where does IE5 keep its history?

I’m running Internet Explorer 5.5 on Windows 98 SE. For the life of me, I can’t seem to find where IE keeps the pages visited in its history. They’re not under Temporary Internet Files (you can clear them without clearing the history), they don’t appear in a search for text included in any other files that I could find (I did a search for find files containing text that appeared either in the URL or the title of the pages appearing in history), and neither the URLs or titles of pages appeared in the Registry.

I could see that maybe Microsoft encrypts somehow this information and puts it into a file that won’t respond to normal searches. But if this is so – a) what file, and b) why? I can’t think of anything else that is so protected that doesn’t need to be (like passwords). In any case, anyone who wants to can simply press the history button on IE.

Any ideas?

CTRL+H works for both Netscape & IE.

Okay, so you already knew that which means I answered a question you didn’t ask. So I guess I don’t understand what your asking.

As has been said, if you want to clear the history, that can be easily done. I will also point out that the browser cache are not regular files stored in your disk. IE keeps its own cache and Windows Explorer will present them as separate files ut that is not the way they are stored and trying to manege those files from Windows Explorer is asking for trouble because it messes up IE. Do it from IE instead. Just so you know.

There is a Registry setting that contains your IE history (just the URLs). It’s located at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TypedURLs.

Also, there’s a directory, WINROOT\History (where WINROOT is whatever directory you installed Windows into), which contains shortcuts to the actual pages you accessed.

It is true, though, that it’s safer to delete them using IE’s buttons rather than to monkey with them yourself, particularly the History directory.

OK, that’s basically the answer I was looking for.

Is there a way to view the contents of the History directory without the special IE format?

The C:\WINDOWS\History folder contains sub-folders for each day of history (determined by a setting in IE itself) and within those sub-folders for each domain visited. Within those folders are HTML documents corresponding to pages visited. HTML documents can be viewed in any web browser and most current word processors.

Crusoe, I think you are mistaken in that Windows Explorer displays it to look like that but that is not the way they are in the disk. Go to DOS and try to find those files or the cache files. I don’t think you can find them

Damn, sailor, but you’re right. They’re not files at all, just shortcuts.

Note that the shortcut kept in the Favorites folder are true separate files on the disk (therefore taking up a cluster each)

OTOH the History and Temporary Internet Files folders do not exist as such on disk, rather Windows Explorer interprets and displays them as if they existed.

A similar case happens with the Email files in Outlook Express. All emails in a OE folder are stored in a single disk file. OE then interprets them and displays them separately but Windows Explorer does not do this. You cannot see the emails from Windows Explorer but they could have added that capability.

I once had a problem with the Recycle Bin that I had to actually go into it from the DOS prompt and delete files that the Windows Recycle Bin wouldn’t delete.

When I went to the DOS prompt I couldn’t see anything in C:\recycled. But when I ran attrib -s -a c:\recycled I could see everything - folders and files.

When I tried the same thing on c:\windows\history I was able to remove the system and archive attributes (the system one is the tricky one to get rid of, the others can be removed from within Windows), but I couldn’t see any additional files or folders. But when I right click on the History folder from Windows Explorer, it shows 14 files and 12 folders.

So my question again is what is kept where? Are the URLs shortcuts or actual files? Why can’t I see them?

Actually, the Temporary Internet files do exist, but they are just hidden better.

After searching around a little bit more I found this very helpful page:


which had a link to this also helpful KB article:


>> Temporary Internet files do exist, but they are just hidden better

Well, it depends on what the meaining of “is” is. :wink: They do not exist as separate files with separate FAT entries. They exist as part of one big file IE uses for cache. Same thing with History.

If I ZIP several files together do they still exist? Not as separate files.

BTW, IIRC there was a thread some time ago where we discussed this and how IE mismanages the cache causing it to leak and there was some utility out there to correct this. I’ll see if I can remember it as I have not run it in quite a while.

You have to be aware that Windows Explorer gives you a very sophisticated presentation of things. It shows files as existing which do not exist in reality (like those just mentioned, control panel etc. and it does not show files that do exist like the desktop.ini present in every directory. You have to understand that windows explorer is not a representation of the structure of the disk but rather a tool.

You should not mess with those system files which have their own tools to manage them.

To answer the OP as succinctly as possible: the information is cached in files named
and Windows Explorer presents the information as you see it, not as it is actually organized in the disk files.

The proper way to manage this information is with the tools intended for that, not through Windows Explorer or DOS.

BTW, do not confuse the History folders, with the dropdown history autocomplete thingy

I copied file C:\Windows\History\History.IE5\MSHist012001110520011106\INDEX.DAT (64KB) to the desktop and opend it with a text processor. The heading is Client UrlCache MMF Ver 5.2 and after that it is all garbled. It seems though that not all 64 KB are being used, only a very small part.

Do a Google search for “UrlCache MMF Ver 5.2” and you’ll find more than you ever wanted to know. Check out Microsoft’s Really Hidden Files.