For a pitch I’ve been working on, I’ve had to research what men 18-35 are doing online, and I guess they’re not all trying to find out what’s playing at Lincoln Center. Some of these sites, even if they’re only PG-13, are not necessarily what I want sticking around in my search or web history. Given that there are all sorts of reasons both noble and less noble why you might not want a record of the sites you’re visiting, here are two tools I’ve used that come in handy:
1) Ixquick: It’s a meta-search engine that leaves no trace of what you search. It’s not as clean as Google or other search engines, but it still does a decent job getting relevant sites in front of you, and there’s also no record kept of the sites you visit from the listings.
2) Stealthier: This Firefox extension lets you surf without leaving a trace, and it’s easy to turn on and off as you go about visiting various sites. Note that if it’s fully enabled, you can’t visit sites that require cookies, so if you’re an average web user, you’ll want to use this selectively. Google, for instance, tells you when you try to access its personalized services while using Stealthier, "Your browser’s cookie functionality is turned off. Please turn it on."
For both of these services, I did a cursory check on them by logging into Google’s personalized services, using Stealthier and Ixquick, and then checking my search and web history in Google. There was no trace of the searches or sites I visited using those tools.
(A funny aside: I tried posting this while I was signed into Stealthier, and it signed me out of TypePad.)