Internet Explorer builds up a history of the websites you’ve visited. Every so often, it can pay to clear it out. But what if you do this and didn’t mean to? Can you undelete Internet Explorer history?
As always with Windows, there’s more than one answer to this question.
The simple one is to use Windows built-in Restore feature.
At intervals, modern versions of Windows take a snapshot of your computer. These snapshots are called “restore points”. If you regularly install software, it can be worth manually setting a restore point before going ahead with the software setup routine. That way, if something nasty happens you can get your system back to how it was.
The chances are that you’ll have a reasonably recent restore point set by your system. It’s then just a matter of running Windows Restore and you should get all your Internet Explorer history back.
But sometimes there are reasons that restore points don’t exist.
Maybe you’ve changed your system settings so that they aren’t automatically taken. Or maybe some malicious software has changed the setting for you. Or it may not even be safe to restore your system – maybe you’ve recently cleaned out a virus and the nearest restore point is actually before you got rid of the thing. You probably don’t want to go to the hassle of re-ridding yourself of a virus. Or the latest system restore was taken before you installed a complicated piece of software.
What can you do in these instances to undelete your Internet Explorer history?
Depending on what other software you are running, there’s a chance that there are some other files used by Internet Explorer to track your browsing history. These files are called index.dat and they may be hidden by the system and will almost certainly be littered across your hard drive in a variety of folders.
You can see why people use software to remove their tracks now, can’t you?
So how do you go about finding these files?
Go to your Start menu and select Search.
Choose the “For files and folders…” option from the menu that appears.
Then select the “All files and folders” option.
Several options will be given to you. The file name box needs to have “index.dat” in it (don’t type in the quote marks).
Then click the “More advanced options” link and tick the “Search hidden files and folders” option as well as the options that are already pre-selected for you.
If Windows thinks you’ve got more than one hard drive, just select “Local Disk (C:) from the drop down list.
Then click the Search button and let Windows go off and present you with a list of files. You may want to go off and grab a coffee while it does this.
Whilst you could open these files in a word processor, they won’t make much sense when you view them. So you’re going to need a specialist piece of software to read them – just use your favorite search engine and search for “index.dat reader”. Use the software you find to open these index.dat files and get your browsing history back.