14 best browsers for privacy: What's the most private web browser?
With the Investigatory Powers Act requiring internet service providers keep records of each user's internet browsing history, an increasing number of people are looking to private browsers to keep their information away from prying eyes.
And while a private browser isn't 100 percent confidential, most promise to delete any cookies and tracking from your internet activity.
The best way to secure your browser information is to use a virtual private network (VPN), as it encrypts the data running between your device and your server.
Most of the browsers listed will have a VPN pre-installed, along with lots of reliable best practices and secure add-ons.
1. Epic privacy browser
Based on Chromium, Epic removes all frills to maximise security.
For Epic users, all cookies and trackers are eliminated after each session, so no data is collected, they say anyway. Epic also claims to protect users from 'over six hundred tracking attempts in an average browsing session', while also making your PC 25 percent faster by blocking page tracking.
For a fully-encrypted connection, Epic also includes a one-button proxy service that does often slow down browsing but will appeal to some users wanting anonymity while browsing.
Built with 'hidden' relay servers, Tor is an advanced privacy browser.
Tor blocks all plug-in and only uses HTTPS connections, meaning its user experience is more demanding than others but you do get more privacy.
Run by volunteers working across the globe, Tor claims to protect your online profile by 'bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays', this should prevent website admins from seeing the location of your site visit.
Available on FreeBSD, Linux, OS X, OS/2, and Windows, Dooble is an open source browser claiming to provide absolute privacy for its users.
Dooble uses authenticated encryption on most of its stored data and allows security passphrases to be created for each browser which is a great feature for devices share with various people.
Dooble also has a security tab with numerous settings to control privacy preferences, offering excellent customisation features.
Brave, from the Mozilla Foundation, is a relatively new browser that packs quite a punch. Offering great speeds and even greater ad-tracking controls.
Brave can replace targeted ads with its own ads and share revenue with the website being browsed or the content makers, although this is still in its early stages. In addition, it restricts ad-tracking which means that users will experience faster browsing and, more importantly, private browsing.
Although Brave is more of a secure browser than a private one, it does prioritise privacy, like Comodo Dragon.
Available on Windows, Linux and OS X, Brave is still in its infancy, so don't expect a Chome or Firefox user-experience.
Maxthon offers a URL checker to find and block malicious websites and like Chrome and Microsoft Edge Maxthon uses sandboxing to separate browser activity.
Like Opera, Maxthon comes with a built-in ad blocker and similar to most if not all browsers listed it comes with a private browsing mode and a do not track function.
Maxthon also offers a password manager, inbox protector and a document manager, ideal for business use.
6. Microsoft Edge
Most will argue that Microsoft Edge is a better alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer, and when it comes to privacy, this is definitely the case. Similar to Chrome, Microsoft Edge runs in a sandbox, this means browser function is isolated. Edge also offers a SmartScreen Filter which claims to block sites containing malicious sites which should prevent corrupted downloads.
Sadly, unlike other browsers such as Firefox, Edge does not offer tracking protection on incognito mode or offer a VPN like Opera's built-in VPN. However, Edge should not be overlooked, Microsoft offers plenty of privacy and security support which can be controlled from its in-browser settings.
Cocoon doesn't offer a free version, only a 15-day trial, but don't let that put you off. Cocoon takes an integrated approach to online privacy, with built-in antivirus software coming as standard, although you might get a few unwanted adds.
Cocoon often acts more like a VPN, and provides a proxy service, making your browsing almost invisible. And while they claim to keep all of your data privately stored in the cloud, security sceptics among us might want to err on the side of caution with this one and go elsewhere.
One major drawback is its lack of mobile support for Android and Windows devices, and while the website says that full mobile browsing will be 'coming soon', for a paid-for browser, it might seem a bit steep for just laptop and desktop devices, even if it is just $9.99 (£8.22) a year.
8. Comodo Dragon
This Chrome-based browser aims to provide optimised security and privacy for Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10 devices.
Comodo Dragon promises to block download trackers which adds an extra layer of security on top of an already sound browser.
Comodo Dragon is available with Comodo's antivirus and PC security software or as a standalone browser. What's more, Comodo Dragon is also available based on Mozilla Firefox, it's called Comodo IceDragon.
Unlike Firefox and Chrome, Opera doesn't collect mass information on users which for some is a big thumbs up.
Interestingly, since April 2016, Opera has come with a free built-in VPN which means users can browse privately and securely.
10. Yandex browser
Yandex uses various features from some of the leading browsers, so it is ideal for those wanting a change, but not too much of one.
Based on the Chromium open source project, the Yandex browser uses the Blink engine and checks downloads through Kaspersky antivirus. Also, the browser uses Opera's Turbo technology to optimise webpages that are using a slow or disrupted connection.
Yandex offers DNS spoofing protection, which claims to block malicious webpages and protects passwords and bank card details.
11. SRWare Iron
Another Chrome-based browser, the SRWare Iron browser provides customisable developer tools, privacy settings and extensions.
While this browser is modeled on Chrome and does share some features, it makes a point about being a 'real alternative' to the Chrome people are used to.
If you are looking for a slick browsing experience, you should look elsewhere, but for those wanting a good Chrome-based developer focused browser, this is an excellent choice.
Aviator’s goal is to maximise privacy allowing users to browse the web without being tracked. The interface is relatively simple so when a page contains cookies a red X will appear to indicate the page did not set those cookies.
In January 2015, White Hat made Aviator an open source project, encouraging developers to continue its development as a secure browser. Information on this can be found here.
13. Google Chrome
With Google Chrome's integrated approach, passwords and bookmarks along with emails and G+ are all synced, making it easy to feel vulnerable. However, Chrome's privacy failings seem to be third party problems, not Chrome browser issues.
Chrome's collected user data is encrypted and their privacy settings are easy to use allowing users to disable settings they wish to protect their privacy.
14. Mozilla Firefox
Firefox puts privacy first and like Chrome, its data is encrypted for security. For added peace of mind Firefox review all add-ons before realise or highlights that they are 'experimental'. This is something Chrome does not do and could lead to adware trouble.
The browser extension is mostly on par with ones for Chrome and Opera
Firefox gets streamlined version of the plug-in-free Hello video calling service.