How To Really Browse Without Leaving A Trace

How To  Really  Browse Without Leaving A Trace

Think that your browser’s private mode keeps your browsing completely private? Not so! More often than not, you’re still leaving traces of your browsing session behind, and today we’ll tell you how to get rid of them for truly private browsing.[imgclear]

The Problem

Flash cookies that don’t get wiped

Cached DNS Entries

You can see these for yourself by opening up a command prompt and typing in ipconfig /displaydns to see the full list of cached DNS entries, then open up a new private browsing session and go to a site you don’t normally access. If you re-run the command again, you’ll see that it’s been added to the DNS caching, telling anybody with access to your machine that you’ve been watching the PowerPuff Girls. Cleaning the cache is easy, just type in ipconfig /flushdns to wipe everything.[imgclear]

Worse: Flash Cookies

The secret tracking information doesn’t stop with simple DNS entries, which don’t really tell anybody much about what exactly you were looking at—but the hidden Flash cookies will tell a whole different story.

Clear Flash Cookies in Firefox

Objection extensiondevelopment releaseuse an about:config hack

The Settings tab gives you an option to automatically remove the Local Shared Objects on browser open or close, the File details tab will allow you to take a look through all of the local cookies already stored, and the Flash player settings tab gives you access to a bunch of options, including telling Flash to never store information.

Run CCleaner After Browsing


Once you’ve made sure that your CCleaner settings are perfect, you can create a shortcut to run CCleaner silently with a simple double-click on an icon, or even assign a hotkey for quick junk removal. If you are using Windows 7 or Vista, you’ll probably notice that there’s a UAC prompt every time you run the shortcut-you can create shortcuts that bypass UAC, or just disable it entirely instead. If you are even more paranoid, you can setup CCleaner to run on a schedule, automatically.

Create a Batch File to Clean Everything

Your best bet is to create a simple batch file to run after your browsing session, to make sure your browser cache, Flash cookie cache, and DNS entries are cleaned out. You could get fancy and create an AutoHotkey script to do the same thing, but a batch file should do the trick for regular people. Just create a new plain text file and save it as a .bat file (e.g., browserclean.bat), then add the following to the file, noting that the /AUTO switch tells CCleaner to run silently.

“C:Program FilesCCleanerCCleaner.exe” /AUTO
ipconfig /flushdns

Once you’ve created the file and saved it into some useful location, you can create a shortcut on your desktop, quick launch bar, or pin it to your start menu.

Create an AutoHotkey Script to Automatically Clean Everything

If your geek skills are a little more advanced, you can simply create a script that opens up your browser in private browsing mode, and then waits until you’ve closed the last window to run CCleaner and flush the DNS cache. Just create a new AutoHotkey script and paste in the following script, modifying the paths for your own install locations.

Run, C:pathtochrome.exe –incognito
WinWait, – Google Chrome
WinWaitClose ; Wait for Google Chrome to close
Run, C:pathtoccleaner.exe /AUTO
Run, cmd /c “ipconfig /flushdns”
MsgBox, Browsing Session is Cleaned.

The first line in the script will launch Google Chrome using incognito mode—you could use Firefox instead, but you’ll need to install the Private Browsing Command Line Flag extension and use the –private argument. The WinWait lines tell AutoHotkey to wait until the browser session has closed (you can change out “Google Chrome” for “Mozilla Firefox” if you need to), and then the script continues by running your cleaner utilities.

So what’s your take? Will you take the extra steps to keep your privacy intact, or is wiping the history enough for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The How-To Geek uses Google Chrome incognito mode as an excellent cache-free web development tool. His geeky articles can be found daily here on Lifehacker, How-To Geek, and Twitter.


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