Please note, the information below is for guidance only and may not completely cover your tracks. If you want to be completely sure of not being tracked online, the safest way would be to access the internet at a local library, a friend's house or at work.
How can an abuser discover your internet activities?
As a rule, internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes images from websites visited, words entered into search engines and a trail ('history') that reveals the sites you have visited. Below are instructions on how to minimize the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.
Information on Digtal stalking, spyware and staying safe online from Women's Aid.
Warning about deleting cookies and address histories
It's important to state that there is a risk involved in removing data from your computer. For instance, if your partner uses online banking and has a saved password, then if you clear the cookies on your PC, your partner will realise you've done so, because their password will no longer be saved. Also, your partner may notice if the address history on the PC has been cleared, and this may raise suspicion.
How do I work out which browser I'm using?
If you know what browser you are using, then skip to the relevant instructions below. If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click on Help on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using - you should then refer to the relevant instructions below.
Smartphone brower privacy apps
Instructions on how to delete history and cache from your PC
Internet Explorer 7
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. In the General page under Browser History, select the Delete... button. Either select and Delete each section: Temporary internet files; Cookies, History; Forms data and Passwords; or select the Delete all... button at the bottom to clear everything.
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. At private data select settings, ensure that all boxes have been selected and then click on Clear Now
Chrome, Opera and other browsers
There are many new browsers on the market, so it is always advisable to search for advice on your own browser. For example this tutorial shows you various security measures on Opera, or you can see the settings for Google Chrome
Safari (used on Apple Macs)
Resetting Safari clears the history, empties the cache, clears the Downloads window, and removes all cookies. It also removes any saved user names and passwords or other AutoFill data and clears Google/Yahoo search entries. To do this go to the Safari menu at top left hand screen. Choose Reset Safari, and click Reset.
Deleting your browsing history
Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as a 'history'. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that say www.reducingtherisk.org.uk, right click and choose Delete. For Safari, select History at top of the screen and choose "Clear History"
If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse.
Be aware of how records of your emails can be accessed:
Any email you have previously sent will be stored in sent Items. Go to sent items and delete emails you don't want a person to see. If you started an email but didn't finish it, it might be in your drafts folder. Go to the draft folder to delete it If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message - delete the email if you don't want anyone to see your original message. When you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird etc) it does not really delete the item - it moves the item to a folder called Deleted Items. You have to delete the items in Deleted Items to remove them completely. If there's a risk that your abuser may know how to access your emails, it's a good idea to set up a new email account. Use a provider like Hotmail or Yahoo for an account you can access from anywhere, and use a name that is not recognisable as you, for example firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep this email secret.
Toolbars such as Google, AOL and Yahoo keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose "Clear Search History".
If you do not use a password to log on to your computer, someone else will be able to access your email and track your internet usage. The safest way to find information on the internet, would be at a local library, a friend's house, or at work
Internet Safety for Survivors of Domestic Abuse, Network for Surviving Stalking (pdf, 374 KB): In order to stay safer you will need to change your online activity. The following guidelines cannot guarantee to keep you from harm, but they will help you learn how to take additional precautions, to better protect your anonymity, location, and identity.
The instructions on these pages may not completely hide your website visits. The best and safest way to find information on the internet is to use a computer at a local library, friend's house or at work.