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8 Best Private Browsers to Keep Your Personal Data Secure

Do you realize that everything you do online is most likely being tracked and recorded? Unless you take steps to protect your privacy, there’s a record of everything you do from searching to making online purchases.

Many people don’t even consider their online privacy because they have nothing to hide. But private browsers aren’t just for people who like to view dodgy websites or carry out illegal activities online.

If you do a little research, you’ll probably be surprised about the amount of personal and behavioral data that is available to Google and other companies about you.

For example, did you know that unless you turned it off, Google most likely has a record of your every movement for the past few years? It knows what time you leave your house for work and come home, where you enjoy your morning coffee, and the route of your evening run.

Inside this article

    🕵️ Why You Need a Privacy-Focused Browser

    When it comes to your personal browsing, Google can tell from what you’re searching for and the websites you visit if you’re planning a holiday, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re looking for a new job. It can then use this information to promote products and services you might be interested in.

    This personalization can be helpful at times but many users consider it to be an invasion of privacy. Also, keep in mind that your digital footprint goes back years. There may well be a record of what you were searching for and the websites you were visiting when you were a teenager.

    Your internet search history can be used as evidence against you in court and Google search records have been used to solve several high-profile murder cases. I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re not planning a murder! But still – would you really want someone peering over your shoulder at everything you did online?

    There are even rumors that voice-activated assistants like Siri “listen in” to your conversations. It’s enough to make you don a tinfoil hat and keep your phone in airplane mode.

    Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your personal data and avoid leaving a trace online. One of the easiest and first steps you should take is to switch to a private browser.

    Most people stick with Chrome for their browser. But while Chrome is great for features, it doesn’t have the best reputation for privacy. Instead, consider switching to one of these alternative browsers:

    1. Mozilla Firefox

    Before Google Chrome ruled the roost, Firefox was one of the most popular browsers around. Not so many people use Firefox these days but when it comes to privacy, it’s one of the best of the bunch.

    Firefox is rich in privacy-protection features including Enhanced Tracking Protection – a built-in shield that stops third-party trackers from following you around the web.

    You can also enable private browsing mode to prevent the browser from recording your history or remembering logins. The browser also disables third-party trackers by default in this mode.

    As well as the core features, there are several privacy-focused third-party extensions for Firefox to block ads that show up on pages you visit and to prevent Facebook and Instagram from tracking you around the web.

    📓 Privacy Features

    • Enhanced Tracking Protection
    • Ad blocker extensions
    • Private browsing mode
    • Facebook Container extension

    👍 Available for

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • iOS

    More info & download Firefox

    2. Brave Private Browser

    Brave has been around for a shorter time than some of the other browsers on this list. It was launched in 2016 but has since grown to over 25 million monthly active users.

    The team behind Brave includes some of the most well-regarded and privacy-focused pioneers of the web including Brendan Eich, who co-founded Mozilla and invented JavaScript.

    Brave is designed to provide a fast, secure, and private browsing experience to its users, and even claims to use 35% less battery than Chrome.

    It blocks ads and third-party trackers with its built-in “Shields” and includes a private browsing tab that uses Tor to mask your location.

    Brave also offers an alternative option to support creators without viewing intrusive ads. Users have the option to see privacy-respecting ads in exchange for tokens, which creators can trade in for currency. The more time you spend on a website, the more your favorite creator will get. You can also tip websites and donate tokens directly.

    📓 Privacy Features

    • Firewall + VPN (optional premium feature for iOS users)
    • Customizable “Shields” to block trackers and ads
    • Automatically upgrades connections to https where possible
    • Option to browse using IPFS network
    • Private mode protected by TOR

    👍 Available for:

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Linux
    • Android
    • iOS

    More info & download Brave

    3. DuckDuckGo

    You may have heard of the DuckDuckGo privacy-focused search engine, but did you know they have a browser too?

    While the DuckDuckGo browser is currently only available as an app for Android and iPhone, you can also download it as an app for Chrome, which gives you privacy tools to search and browse privately.

    DuckDuckGo not only ensures that your searches are private but it also blocks trackers and forces sites to use encrypted connections when available. However, its most unique feature is the website Privacy Grade, which tells you how much you can trust a site before and after using the privacy protection features of the browser.

    📓 Privacy features

    • Privacy grading for websites you visit
    • Force sites to use encrypted connections
    • Advertising tracker blocker
    • Never records your search history

    👍 Available for

    • Android
    • iOS
    • Extension for Chrome

    More info & download DuckDuckGo

    4. Avast Secure Browser

    Avast Secure Browser is a Chromium-based web browser made by internet security company Avast, best known for its antivirus software.

    The browser is designed to be fast, easy to use, and secure. There are several layers of protection to ensure the privacy of your browsing sessions including blocking third-party trackers, masking your digital identity, and blocking online ads.

    📓 Privacy features

    • Automatically force websites to use encryption
    • Blocks third-party trackers
    • Masks digital identity by disguising browser fingerprint
    • Customizable adblocker
    • Integrated VPN
    • Private mode browsing sessions

    👍 Available for

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • iOS

    More info & download Avast Secure Browser

    5. Tor Browser

    The Tor Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to anonymity and privacy online. The Tor network sends user traffic through thousands of relays run by volunteers, making it almost impossible to track the location of a user or trace browsing habits.

    Tor has become associated with the “dark web” and criminal activity but many legitimate users make use of the Tor network to disguise their identity and browsing activities including journalists, activists, and law enforcement.

    As well as using the Tor network, the Tor browser blocks plugins such as Flash and QuickTime as they may reveal your IP address. The default search engine is set to DuckDuckGo to ensure your searches remain private.

    While the Tor browser is a great choice when you want to ensure your browsing session remains private, it’s not ideal as a general browser replacement. This is because sites can load slower as the browser routes them through the Tor network, which is particularly noticeable on streaming sites like Netflix. Some sites may also not work properly when you browse with Tor

    📓 Privacy features

    • Routes traffic through the untraceable Tor network
    • Blocks insecure plugins
    • Uses DuckDuckGo as default search engine
    • Blocks third-party trackers and automatically clears cookies

    👍 Available for

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Linux
    • Android

    More info & download Tor Browser

    6. Onion Browser

    Tor is not available for iOS but the Tor website recommends that iPhone and iPad users download Onion Browser instead.

    The Onion browser also encrypts traffic through the Tor network to ensure the highest level of privacy and security. All tabs are automatically closed when you close the browser so there’s no risk of your browsing history being saved. The browser also blocks third-party trackers and ads.

    📓 Privacy features

    • Does not collect any data on user activity or utilize third-party analytics
    • Private browsing through the Tor network
    • Browsing history is automatically cleared at the end of each session
    • Blocks third-party trackers and ads
    • Customize security settings for each site you visit

    👍 Available for

    • iOS

    More info & download Onion Browser

    7. Aloha Browser

    Aloha is a privacy-focused mobile browser for Android and iOS. A PC version is also currently in Beta development and will be available soon.

    The browser features a built-in free VPN, which encrypts traffic to keep your location and identity secure. It also blocks third-party trackers and includes an integrated adblocker.

    One of the unique features of this browser is its secure file manager. All files you download through Aloha are locked in a secure area and can only be accessed by passcode or fingerprint.

    📓 Privacy features

    • Integrated VPN
    • Adblocker
    • Blocks third-party trackers
    • Passcode or fingerprint protected downloads.
    • Private mode with optional passcode or fingerprint lock on private tabs

    👍 Available for

    • iOS
    • Android

    More info & download Aloha browser

    Snap Search is a mobile private browser for Android that’s always in “Incognito Mode”, meaning you can’t be tracked online and your browsing sessions remain private.

    You don’t have to sign up to use Snap Search and the company doesn’t collect any information about its users. The browser blocks ads and third-party trackers by default.

    Snap Search also includes an integrated VPN and it requests zero permissions in Android, so there are no concerns about any of your data getting into the wrong hands.

    📓 Privacy features

    • No permissions needed
    • Adblocker
    • Blocks third-party trackers
    • Everything stays in incognito mode including your keyboard and search
    • Integrated VPN

    👍 Available for

    • Android

    More info & download Snap Search

    Final Thoughts

    Everyone has their favorite browser, and many people end up using Chrome for its speed and features or Safari or Edge because they’re installed as part of the default operating system.

    But if online privacy is important to you (and really, we should all start to consider carefully how much of our personal data is available online) you should consider using one of these private browsers instead of your regular browser.

    Mozilla Firefox and Brave are both great all-rounders that are available for multiple devices.

    If you are extra privacy-focused, you might want to use Tor Browser or Onion Browser for at least some of your browsing sessions.

    Aloha Browser and Snap Search are also worth checking out as they’ve been designed specifically for use on mobile devices and both include a handy free VPN.

    The Editorial Team

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