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How do I clear my browsing history?

Windows and Ubuntu please.

Update: Already do all use ccleaner, clear my flash cookies, etc... Everything minus the sandboxie thing.

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'the sandbox thing', as you put it, is the most secure method by far. –  Phoshi Nov 22 '09 at 16:48
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What do you mean by "already do all this"? Again, clarity in your question will probably help you more than anything else. –  AnonJr Nov 23 '09 at 15:10
    
"Secure shredding", in the sense of multipass overwrite, is overkill unless you're already doing onion-routing or what have you to avoid surveillance and router logs. Those are much lower hanging fruit than sophisticated drive recovery techniques which may or may not exist. –  Captain Segfault Nov 25 '09 at 2:37
    
More on Flash at "How to automatically remove Flash history/privacy trail? Or stop Flash from storing it?" at superuser.com/questions/1627/… –  Arjan Jan 8 '10 at 8:24

12 Answers 12

up vote 5 down vote accepted
+100

Personally, I see from Molly's comments, you are concerned about the whole infrastructure - logs etc.

The first thing,

Do not try at work or any machine you do not own. You simply do not know what monitoring tools are installed, there could be keyloggers, or ANYTHING that sends everything to a remote location completely outside of your control.

Next, as for your actual machine, you really want to run all the usual tools such as CCleaner to clear out your local machine from every day objects. This should work well, but there is always a remote chance someone can recover your files - You may want to look in to either trashing your hard drive, or doing a complete wipe with something like DBAN.

Lastly, infrastructure - Logs are kept at many different levels. Your ISP will have various logs that can contain information on sites visited, your routers DNS can have a cache (but it is usually wiped after a few hours)... Your best bet is to use a web based proxy service or even better TOR.

However, if someone really wants to trace what you have been doing, they will try to find a way - ask ISP for sites visited if they keep logs... if they see a proxy server, they can ask them for logs... Your best hope is an ISP that doesn't keep many logs or perhaps using a VPN type service in a foreign country.

All this being said, do not do anything illegal!... That is the best way to not get into trouble for browsing!

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+1 for the very end –  RCIX Nov 26 '09 at 0:47
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"Do not do anything illegal" is fine advice... as long as you don't happen to have information about Chinese prisoners of conscience, details of government oppression in North Korea, or whatnot. "Do not do anything immoral!" would be far better advice. –  Ilari Kajaste Nov 26 '09 at 15:40

For Windows, you can use Ccleaner. It can erase browsing history from IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Netscape, Windows history (recently opened files, commands), temporary files, file cache) and in registry cleaning as well.

Refer here for more information: http://www.ccleaner.com/features

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problem with Ccleaner: while it will delete the browsing history, you'll have to activate the 'advanced' feature 'wipe free space' in order to 'shred' the deleted files and that takes quite a while to complete (depending on volume size/free disk space), this can also render the machine quite sluggish during the process. –  Molly7244 Nov 12 '09 at 22:08

On Windows and Ubuntu, you can use the individual browser's cleaning function.
For Windows you could also use CCleaner to get rid of all browsers history, cookies and settings.

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  1. get Sandboxie

  2. install a RAM disk

  3. point the Sandboxie container folder to the RAM disk.

run your web browser sandboxed.

restart your computer and all history is history, gone for good. really, truly and beyond recovery.

Sandboxie is freeware, however, if you register the software for even more options, you'll get free lifetime support and updates and you may install the software your license on as many computers you own.

(this works for Windows only)

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What about router logs? In a workplace, proxy logs? Maybe even DNS logs, though the relevance there varies depending on whether you don't want anybody to know you're watching porn, or you don't want anybody to know you're building a nuclear bomb. –  Phoshi Nov 12 '09 at 21:50
    
ever so concerned, Phoshi, eh? but i don't watch porn nor do i build nukes :) however, this solution will securely wipe any traces on the local (windows) machine. Sandboxie is not available for Linux and i don't really know of any equivalent. –  Molly7244 Nov 12 '09 at 22:01
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I was mainly being pedantic, but "Really, Truly" implies the op wants some serious de-historizing, which involves taking out all points of access. This should be entirely solid on the local PC, but it'd be a bugger if all that work was undone by a network admin checking up on your router (or something, I dunno :P) –  Phoshi Nov 12 '09 at 22:26

Ignoring secure-delete (which probably isn't that important) for a minute, the most notable history trace you'll gather that isn't removed by Firefox's “Clear Recent History” option is Flash data storage. The storage control feature of Flash is unfortunately separate and has unusable controls which don't even delete the full history.

On Linux you can remove these properly by deleting .adobe and .macromedia in your home directory. (It's a problem on Windows too, similarly requiring futzing around in Application Data.) A good longer-term strategy is to use Flashblock, to stop every untrustted site and ad network dropping unwanted cookie-like storage and history traces.

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Short of setting off an EMP every time you want to clear your history, any system that keeps your history in RAM and doesn't write it to disk will probably do what you want. Its easier to never have something to remove than to remove something once its there.

You could use a Bart PE disk or an Ubuntu live CD for your browsing - that way when you re-boot there's nothing to recover as nothing was saved to disk.

There are still router logs, so you'll want to clear those too. And records of your DNS look-ups, so you may want to go with a service like Open DNS where you can turn off the history feature. And still route through TOR just to be sure.

You'd probably get a better answer if you were clearer on what you were trying to do and why. If all you want to do is brows porn without your significant other seeing, you'll get one answer. If you're trying to look for another job from work without the boss knowing you'll get a different answer.

Clarifying the question will get you better answers faster than a bounty. ;)

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also, connecting to an open wifi network will result in being so much harder to trace, thus solving the other problems –  ptor Nov 25 '09 at 10:15

DNS entries are cached on your machine. Remove them via the command prompt in Windows:

ipconfig /flushdns

In Ubuntu (from ubuntugeek):

sudo /etc/init.d/nscd restart

Also, Flash cookies are stored on your machine:

%appdata%\Macromedia\Flash Player\#SharedObjects

An easy fix is to run CCleaner with the Flash Player option checked under Multimedia.

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restarting nscd is great as long as you also purge the cache (it may be setup to be persistent).. -i should do that (iirc) –  warren Nov 27 '09 at 15:52
    
Removing Flash cookies is not sufficient; at least on a Mac there's also some settings.sol file to be deleted, and who knows what else. More on Flash in "How to automatically remove Flash history/privacy trail? Or stop Flash from storing it?" at superuser.com/questions/1627/… –  Arjan Jan 8 '10 at 8:27

Browsing in a virtual machine seems like it would be safe. You could try VMWare, for example. It might be a hassle, and I don't know if the performance hit would be worth it. Plus, you may need another Windows license to use it on Windows.

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If you don't want to leave any traces, use Ubuntus Guest-Account-Feature. The guests home directory will be destroyed after the you've logged off. Also, to leave no traces at all, use a Live-CD.

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I know this isn't a way to remove traces from surfing but rather how to not leave unnecessary traces. I think it might be worth looking into. If you have a computer at home you can tunnel your traffic through this machine. http://embraceubuntu.com/2006/12/08/ssh-tunnel-socks-proxy-forwarding-secure-browsing/

As others have mentioned, if you don't own the computer it might still be compromised, there can be keyloggers or spyware.

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Try using Google Chrome in incognito mode. It seems to work very well and I have not been able to find any traces what so ever. Also, in IE, you can remove all browsing data and it works ok then in Chrome, this works as well. I also believe this option is available on Safari and Firefox as well.

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Fow Windows, CCleaner does the job:

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Gutman (if you are super paranoid) + Wipe Free Space, since your history is in your user-folder, which is usually on C:

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