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Your browser is watching you

Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and other browsers keep accurate records of your online activities, and not just in their history records. Clearing out the virtual breadcrumbs in your internet cache and browser histories preserves your privacy and can improve your PC’s performance by freeing up disk space, too.

This article appears in the December 06 issue of PC Advisor. Available now in all good newsagents.

Sites embed small text files containing information about you on your PC when you visit them. As a rule, cookies aren’t a threat to privacy. The files usually exchange information only with the sites that placed them. And sensitive content is often encrypted.

Nevertheless, the mere presence of cookies with questionable names could cause problems. And anyone who has access to your system when you’re away can see not only which sites you visit, but also the contents of unencrypted cookies.

All browsers save HTML (hypertext markup language) files and images from pages you visit, so they can load them much faster next time. This cache lets you view pages – minus some dynamic features – while offline. But the cache also serves as a record of your web travels.

Firefox and Opera keep track of your file downloads as well as your web-browsing history (which IE also logs). Follow the step-by-step guide in the December 06 issue of PC Advisor to wipe the slate clean.

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