How to Check a Deleted Internet History

Written by erica dreisbach
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An Internet browser automatically tracks the browsing history of each user. This history might be deleted automatically according to default or personalised settings or manually deleted by users. You might be able to track down a deleted Internet history in Internet Explorer or Firefox, though this may be difficult on a computer that does not make regular system backups.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Browse through your computer's application data using Windows Explorer on a PC or Finder on a Mac and locate which file contains the browsing history. The History directory is often named \"C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\History\" and the file is usually named \"index.dat.\"

  2. 2

    Recover the history by restoring the History directory from a recent system backup and adding the contents of the backup folder to the current Internet Explorer History directory. You can restore directories on a PC using Backup and Restore by clicking the \"Start\" button, then \"Control Panel,\" \"System and Maintenance\" and then \"Backup and Restore.\" Restore PC files by clicking \"Restore my files,\" or click \"Browse\" to navigate to and restore the History directory. You can restore directories on a Mac using Time Machine available from the Dock or in Finder, then clicking the \"Restore\" interface where you can click and choose files to restore from earlier backups. Backup and restore procedures may vary from system to system depending on your computer, so contact your computer's administrator if needed. Once you have restored the appropriate directory, simply copy and paste the old History file into the current History directory. You should now be able to browse the deleted history from within Internet Explorer as normal from the History sidebar available from the Tools menu.

  3. 3

    Search through your computer's Trash or Recycle Bin if a system backup is not available and locate an older Internet Explorer browsing history file there. If one exists, recover it to the current Internet Explorer History directory by copying and pasting.

  1. 1

    Browse through your computer's application data using Windows Explorer on a PC or Finder on a Mac and locate the directory that contains the browsing history. The History directory is often named \"C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\[random text]\\" and the file is usually named \"history.dat.\"

  2. 2

    Perform a system restore from a recent system backup and recover the contents of the Firefox History directory. You can restore directories on a PC using Backup and Restore by clicking the \"Start\" button, then \"Control Panel,\" \"System and Maintenance\" and then \"Backup and Restore.\" Restore PC files by clicking \"Restore my files,\" or click \"Browse\" to navigate to and restore the History directory. You can restore directories on a Mac using Time Machine available from the Dock or in Finder, then clicking the \"Restore\" interface where you can click and choose files to restore from earlier backups. Once you have restored the appropriate directory, simply copy and paste the old History file into the current History directory. You should now be able to browse the deleted history from within Firefox as normal from the History sidebar available from the Tools menu.

  3. 3

    Search through your computer's Trash or Recycle Bin if a system backup is not available and locate an older Firefox browsing history file there. If one exists, recover it to the current Firefox History directory by copying and pasting.

  4. 4

    Download Firefox's Cache Viewer (see Resources) if you are unable to recover the history through a backup file. This option will only work if you haven't exited Firefox since the history was deleted.

Tips and warnings

  • You may need to enable \"View Hidden Files and Folders\" in order to find the folder history. Enable this option in Windows Vista by selecting \"Folder and Search options\" from the Organize menu, then clicking \"Show hidden files and folders\" under the View tab. In Windows XP, select \"Folder Options\" from the Tools menu and click \"Show hidden files and folders\" from the View tab. On a Mac, you will need to run a simple script from the Terminal application in order to view hidden files and folders. Open Terminal and enter the following script: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
  • Recover recent browsing data even if the history is irrecoverable by checking the cookies still cached by the browser. Cookies store user information at some websites and are often left undeleted even when the Internet browsing history is cleared. You can view cookies and even undelete cookies from the \"Options\" dialogue box under the \"Tools\" menu in Firefox and from \"Internet Options\" under the \"Tools\" menu in Internet Explorer.
  • You can also take the computer to a data recovery specialist if neither a backup file or deleted browsing history file can be found. This option can be costly.

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