built VPN to provide an extra layer of security. However, its overall usability is not on the level of browsers like Firefox and Safari as certain important features, such as browsing history, are sacrificed to maintain privacy.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS and Android
8. Freenet – the best anonymous browsing alternative to Tor
|Decentralized network facilitates censorship-resistant communication||Very slow connection speeds|
|Supports anonymous file sharing||Can only access ‘Freesites’ and not all websites|
How is Freenet different from other browsers?
Unlike the other browsers on the list, Freenet can only be used to access ‘Freesites’ which are hosted by other Freenet users. This means that you can’t access normal sites like Facebook, Reddit, normal news sites, etc.
The pros of Freenet
Freenet is a decentralized peer-to-peer network that functions much like the Tor browser. Data is transmitted through a series of nodes/intermediaries which makes it difficult to determine where internet traffic is actually coming from. Its decentralized nature makes Freenet highly censorship-resistant.
The browser can also be used to share large files in an anonymous manner. It features two modes i.e. opennet and darknet. Opennet functions like any normal browser where users can connect with all other individuals using the Freenet network. However, when using the darknet, users can limit their range of communication to just family and friends, facilitating anonymous browsing and communication.
Since Freenet is decentralized, it does suffer some limitations in comparison to the other browsers on this list. The first limitation is that Freenet can only access Freesites, which are static websites hosted on the Freenet network. The reduction in connection speeds due to the multiple layers of encryption also slows down the browser’s performance.
Freenet is a useful tool for peer-to-peer file sharing and anonymous communication between small groups. However, much like Tor, speeds on Freenet are significantly slower. Also, you can only access ‘freesites’. Hence, we don’t recommend it for daily use.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS and Linux
9. Librewolf – the best browser for privacy for Firefox users
|Blends privacy with Firefox’s utility and customization||Limited utility for streaming content|
|Open source||Lack of additional security features|
The pros of LibreWolf
LibreWolf is a Firefox fork with a marked focus on user privacy and security. It comes with several security configurations enabled right out of the box. For example, it includes only private search engines like Duck Duck Go and SearX. It also protects user IP when webRTC is being used. WebGL and IPv6, which can sometimes compromise privacy, are also disabled. Additionally, it deletes cookies and history whenever the app is closed.
As far as security is concerned, Libre aims to keep pace with upstream Firefox updates that patch any new security issues. Moreover, it forces HTTPS connections and disables SHA-1 certificates. It also prevents scripting when using the built-in PDF reader.LibreWolf is also completely open source, which means that anyone can audit its code and check for undisclosed data sharing.
LibreWolf’s utility for streaming and content consumption is questionable as it blocks digital rights management technology. Most streaming platforms will not work in browsers with DRM disabled/blocked. It also lacks some additional security features that other browsers on this list offer, such as a password manager.
While LibreWolf has some top-of-the-line privacy features, such as forced HTTPS and IP address protection, it’s not a browser everyone can use. Most people like to watch videos or listen to music through their browsers. This simply isn’t possible on LibreWolf as it does not support DRM technology.
Supported platforms: Windows, macOS and Linux
Best Private and Anonymous Browsers for Mobile
While some of the browsers listed above have mobile apps as well, the browsers listed below are by far the best private browsers for iOS and Android.
DuckDuckGo mobile slashes trackers, blocks ads, forces HTTPS connections when possible, and grades websites based on their security. The browser can automatically clear your navigation data, and you can also delete it yourself by clicking the flame icon at the bottom of the browser. DuckDuckGo Mobile is an excellent choice for your mobile web surfing needs.
Bromite is a Chromium fork for Android that does away with privacy-invasive features found in other mobile browsers. It has an in-built ad-blocker and also features an always incognito mode, DNS over HTTPS and anti-fingerprinting mechanisms. It’s a clutter-free browser that will help preserve privacy on your Android device.
Browsers You Should Avoid
Most browsers we talked about are a good choice, though some are better than others. With the exception of some concerns about Safari, you should have a safe trip on the web with all of them.
That being said, there are browsers you should avoid if you are privacy-minded.
|Browser||Why it’s not great for privacy|
Pairing a Secure Browser with a VPN
While a secure browser is an important first step towards online privacy, it’s not enough by itself. Indeed, even the most secure browsers, like Tor, can have some vulnerabilities. An important additional step you can take to secure yourself while browsing is to use a VPN.
A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and shields it from prying eyes online. Think of it as adding an additional layer of security to your browsing. Moreover, a VPN can be used to change your IP address – which helps prevent your ISP or Government from snooping on you. A good and relatively cheap option is Surfshark.It has an extensive server network and offers great speeds.
- Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
- 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
- Cheap with many extra options
Why Should I Use a Private Browser?
There are several downsides to using the wrong browser. Some of the harms you make yourself susceptible to are:
Private companies regularly track your online activity to determine your tastes and preferences and create a unique profile. Cookies are a big part of why you’re not anonymous online.
Breaches can happen anytime, anywhere on the web, so all the data you have stored on your browser can be accessed by hackers, compromising your saved passwords, bookmarked websites, personal information, and business details. Even Google Chrome, the web’s most popular browser had a breach on their extensions web store.
Unsecured browsers with no privacy focus can often lead you to websites that contain malware, without any prior warning. As a result, you may end up downloading different kinds of malware, such as ransomware and trojans, onto your device. With a private browser, you’re likely to receive a warning of the site being dangerous. Alternatively, some private browsers will simply not open websites that do not have HTTPS certification.
Final Thoughts on Secure Browsing
The most secure browser is definitely Tor. It’s got three-layered encryption, a well-oiled network to route your connection, and all the privacy customizations you’d want, most of them enabled by default. Just remember, without a strong internet connection, it might not work for all of your online needs.
We recommend using it in conjunction with Brave or Firefox for when you want to stream or download something and bandwidth isn’t on your side. A few additional steps you can take to secure yourself while browsing are:
- Clear your data, cache, and history when you log off for the day.
- Favor sites with HTTPS connections and SSL certificates. If they don’t have that, don’t enter any sensitive information in their fields.
- Use an adblocker.
- Start your chosen browser in incognito or private mode.
- Use a safe search engine like DuckDuckGo. Make it your browser’s default search engine.
- Use a VPN to browse the web anonymously. If you’re not sure where to begin, read our article on the best 5 VPNs of 2022.
Check out the answers to our most commonly asked questions regarding private browsers. Let us know in the comments if there are any unanswered questions that you have, and we’ll get right back to you.
If online privacy and anonymity are important to you, then your browser of choice should be Tor. All data is encrypted at three different nodes, making it difficult to trace the origin of the internet traffic. For additional security, you can use Tor with a virtual private network (VPN).
The best free private browser is Tor. It routes your internet traffic through an extensive network, which ensures a great level of anonymity. Plus, your data is secured with three layers of encryption. It ensures that you cannot be tracked online and even deletes any cookies you installed after any session.
Some of the best browsers that do not track you are Tor, Brave, and Firefox. These are focused on privacy and can help you browse securely. However, if you want to completely prevent tracking, it’s advisable to clear your cookies regularly and use a good VPN that can ensure anonymity and security online.
Yes, Firefox offers more privacy than Chrome. Some of its security measures include hiding your location, blocking tracking, and preventing advertisers from snatching your personal data. It also has a handy password manager. Google Chrome, on the other hand, is notorious for tracking everything you do and gathering as much data as it can about your browsing activity.
Mozilla Firefox’s robust security protection tools make it the most secure browser from hackers. It offers an in-built password manager and prevents unauthorized data sharing. It is also regularly patched, which helps patch new vulnerabilities.
Vivaldi is another great option for a safe browser. You can learn more about both browsers in our ranking of the best private browsers.
Yes, to a large extent, you can be anonymous online by using a browser like Tor or Freenet. Both browsers direct your traffic through a network of nodes, providing you with a layer of anonymity. By using a VPN, you’ll be adding an additional layer of privacy protection. Check out our list of the best privacy-oriented browsers to learn more.