Your Browsing History: Convenience vs. Security Concerns

browsing history

Internet browsers store a history of what sites you’ve been visiting. They do this for a couple of reasons. The browser stores a history on your hard drive because it is faster to access the information from your hard drive than to go out over the Internet and look for the data again. Sometimes you want to go back and look at a site again and you can’t quite remember what it was named. If you look through your browser history you can often find it.

While having browser history can save you some time and can be convenient, it also raises some security concerns.


Just as you can go back and look at what sites you’ve been viewing, so can anyone else who uses your computer. If you use a computer that other people also use, you should always clear the browser history if you have visited sites that contain information you don’t want others to see. Looking at someone else’s browser history can reveal a great deal of information about their work, studies, or activities.

Clearing the browser history is pretty simple, but it varies slightly from browser to browser.

  • Google Chrome: Select “Tools” and choose “Clear Browsing History”
  • Safari: Click on the “History” tab in your menu bar.  Select “Clear History” located at the bottom of the list.
  • Explorer: Select the “Safety” drop down menu at the top right of the screen.  Choose “Delete Browsing History.”
  • Mozilla Firefox: Click on the “Tools” menu, then select “Clear Recent History.”

Many browsers also allow you to browse the Internet without leaving a trail at all.  If you have this feature activated, there will be no browser or search history and you won’t have to worry about cookies.  Mozilla Foxfire and Apple Safari call this feature “Private Browsing.” In Explorer, it’s named “In Private” and Google Chrome calls it “Incognito.” This is especially handy if you are using a public computer.

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