Wondering if you should avoid Incognito mode when using a VPN?
No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here’s exactly how Incognito and VPNs work together and how they sort of (only sort of!) do the same thing!
Let’s get straight to the point.
Do VPNs Work with Incognito?
VPNs work with Incognito mode on all browsers. All your traffic is routed around the VPN server when you’re connected. The VPN encryption and no-logging policy will give you full privacy even without Incognito mode.
But, there’s much more to say about this. Actually, you need to read on if you think you’re anywhere safe when you’re using incognito mode on your browser.
Incognito mode is something that often gives people a false sense of security that’s not really accounted for.
Check also our article here about encryption with VPNs.
Let’s get started!
Which is Safer: VPN or Incognito?
It’s understandable enough that people wonder about this. But when you think about it it makes sense that a VPN is much more secure and safe to use. Regardless of what your concerns are.
But the reality is that you’re not really protected against anything else than the browser itself when using incognito mode. You definitely need a VPN in order to add that layer of protection on your device.
Here’s how they stack up:
|Will browsers log your history?||no||yes|
|Are cookies stored?||no||depends|
|Does it show your IP?||yes||no|
|Can it unblock sites?||no||yes|
Let’s take a closer look at what exactly this means. First and foremost you need to know that the ISP is logging your information when using Incognito. It’s only with a VPN you can get around that.
- ISP logging:
This is your Internet Service Provider. Meaning, that whomever you pay for using the internet will be able to track where you go and what you do.
- Browser history:
When you use Incognito you make sure the computer you’re currently using is not storing any information about what you do and which pages you visit. But your employer will still be able to see what you’re doing (just like your Internet Service Provider.
Websites you visit with Incognito mode turned on will typically not be able to track you with cookies. Unless you’re logged in. This means that sites like Facebook will still know exactly who you are because you tell them as soon as you enter your login details.
- Shows your IP?
No matter where you go with Incognito mode you will still be laying out breadcrumbs in the form of your IP address. The IP address is your personal identification string online and it traces all your steps back to you. You need a VPN in order to get rid of these tracks. Incognito mode will not hide your IP from anyone.
- Can It unblock sites?
When you want to access websites that are restricted geographically you will need to use a VPN server from a country that is whitelisted with the website. More and more U.S. based websites are blocking out visitors from the EU due to the strict data protection laws.
That means that you cannot access the website unless you’re coming from a VPN server within the country. There’s nothing incognito mode can do for you here to help you get access.
So, as you can see, you’re MUCH better protected with a VPN connection than with incognito mode.
My VPN Browser Extension Doesn’t Work In Incognito
This sometimes happens after a Chrome update. The best thing is probably to let your VPN provider know about this on the chat support, or you can just wait till they find out themselves and fix the thing.
Until then, you can just use your computer without Incognito.
Here’s also a solution that might work that we found on Reddit:
- Open Google Chrome
- Go to chrome://flags/
- Search for “Enable network service”
- Click “Disable” for “Enable network service” there
- Relaunch your browser
Now you might be able to use your VPN again on Incognito mode.
You’re not really adding any protection to your VPN by using your browser with Incognito mode anyway. Just read on to find out why.
Do Incognito Mode Add Extra Safety to VPNs?
The thing with Incognito mode is that it doesn’t hide your traffic and whereabouts from your Internet Service Provider (or your boss, for that matter).
Your VPN, on the other hand, will do just all of that.
A VPN provider will help you cover your tracks by a list of methods:
- All your data is encrypted
All your data is transported through what’s called a “tunnel”. Your requests will be sent through the VPNs servers before they are routed out on the internet to grab the website, information, videos, etc. that you’re looking for. Now all of that is routed back to you without telling anyone where you came from or where that data is being presented (sent).
- Your IP is hidden
You get assigned a new IP when your traffic is sent through the VPN provider. This is very different from what’s happening on Incognito.
- No Logging
Now, here we need to be careful. This is NOT true for all VPNs. It seems that not all VPNs are born equally, or at least managed equally well. But as long as you stick to one of the bigger VPN providers we recommend you’re good to go. They will definitely not log your data like the free VPN providers will often do.
All of this is not possible with Incognito mode.
Turning on Incognito mode does not really do anything to protect you in these ways.
Google Chrome is also very upfront about this. This is the screen you are presented with when you open the Chrome Browser in Incognito mode:
So, why use Incognito at all?
Incognito is great when you want to make sure that the browser you’re using isn’t tracking your whereabouts. But that’s about it.
(also known as raising the price for some people).
Can Google Track My Activity When Using Incognito + VPN?
Google is always tracking you on Chrome. Even in Incognito mode. The ones you fooling with Incognito are only the websites you visit. Even your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can track your whereabouts on Incognito.
What you will get with incognito is protection from cookies and tracking. Websites won’t be able to target you with marketing campaigns based on which pages you’ve visited on the web. Not with incognito mode.
So, what about when I add the VPN into the equation?
Now things get more complicated (in a very good way) for the ISP – but probably not for Google. They still know what you are doing. Especially if you’re logged into your Chrome Browser.
If you’re at all concerned with internet privacy and protection against the logging of personal data and whereabouts, you should always avoid logging into any browser!
Let’s just hope they won’t be evil – like they promised.
(Google’s slogan is “Don’t Be Evil”)