You start typing in a URL on your web browser, and Windows 10 finishes it for you. Once you’ve spent hours looking through your social media feeds, binging random Youtube videos, looking for the best deals on Amazon and perusing through a dozen other sites, you open a new tab.
What shows up? Suggestions. Lots of them!
You see snippets of your past browsing history, your “highlights”, and a list of websites to visit, articles to read based on your previous activity. The next time you log in to Facebook or shop on Amazon, you notice more suggestions. All of these are based on your previous activity.
This may seem harmless or even beneficial sometimes, but if the wrong person gets access to your information, it can become a serious threat.
What is Web Browsing History and Why Should You Delete It?
First, you should understand the different types of web history as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. There are seven categories of files in your browsing history. These are:
- Active Logins
- Browsing and Download History
- Form and Search bar data
- Offline Website data
- Site Preferences
Most people seek to clear their browsing data for one of the first four categories.
Active Logins: Active Logins are exactly what they sound like. You’re actively logged in to a website even though you’ve navigated to another website. This is useful if you plan to return to the site you’re logged in to so you don’t have to type in your username and password countless times. It’s a very risky type of browsing data if you’re using a public computer.
Browsing/Download History: Every site you visit and every file you download is recorded in your Browsing and Download history. You may not want anyone else to see this history.
Cache: When you open a web page, it will be stored in the cache. The cache is temporary storage that allows your frequently accessed web pages to load faster. However there’s a double-edged downside: An overloaded cache takes up valuable power in your processor, and it can cause errors when loading a page if the author updates it.
Cookies: Cookies are the most notorious type of browsing data. Websites use these tools to track visitors’ data such as login status, site preferences, and activity. Cookies are used to retain information on the user. Often, they’re convenient. For example, they allow you to log into a site once rather than every time you want to purchase a product. Each cookie takes a small amount of space, but having too many of them will slow your computer down. Additionally, these cookies store information about you. Most of the information is used by relatively harmless advertisers, but hackers may use this information for malicious purposes.
If you don’t want websites tracking you, want to speed up a slow browser, or are logged on to a public computer, deleting your browsing data is a solid step in the right direction.