How to Browse the Web Anonymously

Surf anonymously to protect your privacy

Caucasian man in hoody sitting at office desk
Blend Images - John Lund/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
PRODUCT DISCLOSURE $

Untraceable web browsing prevents or severely limits others from knowing what you're doing on the web. You can use the web anonymously to hide all your browsing habits, or if you need to, you can visit a single website anonymously.

Normal web browsing leaves your information exposed to the website owner, your ISP, the government, and whoever else can gain access. Fortunately, there are several privacy tips you can adopt to use the internet anonymously and perform invisible web searches.

Why Browse Anonymously?

The answer might be different for everyone, but for most people, it boils down to privacy.

If you're looking for a new job and would rather your employer not know, anonymous browsing can hide your web searches from their system. Or, maybe you're at home searching for prescription drug information and you don't want the website to track you or collect your real email so that they can send you spam about new medicine.

Anonymous web browsing can also be useful if you're in a country that has restrictive web policies. You can hide your browsing habits to bypass blocks or rules.

If for no other reason, maybe you just want to feel comfortable knowing that your internet habits aren't being tracked and logged for advertising purposes.

Anonymous Browsing Options

There are several things you can do to stay anonymous while surfing the web, but some methods are better than others. Follow these steps to become the ultimate anonymous browser:

These are ranked in order of strength of privacy and ease of use. You can use one or more of them if you wish.

  1. Hide your IP address with a web proxy. Not all proxies are created equally, but there are several free anonymous proxy servers that are great for browsing the web anonymously, such as Hidester.

    Hidester web proxy

    When you visit a website anonymously with a web proxy, what's happening is that all the traffic is routed through a remote server before the web page is downloaded onto your device. This means that your browsing appears to anyone who may be watching (like the website you're on, your ISP, the government, etc.) to be originating from that server's location instead of your real location.

    There are also proxy server lists you can download so that the entire web browser will work behind the proxy.

  2. Connect to a VPN. A VPN is similar to a web proxy but useful in situations where you want everything encrypted and routed through other servers, not just one website. A VPN keeps not only your browsing anonymous but also any file sharing, messaging, etc.

    VPN illustration

    Something important to look for when choosing a VPN for anonymous browsing is whether they keep logs pertaining to your visits and your search history. If they do, there's a chance that they'll give up that information to an authority figure if demanded. However, if they don't keep logs, then even if they're asked for your traffic information, they'll have nothing to provide, meaning that you stay anonymous.

  3. Use a privacy-minded web browser. One example of an anonymous browser that hides your web surfing habits is Tor Browser, which encrypts the traffic and routes it through multiple servers.

    Tor Browser
  4. Search the web with a secure search engine like DuckDuckGo, which promises to block advertising trackers and keep your search history private.

    DuckDuckGo anonymous search engine

    Other search engines might tell the websites you're on what you were searching to get there, and will share your habits with third-party companies to target you with ads.

  5. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks like in hotels and restaurants. It's much harder to know who's monitoring the traffic from the other side of the building or what's going on behind the scenes when it comes to that business's security and privacy protocols.

    In the same vein, don't connect to a Wi-Fi network unless it's using a modern encryption method like WPA2. To stay anonymous on Wi-Fi, make sure the network is using encryption.

  6. Use your web browser's private mode to prevent it from keeping track of the web pages you visited.

    Incognito mode in Chrome

    This anonymous browsing mode is helpful if you share your computer, because the alternative is to use regular mode which does store a history of the pages you've opened and searches you performed.

  7. Be mindful of cookies, and delete them if necessary.

    Clear browsing data screen in Chrome

Cookies are important for storing login information so that a website can give you access to your online account. However, other websites might be able to access them to expose who you are and what you've been doing online.

Other Ways to Stay Anonymous Online

Web browsing is just one facet of the online world. If you use email, a web-based texting service, a file transfer website, etc., you'll need to consider how to stay anonymous there, too.