Does the Computer Memory Contain Deleted Browsing History?

by Thomas McNish
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Most people who surf the Web are well aware that their browsers keep track of visited websites. Even after deleting the history, traces of the images you've viewed, the videos you've watched and the sites you've visited remain on your computer hard drive. This is done for your convenience, but if you find it disturbing, you can remove these traces.

Browser History

If you've ever started to type a Web address into your URL bar, only to find that it is filled out automatically before you finish typing it, then you've experienced your browser recalling its own history. This is designed to help you surf the Internet faster by circumventing the need to type out the entire web address. You may have also noticed that after deleting your browser history, you have to type the entire Web address in your URL bar again. Your Web browser's history is saved to the software, rather than to your computer's hard drive. This is different from other information that saves to your computer. Deleting your browser history removes the more obvious traces of your browsing history, but there are other, more subtle traces, that remain on your computer.

Cache

Your browser's cache is a list of Internet browsing files including images, videos and Web pages that are saved to your computer's hard drive. The purpose of the cache is to speed up your browsing experience. With these downloaded files stored on your computer, you can load Web pages quickly when you visit them again because you won't have to download the images, text and videos again. Deleting your browser's history doesn't delete the cache.

Cookies

Cookies are small text files that are created by websites and sent to your computer. The purpose of cookies is to keep your settings and preferences for certain websites stored, allowing you to gain quicker access and bypass the need for reconfiguration each time you visit a website. Cookies are stored in your computer's memory, although they're less obvious in appearance than websites. Cookies are text files that look much more complex than simple Web addresses. However, the name of the website is often included somewhere in the cookie.

Deleting Cookies and Cache

If the thought of your computer permanently holding on to traces of your Internet browsing history is unsettling to you, permanently delete your cookies and cache to remove all traces of Internet browsing history from your computer's memory. Click "Control Panel," followed by "Network and Internet," and then "Delete browsing history and cookies." Under the "General" tab, click the "Delete" button under the Browsing History section. Tick the boxes that say "Cache" and "Cookies" and then choose to delete them. Another way to remove your cookies and cache is to install a third-party app such as Privacy Eraser, Internet Eraser or Mil Shield, and then follow the on-screen prompts to permanently remove all traces of the files.

References

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Thomas McNish has been writing since 2005, contributing to Salon.com and other online publications. He is working toward his Associate of Science in computer information technology from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla.

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