Computers have been an essential part of everyday life for a long time now. We use them to shop, stay in touch with friends, manage our money, play music and movies, browse the internet and research information. Computers and the internet have changed the way we live more than any other device of the last fifty years.
But there is a sinister side to them too. Even as you read this article your computer is logging information about what you’ve searched for on the internet, what sites you’ve visited, what articles you’ve read and what images you’ve looked at. You didn’t ask your computer to do this, but it’s doing it anyway and it’ll keep on doing it every second you’re on the net. If you don’t want that stuff on your computer you need to learn how to delete history.
Why is Browsing History a Problem?
The files your computer stores that record your internet activity are easily accessed by anyone who knows where to look on your computer. Given that so much of our lives is now dependent on the internet, these files almost certainly hold sensitive information about you that could have disastrous consequences if it fell into the wrong hands.
Would you want a stranger, and one who may well have criminal motives at that, knowing your banking habits, your interests, the particular type of visual “art” you prefer? The information on your computer maybe all that a crook needs to make you a victim of identity theft. Protect yourself by using disk cleanup and deleting history.
What Can You Do?
The best way to protect yourself from the threat these insidious files pose is by deleting them frequently.
To do this thoroughly you need to perform two simple tasks:
- Disk Cleanup
- Delete Browsing History
These two tasks overlap a little, for instance they both delete Temporary Internet Files. However, each accesses files the other does not, and to thoroughly clean up files which could do you harm you should run both.
- Click Start.
- Click All Programs
- From the list of programs which displays click Accessories.
- Click System Tools
- Click Disk Cleanup
- Select which drive you wish to clean (in most cases this will be the C drive).
- A panel displays entitled Disk Cleanup for (C:) – make sure you are on the Disk Cleanup tab. You’ll see a short list of file types, all of which are checked by default. If you wish to deselect any you can do so at this point, but generally all displayed file types are safe to delete. If you want more information about a particular file type just click its title and a description will display in the lower half of the panel.
- Click OK.
- Click Yes to confirm your command.
- A progress bar will display and automatically close when the files have been deleted.
Delete Browsing History
- Click Start
- Click Control Panel
- Click Internet Options
- An Internet Properties panel displays – make sure you’re on the General tab.
- In the centre of this panel you’ll see a “Browsing History” section. Click the Delete button here.
- A Delete Browsing History panel opens displaying five different file type headings: Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, History, Form Data, Passwords. Under each heading there is a brief description of that file type and an individual Delete button.
- If you’re happy to delete all of these file types click the Delete All button at the bottom of the panel. If, however, there are areas that you don’t want to delete (Passwords may be one of these if you rely on your browser to fill in passwords for you) just delete those you do wish to get rid of by using their individual Delete buttons.
Safety and Space
By performing the Disk Cleanup and Delete Browsing History tasks you’ll have deleted your internet tracks and a few other potentially dangerous files that your computer generates as well. Not only that, you’ll also have freed up valuable disk space that was being wasted by these files.
Important note: The deletion protocol outlined above will prevent your browsing history files from being read by the ordinary means of opening folders/opening files and offers a reasonable level of security for the average computer user. It will not, however, stop this data being recovered by specialist data recovery software.
When you delete history on a computer it is not really deleted, it is simply marked as free space on the disk. The original data is still there and an expert with the know-how and the right software tools can recover it. If you require a degree of security that will prevent software recovery you’ll need to use a file erasing tool that not only deletes files but overwrites them with nonsense data, preventing their recovery. You can find examples of this type of erasing software here.
To learn more about deleting history files in Internet Explorer check out his video.