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How to Find Deleted or Hidden History

Updated March 23, 2017

When you delete your history, you may think that it's gone forever, but it's not really. Your computer makes a backup copy of it in a hidden file that you cannot see. That file is known as the index.dat file. Therefore, it is possible to find your deleted history if you can find the hidden file. The process to find deleted or hidden history is relatively simple, but you need to have the appropriate software with which to view the DAT file extension type.

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  1. Click on "Start," and then click on "Search" to open your computer's search window.

  2. Click on "Tools" from the menu bar at the top of the search window, and click "Folder Options."

  3. Select the option to "Show hidden files and folders" located beneath the "Hidden Files and Folders" section.

  4. Set your search settings to search "All Files and Folders" in the "C: Drive," and then input "index.dat" into the search bar before clicking "Search."

  5. Download an index.dat file reader.

  6. Open the index.dat file with the reader to find deleted or hidden history.

  7. Click on "Start," then click on the "Control Panel."

  8. Click on "Appearance and Personalization," and then click on "Show Hidden Files and Folders" underneath the "Folder Options" heading.

  9. Click "Show Hidden Files and Folders" beneath the "Hidden Files and Folders" section of the "View" tab of the "Folder Options" window.

  10. Remove the ticks from the "Hide extensions for known file types" and "Hide protected operating files" check boxes. Click "OK" to save your changes.

  11. Click on "Start" and input "index.dat" into the search bar. Press "Enter."

  12. Download an index.dat file reader.

  13. Open the index.dat file with the reader to find deleted or hidden history.

  14. Tip

    Use this process on a child's computer to monitor his computer activities.


    Your search will not return the index.dat file if you do not configure your search options to show hidden files and folders beforehand.

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Things You'll Need

  • Index.dat file reader

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.

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