How to recover deleted internet history searches

Updated March 23, 2017

Many people think that once you delete your Internet history searches, they are gone forever. However, although they are “deleted,” they are still stored in a hidden file known as the “index.dat” file, which can be read with the appropriate software. That software can even be used to recover deleted Internet history searches and restore them to their original locations.

Click on “Start” and then “Search” to open your computer’s search feature.

Click on “Tools” located in the menu bar at the top of the search window, then click on “Folder Options.”

Click on the “View” tab of the “Folder Options” window, and then click on “Show hidden files and folder” beneath the “Hidden files and folders” heading.

Un-check “Hide extensions for known file types” and “Hide protected operating system files”, then click “OK” for your changes to go into effect.

Specify your search parameters to “Show All Files and Folders” and to look in the “C Drive,” and then input “index.dat” (without quotes) into the search bar and click “OK”.

Download and install an index.dat file reader to your computer, such as the one listed in the "Resources" section of this article.

Open the index.dat file with the reader and click on the “Restore” button within the file reader to recover the deleted Internet history searches.


Restore the default file and folder options when you’re done by clicking on “Restore Defaults” in the “View” tab of the “Folder Options” window.


Beware of leaving your hidden and important system files viewable, as they could become damaged if you do.

Things You'll Need

  • Index.dat file
  • Index.dat file reader
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About the Author

Kayla Lowe has been a freelance writer since 2008. She writes for various online publications and is also the author of the book "Maiden's Blush," a Christian-fiction romance novel. Lowe is pursuing a degree in elementary education.