Windows XP like other versions of windows has a feature called auto complete in internet explorer which is activated by default. Auto complete (auto suggestions) is very helpful because it tries to complete the web address you are typing in the address bar by providing suggestions automatically based on the words you type.
These suggestions are populated based upon your internet browsing history. For example when you type in www.tec windows will automatically complete the address as www.techallica.com if you had visited techallica.com previously. If more than one match occurs a small list is provided and you can select your desired address from that list.
Now how are these suggestions made? Simple, by remembering all the websites that you have visited in the past i.e. maintaining your browser history. This is a potential breach of your privacy. Anybody who has access to your computer can view the complete list websites you have browsed in the past simply by typing in a few letters in the internet explorer address bar and seeing the auto completed list of websites which are nothing but the list of websites you have visited in the past.
The only way to stop this from happening is to clear this list of stored browser history. This list is stored in the file called index.dat located in your cookies directory which is usually located at C:\Documents and Settings\username\Cookies\ (replace “username” with your windows username, if your username is jack then your cookies folder is C:\Documents and Settings\jack\Cookies\).
You simply have to delete this file to clear your auto suggestions history, but the deletion a bit tricky. Why? Because windows does not allow a file which is being currently used and index.dat automatically gets loaded when windows starts normally. You either have to start windows in safe mode, locate the file and delete the file or use a small nifty utility like Dr.Delete which can be downloaded here.
Once you download and install Dr.Delete, using the software, browse and select index.dat located at C:\Documents and Settings\username\Cookies\ folder and press confirm. Once you have done that, the file will automatically be deleted when you reboot your computer. Once you reboot your computer, the browsing history used for the address auto complete feature located at index.dat is deleted.
Step by Step Walk through
Step1: Start the Dr.Delete software/application
Step 2: Browse to C:\Documents and Settings\username\Cookies\ folder and select the index.dat file and click on Open
Step 3: After selecting the file, click on Delete button
Step 4: Click on Yes in the confirmation window that pops up
Step 5: Click Ok in the window that pops up next. This is a standard window that pops up if you are using windows XP or Windows 2000, don’t worry, nothing to bother here
Step 6: Click Ok on the information window
Step 7: Restart your computer. The file will be deleted automatically when your computer restarts/reboots