Nowadays, most if not all modern browsers come with an ‘incognito’ (i.e. private) mode. This mode lets you open a new private window, eliminating any local web browsing data while using it. In other words, when visiting a website the browser won't store any history, cookies, or form data (emails, passwords, etc.) and it will disable extensions. Opening an incognito window is like starting an isolated browser session, which means that you won't be logged into any social media accounts or emails.
While it can be useful, incognito mode is far from being completely private. Incognito mode only deletes the information created by the browser itself. This means that it only guarantees privacy locally: nobody from your household will know what you have been browsing, but even this is not 100% certain. First, incognito mode does not interfere with other applications on the device which can therefore still track your every move. One example is parental control software, which will monitor everything – incognito or not.
Second, just because the information isn’t being stored on the computer doesn't mean it's not being stored on third-party servers. For example, if you are accessing the internet from your school or workplace, all information will be stored on their servers. Even when you’re at home, all your traffic can be logged by your internet service provider. In short, while the information will be deleted from your computer, it doesn't necessarily mean that nobody will be able to see what you browsed during your ‘private' session.
Of course, incognito mode will behave differently depending on the browser. While any of the popular browsers out there will bypass the retention of browsing data, some of them go the extra mile to offer a little more privacy. For example, Mozilla Firefox also blocks trackers and advertisers from monitoring you – something that Google Chrome does not. Another example is Opera, which will also block advertisers and trackers if enabled in its settings, though not by default. Opera goes even further by providing a built-in VPN that, if enabled, will make sure no network – school, workplace, or ISP – can monitor what you’re doing.
Regarding VPN software, this is an excellent type of service for ensuring nobody peeks at your browsing habits. Since VPNs encrypt traffic data, not only will your workplace or school be prevented from monitoring your online activity, but so will your internet service provider, the government, or any lurking hackers. It goes as far as changing your virtual location, which means that nobody trying to eavesdrop on your browsing habits will even know your physical location.
There is still another step you can take to improve your privacy: use DuckDuckGo as your search engine. As you’ve probably read, the most popular search engines – such as Google and Bing – record everything you search on using their servers in order to know what kinds of ads they should target you with. But unlike most search engines, DuckDuckGo will not log or keep any information you type into its search bar, making sure all your searches are protected and – more importantly – private.