Concerned About Someone Finding Out Where You've Been on the Internet?

HERE'S HOW TO REDUCE THE CHANCES THAT YOUR INTERNET ACTIVITIES WILL BE TRACED.

Browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox are designed to leave traces behind that indicate where you've been and what you've been looking at on the Internet. It's hard to absolutely guarantee that your activity on the Internet can't be traced at all, but here are some simple things you can do to reduce the chances that someone looking through your computer will find out what you've been reading.

In general, you want to erase two things:

  • Your Cache (this is where the computer stores copies of files you’ve recently looked at with your web browser)
  • Your History List (this is a single file containing the addresses of the places you’ve recently visited)

Internet Explorer INTERNET EXPLORER

InPrivate Browsing

In Internet Explorer 8 or higher you can enable InPrivate Browsing which helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session. This includes cookies, temporary Internet files, history, and other data. Toolbars and extensions are disabled by default.

Locating the InPrivate Browsing setting.

Open the TOOLS menu, select SAFETY and then Inprivate Browsing.

The InPrivate Browsing window.

A new window will open that should notifiy you that InPrivate is turned on.

Internet Explorer 7 or Lower

  • Open the TOOLS menu, select INTERNET OPTIONS.
  • Select the GENERAL tab at the top.
  • In the section called “Temporary Internet Files,” click on “Delete Files”.
  • Your cache will now be cleared.
  • On the same screen, in the section called “History,” click on “Clear History”.
  • Your history list will now be cleared.
  • If there is a lot of history on your list, this might take a few moments.
  • Note that clearing the cache and history in Internet Explorer also automatically clears your address bar.

Mozilla Firefox FIREFOX

Private Browsing

In a Private Browsing window, Firefox won't keep any browser history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. However, files you download and bookmarks you make will be kept.

Locating the Private Browsing setting.

Open the TOOLS menu, select SAFETY and then Inprivate Browsing.

The Private Browsing window.

A new window will open that should notifiy you that InPrivate is turned on.

Manually Clearing the History and Cache

You can also selectively clear your history for a certain amount of time in the history menu.

Locating the firefox Menu

Open the Menu and select "History".

The firefox History Screen

Click "Clear Recent History...".

Clearing the firefox Browsing Data

Select the time range and specific types of data you want to remove then click "Clear Now".

Google Chrome CHROME

Incognito Mode

Pages you view in incognito tabs won’t stick around in your browser’s history, cookie store, or search history after you’ve closed all of your incognito tabs. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be kept

Locating the Incognito Mode setting.

Open the menu and select "New incognito window".

The Indognito Mode window.

A new window will open that should be running in Incognito Mode.

Manually Clearing the History and Cache

You can also selectively clear your history for a certain amount of time in the history menu.

Locating the Chrome Menu

Open the Menu and select "History".

The Chrome History Screen

In the History menu you can choose to delete certain entries or click on the "Clear browsing data..." button.

Clearing the Chrome Browsing Data

Select the time range and specific types of data you want to remove then click "Clear browsing data".

OTHER BROWSERS

Other browsers will be slightly different in the detail of what's required to do these two things. But in any case, what you'll need to do is clear your cache (or "temporary files") and erase your history list. Again, this doesn't guarantee that your browsing can't be traced. Someone with greater computer skills will still be able to reconstruct your internet activities. It's still a good idea to do to make it more difficult for someone to know where you've been if that might put you in danger, or compromise your privacy.

One additional but important tip!

When you clear the cache and the history list, you erase not only the information on where you've been, but any other information that had been previously stored there. So, if your partner or someone else checks and sees that the cache and the history list have been completely emptied, he'll know that you know how to do this. He may also guess that you're trying to hide something.

One possible way to avoid suspicion is to clear the cache and history once you're done looking at information you don't want your partner to know about. But then after they're cleared, spend some time visiting sites that you think your partner wouldn't object to. This way, the cache and history list start to get filled up again. Another person might be less likely to notice that old information is missing.