BBC - Action Line - Hide your tracks

Action line

Information and support for issues covered in our recent programmes

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Hide your tracks

Hide This Site button - what is this

If you click on this button it will immediately take you away from the Action Line site to the main BBC website. If you are using a computer in a public place, or somewhere that someone might see what website you are visiting, you can use this button to hide what you are doing quickly.

Keep your visits to bbc.co.uk/actionline private

Please note, the following information is for guidance only and may not completely cover your tracks.

Whenever you go online, you leave a trail of information about yourself and the websites you've seen. Each time you visit a web page your browser stores a copy of the page on your computer. When you go back to that web page your computer uses that copy so that it loads up more quickly.

These copied pages are known as your 'cache'. The files are stored on your computer and, if accessed, they can show where you have been on the internet.

Temporary internet files

The folders they are kept in are usually called Temporary Internet Files or Cache. When you want to hide where you have been on the web, you can empty these folders on your computer. Then no one can see which web pages you've been visiting. You can usually delete these temporary files via your browser - look for 'Clear History', 'Empty Cache' or 'Clear Private Data'.

Most computers also have a 'history' function which helpfully finishes off typing a web address in your browser when you type in the first few letters. Your computer remembers the addresses of all the websites you've been to and gives you the option to select the whole web address rather than finish typing it in full.

The history list is a great way of saving yourself time, but it can also show anyone who is using your computer exactly which web pages you've visited.

Browsing history

If you empty or clear your History folder you can remove all trace of this record. You'll also need to switch off the AutoComplete function for web addresses to stop this happening in the future.

You can easily tell if someone has deleted all the files in their History folder, because there won't be any web pages listed in that part of the browser.

Cookies

Many websites also like to know what you've been doing online, and they often send a little file called a 'cookie' to your computer when you visit them. The cookie then tells the web page whether you've visited it before.

A cookie from a particular website will sit on the hard drive of your computer and wait until the next time you visit that site. Cookies often live in the same place as your cache. Marketing companies use information from your cookies to build a profile of your web use, and then send you targeted information and advertising.

Cookies

To view the web anonymously, you should consider getting rid of your cookies. The easiest way to do this is to 'refuse to accept' or to 'disable' them in your web browser.

However, this can be a bit limiting, because many cookies store your user name and password so that you can get into web pages far quicker. And some websites even refuse to show you all their content if you don't accept cookies - so you could be missing out.

It is possible to make your browser alert you each time a cookie is created, but as they are used so often this can be a bit irritating.

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 someone else uses online banking and has a saved password, then if you clear the cookies on your computer they will realise you've done so, because their password will no longer be saved.