In today’s digital era, where there are billions of searches each day, everyone is concerned regarding their online privacy. Whether it’s the ISP, government, or companies like Google, people want their browsing experience to be as private as possible. This is where people turn their attention to VPNs. But is a VPN really that private?
Are VPNs able to hide my browsing history?
Yes, VPNs do hide your browsing history but to a limited degree. Let’s dive deep into how the VPN actually works to understand this better.
How a VPN Works?
The traffic you browse goes through 3 paths; router, ISP, and the target website. The traffic first passes through your ISP and router before reaching the website. These three paths can detect the traffic going through them. A VPN hides such traffic using techniques like encryption and decryption.
- A VPN encrypts the traffic transmitted from your computer, but your router or your ISP cannot detect such traffic.
- This encrypted data is then decrypted using the VPN’s server, reaching the website.
- The target website can’t detect your IP address; it will only detect the VPN’s server IP address.
Who can and can’t see your data?
VPN providers can see your data because their servers are involved in encrypting and decrypting traffic. But do the VPN providers keep a record of such data? According to many providers, they don’t keep records of data, but this varies from provider to provider.
ISP and router:
Since the VPN you are using changes your IP address. Therefore your ISP and router isn’t able to track your browsing history. The only IP address intercepted is the VPN’s server, keeping your data private.
You cannot be tracked entirely by Google, but Google can track some parts of your browsing activity. When a VPN server is active, Google cannot track your browsing history, but it can track your web history stored in the browser. Likewise, you are tracked if you use your Google account, even though your VPN is active. Google uses metrics and algorithms such as your browsing pattern and your time spent, so you cannot hide your browsing history.
Can VPN be tracked on a local network?
A VPN changes your IP address giving you a private browsing experience. Using VPN, all traffic is encrypted, so your browsing history can’t be tracked, but the network administrator would if someone is using a VPN by changing ports.
Picking the best VPN:
There are several features for picking the best VPN, such as the number of servers, server locations, and dedicated IP addresses. But the most important feature is the kill switch. The kill switch feature auto disconnects devices if they are experiencing a minor or significant network lag. This feature helps you in such a way even if your internet is down, it won’t immediately reconnect back until your VPN is ready; in this way, your real IP address isn’t compromised, and you can enjoy your browsing without any security concerns.
Setting up VPN:
A VPN can be manually set up in a few different ways. But there are two most sought-after methods for achieving this.
- VPN Software:
You can get a third-party VPN software, and there are many VPN providers out there for smartphones and desktops. You can download the software and get started with just a click. There are free VPNs to choose from , but the paid ones get the job done.
- Browser Extensions:
You can use a VPN extension Firefox if you are using Mozilla Firefox, or alternatively, there are different VPN extensions for other browsers. A VPN browser extension is easy to use as well.
What can you do to keep your browsing history private?
It is one of the most important ways of keeping yourself anonymous. VPN masks your actual IP address giving you a browsing experience without worrying about your privacy concerns.
You can use a private browser such as Brave, which unlike Chrome, doesn’t track your private data. If you want to go deeper, you can use TOR for maximum anonymity.
- Operating system:
Operating systems like Tails give you a relatively high private browsing experience. Tails give you more privacy, not found in OS like Windows or macOS.
- Search Engine:
DuckGoDuck doesn’t track your cookies, and this search engine doesn’t store your private information, unlike major search engines like Google and Bing, giving you a seamless private browsing experience.