Erasing Your Tracks
Concerned about someone finding out where you’ve been on the net?
Here’s how to reduce the chances that your net travels will be traced.
Browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox are designed to leave traces behind indicating where you’ve been and what you’ve been looking at on the Internet.
It’s hard to absolutely guarantee that your travels on the Internet can’t be traced at all, but here are some simple things you can do to reduce the chances that someone can look through your computer and 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 browser).
- Your History List (this is a single file containing the addresses of the places you’ve recently visited).
If you use Internet Explorer
- 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.
- Note that clearing the cache and history in Internet Explorer automatically clears your address bar.
If you use Internet Safari
- From the Safari menu, click Empty Cache.
- When asked “Are you sure you want to empty the cache?” click Empty.
- From the Safari menu, click Preferences.
- From the Security dialog box, click Bookmarks.
- Click Show Cookies.
- From the Cookie dialog box, click to choose a cookie, and click Remove. Alternatively, if you want to delete all cookies, click Remove All.
- Click Done.
If you use Chrome:
- In the top-right corner of Chrome, click the Chrome menu .
- Select More tools > Clear browsing data.
- In the dialog that appears, select the checkboxes for the types of information that you want to remove.
- Use the menu at the top to select the amount of data that you want to delete. Select beginning of time to delete everything.
- Click Clear browsing data.
If you use Firefox
- Open the TOOLS menu, select OPTIONS.
- Select the PRIVACY tab located on the left side of the menu bar.
- Select the "History" tab and click on "Clear"
- Your history will now be cleared.
- Select the "Cache" tab and click on "Clear"
- Your cache will now be cleared.
- Note that clearing the cache and history in Firefox automatically clears your address bar as well.
- There is also another option called "Clear all information stored while browsing."
***This will remove ALL of your browsing history, cache, recently downloaded files, all saved information and searches, all cookies and saved passwords.***
Select this tab and click OK.
You will get a pop up to confirm that you are about to erase all information.
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 checks and sees that the cache and the history list have been completely emptied, he'll not only know that you know how to do this, but he might 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. 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 and your partner might be less likely to notice that old information is missing.
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 sophistication will still be able to reconstruct your net travels. But it's a good thing to do to make it more difficult for someone to know where you've been.
Cover your email tracks
- Be sure to delete any outgoing and incoming emails
- Change your email password often (at least once a month)
- Print all threatening and harassing emails to use as evidence of criminal activity.