How to Delete Your Browser History

Until recently, people had little control over how companies used their online data. But, with data privacy now a human right, people are pickier about who can access their data and how they use it.  

Every time you visit a website by typing its address on the address bar, your browser history holds a record of information like the name of the site, its location, and when you visited it. Unfortunately, third parties can access this data, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft and data misuse. Simply deleting your  browser history is not enough to safeguard your data. 

This article explains how to keep your internet activities private and delete your web browser history for good. 

Can you permanently delete your browsing history?

Most people don’t know that clearing your browsing history doesn’t actually delete it. 

Even after you’ve clicked on the “clear browsing history” option in your selected browser, there’s still a record of every Google search from the beginning of time. This information can be accessed by third parties like your internet service provider, the websites you visit, and advertisers. So, clearing your browsing history is not enough to safeguard your data. 

While clearing your browser history has benefits like better application efficiency, you should invest in useful online tools like McAfee’s identity theft protection, which can better protect your data online.

Before diving into how to clear your browser history, let’s talk about why you should give importance to deleting your data for good. 

Why you should delete your browsing history

Just like you have to clear out the dust from your vacuum cleaner to continue cleaning, you should clear the data on your browser so it remains speedy and efficient.  

Your browsing history records are cluttered with cache files, cookies, search history, and autofill data. All this digital clutter fills up your Random Access Memory (or RAM), slowing your PC, Apple iOS device, or Android device’s functioning. 

You might see pop-ups on websites telling you that they use cookies. Without giving it much thought, you might click the “OK” or “Accept cookies” button and continue browsing the site. But do you know how these cookies are used? 

Cookies are temporary internet files that store browsing data and preferences to make your future online experiences easier. For example, this helps you personalize your search results to an extent. The cache stores parts of pages, websites, or images you visit, enabling the pages to load faster the next time you open them. 

These types of files sound like they help you have a better internet experience, so why should you delete them? 

Here are some reasons to clear your browsing history, cache, and cookies: 

  • It protects your personal information from other people who use your device and third parties on the internet. 
  • It clears your device storage and helps your applications run more efficiently. 
  • It prevents you from using old forms. 

However, simply clearing the cache and cookies is not enough. This method will clear space on your device and erase some references, but the data is still saved on your device as free space. You should use tools to permanently delete your browsing data from the hard drive because: 

  • This truly protects your data from hackers, which clearing browsing history does not achieve. 
  • It prevents your information from being tracked, which is common despite the privacy laws in different states and countries. 

So, it’s crucial to properly wipe your data if you’re serious about protecting your privacy online.  

What does private/incognito mode in browsers do?

Many people switch to incognito mode when making an embarrassing Google search because it seemingly leaves no trace of the search on your device. But, does using incognito mode or a private browsing window protect your data and ensure your privacy and security? 

When you use an incognito or private browsing mode, the tracking cookies on the websites you visit are blocked by default, and your cookie data and search history are deleted from the browser as soon as you close the window. Essentially, it auto-deletes your browser history as soon as you close the window. 

However, your browser actions are still visible to the websites you have visited and your internet service provider (ISP). In addition, data from your browsing activity is saved to any accounts you’re logged into (like your Google account), even when using incognito mode. 

Your internet service provider and other third parties have easy access to your browser activity irrespective of whether you’re in private browsing mode. This means using incognito mode is not enough to protect your online privacy. 

How to delete internet history, by browser

If you’re worried about what someone might see on your laptop or you notice your applications slowing down, we’re here to help. We’ll show you how to quickly clear your device’s browser history from some commonly used internet options. 

There’s no fixed or recommended time for deleting your browsing history, cache, and cookies. It’s all relative to your system’s storage space and personal preferences. Refer to this step-by-step guide whenever you feel like it’s time to clear junk from your browsers. 

Google Chrome

To delete your browser history on Google Chrome: 

  1. Open the Chrome browser on your laptop or computer. 
  2. Click the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner. 
  3. Find an option that says “More tools” and select “Clear browsing data” under it. 
  4. Now, you’ll see an option to choose a time range near the top of the screen. To delete everything, select “All time.” If you want to delete history from the past hour, select “Last hour.”  
  5. Next, check the boxes saying “Cookies and other site data” and “Cache images and files,” and click “Clear data.” 

Some of your settings might be deleted when clearing your browser history. For example, you might have to re-sign into your accounts. 

If you want to delete cookies and cache for a specific site, you can learn how to change more cookie settings in Chrome.  

Mozilla Firefox 

To delete your browsing, search, and download history on Mozilla Firefox, follow these steps: 

  1. Click “Menu” and select “History.” 
  2. Select the “Clear recent history” option. 
  3. In “Time range to clear,” choose “Everything” from the drop-down menu. 
  4. Select “Cache” and other items to delete in the options list. 
  5. Ensure the files you want to keep are not selected. 
  6. Click “OK.” 

Now, you have quickly deleted your browser history on Mozilla Firefox. 

Microsoft Edge 

To clear your Microsoft Edge browsing data from just the device you are currently using, turn off sync before clearing the data. The selected data will be deleted across all of your synced devices if sync is turned on.  

Follow these steps to turn off sync: 

  1. Select Settings. 
  2. Click “Profiles.” 
  3. Select “Sync” and click “Turn off sync.” 

To clear browsing data on Microsoft Edge: 

  1. Select “Privacy, search, and services” under settings. 
  2. Click “Clear browsing data” and then “Clear browsing data now.” 
  3. You’ll see an option to choose which types of browsing data to clear. Select the data you want to delete. For example, you can select browsing history and cookies, but keep the saved passwords and autofill data unchecked. 
  4. Choose a time range from the drop-down menu. 
  5. Select the “Clear now” option. 

This is how to clear your browsing data on Microsoft Edge in a few simple steps. 

Safari

Here are simple steps to clear browser cache and cookies on Safari 8.0 through 10.0. These steps apply to your Apple laptop running macOS, but an iPad or iPhone might have slightly different steps. 

  1. On the upper-left corner of your screen, click “Safari” and then choose “Preferences.” 
  2. Click the “Privacy” tab and select “Remove all website data.” 

That’s all! You’ve now deleted your browser history on Safari. 

Opera 

To clear cache and browser history in Opera: 

  1. Press the Control, Shift, and Delete buttons on your keyboard. 
  2. Select the timeframe of your choice. If you want to delete your entire browser history, select “Since Installation.” 
  3. Select “Images and files in cache.” 
  4. Click “Delete browser data.” 
  5. Refresh the web page. 

There you have it! It’s simple and free to erase your browser history, cache, and cookies, and you should regularly do so. 

How to protect your privacy online

Now you know how to delete your browser history to keep your device running smoothly and limit how much data advertisers and companies can collect about you. 

However, you may be concerned about the identity traces still being captured without your knowledge. 

If you’re serious about maintaining complete privacy with your online data, invest in advanced tools to safeguard your online information and prevent identity theft. 

Get the online privacy and protection you need from McAfee 

McAfee helps keep your digital data private and protected from identity theft. Access various tools to safeguard your online spaces by investing in McAfee+. This service includes antivirus software for unlimited devices, complete data cleanup from your hard drive and browser, and much more. In addition, this product comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Introducing McAfee+

Identity theft protection and privacy for your digital life

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