As you sprint or stroll through the web, every step leaves a footprint behind in the form of Internet history files. Allowing these ghosts of past activity can have several obvious drawbacks, the usage of system resources and most notably your precious privacy. Increasingly rare in an electronic age, privacy has been displaced as every modicum of data is saved and analyzed for advertising, product placement or more sinister reasons. Files can clutter a hard disk as well, with the potential to slow regular computing processes to a crawl. Regardless, there is no need to feel as though you have surrendered to Big Brother just yet. Internet browsers offer users the ability to clear the cache of history built up over weeks, months or even years.
Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are the most commonly used Internet browsers. Consequently, the process of deleting the cache those three will be explained here.
1. Select the Preferences menu from the menu bar. Preferences can be found under the Chrome menu at the top of the screen on a computer running Mac OS, while Windows users will find Preferences under File.
2. Click on the “Under the Hood” tab in the menu that appears. At the top of all the options offered is a button labeled “Clear browsing data…”. Click on that one. Select all that you would like to delete, and click “Clear browsing data”.
3. After a few moments, your cache will be rendered tabula rasa. (A clean slate.)
4. If you would like to limit the amount of data Chrome saves while browsing, select “Content Settings” and make whatever changes you deem necessary.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
1. Select the “Tools” menu at the top of the browser window. Under “Tools”, choose “Internet Options”.
2. Under the “General” tab, check the box that says, “Delete browsing history on exit”. This does exactly what it sounds like.
3. Beneath that option, one can click “Delete”, which summons a window asking what sort of browsing history the user would like to delete. For maximum privacy select all of them, but it is truly at your discretion.
4. Under the “Advanced” tab, a small window shoes a series of options that can be turned on and off with little check boxes. Scroll down until you find the “Security” section.
5. Check the box labeled “Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed”.
1. Find the “Preferences” option in the main menu. For Mac OS users, this will be in the “Firefox” menu at the top of the screen. Windows users will find it under “File”.
2. Select the “Privacy” tab in the menu that appears.
3. Firefox offers users the option to never save history files, save select types of history or simply to run normally. This option can be changed here, but may be too drastic at this point.
4. Click “Clear your recent history”, choose the timeframe that you would like to be wiped and the type of cache files. Once satisfied, click “Clear now”.
Google also saves search data for registered users in order to provide better answers geared toward your interests. If that makes you uncomfortable, a few easy steps can alleviate that stress.
1. Direct your browser to the Google.com homepage.
2. Once signed in, click the “My Account” link at the top right of the page.
3. Next to the “My products” at the middle of the page, click the “Edit” link.
4. Under “Delete a Product”, choose “Remove Web History permanently and enter your account password when prompted.
If all that is too complex an undertaking, numerous easy-to-find third-party programs exist for the sole purpose of wiping the Internet Browsing cache clean after every usage. Surf safely and know that your privacy is not completely out of your own hands at this point!