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Temporary Internet Files

What are the Temporary Internet Files?

Temporary Internet Files is the name of a folder (directory) on your hard disk that is used by Internet Explorer to store Web pages, images, audio and video files, and other content from the Web sites that you are visiting. This folder is also known as the cache of Internet Explorer.

The purpose of the Temporary Internet Files folder to speed up the loading of the Web pages. It works like this: every time when you visit a web page with Internet Explorer, the browser first checks to see if the web page and its pictures (and possibly other files) are already in the Temporary Internet Files cache. If they are (i.e. if you have visited the same page before), Internet Explorer uses your Internet connection only to check if the web page has changed since the last visit. In most cases it was not changed and the Internet Explorer loads the page from the Temporary Internet Files folder on your hard disk, which is many times faster than loading the page from the Internet.

In addition to improving the speed of web browsing, the Temporary Internet Files folder also makes possible the so called offline browsing, which gives you the ability to open the web pages from the cache even when you are not connected to the Internet.

Despite these positive things about Temporary Internet Files, there is one big drawback: they compromise your privacy. They are called temporary but they are never deleted unless the cache is full and the Temporary Internet Files can reach very large size on the modern computers. Everyone with access to your computer can look into your Temporary Internet Files folder (location of this folder is revealed in the chapter "Where is located the Temporary Internet Files folder?") and see the sites that you have visited in the past. You can manually delete the contents of Temporary Internet Files folder (explained in the chapter "How to delete Temporary Internet Files?") but this will not erase all traces of the pages because a special file called Index.dat is placed in this folder and it will still preserve the names and even the dates of your visits to a lot of web pages. You can read more about the index.dat files (yes, there are many of these) in the article Delete Index.dat files.

The purpose of Temporary Internet Files is to speed up the loading of the Web pages by caching their content when you visit them for the first time.
1. When you visit a web page for the first time, your browser downloads from the Internet the whole content of the page. The internet connection is relatively slow and therefore there is some dalay. After the content is downloaded, Internet Explorer saves it in the Temporary Internet Files folder on your hard disk.
When the web page is already in the Temporary Internet Files folder, it is loaded much faster by the Internet Explorer.
2. On your next visit, Internet Explorer first checks to see if the page is already in the Temporary Internet Files folder. If it is there, Internet Explorer retrieves it from your hard disk, which is much faster than downloading the page from the Internet.

Can we delete all traces that reveal which pages were visited? And can we enjoy the benefits of Temporary Internet Files without fear that this will make our online habits highly exposed? Both questions have one answer: you can use Mil Shield to clean all traces. If you wish, you can select some sites that will be left in Temporary Internet Files folder.

Click here to download the free trial version of Mil Shield 8.1
4.20 MB - 25 sec with broadband or 12 minutes with dial-up link

If you want to know more about Temporary Internet Files and want to locate them and delete them manually, then read the next chapters of this article.

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Where is located the Temporary Internet Files folder?

The location of the Temporary Internet Files folder depends on the version of Windows and whether or not you are using user profiles.

For Windows 7 and Windows Vista:
For Windows XP and Windows 2000:
For Windows Me, 98, 95 or Windows NT:

You can use Mil Shield to clean the content of Temporary Internet Files along with index.dat files, history, cookies, cache and many other tracks.

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How to delete Temporary Internet Files?

You can delete the Temporary Internet Files if you want to reclaim some disk space on your system disk (their size can reach several gigabytes). To delete Temporary Internet Files manually, do the following things:

For Internet Explorer 8:
For Internet Explorer 7:
For Internet Explorer 6:

WARNING! This will most probably delete all visible items in the Temporary Internet Files folder (except cookies) but a number of invisible traces may remain in the index.dat files. The only way to be sure that you are getting rid of all traces for good is the usage of specialized privacy protection program like Mil Shield.

Mil Shield is a powerful privacy protection program that was designed specifically to clean and shred the Temporary Internet Files. Additional benefit is the ability to preserve the tracks from some chosen by you sites (selective cleaning), which makes your browsing more comfortable and safe (it is rather suspicious to always have empty history, cookies and Temporary Internet Files - it is better to leave some tracks from "innocent" sites). Mil Shield also cleans all other tracks as index.dat files, cookies, history, cache, AutoComplete records, UserData records, history of recently used folders and documents and many more.

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