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How to erase or clean Index.dat files

This article will show you How to erase or clean Index.dat files with history, cookies, cache and many other tracks.

Required software: Mil Shield.

What are Index.dat files?

Index.dat files are used by Internet Explorer and Windows to store history, Internet cache, cookies, UserData records and other information about what you have done in Internet or in your PC. Although some of their functions are useful, they are dangerous privacy threat - any person with even little knowledge about index.dat files locations and structure can see history of almost all of your computer activities. Index.dat files are not the only privacy threat but they are the most obscure and dangerous one because they are hard to find and even harder to delete. In fact, in most cases it is impossible to delete Index.dat files manually because Internet Explorer and Windows use them all the time.

You can use Mil Shield to clean the content of index.dat files along with history, cache, cookies, and many other tracks. If you want to know more about index.dat files and want to locate them and try to delete them manually read the next chapters of this article.

Index.dat files are used for the first time in IE 4 and since then they are part of Internet Explorer. Before version 4 of Internet Explorer there were mm256.dat and mm2048.dat files, which are similar to Index.dat files

Where are located Index.dat files?

The location of index.dat files depends on the version of Windows and whether or not you are using user profiles. Regardless of Windows version in many cases you can't see or find index.dat file using Windows Explorer. There is a little file called desktop.ini in each directory where index.dat file is located. This desktop.ini file forces Windows Explorer to hide index.dat files and to show the contents of Internet cache or history instead. However you can use some other file utility and binary (hex) editor to find the files and read their content. If you have Windows Vita then index.dat files are in these locations (note that on your PC they can be on other drive instead of drive C):

C:\Users\<username>\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5
C:\Users\<username>\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Low\Content.IE5
C:\Users\<username>\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\UserData\index.dat
C:\Users\<username>\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\UserData\Low\index.dat

Note, that you will have to change the settings of Windows Explorer to show all kinds of files (including the protected system files) in order to access these folders.

If you have Windows XP or Windows 2000 then index.dat files are in these locations (note that on your PC they can be on other drive instead of drive C):

C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Cookies\index.dat
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\index.dat
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\History\History.IE5
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\UserData\index.dat

If you have only one user account on Windows XP or Windows 2000 then replace <username> with Administrator to get the paths of all index.dat files.

If you have Windows Me, 98, NT or 95 then index.dat files are in these locations:

C:\Windows\History\MSHistXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX\index.dat                  (XXXX are some digits)
C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat                              (only in Internet Explorer 4.x)
C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat
C:\Windows\Profiles\<username>\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat                   (only in IE 4.x)
C:\Windows\Profiles\<username>\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat

Note that on your computer the Windows directory may not be C:\Windows but some other directory. If you don't have Profiles directory in you Windows directory don't worry - this just means that you are not using user profiles. It is also possible that you don't have UserData subdirectories.

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

What is in Index.dat files?

This chapter contains a comprehensive description of the index.dat file format. It includes hex dumps of the index.dat file header and description of all types of index.dat file records: HASH, URL, REDR and LEAK. You are going to need this information if you are trying to examine and understand the content of your index.dat files.

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 Windows Me, Windows 98 or Windows 95 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 Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000 or Windows NT this won't work.

Mil Shield is a powerful privacy protection program that was designed specifically to clean and shred the index.dat files content. Unlike the other methods of dealing with index.dat file content, shredding is the best because it doesn't destroy the entire structure of the index.dat file which can cause Internet Explorer or Windows to crash but instead cleans and shreds only the privacy threatening URL, LEAK and REDR records. 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 cache - it is better to leave some tracks from "innocent" sites). Mil Shield also cleans all other tracks as cookies, history, cache, AutoComplete records, UserData records, history of recently used folders and documents and many other.

Free Download Trial is available, I hope this software will be helpful for you.

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