Erasing your Internet history

By CC Staff
October 10, 2002

Cookies are small bits of code that are passed onto your computer from websites that you've visited. Cookies tell the website you visited some information about you, what's your IP address, what kind of operating system you are using, what browser and version. These cookies are used to accurately count how many visitors went on their site, or to target advertising to certain people. Some cookies are just created to save you time for example when you go to a website that requires you to input your login name and password, maybe the login name is put there for you saving you time.

Thats not the only thing that gets stored in your computer, bits of websites too. You may be asking where does all this information get stored? Practically all the data that is being sent to you is stored in the directory C:WindowsTemporary Internet Files>. Here is where you'll find images that were on websites, html pages and other files that serve no purpose. This is one folder that novice computer users don't know about which is eating away at their harddrive space.

You may asking how do I get rid of these files? Well you could use software, which is ok, but why pay for something to remove garbage files? I'll show you how to do this.
  • Double Click on My Computer
  • Double click on C and double click on Windows scroll down until you see Temporary Internet Files
  • Double click on Temporary Internet Files to open
  • Click Edit and select Select All
  • Press the Delete key and select YES
This is the simple way of deleting all those junk files that you have unknowingly collected while surfing the net. It should look something like this (different files names of course) and then once you press the delete key, a prompt will ask you if you are sure you want to delete these files just click yes.

These files as I said are things that get collected from various websites. This is not only information that gets stored on your computer. Now we will examine cookies.

As I mentioned previously Cookies are just pieces of code that retrieve information about your computer and depends on the cookie other information that you don't want them to know like your email address. Not all cookies are bad, some are just there to see how many people came to their site and to count it accurately. Now I'll show you how to delete cookies.
  • Double Click on My Computer
  • Double Click on C and double click on Windows scroll down until you see Cookies
  • Double Click on the Cookies folder to open
  • Click Edit and select Select All
  • And press Delete
Cookies aren't important to worry about, but you still want to get the most space possible out of your harddrive. You could look at the cookie itself by double clicking on it, its just maybe a user preference for a site, or there are numbers which are kind of hard to decipher and most likely has nothing to do with your computer at all. There might be a file called index.dat as you see in the image I took its a different icon, so I assume that its a file that is needed since I can not delete it.

You are almost completely finished "hiding" your tracks. There is one area in Windows that most people don't really know about that some information gets stored.

This area is in the location C:WindowsHistory

Here you'll see what I have in my directory. Just 4 small directories showing where I have been going to 3 weeks ago, 2 weeks ago 1 week ago and today.

Here you'll find some information and webpages that are stored here as I'll show you soon. This is basically snippets of webpages, (you could open then up by double clicking on them) and it will bring you to the site that you visited, not only that but some things that you did while on the net like emailing someone!

So here is some information that could be found in the tab.
As you can see its practically all the websites you've been on and what pages of the website you were looking at.. .
Well now you know the drill this is how you delete those files safely. (Do not delete the "folder" named 3 weeks etc.. because it probably is important to windows)
  • Double Click on My Computer
  • Double click on C and double click on Windows scroll down until you see History
  • Double Click on one of the folders for example 3 weeks ago
  • Click Edit and then choose Select All
  • And press Delete
Now you have successfully deleted files that contains your whereabouts on the net. If you are in the C:WindowsTemporary Internet Files directory, all you have to do is press the Back button to bring you back to C:Windows and continue on from there. How often you should be doing these tasks you may be asking yourself? Well its not necessary to do this every single day, you should do it atleast twice a month, you'd be amazed at how much disk space was being used for "garbage". You could restore serveral MB of space by cleaning up your harddrive.

The above procedures only work for Win9X operating systems below is the steps for Windows 2000 and XP, Windows 2000 and XP do it a bit differently. Since Windows 2000 and XP have user accounts where different people could use the same Operating System without damaging another persons documents and settings, to do the same tasks as I mentioned above is a little more trickier.

Where is the location of those three folders Cookies, Temporary Internet File and History?

Well these are hidden even if you are the only person on the computer, these folders are hidden well in the OS. You can't visually see them via clicking on folders and accessing them from there. You have to search for them by using the Search option in the Start Menu to find this exact folder. You will be looking for Local Settings.

There is one thing still the same as I mentioned above is that for History, you could delete it directly from Internet Explorer.

Since these three folders are located in one directory although hidden, at least you don't have to search for the folders everywhere on your computer.

To delete your Cookies follow these steps

  • Double Click My Computer
  • Go to the drive that has the OS installed (eg c:) and double click Documents and Settings and double click on the folder with your username
  • Double Click the Cookies folder and from there click once on Edit->Select All and press the delete key. It is normal that the index.dat file won't delete so don't worry about it.
This procedure is exactly the same in Windows 2000 and Windows XP for the removal of your cookies. (Picture is taken from Windows XP)

The next step into freeing some harddrive space and hiding your tracks. From there you can very simply go to the hidden folder where your Temporary Internet Files and your History is located.

  • Do the same steps as above except don't go into the cookies folder.
  • In the address bar in the window add the following in the address Local Settings. This should bring you to a window like the following.
  • Double click the History folder then click Edit->Select All and press the Delete key and click yes. You will notice that you are left with Today in the history.
  • To get rid of the sites listed in there Double Click on Today select from the menu bar Edit->Select All and press delete and click yes.
Now you have successfully deleted the history from your computer. Now its time to delete the items in Temporary Internet Files folder.
  • Click once the BACK button on the window (shown above) or the address is C:Documents and SettingsUSERNAMELocal SettingsTemporary Internet Files
  • Double Click Temporary Internet Files if you chose the back button or if you typed in the address in the address bar above you can skip this step
  • From the menu bar choose Edit->Select All and press Delete and select yes.
Now you have successfully deleted all information that can enable people to see which websites you have accessed and so on.