You must be wondering, “I clean my browsers history regularly, but how often must I actually do so?”
The thing is that modern-day browsers are smart. They track everything from private searches to interesting articles to wish lists from your favorite shopping sites. This helps us a lot as we don’t have to remember everything.
Browsers also auto-fill the information, know what we’re looking for when you’re typing in the URL or search keyword, and show our most viewed sites when we open the browser. All this is possible thanks to history that is stored in your browser’s data.
So now the important question, if my browser is tracking things for my convenience then should I delete it, and if yes, how often?
How Often Should You Clear Your Browsing History?
Let me take you through why it’s important to clear your browser history and why this has to be done regularly.
It’s not a time consuming process, in reality it won’t even take you more than five minutes to accomplish.
I’m now going to explain what your browser saves and how it impacts your browsing experience. I’ll also guide you through how you can delete your browsing history and the frequency at which it must be done.
The Best Time To Clear Your Data (Frequency)
Well, clearing ones browser data depends solely on the individual and scenario.
It can be because your system has started lagging or you see too many ad pop-ups of stuff you’ve browsed in the past. The thing about clearing your browsers history is that it frees up space on your system for it to run faster. It’s not always about personal information being up on the web or the browser tracking your every move, you have to remember that once you’re in, there’s no way out.
No one’s given a schedule of when to clear their browsers history, it all happens in a moment. But there are certain groups of people who do have a schedule laid out and for them it mainly depends on what they do or how privacy conscious they are.
1. If you’re a privacy-conscious person then it is better to delete the information every day or alternative day.
2. Some people may also recommend cleaning every month or bi-monthly in order to save space.
3. And some people may not even bother to delete their history ever and they might suggest the same thing.
Also in case if you’re working with web pages then you may also want to delete the cache regularly as you don’t want your browser to load the old cached data.
Why Should We Delete The Browser History?
Even though the primary purpose of the browser tracking purpose is to help with day-to-day activities it can get a bit creepy sometimes.
For example, at certain times you don’t want your private searches or the entire website to appear in your URL/search bar. Worst case if someone gets access to your device then you don’t want them to see the information too. Also, a cyber-criminal can use the browser history data to view your passwords and other sensitive data which can lead to a lot of trouble.
Other than privacy, there are security risks to storing all of this information. Tracking cookies and other information that is used to monitor you, malware, adware, search hijackers and other trackers can be cleaned up by clearing the data.
Clearing data also saves your disk space and if in case you don’t clear your cache from time to time, you might not see changes on a website as your computer will be loading older, cached data. The old and unused extensions can also clutter up your browser, using your memory thus slowing it down.
What Information Does Your Browser Save?
Before you jump in to clear your online tracks it’s good to know and understand exactly what your browser keeps track of when you’re using it.
After all, you might want to clear specific types of files and not others on certain occasions. When you open your browser settings you may see references to these various data types.
The below keywords might vary from browser to browser but essentially they mean the same thing.
- Browser History – The MVP of this article – Browser History keeps the list of sites and pages you have visited in the past. This history helps you reinspect your actions, search for the pages you want to refer to again, and even visit your favorite websites easily. This feature enables the browser to suggest specific URLs when you type the addresses in the URL/search bar and display the most visited sites on the home page.
- Download History – As the name suggests this feature keeps track of all files that have been downloaded on your computer. This helps you to re-download the file or give you the info of when it was downloaded. Do remember that these are only the references to downloaded files and not actual locations of the files themselves (as you might have moved or deleted them after downloading).
There are also third-party ones. Third-party cookies are used for tracking your behavior across multiple sites. They’re usually present in the ads. You might have noticed personalized ads are now present on every site you visit. All this is possible thanks to these third-party cookies.
- Cache – Web browsers also maintain a “cache“, which contains local copies of images or other assets so that your browser can load pages more quickly. This also helps the page-loading process as all the assets are not downloaded and are instead read from the cache.
- Hosted App Data – Hosted app data is the data from the apps you’ve added to Chrome from the Chrome Web Store. For example, the local storage used by Gmail Offline.
Browsers will list the above categories when you choose to erase the history so that you can decide and only delete the categories you want.
How Do I Delete My Browser History?
To delete your browsing history on your preferred, follow these steps…
- Open Chrome browser
- Click the options button (3 vertical dots or ellipsis) on the top right
- Click History and then History. Alternatively, you can also press Ctrl+H to open the History window right away
- On the left, click the Clear browsing data button. A new window with a box will appear
- Select the drop-down menu, choose how much history you want to delete (the last hour, the current day, or everything). To clear everything, select All time.
- Check the boxes for the info you want Chrome to clear, including the browsing history
- Clear data.
- Click on the Library button, click History, and then click Clear Recent History
- Select how much history you want to clear
- Click the drop-down menu next to Time range to clear to choose how much of your history Firefox will clear (the last hour, the last two hours, the last four hours, the current day, or everything).
- Use the check-boxes to select what information you want to clear from your history
- Click the OK button to clear the data.
- Launch Safari.
- Click the History tab in the top menu.
- Select Clear History
- Choose the time range that you wish to clear (the last hour, the current day, or everything).
- Click Clear History.
- Click Menu in the top left of the screen.
- Then hit History. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+H to open your history page.
- Click Clear browsing data in the top-right corner.
- Select the time range and also choose the items you want to delete including the browsing history.
- Click Clear data.
Internet Explorer/ Microsoft Edge
- Open up Microsoft Edge.
- On the right side click the three bars on the web address field
- Click on History next to the clock-arrow icon
- Select Clear history at the top
- Click on the items you want to delete, in this case, the browsing history, and click on the Clear button.
Incognito or Private Browsing
If you’re worried about privacy then you can also use the browser’s private browsing mode. This feature which is known as Incognito Mode in Chrome, Private browsing in Firefox, and In-Private in Microsoft Edge makes sure that the browser doesn’t keep track of your browsing session.
It also makes sure that cookies and other site data are not tracked. This is extremely useful in cases where we want to quickly browse in private or even while using computers in a public place. Just open a window in private mode, browse as you please, and once you’re done close the window.
Next time if you want to secretly shop for gifts on a family computer without leaving a trace then you can use this feature. Do remember that sites can still track your behavior even if your browser doesn’t.
For example, Facebook will still record and store your online activity even in private mode.
To summarize, clearing data is always good as there are benefits not just to privacy but to the overall performance of your computer and system too.
So next time if you want to secretly buy gifts then make sure you clean up the history else use the private browsing feature.