Many of us use incognito mode to hide our browsing history, but anyone with extra knowledge and administrator privileges can still find incognito history saved on a device. Fortunately, you can view and delete your private browsing records by flushing the DNS cache.
Incognito mode doesn’t save your browsing history, cookies, or other site data. But your device saves your browsing session in its domain name system (DNS) cache even if you use private browsing mode.
Every time you visit a new website, you enter the domain name in your browser. In the background, your browser sends a query to the DNS server requesting the IP address of that domain. It then saves this web address in the local storage, so your device can retrieve it faster the next time you want to visit the same site.
The temporary storage of DNS records on the device is called a DNS cache. It includes domain names with their IP addresses – websites you’ve visited recently on any browser, both with incognito mode enabled and without.
And since DNS queries stay on your device, anyone using the same device can look them up.
If that wasn’t enough, some browser extensions and third-party apps make it possible to track browser history on mobile devices. And entities like your internet service provider (ISP) can log your browsing activities at the network level.
That’s why it’s not enough to understand what incognito mode does or how to turn incognito mode on. Learning how to see and delete your incognito history is handy too. And that’s what this article will help you with.
If you use the Windows operating system or macOS, you can view the incognito history of any browser by checking your DNS cache or using browser extensions.
To check your DNS cache, ensure you have administrator privileges on your device and follow the instructions below.
Using the Google Chrome extensions to view your incognito history is convenient when you do some research and don’t want to forget the websites you recently opened in the incognito window. While incognito mode doesn’t save your history at all, such extensions save it until you close the browser.
But checking incognito history retrospectively this way is impossible. You can only start recording it after installing the extension.
To get the extension:
You can’t view your DNS cache, but you can use third-party apps to see incognito history on Android devices. Many popular parental control apps, such as Hoverwatch, Famisafe, and KidsGuard Pro track incognito browsing.
While you can see the incognito history using these apps, you can’t delete it. And you can’t check the history retrospectively. You can use the app to track future incognito sessions only.
Moreover, parental control apps often track more information than you may like, so use them at your own risk.
If your smartphone runs iOS 11 or later, the only way to see your incognito history is to use third-party apps to track it in advance. Like with Android, popular parental control apps, such as ClevGuard, Hoverwatch, and FoneWatcher enable such tracking, but be careful and use them at your own risk.
If your iPhone or iPad has an older version of iOS, open Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website data to see your private browsing history.
To clear incognito history from your device, you need to delete your DNS cache. This process is called flushing, and the steps are as follows:
If you use the Google Chrome browser, follow the same steps for Android phones above.
Another option is to restart your iPhone or enable Airplane mode for a few seconds. It will automatically flush all the DNS records.
The instructions above describe how to delete the traces of incognito browsing from your device. But your incognito history can still be tracked by external parties.
So, to hide your browsing history, using incognito mode and deleting your incognito history from the DNS cache is not enough because third parties can still track what you do online. But you can use a virtual private network (VPN) too.
A VPN is a service that encrypts your traffic, so third parties can’t track which websites you visit. Your ISP can only see you connect to the VPN server but not what you do online afterward. And since a VPN also hides your IP address, websites can’t recognize you if you return with a different IP address each time. As long as you don’t log in, of course.
NordVPN’s Threat Protection further protects your virtual identity by blocking web tracking and intrusive ads and preventing you from visiting malicious websites. It makes NordVPN the perfect solution for browsing privately and securely every single day.
However, not all VPNs are made equal. Free VPNs often log browsing data for the same reasons that ISPs do. So it is as crucial to choose a reliable VPN provider that doesn’t track your online activity as it is to understand what a VPN is and what it does.