Many of your online actions are really not as private as you’d think. Sometimes you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing online. It’s simply none of their business! Do you want to know how to browse the internet anonymously? Here is everything you need to know about anonymous browsing. We will tell you all about VPN, Proxy servers, and Tor, all of which are great tools to stay under the radar!
You don’t want your partner to find out you have been looking for a special birthday gift, right? If your partner is the only one you want to hide something from, using the incognito mode in your browser will suffice. However, if you don’t want anyone to be know what you do online a simple incognito mode won’t do. It has some advantages that Google collects information on us. For instance, when they save your location they can show you options near you when you google ‘garage’ or ‘pizza restaurant’. However, there is a price to pay for this luxury because you also lose some autonomy online. If you don’t want others to decide what you get to see, the following solutions will help you with that.
Anonymous Browsing with a VPN
Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a suitable way to browse the internet anonymously. When you’re connected to a VPN server your connection is secure and all the traffic is encrypted. Most important for the purpose of anonymity, is that your IP address stays hidden. An IP address is the identification number of your internet connection and can reveal your location and ultimately your identity. A VPN hides your IP address because you take on the IP address of the VPN server. The websites you visit won’t be able to see your own IP address and won’t be able to identify you.
When looking for a VPN to anonymize your internet connection it is important to look for a VPN provider with a zero logs policy. A zero logs policy ensures that the VPN provider doesn’t registers your online activities. This way, not even the government can ask providers to give up this information, because there is nothing to give up.
One example of a trustworthy VPN provider is ExpressVPN. They are at the top of our list of the best VPN providers. ExpressVPN has a large amount of servers all over the world and offer strong security options. With a subscription to their services you gain access to software that protects all of your devices and works for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can connect to the internet on three devices at the same time with just one subscription. VPN is highly suitable for those who want to be able to surf, stream, and download with complete anonymity.
Their service is very user-friendly. After just a few clicks you can install the application and connect to a secure VPN server. To see if their services are what you are looking for, please read our full review of ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost is a user-friendly VPN provider that can help you in your quest to browse anonymously. They have a large number of servers all over the world, which makes it extremely easy to find a server that suits you. Their servers will make sure you can browse the internet without any restrains. The CyberGhost app is very easy to use but it you cannot figure it out CyberGhost also has an great customer support team.
If there is a HTTPS alternative for the HTTP website you are trying to visit, CyberGhost will make sure you are redirected to the secure version of the website. This way you can browse anonymously and safely at all time. Read our detailed review of CyberGhost to learn more.
Anonymous Browsing with a Proxy
The use of a Proxy server also provides some anonymity online. As a user you request information with your proxy server and they will then take that information from that particular website. The websites will only be able to see the IP address of the proxy server. Though this will work to stay anonymous online it does not provide the user with the same encryption and security that a VPN offers. The proxy does not encrypt the connection and your data and traffic is still visible to some parties.
Proxy servers are mostly seen as lighter, free alternatives to a VPN. It might suit your needs, but do keep in mind that it does not have the same security standards as a VPN.
Anonymous Browsing with Tor
Tor (the Onion Router) is an online network for encrypted and anonymous communication. Tor functions similarly to internet browsers, such as Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. However, as opposed to the other browsers, Tor allows you to browse anonymously. The Tor network consists of thousands of servers worldwide. The data traffic is cut up in little pieces that are subsequently encrypted and sent through several servers before it ends up with the user. This process costs some time and for that reason the Tor browser can be relatively slow. But however slow it is, it does make sure nobody can see what you do online.
An important side note to the use of Tor is that it only encrypts internet traffic that goes through a browser. However, not all traffic happens through a browser. Services like Skype and WhatsApp access the internet without the use of a browser. Thus, these services that don’t use browsers will not be secured by Tor. Moreover, Tor provides the user with access to the dark web. Surfing the dark web should be done with care. That part of the internet is not regulated and it is easy to contrive malware there. For most people that want to stay anonymous online, a VPN will be an easier, better, and more secure option than Tor.
Other Alternatives for Safer Browsing
There are some other, even simpler, alternatives to heighten your anonymity online but most of them only cover certain aspects of your online actions. If you are looking for a very selective cover instead of a fully secure cover of your online identity, the following could be interesting for you. We must stress that none of these methods offer full anonimity.
Anonymous Search Engines
There is the option of an anonymous search engine. DuckDuckGo is probable the best known anonymous search engine. They function as replacements for other search engines such as, Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Through DuckDuckGo you can search the internet with more anonymity than the regular search engine. Unlike google, they do not save what you have looked for online. They offer some anonymity but do not provide you with complete privacy.
Add Options in Facebook and Google
Facebook is known to share the personal information on their users with advertisers. This is why it is likelier for women to get female hygiene adds in their Facebook feed. But they also track what you do when you are not on their site. So if you have been looking for a car insurance online there is a great possibility you will get a car insurance add in your Facebook feed. Facebook allows you to change this slightly in the privacy settings of your account. After you have changed these settings, they might not show selected adds anymore, but you will still see adds. Moreover, they will keep gathering information on you. Through their own services it is not possible to turn off their tracking, you can only slightly tweak what comes up in your newsfeed.
Google also allows you to turn off add personalization. Again this does not mean all adds will disappear, nor will Google stop tracking your data traffic. As a rule you can say that these big companies that are built on add revenue won’t stop tracking us, unless we make it impossible via, for instance, a VPN connection.
There are also anti-tracking extensions you can add to your browser. These add-ons are made to stop third parties from tracking your online activity. Some of these extensions are Ghostery, Disconnect, and Privacy Badger. Again, they do not offer the same amount of security that a VPN offers. Your IP address is still visible to some and your traffic will not be incrypted. If you are specifically looking for a service that stops third parties from tracking your online activity you can consider a service like Privacy Badger.
For the best overall protection online we would definitely recommend the use of a VPN. For a small price every month they encrypt all of your internet traffic and allow you to browse anonymously. The alternatives we mentioned in this article are fine if you are looking to secure only a small part of your internet activity. We hope you make a safe choice so you can look for whatever you want without anybody secretly looking over your shoulder.