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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I don't want anyone to find out which websites I have gone to. How do I erase this information?

A. Detailed information about your browsing history is usually stored in various forms known as cookies, temporary Internet files or history. There are many ways that someone can track where you have gone on the Internet and not all of those data repositories are under your control. However, in most situations simply clearing certain information out of your computer should be sufficient to protect your privacy.

Assuming you're not "a person of interest" to law enforcement, the easiest and most effective way to cover your Internet tracks is to use an Internet browser in what's called a "Private Browsing" mode. In Firefox, simply go to Tools -- Start Private Browsing and then surf to your heart's content. When you quit Firefox, it will automatically erase your information.

Internet Explorer 8 has a similar function called "In Private Browsing." You may click either the "Safety" button near the upper-right corner of the browser window or go to Tools and select In Private Browsing. It too will then erase all information when you exit the program.

Both browsers also have ways to clear already-stored information from their memories. The actual methods of doing this are specific to each browser and its different versions. In Firefox you would go to Tools -- Options -- Privacy tab. In Internet Explorer 8, go to Tools -- Internet Options -- General tab. Using the various selections available at those locations, you may then clear the desired information.

Published: Courier 6/6/10 - Page 5C