Protect Your Privacy By Erasing Tracks Left On Your Computer

When you browse the​ web information is​ continuously collected by the​ websites you visit and by your own computer. For example,​ websites at​ a​ minimum collect information about the​ web browser you use the​ operating system of​ your computer and the​ geography you reside from. However,​ what surprises most users is​ the​ amount of​ information that is​ collected on​ your computer from your surfing habits and daily use.

Your web browser stores a​ lot of​ different types of​ information which is​ designed to​ improve your internet surfing experience but nevertheless poses a​ privacy risk. the​ sites or​ URLs which you visit are stored in​ the​ browser’s “history.” Search results are saved when you enter a​ search term into a​ search engine like Google. Web content and images are stored in​ the​ “temp” folder. Files that you download are stored in​ the​ download manager.

Websites also place “Cookies” onto your hard drive. a​ cookie is​ a​ small text file and is​ used by websites to​ offer advanced features. Some of​ the​ information that cookies store include shopping basket items or​ log-in information for a​ membership site. Cookies can also store information about when you visited the​ site including date and time.

Given all this information being collected above you can easily see why this could become a​ privacy risk. it​ would not take someone who knew what they were doing too long to​ figure out what websites you visit,​ what you have bought online and what search terms you are looking for. This is​ unfortunately not the​ end of​ it.

If you are a​ user of​ instant messenger or​ chat programs like AIM,​ MSN Instant Messenger or​ even Skype then it​ is​ important to​ be aware that the​ programs saves your chat history. Most programs allow you turn this feature off.

There are number of​ other places besides your web browser where information is​ stored on​ your computer. This data can allow people to​ figure out what you have been doing on​ your computer. Media players like RealPlayer and Microsoft Media Play store audio and video playing history. Microsoft Office like Excel and PowerPoint applications store information about the​ most recently accessed files.

Another important thing to​ remember is​ that when you delete a​ file it​ is​ not necessarily permanently erased and can be recovered with the​ right software. When you first hit delete the​ file is​ moved to​ the​ Recycle Bin. Even when you empty the​ Recycle Bin the​ file still exists on​ your hard drive until Windows overwrites it.

Here are two things you can do to​ help reduce the​ privacy risks from your computer.

- Use a​ free software tool called “CCleaner” ( to​ clear information collected by your web browser and Windows’s Temp Folder. This software automates the​ manual process of​ using your browser options menu to​ clean out cookies,​ URL history etc. Try to​ run this tool once a​ week or​ more frequently if​ you are a​ heavy internet user.
- if​ you work with sensitive data files on​ your computer then you may want to​ consider investing in​ secure file “shredder” software. This type of​ software actually overwrites or​ “bleaches” the​ file you want to​ delete which means that it​ cannot be restored.

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