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Are You Keeping Your Browsing History?

Posted by on Dec 1, 2011

Have you ever wondered why, when there are raids on businesses and individuals by the police, they always take the computers with them? It’s not always because they hope to see what files there are on those computers; they want to see what your browsing history is like, see what you’ve been looking at, to see if what you might be accused of is sitting right there waiting for them.

via Flickr

Back in the day we all worried about cookies.txt, a file that supposedly tracked all the websites you went to and a file that was easy for virus folks to access. That’s not a big issue anymore but it doesn’t have to be because they can steal pretty much anything they want from your browser, no matter what it is.

We all hear about security, but very few people take any real time to look at their settings or even just take a look through some of their programs to see what’s in them, or what they might be doing. For instance, if you never clear out your temp files, or files of programs you upload, someone with even a little bit of savvy can see what you’ve added and when, because many programs leave something residual behind, and sometimes those files are large.

Let me ask you this; beyond a day or two, why would you ever want to keep your browsing history? I had this conversation with my wife and she said it’s because she sometimes doesn’t remember a site she visited and needs to go back through to find it. I asked her why she doesn’t just bookmark those pages instead; she said she hadn’t thought about it, and now that’s what she’s doing. It became a topic because, like many people, she sometimes does some searching through her computer at work, and even though the IT people have ways of seeing what people do, I knew she’d be appalled if her coworkers had easy access to seeing what she might be looking at, even if it was work related.

We all have our secrets, things we’d rather not get out, or things that we just don’t want to deal with anymore. Every once in awhile you come across something that you weren’t searching for; I know I have since I do a lot of research online. Months down the line, if I were ever accused of something and there was someone who was very diligent in knowing how to find stuff, well, who’d want to have to try to remember what you were really doing at that time and then try to have to explain it? Doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, but in today’s world the concept of being innocent until proven guilty is gone, no matter what law enforcement tells you. Ever notice how the press talks all about people when they’ve been arrested for something, yet never publishes anything when you’ve been exonerated?

Think about changing your settings in your browser so it will erase your history at some point, and don’t go too far out. I’ve set mine to erase all browsing history after a day; if I don’t go searching for something after 24 hours I probably won’t need it, and I can always find it again. Something for you to think about to help protect your privacy.

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Hopefully the feds aren’t reading your blog Mitch! They know you got something to hide now! 🙂

Only kidding, and you raise a good point. There are several privacy concerns here and not to mention you can free up valuable space!
Tory McBroom recently posted…What Band-Aids, Granola Bars And Diapers Have In Common…And How It Can Make You Rich!My Profile

December 1st, 2011 | 5:53 PM

Oh yeah Tory. And they can come check me out anytime because I have no browsing history for them to find. lol I just don’t like being tracked, no matter who it is, and even though I know cookies still track me, I try to minimize it all as much as I can.

December 1st, 2011 | 6:01 PM
Rizwan Sultan:

Hi Mitch,

I am getting confused after reading this post that how easy to track browsing history I turn of the browsing history option now for safe and secure browsing.
Thanks for advice.

December 1st, 2011 | 6:46 PM

I’m not sure you meant “confused” Rizwan, but in any case I’m glad you’ve protecting yourself better now.

December 2nd, 2011 | 1:36 AM

I am deleting all temporary files at least once a day with software. Just modern browsers are keeping so much data that everyday I delete at least half gigabyte. About the cookies, all websites have cookies, just that’s the way internet works. About privacy and Internet, well it seems that those are not going hand in hand well and things can always be traced.
Carl recently posted…Browse Social Networking WebsitesMy Profile

December 1st, 2011 | 8:11 PM

Hi Carl, I totally agree with your points that most websites have cookies and there’s nothing we can do about that than to make sure that we delete all those files as soon as possible. This is a great post @Mitch
Olawale Daniel recently posted…Ways To Easily Clean Your Computer LCD ScreenMy Profile

December 1st, 2011 | 11:11 PM

Thanks Olawale, although I have to admit that I don’t delete all my cookies because there are some sites I visit often that I’d rather have those cookies working for me.

December 2nd, 2011 | 1:41 AM

Carl, things can always be traced, but why make it easy for those who want to scam or assault our browsers right? I must not be browsing as much as you because half a gig every day is pretty high; then again, my cache limit is set at 500MB so it would be about all my browser could load anyway.

December 2nd, 2011 | 1:37 AM

I forget to mention, most of the time I am using 2 browsers all the time, for testing purpose. So lets say this 500MB are shared between Firefox and Chrome, but as you mentioned you had scheduled deletion every 24 hours, but I suppose this is set up by browser, so you are just deleting history. There are temporary files which remains. I am doing it with software, so it is complete wipe.
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December 2nd, 2011 | 8:22 AM
Kevin K Lau:

I run CCleaner on my pc once a week, as well as defraggler. These clears up my browsing history and optimizes my pc. Thank you for sharing.

December 1st, 2011 | 9:50 PM

No problem Kevin, and I have CCleaner but didn’t load it onto this machine after I upgraded to Win 7 for some reason.

December 2nd, 2011 | 1:40 AM
Kenny Sewell:

Just like you Kevin I am using CCleaner to do the dirty job. Running it every 2-3 days. Don’t like to store sensitive data on my PC.
Kenny Sewell recently posted…Laptop data recoveryMy Profile

December 19th, 2011 | 12:59 PM

Hi Mitch! I always delete my browsing history every week. And I feel like it, either I would use the incognito window for Chrome or private browsing for Firefox just to make sure.

December 2nd, 2011 | 6:00 AM

Erica, I use Firefox, and I’ve thought about using the private browsing thing, except it doesn’t save cookies, even when you don’t close the browser. So I just deal with that part of it.

December 3rd, 2011 | 4:58 PM

I do keep my browser history for more than 2 or 3 days. Mainly for the same reason your wife does: I cant always remember the site I have browsed, and prefer my bookmarks not too cluttered. On the privacy thing, I always assumed your ISP kept logs of the sites you browsed.

December 2nd, 2011 | 9:41 AM

Richard, ISPs do save stuff, but by law the government can’t ask for that stuff unless they’re given a real reason for it, and one of those reasons would be that they found stuff on one’s computer. But that’s not even the issue; it’s more those bad guys who have found ways to get into people’s browsers, those that don’t have enough protection up front, and steal that information, including passwords.

December 3rd, 2011 | 5:00 PM

I delete history regularly but for a different reason: I’ve found that it slows down the browser when there’s too much there!

December 3rd, 2011 | 8:31 AM

That’s interesting Val. Then again, have you checked to see what your cache amount is set for? It might be too high; mine is set at 500 MB, but some people have it set to over a GB.

December 3rd, 2011 | 5:12 PM

Mine’s quite low. However, it’s not just history that’s the problem, I’m addicted to bookmarking!

December 3rd, 2011 | 8:12 PM

This is a good idea, I realized like you that I don’t need my browsing history more then 24 hours, I just checked Chrome’s setting and apparently there is no such option to delete my history after 24 hours. I have to do it manually, and being the lazy guy that I am, I’m not gonna do it…
On there hand I really don’t care if someone finds my browser history…
Cristian Balau recently posted…Top 5 Homemade Acne MasksMy Profile

December 3rd, 2011 | 10:27 AM

Cristian, I grew up in the days when we all worried about being tracked, so some things are hard to just get over. lol

December 3rd, 2011 | 5:12 PM
Dean Saliba:

I’m obsessed with freeing up space on my computers so I am always deleting unneeded programs and erasing my browser history.

When friends and family bring their PCs and laptops to me for fixing I always spend a good hour or so freeing up space and can easily removed over 2gb of crap.

December 4th, 2011 | 7:49 AM

Same here Dean; just drawn to doing it I suppose. 🙂

December 4th, 2011 | 10:32 AM

Uh, I’m cleaning now. I try to clean them once a week, but I’m going to do it more. Thanks for the eery reminder.
Marcie recently posted…Comment on What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Circus Performers by Jovie OnyemaMy Profile

December 6th, 2011 | 12:37 AM

Good deal Marcie; always better safe than sorry.

December 6th, 2011 | 2:05 AM

i always make sure i delete my browsing history once or twice a week. 🙂

December 6th, 2011 | 10:36 AM

I too keep all my browsing histories, coz I tend to forget some of the sites that is important and bookmarking is out, I never thought about it either. but after reading this, now that I think about it not erasing the browsing history might cause my PC to shutdown.. glad I read your post thnx for sharing..
Alex recently posted…Can’t Get Enough of Dinair at the Emmys?My Profile

December 6th, 2011 | 11:55 PM

I am a big fan of CCleaner. It not only deletes browsing history but cookies and all the other junk files collected on your machine when you are on the internet. I use it several times a day. (and no, I am not paranoid – just a ‘clean person’ so to speak)

Ellie recently posted…Anxiety AttacksMy Profile

December 7th, 2011 | 10:25 PM

Ellie, I never think about it until I’m helping someone else with their computer; strange. lol

December 8th, 2011 | 1:10 AM

I also have a CCleaner on my PC and I run it once a week to clean all my browsing history.. I found out that its slows down when there’s a lot in the History.. Great post, Mitch,, Thanks!
Micky recently posted…cars for sale in stroudMy Profile

December 29th, 2011 | 5:32 PM

Glad to help Micky; good luck in 2012 staying away from bad stuff on your computer.

December 30th, 2011 | 11:21 AM
Amanda Gordon:

I am very careful clearing browsing history. I got tired of hitting shift-del keys often. These days I use CCleaner. It is simply amazing. Not only does it clear browsing history, it also removes the list of recently accessed documents, videos etc. of more than one application.
Amanda Gordon recently posted…Vacuum CleanerMy Profile

December 29th, 2011 | 9:30 PM

It’s not bad Amanda, though I still don’t think of using it all that often.

December 30th, 2011 | 11:24 AM

Great post, now with the increase in popularity of flash cookies which are not as easy to find and data forensics I think people need to really get cllued up on what their computer stores about their history and activities!
Krissy recently posted…New Driver InsuranceMy Profile

January 8th, 2012 | 4:59 AM

Good point Krissy. I think I wrote about that as well, though I forget to do it all that often. Thanks for that reminder; now where’s that post? ;p;

January 9th, 2012 | 1:26 AM

I never knew just how important this is to do until I actually took the time to read this. To be honest my time is limited with my mobile beauty business and I am no computer wizard I am going to do what Amanda suggests. Thanks Amanda
Nats recently posted…Products OnlineMy Profile

January 14th, 2012 | 11:31 AM

I am anothet fan of CCleaner I think they have a freeware version which should meet your needs.But I agree most people don’t pay enough attention to this and they should.
Cindy recently posted…dating,online dating,dating love stories,relationshipsMy Profile

January 15th, 2012 | 4:46 PM

True Cindy, there is a free version of CCleaner, which is the one I have.

January 15th, 2012 | 11:52 PM

On the ball! Especially given the climate with SOPA and ACTA… not to mention the NDAA being signed. I trust the government these days about as far as my dollar goes, and that ain’t far given the current hyper-inflation trend. History/Cookies/GOV…Bye bye 🙂
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February 2nd, 2012 | 8:19 AM

It’s not just the government Thomas. Seems many websites know how to track us as well as see into our browsers to see where we’ve been. Nope, don’t trust any of them.

February 2nd, 2012 | 10:53 AM