How Not to Spoil the Surprise When Buying Gifts Online

A man making surprise to a woman with a present which he bought online and cleared cookies not to give away the secret

Updated on July 13, 2021: From now on, traffic filtering, malware protection, and suspicious DNS activity blocking are available as a part of the separate DNS Firewall app.

When you prepare a present for those you love, you most probably want it to be a surprise. Seeing how they unwrap your gift, noticing the look of delight on their face is what makes you happy, too. But what if they accidentally find out about the gift in advance? All the surprise would be spoiled…

It has always been hard to hide gifts, but in the internet age, it’s even trickier to keep the secret. Online shopping leaves numerous digital traces, especially if you’re not the only one who uses the device. There’s really much to worry about: cookies, browsing histories, targeted ads, etc.  

The good news is there are ways to cover up your tracks. How not to let cookies give away your secret? What else to take care of when buying gifts online? VPN Unlimited team has all the answers. Explore the top tips for hiding your online shopping history, especially as the Valentine’s Day is just around the corner 💝

Clear your search history after buying gifts online

When you share a PC with your loved ones or just tend to leave it unlocked, clearing your search history is a must. Otherwise, if you’re surfing the web to find a necklace for your partner, a new TV to surprise your family, or whatever present you want to buy online, all the websites you’ve visited get in your search history. And the latter is accessible in just a few clicks, absolutely no tech knowledge is required.  

 Laptop on a table with history icon on the screen implying browser history

The surprise may be spoilt not only by checking the list of websites you’ve visited. Imagine such a situation: you start typing some URL in front of your partner, friend, or relative, and your browser automatically suggests websites from your search history. And unfortunately, there’s the name of the website you’ve ordered your gift on. Oops…

To avoid this, don’t forget to delete your online shopping history. Most browsers allow to clear the entire browsing history or search requests made during a particular period of time. If you use Google Chrome, check this post for instructions.  

Don’t forget about cookies

What we mean is not those tasty baked treats you may be fond of 😊 In the computer world, cookies are small text files that save information about your interaction with a website. Due to cookies, companies can tailor their website for you, make the interaction easier and provide relevant content based on your preferences. They also allow advertisers to show targeted ads. 

Cookies may include logins, passwords, or such details as what you bought on the website, etc. So as not to leave traces of your recent purchase or what you were just thinking to buy online, make sure to clear your browser cookies. 

Word cookies formed by wooden blocks on a table implying browser cookies

As long as cookies are stored on your computer, you can easily delete them. Check out this guide with step-by-step instructions on how to clear cookies in various browsers. Though note that most likely you’ll be logged out of most websites and some web pages may look a little different than they previously were. 

Buy presents online using incognito mode 

If you want to avoid the hassle of deleting your search history and clearing cookies each time you surf the web, there is a solution – Private browsing also known as Incognito Mode. It will neither save websites you’ve visited, nor cookies, thus boosting the chances that your history of online shopping will remain secret. 

Incognito mode tab in Google Chrome web browser

Use Incognito mode when shopping for gifts online, but don’t overestimate the possibilities of this kind of Private browsing, as it’s not absolutely private. The websites you visit still can see your IP address. How does it affect your online shopping for gifts? The answer is in the next tip.

Use VPN for truly private shopping

Nowadays, advertisers may go further than showing targeted ads based on your cookies. Your IP address can also be targeted. What’s the result? Such ads will be shown not only on your laptop, PC, or tablet, but on all devices connected to your router, including the one you’re preparing the present for. Surely, your loved ones may not notice such ads or just fail to connect the dots, but if these ads are eye-catching enough, some suspicion can creep in. 

Gladly, there is a way to avoid such a spoiler, too – a reliable VPN solution like VPN Unlimited. It encrypts your device’s internet traffic and hides your real IP address. So your online shopping for presents gets truly private, and as long as you have a different IP address than others on the same WiFi network, IP targeting won’t ruin the surprise. 

Happy young man buying gifts online using VPN to stay private

Turn off push notifications 

Let’s suppose you’ve taken care of it all: cleared cookies and your search history (or browsed in Incognito mode), used VPN when buying the gift online, and now think there’s nothing left to give you away. 

You’re next to your partner, friend, or a relative, your phone is somewhere near in the open, and out of a sudden a betraying notification pops up on its screen. You’ve got an email confirmation that your purchase is shipped… 

What could be more frustrating than revealing your secret like this. So a good idea is to turn off push notifications, just in case. 

Bottom line on buying a present online 

Online shopping leaves numerous breadcrumbs that can give away your secrets. So as not to ruin the element of surprise when shopping for presents, make sure to follow our tips. A short wrap-up: delete your search history, clear cookies, turn off notifications, browse in Incognito mode, enable VPN Unlimited for truly private online shopping, and enjoy the look of surprise when the people you love get your present!

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