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HIDE YOUR TRACKS
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24hr Domestic Abuse Helplines: Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin: 0800 783 1359
Worcestershire: 0800 980 3331

West Mercia Women’s Aid
Hide your tracks

Hide your tracks

Using the internet to find information

Browsing on the Internet and using emails leave tracks on your computer. If an abuser has access to this computer, he can view what you have been up to on the Internet. If you feel that it is important to cover your tracks, please read the following instructions.

How these instructions work
These instructions attempt to cover the obvious crumbs of your Internet trail on using the most commonly used browsers. For most part, they are suitable hide your trail from an abuser with proficient IT skills. However, these are only guidance and they do not cover all possible ways! In order to use the Internet safely, it is best to us a computer at the local library, friend’s house, Internet cafe or work. How can a person view your Internet surfing?

Hiding your visit
At writing, there are six main ways that a person can track your Internet activities, which includes:

History
Bookmarks/Favourites
Cache
Downloads
Saved searches/search functions within a browser
Cookies
Back Button

We will tell you about why your computer saves these files and provide you with an easy solution to remove any crumbs. Finally, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to remove these crumbs on the most popular Internet Browsers.

History File
Internet browsers log which web sites you have been on. The browsers do this to increase ease of use for the user as they will highlight which sites have been viewed. These web sites are viewable in the history file. The easiest solution is to remove history is to clear all of the history in your browser.

Bookmarks/Favourites
Internet Browsers allow you to save web sites in either a Favourite or Bookmark file. An abuser can view which web sites you have saved for quick reference. The solution for hiding favourite/Bookmark files is simply not to add them in the first place.

Cache File
Computers save information about web pages in order to speed up opening the page. In the Cache File, it is possible to view which web pages you have been on. To hide these Internet crumbs, the best solution is to “empty the cache”.

Downloads
When any document is downloaded from a site most browsers keep a record of what ahs been downloaded, this allows the user to re-open it a document without re-downloading it. If you have downloaded any documents these could be saved within the download history.

Saved searches/search functions within a browser
Search Engines, e.g. Google and Yahoo!, remembers your previous searches. As you start typing in the field, a drop down box appears and predicts what you are typing, based on your previous attempts. The browser is also likely to have a search box, this stores what the user last searched for, so they can complete the same search quickly.

Cookies
Cookies are small files that web sites put onto your computer to make it interact better with your computer.

Back Button
On your browser, you have a back button, which allows you to go back to previously viewed web pages. To hide these crumbs, always close your browser or restart your computer.

Deleting your internet trail

Step 1: What Internet Browser are you using?

If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click on Help on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using – you should then refer to the relevant instructions below.
When you do know your browser, scroll down to follow the specific instructions for each browser.

Step 2: Find your Internet Browsers from the list below:
Internet Explorer 6
Internet Explorer 7
Mozilla Firefox
Opera
Google Chrome
Safari

Step 3: Follow the provided instructions for your browser:

Internet Explorer 6

  • Go to Top Toolbar, and select [Tools]
  • A drop down menu will appear and select [Internet Options]
  • A new window opens on the [General] page
  • Under Temporary Internet Files, click on [Delete Cookies] and [OK]
  • Click on [Delete Files], put a tick in the box labeled [Delete all offline content] and click [OK]
  • Under History, click on [Clear History] and then [OK]
  • At the top of the window and click on the [Content] tab, select [AutoComplete] and [Clear Forms]
  • Close your browser

Internet Explorer 7

  • Go to Top Toolbar, and select [Tools]
  • A drop down menu will appear and select [Internet Options]
  • In the Browsing History section on the General tab select [Delete]
  • Select [Delete all]
  • Then check the box [Also delete files and settings stored by add-ons]
  • Close your browser

Mozilla Firefox

  • Go to the Top Toolbar and select [Clear Private Data]
  • Tick the following boxes:
  • Browsing History
  • Download History
  • Saved Form and Search History
  • Cache
  • Cookies
  • Saved Passwords
  • Authenticated Sessions
  • Click on [Clear Private Data Now]
  • Close your browser

Opera

  • Go to the Top Toolbar and select [Tools] and then [Preferences]
  • Click on the [Advanced Tab] and then, the [History] section on the left-hand side
  • Click the on two [Clear] buttons and the [Empty Now] button
  • Close your browser

Google Chrome

Within Google Chrome you are able to open a new incognito tab, this allows pages that you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window.

  • Go to the top right in the toolbar and select the spanner [Tools]
  • Select [New incognito window] or press [Ctrl+Shift+N]
  • Any files that you download or bookmarks that you create will be preserved, however, so you should still carry out the following steps…
  • Go to the top right in the toolbar and select the spanner [Tools]
  • Select Clear Browsing Data
  • Clear browsing history
  • Clera download history
  • Empty the cache
  • Delete cookies
  • Clear saved passwords
  • Clear saved form data
  • Click on [Clear Browsing Data]
  • Close your browser

Safari

Within Safari you are able to open a new Private Window, this allows pages that you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the Private Window.

  • Go to the top right in the toolbar and select [File]
  • Select [New Private Window] or press [command+Shift+N]
  • Any files that you download or bookmarks that you create will be preserved, however, so you should still carry out the following steps…
  • To go the Top Toolbar and select [Safari]
  • A drop down menu will appear and select [Clear History…]
  • A box will appear, select the relevant option from the Dropdown menu [Last Hour/Today/Today & Yesterday/All History]
  • Then click on [Clear History]
  • Close your browser