a “clear your History” lesson

clear your historyI love cop shows. CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, Hawaii 5-O  . . .

Very often, they are catching criminals by seizing their computers and going through their “History”.

Let’s say that the victim was poisoned with arsenic and the police happen to find, in the suspects browser history, that he/she recently googled where to buy or how to store arsenic. The suspects always have a tough time talking their way around that.

I suspect that they practice this form of investigation in real life detective work too.

For those who don’t know it, your browser keeps a log of all of the websites that you visit on the internet. Every single one! They are stored in your browsers “History” and stay there unless you remove them. This is a “History” lesson but not the “clear your History” lesson.

A browser is a software application needed in order to allow access to content on the internet. The most popular browsers today are Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Now, I’m not a criminal but I have heard that it’s a good idea to clear out your browser History every now and again. Apparently, it keeps your privacy more secure and a clean browser will work better.

So, I cleared my History . . . and here is the “clear your History” lesson:

YOU WILL LOSE ALL OF YOUR SAVED USER NAMES AND PASSWORDS

For example, when I go to my banking website, my card number is saved and I just have to put in my password. I also had the card numbers for my boyfriend and my kids on there. ALL GONE.

Online retailers like Amazon save your information if you’ve made a purchase. This makes for a speedier check out on your next purchase because all of the forms are already completed. ALL GONE.

Linked In saves my user name AND my password and, because I am the only one in the house with a Linked In account, I haven’t had to log out in years. That information is GONE. Oh crap! What the heck is my Linked In user name and password? I can’t remember the last time I had to enter it.

If you think that losing all of this information is no big deal and that I am over reacting, you would be half right.

You are correct that none of the lost information is life altering (if you have saved all of your user names and passwords somewhere) but I think you would be surprised at how much information you give out on the internet. After I cleared my History, I was having to re-fill out forms and click “forgot your password?” buttons for days. Not life altering but definitely a pain in the neck.

This is just some useful information to file in the back of your head so you aren’t surprised like I was.

I will point out that, if you don’t want to clear your entire History, you can select only the sites/searches that you need to delete. So, if you need to get rid of just those sites about Arsenic, you can go in and click on just those and remove them.

The process to “clear History” is a little bit different for every browser. Click here to go to a site I found with instructions on doing this in the most popular browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Bonus Lesson: How to browse the internet without getting caught

I learned this while I was researching this post. Three of the most popular browsers offer a separate search window that you can open and browse the internet with none of your sites being saved.

Google Chrome calls this an “Incognito Window” whereas Firefox and Safari call them “Private Windows”. (Note: Private Windows are only available on Safari for MAC OSX Yosemite or higher)

Pages you view in the Incognito / Private Windows won’t stick around in the browsers History after you close them.

I’m not encouraging criminal behaviour but this would come in handy when you don’t want your husband to know about the surprise anniversary vacation you’re planning.

Or, as my son says, for those “embarrassing” searches. I’m not sure what he would deem an “embarrassing” search but maybe something like googling “what is this rash on my bum” or “how to get rid of embarrassing bad breath”?

I hope these lessons are helpful!

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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