MSU Human Resources >> Ebshelp >> Using-the-ebs-portal >> Perils of Private Browsing


CHALLENGES OF PRIVATE BROWSING

Most browsers offer the option for private browsing. Private browsing tracks less activity than a regular browser session. This option, however, can cause problems when using the EBS Portal.

Different browsers have various names for the option and various indications that the mode is in effect:

Browser Terminology What it Looks Like
Microsoft Edge InPrivate  Visual indicator of private browsing in Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Internet Explorer InPrivate  Visual indicator of private browsing in Microsoft Internet Explorer
Mozilla Firefox Private Browsing  Visual indicator of private browsing in Mozilla Firefox E.S.R.
Mac Safari Private Browsing

Visual indicator of private browsing in Mac Safari

(the search bar turns dark)

Google Chrome incognito  Visual indicator of private browsing in Google Chrome

Pros and Cons of Private Browsing

Private browsing has benefits if you:

  1. Use a single a computer to access the same website with different accounts
  2. Shop for a gift on a computer also used by the recipient of the gift
  3. Don’t want the advertisements on a page tailored to your recent purchases
  4. Want to avoid elevated prices for things like airline tickets by repeatedly viewing the same flight
  5. Want to avoid fields auto-filling
  6. Use someone else’s computer to log onto an account

Generally, the first four advantages of private browsing are not needed on a workplace computer.

The fifth advantage (avoiding autofill) is actually a detriment to efficiency. Only when using shared computers can private browsing be beneficial in the workplace.

However, using private browsing has drawbacks:

  1. Certain built-in features of the browser are not utilized
  2. Nothing on the internet is truly “ private ”
  3. Browser add-ins can prevent the features of private browsing
  4. Your computer is never invisible to the sites you visit
  5. Cookies are still saved during browser sessions (they are deleted after the session)
  6. Files downloaded during private browsing remain on your computer

The first disadvantage, though, is a significant problem when using private browsing in the workplace.

Private Browsing and Uploading and Downloading Files with HR and Payroll Applications

Screenshot of error message

To avoid using Java as a browser add-in , which few browsers allow anymore , the EBS Portal instead uses a little-known browser feature called the z-drive. The z-drive isn’t a physical drive like the C: \ or network drives; it is a virtual, temporary drive that exists only for the purposes of passing files between your computer and some web-based applications.

Private browsing prevents the use of the z-drive. So, if you are attempting to upload an attachment to a pay change or cost redistribution, private browsing will stop you. Similarly, if you are attempting to download results from a report to MS Excel, private browsing will prevent you. The error message (at right) that results indicates that privacy mode was at fault.

Avoiding Private Browsing

There is no way to turn a private browsing session into a normal browsing session. You will have to end your session and begin again in a new window.

Private browsing can be forced onto a work computer by a department’s network administrator through a process called “group policy.” If this happens, the computer may not have the same visual clue as when set by the user of the browser, but the same error message will result.

Finally , certain browser settings can simulate private browsing, causing the same errors:

  • Firefox: Under "Options" then "History", the settings "Never remember history" or "Use custom settings for history" prevent cookies from the SAP GUI for HTML from being accepted. T hen the browser file system can't be initialized.
  • Internet Explorer: Look under "Internet options" then tab "General , " then under the section "Browsing history , " the button "Settings" then under the tab "caches and databases". When "Allow website caches and databases" is not checked, the browser file system cannot be accessed.
  • Apple Safari: Look under "Safari" then "Preferences," then under the tab "Privacy". If under "Cookies and website data" the flag "Always block" is checked, the browser file system cannot be accessed.

Summary

So, in review, leave private browsing for home use. Save yourself an unneeded step and the resulting frustration and use a normal browser mode when working with HR and payroll applications.

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