Your search history is one of the crucial things to hide if you want to enhance your data privacy. It’s important for many reasons that we won’t get into here.
Do VPNs hide my search history?
When using a good VPN your search history will be hidden from your ISP. The VPN service will also hide your activity from an employer or the local network you’re using. They will only see the IP of the VPN server you use.
As you can see, it’s important to pay attention to where your search history is being saved.
In this article, we will show you exactly how to make sure no one will keep any logs of what you search for.
Let’s get started!
Do VPNs Block My Search History From My ISP?
VPN Providers will make sure your search history is invisible to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). The ISP will only see the IP of the VPN server, and that’s all they get. However, the VPN provider may log your internet activity even though they typically promise not to keep any logs.
This is the case for almost any VPN provider you can work with as it’s part of the system behind a VPN.
The VPN will make sure your data is sent through an encrypted tunnel and routed around their web servers before they retrieve the data you ask for (the website you want to load).
But, there’s a very important point to make here.
Your traffic may be logged elsewhere!
Follow along here.
All the VPN providers we have tested and tried in our search for the best VPN providers have promised on their websites to not keep any logs or records of their customer’s whereabouts.
It’s essential for them to have a good reputation and it’s one of the primary reasons people use a VPN. To keep a high level of privacy around their search history.
But history will tell that many VPNs do in fact keep logs!
How do we know this?
We have looked at cases where governments, intelligence agencies, and even private companies have come after VPN providers to check their servers for personal data on a suspect or people of interest.
Multiple cases have been disclosed and we’ve focused on the VPN providers that have shown (in court!) that they do not keep any logs at all. We will come back to these in a second.
Do VPN Providers Really Delete all Logs?
VPN providers promise not to keep any logs but history will tell that they often do anyway. They are typically located in a country where it’s not required to keep logs but there are several examples of VPN providers who have given out information about a user’s internet activity.
That’s very concerning.
Lately, there has been an increased focus on this and several VPN providers have started to let 3rd party companies review them to prove to the users that they don’t keep any logs. But it’s hard to know for sure who to trust as a user because:
- The reviews can be rigged and manipulated
- Nothing knows what happens 5 minutes after a review
So, the best thing we’ve come up with is to look at how VPN providers “perform” when their servers are seized by local authorities in counties where VPNs are not legal to use. That happens once in a while when a country wants to investigate one of its’ citizens internet activity.
We have found a particularly interesting case from Turkey.
The Turkish investigators tried to search XpressVPN’s servers for information and logs but they didn’t find anything. (source).
That’s also why we don’t hesitate to recommend XpressVPN as a good reliable VPN provider.
We believe (like many other tech blogs) that the best way to know for sure whether a VPN provider keeps logs is to look at cases like this where a third party seizes the servers to look for data. When they come out clean from these types of things we trust they do, in fact, not keep any logs.
4 Tips To Block Your Search History (From Everybody)
The best way to make sure you don’t leave any trails is to use a VPN like XpressVPN. The one we mentioned above, that has proven that they do not keep any logs.
But there are more things you can do to further increase the security of your internet activity.
Here are some additional ideas you can take.
How far you want to go depends on how concerned you are and how much extra time you have on your hands. Because all these things take time to set up and maintain.
And they don’t exactly offer you a faster browsing experience!
1) Use the DuckDuckGo Search Engine
Google, Bing, and the other popular search engines are notoriously known for tracking EVERY step of their users. Even though you set up a long list of precautions they often end up tracking you one way or the other.
When you use the Chrome Browser there are a ton of leaks you make when you browse!
That’s completely no-go if you want to stay anonymous. (We’ll show you what to do instead in a second).
Instead of the popular search engines, you should use the excellent search engine DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckgo will not keep any logs of your whereabouts. That’s the main reason the search engine was created in the first place. They don’t even know who you are.
That’s REALLY great for many reasons:
- Your Privacy
- You actually see what you search for unbiased of cookies and your search history
- You won’t be a direct marketing object
- Your data aren’t shared with 3rd party (because there are none).
2) Use the Tor Browser
If you want to add an extra layer you can check out the Tor browser. It’s a very nerdy thing.
The Tor browser is made exactly for this. It’s a slow machine to work on but it does surely add some extra levels of privacy.
The Tor browser is a non-profit organization that fights for the right to data privacy. As they state on their website:
“We believe everyone should be able to explore the internet with privacy. We advance human rights and defend your privacy online through free software and open networks.”
It takes a little while to load the browser the first time you open it as it will prompt you about how to use it. It will let you access it through a VPN or you can get some help if you are in a country where these things are frowned upon by the authorities.
Other than that, you will be online in no time and guess what, DuckDuckgo is the default search engine on the Tor browser. Hurray!
3) Check That Your VPN isn’t Leaking
You need to double-check that your VPN provider is doing a good job of keeping you safe. By that, we mean that you should check whether they actually have managed to hide your location, IP, etc.
That is quickly done with a website like dnsleaktest.com.
When you enter this website you will see your IP and location.
- First, you need to make sure that these two don’t match your actual location and your actual IP.
- Now you should press the button to take the test (the standard test is fine here)
- Check the results
This is what I just got when I pressed the button:
I can assure you that I’m not in Secaucus. I’m not even in New Jersey. And the IPs don’t match me either. You can also see that they didn’t get any hostname and the ISP is also way off.
So all is good here.
4) Get Rid of Local Logs
Remember, that even though you use a premium VPN provider like the ones we recommend, you will still have local logs of what you’re doing online.
When you dig into the search history on your browser you will see a long log file of every website you have visited since you deleted your search history.
So, you need to delete these files as well and you need to make sure they’re not logged elsewhere in text files or log files on your machine. That also goes for mobile browsers on iPhones, Android phones, iPads, tablets, etc.
Make sure to keep a short log and make sure to go in and delete the local files often.
I hope these tips will help you stay anonymous online. After all, that should be of everyone’s concern these days.
If you want more tips on how to stay secure and anonymous online you can check out all our articles about VPNs. They will teach you exactly how to make sure your data are safe and not accessible for any third party.