Your Website Browsing History, Explained

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It is a given in today’s world that people are spending more time than ever on the internet, so much so that images of people in public places all on their smartphones have become clichéd jokes. Be it on a laptop, smartphone, or even a public computer, we use the Internet for almost everything, from searching for random bits of information to keeping in touch with loved ones across the world.

One of the most essential applications that allow us to access the Internet is a website browser. This is what we use to visit any website we choose, with the help of an Internet connection.

As with many different kinds of technology today, browsers keep a website history archive of all the web pages you have visited. This constitutes a part of your browsing history. Because this is a form of data, it can contain some sensitive information that may possibly fall into the wrong hands. Hence, it is important to understand what exactly your browser history contains, and what steps you can take to keep it protected.

The different categories of browser history

Your browsing history is not actually only limited to a record of the websites you have visited. This also includes your download history, account login details that you have remembered, form and search bar data, cookies, and cache.

Browsing and download history refer to the list of websites you have visited and files you have downloaded, respectively. Your browser also gives you an option whether you would want any details you enter into a form — such as username, password, or personal information — saved for future use. Lastly, cookies and cache refer to site preferences and temporary files that make web browsing faster and easier.

The benefits of saving your browser history

Saving your browser history enables an easier and better browsing experience for you. For example, rather than having to type an entire website address, if you had visited before and it was saved by your browser, you only have to type in a few letters and your browser will complete the rest. The same goes for any login information you might have saved.

Furthermore, having this information saved can be of massive help if there are things that you forgot. Even if you forget a website’s details, you can opt to simply type in keywords, and a result may pop out. The downloads history also allows you to easily find a file just in case you forgot where you had saved it.

The reasons to clear your browser history

Laptop displaying Google search results

Though keeping your browser history for a short time can be beneficial, in the long run, it is best to occasionally your clear browsing history. One reason is that it can end up speeding up your browser. Cookies and cache end up taking a larger space in your hard drive as they build up, thereby requiring more computing power and time to make your browser run.

Additionally, as browser history is a form of data, it can be harvested and obtained by third parties. Thus, it is possible to track your browsing patterns, thereby giving others the ability to monitor or behavior online. As a result, many are increasingly taking to regularly erasing their browsing history, as well as using special browsers and VPNs to avoid being tracked.