What does “Private Browsing” actually mean?

By now most everyone has heard of or been told to use “Private Browsing” while surfing the web. While this has become more common and is offered with most browsers, we’ve found a large number of users don’t actually know what Private Browsing means.

Chris Hoffman over at HowToGeek.com has written a great article explaining what browsers normally do, what private browsing does, and other browsing issues.

To summarize the article, private browsing doesn’t leave any history lying around on your computer for people to see, but your history can always be – and usually is — logged elsewhere.

Check out the whole article and other great posts at HowToGeek.com –  HTG Explains: How Private Browsing Works and Why It Doesn’t Offer Complete Privacy


  1. Do you mind expounding on “but your history can always be – and usually is – logged elsewhere” Who might have access to that information?

  2. Private browsing will prevent the browser from leaving artifacts behind on the local computer however it won’t prevent your history from being seen or discovered through a few other means.

    If you are on a network at school or work the internet traffic is most likely routed through a proxy which records the addresses you visit. Even at home, your router can have logging turned on.

    Your ISP most likely logs your actions as well. See http://lifehacker.com/5923017/how-can-i-prevent-my-isp-from-tracking-my-every-move for more info.

    Even your operating system (Windows) records IP Addresses for websites you visit. These IP Addresses are cached locally on your machine to speed up future access to that website…even during some private browsing sessions. Open a command prompt and type in ipconfig /displaydns to see what is cached.

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