Index.dat files in Windows

Heard about Index.dat files ,most Software tech savvy users might be familiar with this famous file that store user usage traces.Index.dat are files hidden on your computer that contain all traces of the Web sites that you have ever visited,files and documents you recently accessed. Every URL, and every Web page is listed there. Not only that but all of the email that has been sent or received through Outlook or Outlook Express is also being logged. The file names and locations depend on what version of Internet Explorer you have. If you are running IE version 4.0 or above, the file name is “index.dat”.
According to Microsoft, these files are used to cache visited Web sites to help speed up the loading of Web pages in Internet Explorer. Obviously this cannot be the case because when you clear the Temporary Internet Files the “index.dat” files remain behind and continue to grow. If you delete or clear the Temporary Internet Files, there is absolutely no need to index the URL cache because those files no longer exist.
 Types of Index.dat Files

  1. History index.dat files [Located Under History.IE5 Folder]

This is actually a collection of index.dat files. These are history indices, every time you visit a homepage, that address will be inserted into to history index.dat files. Each history index.dat file is associated with a date. In the browser, this is what the history shows.

      2.  Cache index.dat file[Located Under Content.IE5 Folder]
Internet Explorer uses the cache for two reasons. The primary reason is for fast access to web pages. If the web page you visit hasn’t changed since the last time you visited, Internet Explorer will load the homepage from the hard drive (the cache) instead of the web. To find the cached homepage on the hard drive, it searches in the index.dat file and the browser shows the local page. The cache will also allow users to access homepages offline.
3.  Cookies index.dat file[Located Under Cookies Folder]
Every time a web site creates a cookie on your machine, IE will insert an entry in the cookies index.dat file that associates the homepage with the cookie file. Next time you visit that homepage, IE finds the cookie file through the index.dat file.

If you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista then index.dat files are in these locations (note that on your PC they can be on other drive instead of drive C):


Although index.dat files are useful, they can compromise your privacy as any person who has some knowledge about index.dat files[What is in the Index.dat files?] and has access to your computer can see the history of your Internet activities. Index.dat files are system files and they can’t be deleted manually as they are used by Windows all the time (index.dat files are locked by Windows).
How to erase or clean Index.dat files?
Erasing or cleaning of the index.dat files is not an easy task because they are opened by Internet Explorer and Windows all the time. If you are using an ancient Windows Me, Windows 98 or Windows 95 system, you can restart in DOS mode and then you can delete index.dat files one by one (look in the folders that are mentioned above). However if you are using Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000 or NT this won’t work.Now if you argue that you use CCleaner or any other privacy cleaner software ,it won’t completely delete all traces,still there might be Internet traces residing on your PC.However don’t panic further there is a perfect solution in dealing with cleaning Index.dat files and it’s Index.dat Analyser , a  free tool to view, examine and delete Index.dat files.And if looking for alternatives ,locate index.dat file inside your system drive and use Unlocker to delete or if you are using a multiboot Linux OS , with Linux these files can be easily deleted up on mounting Windows System Drive.If looking for a Paid software ,then use Wipe Expert [a free evaluation copy also avail] .Again another easy method  to automatically delete Index.dat files[creating a .bat script] on every system Shutdown is Explained Here
Note that whatever software you are using an index.dat file cannot be permanently deleted,since it’s recreated on every Logon,only you can delete the contents inside .

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Posted on August 7, 2011, in Security, Tips'n'Tricks, Windows. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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