Close this search box.

How Often Should You Clear Browser History?

A report suggests that in the year 2021, around 5.6 billion Google searches were made in a day, which is a huge number! With the increase in the number of searches, the volume of browser history is also increasing simultaneously.

Oftentimes we are questioned, “Should we delete our browsing history? If yes, then how often?” In this blog we will discuss the topic from both a privacy as well as convenience standpoint.

In the case of your personal devices, ideally you should never delete your browsing history. If you are on a device that can be shared with others and you do not want to show your searches to the other you should always delete browsing history every time before quitting the browser. Lastly, if you are someone who isn’t that much conscious about online security you may clear your browsing history at least once in a month.

Before deleting the browser history you might want to know in detail what are the actual benefits this can offer you. Or is this a complete waste of time?

What are the Pros & Cons of Clearing Browser History?

The Pros:
  • If you use any public shared device like maybe a computer at your workplace, deleting browser history can protect your privacy.
  • Some third party cookies may track browser history to provide targeted ads. Deleting browser history can temporarily save you from these cookies.
  • It is likely for a hacker to inject malware to your system that can track browser history. Clearing history may protect you temporarily from that malware, but it won’t remove the malware.
The Cons:
  • You will lose all the records of the websites that you have visited. Maybe you forgot to bookmark any important one, the browser history can’t give you another chance to look for that url and bookmark it.
  • Another major drawback of clearing history is that browsers won’t auto fill your previously visited url or search query any more. You need to fill it up manually every time.
  • Clearing browsing history may give you a misconception that now no one can track you, which is completely false, your ISP or employer can still check your browsed websites.
  • Clearing the history only from the browser won’t make it completely deleted, you need to clear it from the DNS cache as well.

After reading all the pros & cons if you decide to delete browsing history it will be a good idea to keep a backup of your browsing history for future use.

How to Backup & Restore a Browser’s History?

There are two ways to backup browsing history before deleting it.

  1. Syncing all data to the respective browser account.
  2. Manually backing up saved history files on the device.

Between these two methods Manual backing up process is limited to a specific platform while the syncing process gives the flexibility to move history across platforms.

However, We will discuss both the process for the top 3 web browsers on the internet.

Mozilla Firefox

Syncing Process:
  • Create an account on Firefox Sync.
  • Go to your Firefox Account and Click on Sync Now.
  • Your all data along with your history will be stored on the Firefox account. You can easily log in to Firefox sync from any other device and all data including history will be restored.
Firefox Sync
Manual Process (Windows 7+):
  • Go to C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<profile folder> (Change <username> & <profile folder> with respective username and profile of your system).
  • Copy places.sqlite, places.sqlite-sh & places.sqlite-wal these three files and save them to a secure place.
  • When you want to restore history, copy these three files and return to the same location then paste and replace.
  • Open Firefox and check history. You will find all your old browsing history.

Google Chrome

Syncing Process:
  • Login or sign up into your google account.
  • Type chrome://settings/ in the address bar and click on Turn on Sync.
  • Click on settings. Then go to Manage what you sync.

  • Click on customize sync and choose History (If you want you can sync other data as well).

  • Go back and click on Confirm. Browsing history will be synced into the google account for cross platform usage.
Manual Process (Windows 7+):
  • Go to C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default (Change <username> with the actual username).
  • Copy History & History-journal files and save them to a secure place.
  • When you want to restore history, copy these files and go to the same location then paste and replace.
  • Open Google Chrome and check history. You will find all your old browsing history.

Microsoft Edge

Syncing Process:
  • Type edge://settings/profiles on the address bar and click on Sign in to sync data.

  • After signing in with your Microsoft account (You may need to create one if you do not have one already), click on Sync and toggle on History (If you want you can sync other data as well).

  • Sync will start automatically.
Manual Process (Windows 7+):
  • Go to C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Edge\User Data\Default (Change <username> with the actual username).
  • Same as chrome, copy  History & History-journal and save them to a secure place.
  • While restoring history , copy these files and return to the same location then paste and replace them.
  • Launch Microsoft Edge. You will find your old browsing history under the history section.

If you are using an Android or iOS device, syncing would be the optimal solution to backing up your browsing history.

How to Clear Browsing History?

Process of clearing browsing history may differ a bit from browser to browser. Let’s discuss the procedure for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome & Microsoft Edge

Mozilla Firefox:
  • Click on the Hamburger Menu on the top right corner.
  • Select History and choose Clear recent history.
  • In the Time Range to Clear field, choose Everything.
  • Check the mark on the ones you want to clear and then click on Ok.
  • All the browsing history till now will be deleted.
Firefox Clear All History
Google Chrome:
  • Type chrome://settings/clearBrowserData in the address bar or you can go there manually by Three Dots > History > Clear Browsing Data.
  • Select Time Range as All Time.
  • Check mark on Browsing history (you may also select other options according to your need).
  • Click on Clear Data.
Chrome Clear Browsing Data
Microsoft Edge:
  • Type edge://settings/clearBrowserData in the edge address bar. You can also go there manually by Three Dots > Settings > Privacy, Search & Services > Clear Browsing Data
  • Select Time Range as All Time.
  • Check mark on Browsing history (you may also check mark on the other options according to your need).
  • Click on Clear now.
Microsoft Edge Clear Browsing Data

You should keep in mind that deleting the history only from the browser won’t delete it entirely. The DNS cache will still keep a record of it. To delete it permanently you need to flush DNS as well. To do so, check our blog “Can You Get Hacked in Browser’s Incognito Mode?” scroll down and read the section “How to View & Delete DNS Cache in Windows?”

If you want to clear browsing history for Android devices it is quite simple also. You will find it under the Three Dots section, However if you find this difficult to do it yourself you can check the following:

Can Deleted Browser History be Recovered?

It is always recommended to take a backup before clearing browsing history, still sometimes we forget to take a backup and end up clearing the history. Recovering deleted history can be essential in such a scenario.

Yes, deleted browsing history can be recovered. You can follow any of the following processes to recover it. All of these processes can be applied for all the web browsers.

1. Using Google My Activity [Any Operating systems & devices]

Google always tracks user activities in the browser and stores them on the user’s Google account. If you want to check, Just visit My Activity – Google log in with your google account and you will find each and every activity you have performed on the browser whether it is visiting a web page or watching a video, google will have a record of all.

Limitations: Google can only track your web activity if you have logged into Google before browsing on the internet. If you don’t login to your google account before surfing the web, Google -My Activity won’t show any data.

Google My Activity

2. Restoring Previous Browser versions [Windows]

All modern day browsers can keep a backup of their own, so that if by chance the browsers crash, any problem users can restore their browsing sessions. 

This local backup includes browsing history as well. All you need to do is to force the browsers to restore on it’s previous version. Follow the below mentioned steps to recover browser history for Chrome, Firefox & Edge.

A. Turn on Show Hidden Files, Folders & Drivers

  • Go to the Start Menu on Windows.
  • Type “File Explorer Options” in the search panel and hit Enter.
  • Go to the View Tab.
  • Under Advanced Settings > Hidden Files and Folders  select Show Hidden Files Folders And Drivers.
  • Click on Apply.
Windows Show Hidden Folders

B. Restore Browser Versions

Mozilla Firefox:
  • Go to C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\ (Fill username with your device username)
  • Right click on the Firefox Folder.
  • Select the Restore Previous Versions.
  • Choose the first Firefox version shown below.
  • Click on Restore.
  • Open Firefox and check history.
Firefox Restore Previous Versions
Google Chrome:
  • Go to C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\ (Fill username with your device username)
  • Right click on the User Data Folder.
  • Select the Restore Previous Versions.
  • Choose the first User Data version shown below.
  • Click on Restore.
  • Open Chrome and check history.
Chrome Restore Previous Versions
Microsoft Edge:
  • Go to C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Edge\ (Fill username with your device username)
  • Right click on the User Data Folder.
  • Select the Restore Previous Versions.
  • Choose the first User Data version shown below.
  • Click on Restore.
  • Open Edge and check history.
Edge Restore Previous Versions

Limitations : On Windows 10+, Previous version recovery may only work if File History or Windows backup is turned on beforehand. Otherwise sometimes you may see “there are no previous versions available” under the Previous Versions tab. 

If you yourself are having trouble turning on both File History and Windows backup you may check here. If you are still facing the same issue you may need to install a file recovery application to recover deleted files, you can check here for more details.

3. Using DNS Cache [Windows]

To communicate efficiently with the network equipment, the DNS system will always make a cache of your browsed website. So if you by mistake delete the history of any browser then you can always give the DNS cache a look for the recorded website.

However from the DNS cache you can only view the browser history you need to manually copy them to your web browser. Follow these steps to check DNS cached

  • Go to the Start Menu and write cmd in the search panel.
  • Launch the program with Administration rights.
  • Write command ipconfig /displaydns and hit Enter.
  • Cached history will be shown in the command prompt window.
Command ipconfig /displaydns

You should remember that for Android devices the only way to recover browsing history is to use Google My Activity. 

So it is highly recommended that if you want to keep track of your history please log into your Google account before starting browsing or you can also sync browser history before clearing.

The Conclusion

Clearing browsing history solely depends upon the device you are using to surf the internet. If you are on a shared device, it will be a good idea to quickly sync and delete browsing history both from browser and DNS cache then log out from your sync account.

However for your personal devices such as smartphones or laptops it is not necessary to clear history if you have a minimal awareness of internet security. By clearing history, you may lose the flexibility to auto-fill urls and search queries and most importantly you can also lose the opportunity to check any important url that you haven’t saved yet.

Arghyadeep Nath

Arghyadeep Nath

Share on Social Media

Related Articles

Why Tech for Folks?

Greetings Folks! There are so many Tech Blogs as on date, but what if you get everything under the same roof? From Internet Privacy to Mobile Phone Tips & Tricks to YouTube Hacks we cover them all. We at Tech for Folks ensure you know more about every possible Technological Tactic.

Our Personal Favourite
Legal Disclaimer

Tech for Folks has affiliation with  NordVPN, Hostinger, SentryPC, Internxt and other brands. We are also also an affiliate participant of the platform Impact & partnerize. Tech for Folks is compensated for referring traffic and generating sales to these organizations. For more details check out our Affiliate Disclosure Page.