Gig Harbor Washington

Searching Home Computer Internet Files

How to Find Internet History After Browsing History is Deleted

Okay. . .so your child is a smart little cookie and he/she deleted all the cookies and the browsing history in Internet Explorer.
Why?  Now you want to find out.

Do this:  Download IndexDatSpy21, install it on you computer and then locate and open your index.dat file.
Have I lost you.  Read on, but take your time and explore a little bit.

Windows keeps a hidden file that stores all the websites that your computer has visited.  The hidden file is not removed by deleting cookies or clearing the browser's history.  The internet browsing history is kept in the index.dat file.  DO NOT DELELTE THAT FILE as it could make your computer unstable or inoperative.

Index.dat files can be very hard to find. If you are in Windows, even with "Show hidden files and folders" enabled, index.dat files are not visible and cannot be found if you do a search for index.dat files. The reason that these files are so invisible is that they are not just hidden, they have been designated as "system" files. System files and folders are treated differently in DOS and Windows and are effectively cloaked from casual searches.

Finding the index.dat file is easy once you know how.  Follow this sequence in XP:
Click:  Start - My Computer - Local Disk (C:) - Documents and Settings - <User Name> -  Cookies
You will see a list of files if the browser history hasn't been recently cleared.  Look for the index.dat file.

You can't see the contents of the index.dat file without a software viewer made especially for the index.dat file.  You can download a viewer from here: stevengould.org: IndexDatSpy21.exe and install it on your computer.  When the IndexDatSpy is installed you can open your index.dat file to see the websites that were visited with your computer.

On Windows Vista Computer, index.dat files are located :
\Users\<Username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies\index.dat
\Users\<Username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies\low\index.dat
\Users\<Username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat
C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\History\Content.IE5\index.dat

On Windows 2000 and Windows XP there are several "index.dat" files in these locations:
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Cookies\index.dat
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\index.dat
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\ LocalSettings\History \History.IE5\ MSHist012001123120020101 \index.dat
\Documents and Settings\ <Username>\LocalSettings\History\History.IE5\MSHist012002010720020114 \index.dat
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Local Internet Files\Content.IE5\ index.dat

On a Windows 98 computer these files are located in the following locations:
\WINDOWS\Cookies\index.dat
\WINDOWS\History\index.dat
\WINDOWS\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat
\WINDOWS\Cookies\index.dat
\WINDOWS\History\index.dat
\WINDOWS\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat

Basic help for searching a personal computer's internet browsing history is here.
If all this is too much you can contact me through the Support page on HarborClassifieds, here:  Support