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Hide Your Tracks

Concerned about someone finding out where you’ve been on the Internet? Here’s how to reduce the chances that your Internet travels will be traced.

Browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Firefox are designed to capture the history of sites you have visited on the internet. While we cannot guaranteed that the following steps will erase all tracks of your internet activity, they will make it more difficult for someone to track you online.

Once you are done browsing the internet, you will want to erase two different things:

1) First is your internet browsing History List.  This is a list of recently visited sites that are kept on file even after you’ve left the internet. You will want to erase all of this history.

2) Second is the “Cache” where the computer stores copies of files you’ve looked at recently with your browser. You will want to erase all of those files.

If you use the Internet Explorer web browser

Open the Tools menu, choose Internet Options, then choose the General tab at the top. In the section called Browsing History (beside the little clock), click on Delete Files.

In Internet Explorer, clearing the cache and history will automatically clear the address bar on your browser.

If you use the Safari web browser:

With your browser open, click on the Show Top Sites button in the top left corner (looks like a checker board). Once open, click on History, then Clear History which is a button at the bottom left of the page.

To clear the cache, go to the Safari menu on the top browser bar (in Mac OSx), and choose the option Empty Cache. This will clear your browsing cache, and all address bars on your browser.

If you use the Firefox web browser:

Open the History menu (or the Firefox icon in more recent versions of Windows), and choose the Clear All History.

To clear the cache, click the Tools menu (or the Firefox icon in more recent versions of Windows) and then click Options and Options again. Select the Advanced panel, and click on the Network tab. In the Cached Web Content section, click Clear Now.

If you use the Google Chrome web browser:

Click the Settings button on the right-hand of the Address bar (or the Chrome icon), and select the History tab. Choose to Clear all browsing data.

To clear your cache, click Clear browsing data and uncheck all other options except for Empty the cache. This will empty the cache of the time period you specify, found on the top right of this menu.

Other browsers

Other browsers will be slightly different in the detail of what’s required to do these two things. But in any case, what you’ll need to do is clear your cache (or “temporary files”) and erase your history list. Again, this doesn’t guarantee that your browsing can’t be traced. Someone with greater computer sophistication might still be able to reconstruct your net travels, but these steps will make it more difficult for someone to know where you’ve been.

One additional tip

When you clear the cache and the history list, you erase not only the information on where you’ve been, but any other information that had been previously stored there. So, if your partner checks and sees that the cache and the history list have been completely emptied, they will not only know that you know how to do this, but they might guess that you’re trying to hide something.

One possible way to avoid suspicion is to clear the cache and history once you’re done looking at information you don’t want your partner to know about. After they’re cleared, spend some time visiting sites that you think your partner wouldn’t object to. This way, the cache and history list start to get filled up and your partner might be less likely to notice that old information is missing.

If you call for help by phone, here are the risks you need to know about:

Stay safe and be aware that your abuser might be tracking not only your computer, but your phone calls as well. Internet-based telephones such as “VOIP” keep records of all your calls. Web-based phone systems, such as “Skype” also keeps records. Do not use these telephone systems to call for help if you suspect that your partner/abuser has access to your call records.

Cell phones can also keep records of the numbers that have been called.

Local calls made by a regular phone land line will not produce a record of the call. However many telephones have a “redial” button, or phone service providers might offer callback/redial features, so you might call a friend or another “safe” number after you make a call that you don’t want your abuser to know about. Check your telephone bill. If it comes from a telephone company, such as Bell or Sprint, it will not list any local numbers, only long distance ones. If you aren’t sure, use extra caution.

The safest way to call or to receive calls for help is from a friend’s phone, a public phone, a work phone, or any telephone that has nothing to do with your abuser.

If you are in danger or think that you might be in danger, call 911 immediately.