Chrome Incognito vs VPN: 7 Key Differences to Be Aware Of

Note that there are a few VPNs you can also choose to use on Chrome

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Key notes

  • Many people have confusion on which one to use either the Google Chrome incognito mode or a VPN with a browser.
  • This guide explains all the key differences between a VPN and Chrome incognito mode.
  • We have also explained what are the key benefits of using a VPN with Chrome incognito mode to enhance your privacy.
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There are many web browsers available that you can download, and each one serves the needs of different people.

Notably, there are browsers for more privacy-focused people. You can also download browsers that facilitate productivity and offer many features but are not that good at securing your data.

Google Chrome is one of the most widely used web browsers across platforms. It has various features, but it isn’t regarded as one of the privacy-focused browsers.

However, questions might arise about what if you use Google Chrome with a VPN, and will it be safe as the Incognito mode? What is the difference between Google Chrome Incognito mode and a VPN?

If you have the same question and are looking for a comprehensive guide on Chrome Incognito vs VPN, then you are in the right place. Because here, we will try to answer all the questions you might have regarding this topic. Let us check it out.

Do Chrome VPNs work on incognito?

There are a few different VPNs you can use on Chrome. Some are extensions found on the Chrome extensions store; others are the regular cross-platform VPNs you will usually use on your device.

Each of these options may work differently on Chrome incognito. But generally speaking, a VPN that works well on Chrome will work regardless of your browsing mode.

And if you need a VPN, we encourage enabling it even if you are browsing in incognito since private mode does not offer total privacy.

What is private browsing mode or Incognito mode?

Private browsing mode, otherwise known as an incognito mode in Google Chrome, lets you surf the internet without allowing other people using your device to see your browsing history.

Google Chrome Incognito mode does not store your history or the websites you visit. But several users have reported that their web searches in Incognito mode are being stored and showing up as suggested searches in the Omnibox.

There are some benefits of using Chrome Incognito mode:

  • It doesn’t store the websites you visit.
  • It does not store cookies. So, if you are logged in to a website in normal mode, you won’t see yourself logged in to the website when you browse through Incognito mode.
  • None of the extensions work. This gives you a great environment to test and resolve specific issues with the browser if an extension is causing the problem.
  • Information entered in the forms will not be saved. So, Incognito mode comes in handy when using a payment gateway or banking website.
  • Permissions you have given to the website won’t be saved.

That is it when it comes to the benefits of using Google Chrome Incognito mode. Do note that Incognito mode doesn’t make you visible to everyone.

Your IP and online activities are still visible to others, including your Wi-Fi network administrators or people sharing a Wi-Fi network with you.

Additionally, the Incognito mode does not hide locations or sites visited by your ISP, search engines, employers, or schools. Incognito mode just hides you from those who have physical access to your PC or laptop. Downloads and bookmarks are also saved.

Tip icon Tip
The comparison between Chrome Incognito vs VPN is that Google Chrome Incognito mode isn’t a full-proof method of securing your data or presence when browsing the internet.

There are a few caveats that we have listed above and will list in appropriate sections, which make using a trusted and premium VPN the best option if you are privacy-focused.

However, Chrome Incognito mode isn’t worthless altogether. For example, suppose you are looking to browse the internet casually but do not want your internet traces to be viewed by anyone using your PC or laptop.

In that case, you can use the Incognito mode and avoid investing in a premium VPN service that would cost you a monthly or annual subscription.

Chrome Incognito vs. VPN

How does Chrome Incognito keep your browsing private?

As already mentioned, Google Chrome Incognito mode is a feature that helps you keep your browsing history and data private from other people that use your device.

The functionality of Chrome Incognito mode is pretty simple. For example, when you switch to an incognito tab, Google Chrome creates an Incognito browsing session.

You will notice that when you open an Incognito tab, it takes you to a new tab, away from the regular tabs you might have left open. All the new tabs you open within the Incognito tab will be part of the same session.

All the corresponding tabs will be closed when you close the Incognito tab.

In Google Chrome Incognito mode, the browser does not keep track of your browsing history, cookies, or site data. Even the permissions that you give to a particular website aren’t saved.

Besides, using the Incognito mode also means you will not be signed into any of your accounts. Therefore, you will have to manually enter your credentials to log in to the websites in Incognito mode.

On the other hand, your activity is still visible to your employer, ISP, or parental tracking software if it is in use.

What are the benefits of Google Chrome Incognito mode?

Let’s take a look at the advantages of using Google Chrome Incognito mode:

  • When you use Google Chrome Incognito mode, your activity isn’t saved to the browser, on your device, or in your Google account.
  • After you close the Incognito window, all your browsing sessions, including site data, will be deleted.
  • You are not prone to the code-injection technique. For example, hackers can inject a code (a JavaScript tag) when you visit a website to hack information about your account or get inside your PC.
  • It saves you the pain of clearing your browser history every time you hand over your PC to another person.
  • When you use Incognito mode, you will see fewer fluctuations in the price of flight tickets or other booking sites.
  • You will not see targetted ads in Incognito mode, which you see based on your searches, cookies, or saved website data in normal mode.
  • None of the data you enter in a form or on a baking website will be saved by the browser.
  • You also get the option to block third-party cookies that track you across the web.

What are the disadvantages of Google Chrome’s Incognito mode?

Let us discuss the disadvantages of using Chrome Incognito mode:

  • Incognito mode hides your internet activity locally and not on a network level. Anyone physically accessing your device won’t have access to your browsing history, etc. However, someone monitoring your networks, such as your ISP, employer, or school, can still view your activity.
  • To use Incognito mode, you need to enable it. By enable, we mean that you need to follow a few steps to open a special window for the Incognito mode, which is unavailable when you open the default window.
  • Advertisers can still track you based on your searches while in Incognito mode. For example, if you search for a pillow, you will be shown ads for pillows throughout your Incognito browsing session.
  • You cannot get the Incognito tabs back when closed. This is one of the main disadvantages of using Incognito mode.
  • All the downloaded files are not saved within the browser but inside a folder, the Downloads folder by default. So, anyone with access to your PC can view or open the files that you have downloaded using Chrome Incognito mode.
  • Anyone who queries your DNS can get the hang of all the websites you have opened, even with the Incognito mode.

How to use Incognito mode in Chrome?

  1. Open the Google Chrome browser.
  2. Click on the menu or 3-dot icon next to your profile picture at the top-right corner and select the New Incognito window option.
  3. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + Shift + N keys on your keyboard to open a new Incognito tab in Chrome.

How does a VPN protect your privacy?

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We are connected to the internet in almost every walk of our lives. Right from shopping, to booking tickets, to payments, to entertainment, everything is done online.

Whenever you visit a website, it stores cookies as website data. This allows advertisers to target you with ads based on your searches.

But this can be avoided if you use a trusted and good VPN app or service. A VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Unlike the Incognito mode, which provides online safety on a local level, it also adds a security layer on a network level.

Using a VPN allows you to access restricted websites, download apps or software that aren’t available in your region, access your files from anywhere in the world securely and privately and use torrents for all the stuff you already know.

The advertisers will have a hard time tracking you. However, your location is practically impossible to track since a VPN encrypts your connection.

When VPN is enabled, it connects to the internet through a private server. This makes it appear that a private server is trying to access a website rather than an individual, hiding your IP address.

If you use Windows, you can also use the built-in VPN that comes with Windows 10 and 11. We have a dedicated guide that details it and how you can use the Windows built-in VPN.

What are the benefits of using a VPN?

Apart from the brief benefits of VPN mentioned above, below is a comprehensive list of the benefits of using a Virtual Private Network, i.e., VPN.

  • A VPN encrypts your network. Whether you use your home or public internet, your privacy and anonymity must be maintained by encrypting the traffic with AES 256-bit encryption.
  • It is also beneficial for remote workers who download and use the company’s essential files on their preferred network. A VPN encrypts the traffic, making it nearly impossible for anyone to hack the files.
  • You can bypass any geo-restricted content. This means you can download restricted apps, software, TV shows, movies, etc.
  • VPNs can also prevent bandwidth throttling, which ISPs and administrators might do to keep users under their download limits. Since the network traffic is encrypted, no one can throttle the bandwidth.
  • A VPN can bypass firewalls. It becomes difficult for the firewall to know if the connection needs to be blocked or not. In addition, people in regions like China can also stream Netflix and Amazon Prime Video where the services aren’t accessible.
  • VPNs are suitable for gamers as well. It shields them from DDoS attacks, swatting, or doxxing attempts, and can help download region-locked DLCs or add-ons.

What are the disadvantages of VPN?

After looking at the different benefits of using a VPN, let us check out the downsides of using a VPN.

  • A VPN may decrease your network speed. A VPN sends your internet traffic via an encrypted tunnel and connects you to a server anywhere in the world. For long-distance travel, the traffic can result in slow internet speeds. For this reason, you may need to opt for a premium VPN.
  • If you use a free VPN, you will encounter a dropped connections issue. This small window is enough for hackers to breach the security of your device since your actual IP address is exposed. It can be avoided by using a paid VPN service that comes with a Kill Switch feature.
  • Some countries do not allow the usage of a VPN app.
  • You have to be very careful while selecting a VPN app because several imposter VPN apps look legit but give hackers a gateway to your device.
  • Not every VPN provides you with the best features. So, to avail yourself of the top-of-the-line features and security, you have to shell out money for the subscription cost of a premium VPN.
  • A VPN cannot protect you from outside intrusion. This means that a virus, trojan, or malware can still enter your PC or smartphone if you are unaware of which websites you should access and which ones you should not.

How can I use a VPN on a PC?

1. Use Windows built-in VPN
  1. Right-click on the Start button and select Network connections.
    chrome incognito vs vpn
  2. Click on VPN.
  3. Under the VPN connections menu, click the Add VPN button.
  4. Enter the below values.
    • VPN Provider: Windows (built-in)
    • Connection name: Anything you like
    • Server name or address:
    • VPN type: Automatic
      chrome incognito vs vpn
  5. Click Save.
2. Use a VPN app
  1. Get a Private Internet Access subscription plan.
  2. Download and install PIA from the official website on your PC.
  3. Launch the Private Internet Access VPN app.
  4. Log in with your credentials.
  5. Press the power button to connect to a VPN server.
    Chrome incognito vs VPN

Private Internet Access is one of our recommended VPNs that you can opt for. It comes with servers in over 77 countries, is 100% open-source, and does not store VPN logs or leaks.

If you are encountering issues with the PIA VPN, you can connect with its world-class 24/7 customer support, and if you do not like the VPN services, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a list of other trusted and some of the best VPNs available, you can check out this guide on the 5 best VPNs for Windows 11, selected after three months of usage and tests.

Why should you use Incognito mode with a VPN?

Be it Chrome Incognito mode or any VPN, there are certain drawbacks or disadvantages attached to both; however, there is a way to fill this gap.

You can use a VPN with the Chrome Incognito mode. In doing so, the gaps in the VPN can be filled by the Incognito mode and vice-versa.

And for those who are wondering whether VPNs work with the Incognito mode, the answer is yes. VPNs work with Chrome’s Incognito mode and other browsers.

When you use a VPN with Chrome Incognito mode, all your internet traffic will be routed via the encrypted channel by the VPN, and the no-logging policy gives you total privacy.

So, for example, when you use private browsing mode, you are not logged in to Google or any other services. This will prevent the service providers from storing the cookies and targeting your ads based on your searches.

On top of this, the VPN will reroute your network traffic to a different location, not allowing the websites to see your actual IP address.

Duckduckgo vs Chrome incognito

Cookies, history, and any data you’ve input into forms are deleted from your computer when you use the incognito mode to browse.

This deleting only happens after you close all your open tabs to conclude your session. Therefore, even if you keep the incognito tabs open for days or hours, that information will continue accumulating.

DuckDuckGo is unique in that it prevents trackers while you browse and doesn’t keep any of the information about your surfing.

Is a VPN better than incognito mode?

Every major browser has some incognito mode, whether it goes by the name InPrivate, Private Window, or anything else. However, a VPN is more efficient than the incognito mode in protecting your online identity.

In contrast to VPNs, incognito mode is perfect for keeping your online activity hidden from other users of the device.

You can check out our guide on the best VPNs to use with Google Chrome. If you do not wish to install a separate VPN app and want to use a VPN extension, we have got you covered in our guide on the best Chrome VPN extensions to protect your online privacy.

Apart from this, if you are experiencing Chrome VPN issues, you can check out our guide on how to fix it, and if you are facing VPN not working with Google Chrome, then we have a guide that will also resolve the issue.

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