How To Delete Cookies And Internet History

Most of us want a degree of privacy when on the Internet. Learning how to delete cookies, search history, records of web forms and our passwords, websites visited and autocomplete -- known as our Internet history -- gives us the most powerful privacy tool that we can use.

It gives us the ability to prevent aspects of identity theft, access to our online bank accounts and membership sites and knowledge of our surfing habits by those determined to get hold of this information.

When we surf the Internet, our browser stores information that makes our browsing experience more responsive. However, a great deal of personal and private information is retained in a large number of log files stored in a variety of locations.

If you want to ensure this information remains private to you, then here, you'll learn how to delete cookies and all other internet history. You'll also learn how to make sure it's beyond the reach of others!

Here's what we're going to cover...

  1. What Is Internet History?
  2. Should We Delete?
  3. How To Delete Cookies and Internet History Manually
  4. Why You Should Consider Cookie and History Deletion Software

1. What Is Internet History?

Internet history comprises a record of cookies, browser history (which websites you've visited), search history, download history, web form and password history and temporary internet files. Let's have a quick review of each...

1.1. What Are Cookies?

The details of the websites that we visit are stored in "cookies" -- small items of code that get stored on our computer and can be accessed by the web server we are visiting. Cookies do not threaten our privacy, since they only store information that we have volunteered and they cannot infect our computers with malware.

Tracking cookies, however, are of more concern. These cookies are used by servers to record in a log file our IP address and the pages of websites visited. By analyzing the web pages visited, the server can then produce ads that are honed to our profile interests. It is these particular pieces of software that encourage most of us to want to learn how to delete cookies.

If you'd like to read more about the different types of cookies, then visit The Cookie Article at Wikipedia

1.2. What Is Browser History?

Log files of our surfing activity, or browser history, are stored in the Windows history folder. This enables quick access should we want to access websites we have previously visited.

The AutoComplete function is a browser history extension which recognizes previously visited websites, so that as you type them into your browser, they are automatically completed. Although useful, anyone using your computer has the same function enabled.

Web Forms and Password Saver, again are very useful, but do we want someone using our computer and able to log onto our bank account or make a purchase using our card details? You should NEVER enable this feature and I'll tell you how to disable it under 3.

To be secure, you need to use an encrypted password manager, such as Roboform, which also has autofill, but can only be accessed by you.

1.3. What Is Cache?

A cache is the storage of temporary internet files. The data sent from the websites to our computers gets stored in this folder... html pages, images, movies, software, and music downloads from the websites we have visited are here. These temporary internet files store the largest amount of history data on computers and this cache can eventually degrade the computer's overall performance.

2. Should We Delete?

Resoundingly, YES! Not only are you building up your stores of junk -- and these logs are dragging down your computer speed -- but this private information is readily accessible to others, unless you learn how to delete cookies this other information build up.

Some, or all, of this data can be read by...

  • other websites you visit
  • spyware on your computer
  • employers checking out how you spend work time
  • jealous or inquisitive spouses and partners
  • snoops who may have cracked into your computer or wi-fi connection
  • file recovery software

There are risks attached to not deleting internet history and if you want to read more about this, see my article, Find Out Why We Should Delete Our Browser History

How to delete cookies and erase internet history? Well, there are two ways...

  • Manually delete internet history
  • Automated deletion software
There are advantages to both, so lets have a look in turn at each of them.....

3. How To Delete Cookies and Internet History Manually

A big chunk of Internet surfing history can be erased manually, without too much technical knowledge being required. Cookies, clearing cache and all other Internet history can be cleared at the click of a button.

However, I need to warn you that, after doing this delete, Windows has hidden index.dat files that still retain all of this Internet history! There is no satisfactory explanation as to why Microsoft have built in this privacy and security breach. It is also extremely difficult for most of us to locate and delete these files. That's why, if you have sensitive information that you don't want to be recovered -- and most of us have -- my advice is to go for automated deletion software.

However, if all you want to do is have the occasional clear out of junk files to help keep your computer at optimal speed, then manual deletion is fine and avoids the cost of buying software.

Here's how to delete cookies and the rest of your Internet history manually...

3.1. How To Delete Cookies/Cache/Passwords

For Windows, simply follow these steps, although they may vary depending on which operating system you use -- these are for Windows 7...
  • Click on 'Start' (the globe icon, usually bottom left toolbar)
  • Click on 'Control Panel'
  • Click on Internet Options
  • Under 'General', you'll see 'Browsing history'. Click the 'Delete' button.
This will delete temp files, cookies, saved passwords and web forms.

If you want to prevent further browsing history storage, then,

  • Click on 'Settings'
  • Under 'Temporary Internet Files', 'Check for newer versions of stored pages:', check the 'Never' button
  • Then, go down to 'History' and where it says, 'Days to keep pages in history, set it to '0'.

3.2. How To Delete AutoComplete

Move from the 'General' tab to 'Content'. The last item but one is 'AutoComplete'. Click on 'Settings' and ensure 'Forms' and 'User names and passwords' are unchecked. Also, click 'Delete AutoComplete history'.

Now go to the 'Advanced' tab and scroll down to 'Browsing'. Towards the bottom of this list, you'll see 'Use inline AutoComplete'. Make sure this is unchecked.

Now, move down to 'Security' and almost halfway down, look for 'Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed'. Ensure the box is ticked.

3.3 Manage Internet History In Your Browser

We can also manage Internet history using our browser by setting it to either not store information or to delete our information when the browser closes. We'll look at how to do that for the three most popular browsers, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome...

I. Internet Explorer
For Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0 and below, refer to Microsoft Support. For IE7 and above, here's what to do to clear browsing history...

  • click on 'Tools'
  • then 'Internet Options'
  • click the 'Browsing history' 'delete' button.

To set IE so that it doesn't store your browsing history, under 'Internet Options', click 'General', then 'Browsing history settings'. By altering 'Days to keep pages in history' to zero, your history will not be stored.

II. Firefox
In Firefox, click on,

  • The Firefox tab
  • 'Options'
  • 'Privacy'
  • Under 'History', 'Firefox will:' and in the drop down box, select 'Never remember history'.

III. Chrome
In Chrome, the process is similar to Firefox. Go to the Chrome menu, 'Tools' and 'Clear browsing data'. In the dialog that comes up, make sure that 'Clear browsing history' is selected, check the period for deletion in the drop down box, and click the “Clear browsing data” button to delete Internet history.

4. Why You Should Consider Cookie and History Deletion Software

To find and delete all of your tracks is not easy, unless you are experienced... and it takes some time to accomplish. Even then, the deleted tracks and sensitive files are not permanently deleted and can be recovered by 'undelete' software.

Index.dat files are the most difficult files to find and delete. In fact, in most cases, it is impossible to clean index.dat files manually because Windows keeps them open all the time. This means that these hidden system files keep a record of all of your internet history, despite going through the actions I've taken you through, above. I'm not going to even attempt to discuss finding and deleting these files!

I strongly advise you to invest in deletion software that will comb your drives and not only delete internet history and the index.dat files associated with it, but will also overwrite, beyond recovery, any other sensitive files that you have deleted.

I use CyberScrub Privacy Suite but you can find out more about these deletion programs in my article, How To Delete Cookies and Browsing History To Stop Snoops!


How To Delete Cookies...
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