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Why You Should Regularly Delete Your Search History


Browsing is completely harmless, right? That is until your browsing history reveals all of your private information to a stranger. That’s why you need to make a habit of regularly deleting your search history.

Online safety consists of many practices, and good browser hygiene is one of them. To maintain your online security, you should also consider using a password manager and taking a privacy test to pinpoint your network’s vulnerabilities.

Your search history is a window into who you are. In the wrong hands, it can cause lots of problems for you. Here are some things to keep in mind as you work on your browser hygiene.

Protect your privacy

The most obvious reason to regularly delete your search history is to protect your privacy. While this is most important when you’re using a public computer, it comes into play on your private computer as well. After all, you don’t want anyone to be able to glean personal information from your search history.

Think for a moment about everything you’ve done on the web today. Maybe you bought round-trip flights from San Francisco to Chicago and then searched for the best restaurants in Chicago. This gives away your city of residence as well as the trip you’re planning to take. Combined with the rest of your browsing history, this information could be damaging if it is accessed by someone malicious.

While being concerned about protecting your personal information online may seem paranoid, it’s actually quite wise. Once someone has access to your private information, you’re at risk of identity theft, scams, and other safety concerns.

Don’t leave breadcrumbs

Remember that old fairytale about Hansel and Gretel? When it comes to online safety, you don’t want to be leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for hackers to follow. Failing to delete your browsing history can give them just what they need to attack.

The biggest concern is when a hacker already has one of your passwords. This could easily happen if you use simple passwords or one of your frequently-visited websites has a security breach. Armed with a known password, hackers can use your browsing history to know which websites you visit frequently. Then, they can try the known password on each of these sites, hoping they will gain access to more of your accounts.

That’s why it’s so vital to utilize a password manager and have different passwords for each of your accounts. If one is compromised, your other accounts won’t necessarily be at risk. It’s best to delete your search history at least twice a month to reduce the chances of getting hacked.

Go incognito

For an extra layer of protection, make a habit of browsing in an incognito window. This makes it so that your search history is not saved to your device, which means you don’t need to worry about deleting your search history later.

It’s very simple to go incognito. All you need to do is open a new incognito window whenever you use Google Chrome. If you prefer to use Safari, you can find the option to open a private browsing window in the Settings.

Unfortunately, using a private window doesn’t make you completely anonymous online. Your search history isn’t an issue, but clever hackers may be able to track your activity while you are actually online. 

To prevent this, consider using a VPN while you are browsing. Your online activity will be completely hidden by the VPN, and your browsing data won’t get leaked.

Another option is to use Tor. Tor is a program that ensures you stay anonymous by randomly bouncing traffic across a server network. Be especially careful when using Tor to access the dark web, as you may become vulnerable to experienced hackers or cybercriminals. Another disadvantage of using Tor is it’s much slower than other browsers. Still, it’s free and easy to download–and it keeps you anonymous.

How to delete your browsing history

Once you’ve committed to deleting your browsing history twice a month, you just need to figure out how to do it. It all depends on which browser you’re using. You’ll need to delete your search history in each browser separately if you use multiple browsers during that time.

Here’s how you can delete your browsing history on Google Chrome:

  1. Click the three dots in the upper righthand corner of the browser window.
  2. Hover over More Tools and then click Clear browsing data.
  3. Choose From the beginning of time from the drop-down menu.
  4. Make sure the Browsing history box is checked.
  5. Click Clear data.

These are the steps you can follow to delete your browsing history on Safari:

  1. Go to History and then Clear History in the menu bar at the top of your screen.
  2. To clear your entire browsing history, select All history from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click Clear history.

Finally, this is the process for deleting your browsing history on Firefox:

  1. Click the three-line menu icon in the upper righthand corner of the browser window.
  2. Navigate to Library > History > Clear Recent History.
  3. Choose Everything from the drop-down menu.
  4. Make sure the Browsing & Download History box is checked.
  5. Click OK.

Other browsers such as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge have a similar process for deleting browsing history.

In order to be as safe as possible online, it is necessary to delete your search history frequently. Failing to do so makes it much easier for hackers to collect enough of your personal information to scam and deceive you. Once you get into the habit of regularly deleting your browsing history, it becomes second nature.

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