How to Delete Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, and History Files

Internet Privacy
Software to clean your computer tracks
and keep your computer safe

What's so important about Internet Privacy?

Every time you open a browser to view a web page, order something online, or read your email in a web based viewer that information is stored on your computer for later use. Whether you are viewing the weather online, reading sports, catching up on the latest world news or viewing something a little more private, all that information is stored in your computer. Windows operating systems store all this material in what are called Temporary Internet Files or cache. Web pages may store bits of information about who you are when you visit web sites in files called cookies on your computer. Your web browser will store a list of web sites you've visited and places you've gone in a history file in your computer. Even if you are not online, programs will store histories of the files you've opened, played, or viewed.

Generally there might not be any reason to worry about all these files in your computer, but what if you sell your computer and all that information is left for someone else to see. Maybe friends and relatives visit and use your computer and you dont want everyone to know what files you are running on your computer. Then you are going to want to know how to delete these files.

Even if you are not worried about privacy on your computer, you may be surprised to realize how much hard drive space all this information takes up. If you are running out of drive space, you may want to delete these files.

How can I delete these files?

For Internet Explorer 5 and above, you can follow these directions to clear out temporary files and delete cookies.

1) Open Internet Explorer and click on Tools
2) Click on Internet Options
3) On the General Tab, in the middle of the screen, click on Delete Files
4) You may also want to check the box "Delete all offline content"
5) Click on OK and wait for the hourglass icon to stop after it deletes the temporary internet files
6) You can now click on Delete Cookies and click OK to delete cookies that websites have placed on your hard drive.

To clear the Internet History in IE:

1) Open Internet Explorer and click on Tools
2) Click on Internet Options
3) On the General Tab, in the middle of the screen, click on Clear History
4) Click OK

To clean up other temporary files on your computer in Windows 98 or higher:

1) Click Start,  Programs (or All Programs), Accessories,  System Tools, Disk Cleanup
2) Choose the correct drive usually C:\
3) Check the boxes in the list and delete the files

Are there programs to do this automatically?

One of the first and still the best programs on the market to clear internet files, run history, cookies, and other files is Window Washer by Webroot Software. It even has a "bleach" feature to make sure that information cannot be read once its deleted. You can read more about Window Washer by clicking on the picture below:

Window Washer

The other side of this problem is how do you recover an accidentally deleted file? Is it gone forever? Well the easy answer to that question is no, recovering it however may be more difficult unless you have special recovery software. One of the easiest pieces of software to recover important files is File-Saver.  File-Saver can:

    Instantly displays hundreds of deleted files from any drive on your computer

    Provides full detail on each file, including filename, folder and last modified date

    Allows you to quickly erase all confidential data, by wiping out all the hidden "undelete" data from your PC

    Restore any file by back to the location of your choice, by clicking the 'Restore by Copying' button

    Easily narrow down the results to just the file you want, using the built-in file and extension filter
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