Can the owner of a website tell I've been there?

Just how much information can a web site owner grab about the people that visit? If the visitors have a sufficiently small ISP (not AOL, but say, a small school or employer easily associated with that person), are those people anonymous?

Websites capture the IP addresses of every visitor at minimum. Most also capture referring URLs (if you click a link in Google, for instance), and can also capture some information regarding your computer, such as OS and version, browser and version, and even some personal information if you have your browser set up to allow it.

Don’t IP addresses change regularly? For instance, AOL doesn’t have static IP addresses for each individual, do they?

From what I’ve seen, roughly speaking, Dial-up “yes”, cable/broadband “no”.

They definitely get your IP address, at least. Even with dynamic IP address assignment from your ISP, I think it is at least possible that your ISP could still link the visit to you given an accurate time window.


My son runs a website and one day he was here looking at things in his webmaster account, looking at something that logged visitors to his site. It was a list of IP addresses and the city/town of the IP. Your city/town could maybe tell someone it was *maybe[i/] you. Like if you visited the site run by your estranged brother, he could possibly guess by the IP city address that it could have been you. But it would be just a guess. My IP is the same as the town I live in. That might be enough to give an estranged brother a good clue that I’d been to the site. But the person running the site would have to know you to make that guess. As mentioned above, there are sites that automatically log your browser and system information, but that doesn’t identify you. They will know you are using IE 6.0, and Windows XP.

This not necessarily the user’s city. It’s going to be the city contained in the WHOIS listing for the ISP server the user is connected to. It’s basically meaningless information, so I don’t know why your son’s webhost would bother logging it. Although, I suppose it could be used to get a rough idea of the geographic distribution of visitors to the site, so maybe not totally useless.

Yes it’s the city of the IP, that’s what I said. After that when I said your city, I should have restated your IP’s city but I thought you’d know what I meant, sorry.
I think IP location is logged as just a random part of his hit-counting program. He does websites for people who run businesses, the customers probably care about locations because of their businesses. I don’t think it matters much to him though. Anyway, I was just saying that if your IP is the same as your (smallish-town) residence, that your estranged brother (for instance!) might say “Oh, someone visited the site through Optidynamic, in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, gee, my sister lives in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, wonder if it was her.” It wouldn’t pinpoint is as YOU, of course, he’d be left wondering and never know. Optidynamic could serve a hundred towns but the Big Stone Gap location would ring a bell in my head if I was the webmaster and my brother lived there. It’s just so small and random. But, webmasters will only know the city/town of your IP provider.

Of course, one could use a proxy server to mask their visit to a website.

Just to be pedantic, it’s the city contained in the WHOIS listing of IP from which the webserver recieved the http request. Usually this is your computer, but if you’re connecting through a remote proxy (like I do when I want to get into sites my university has organizational access to like the OED), it’ll show the proxy’s city listing.

I run a family tree website and I like to know what names people are searching for and how they arrive at certain branches, and how they found my site. I use a free tracker called “” that will tell me the following:

time/date of visit
length of visit
pages visited, including time spent on each page
referring URL or search engine, including the original search terms used
operating system
time since last visit
IP address

I can then use a free program called Neotrace and enter in the IP address if I really want to, it will trace the IP to the city of origin.

I think there are certain services that can mask your IP address - one time (and only once out of thousands of visitors) I saw the IP as something like “IP hidden”.

Keep in mind I’m not a very good web designer, I’m not sure what more the good programmers can extract.

Even if they change the IP address , the webmaster still has a snapshot of the IP which can be traced via the ISP logs.


What is that personal info and how do you turn it off?

It’s off by default. You can make changes to it in IE from Tools > Internet Options > Content tab and click the My Profile button.

My address in logs shows up as the name of the exact street that is about two blocks over, kinda creepy that someone can narrow down my place of residence that closely through something I’m broadcasting thousands of times a day.

If you’re curious about what information gets sent from your computer in HTTP transactions, you can download a network analyzer (“packet sniffer”) to watch the conversations. It’s kind of enlightening to see what your browser actually does sometimes when you do a simple GET. (I use Ethereal but there are others–anyone have any other favorites?)

QED, I see email addresses from my Outlook Express when I do that. There is a scroll bar, but it won’t let me scroll up or down. There are two things you can chose to check one or the other, the first one has the box grayed-out and the scroll bar inoperable. The second, if checked, activates the box and supposedly you can then make some character or image, I don’t even know what they’re talking about. But anyway, to get back to the point, what personal info will be available? And, which button makes it unavailable?

A tool that shows what your browser can tell the web site it the web site asks nicely.

I kinda got the idea that the OP wanted to know what a web site could tell by you viewing. A web site would not have access to ISP logs, nor would I expect an ISP to give access to such logs without darn good reason.

Wow … the thing which really grabbed me, was that this site can show you what you have on your clipboard!!! :eek: