MONITORING WEB BROWSING HABITS

If you want to track where someone has been on the net, there are several ways to do so.

When use a Web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer - 95% usage or other browsers - 3% usage) it collects information about the places you visit like images, cookies and temporary files, and stores it on your computer. This information is easy to find if you know where to look. However, it's also easy to delete so you should be aware that many Web-savvy kids do it regularly.

History files

Browsers keep a history of recently visited sites by keeping files of those sites called cached files. The purpose of this is to speed up your surfing of sites that you visit regularly. Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) users can simply click the History button on the toolbar to view the sites your browser has been to recently. In more recent versions of Internet Explorer, you can even choose the day of the week you want to have a look at.

Users of Netscape can click on Communicator on their toolbar, select Tools, and then History. This will show a list of the Web sites visited, along with dates and times. Another option is to press the Ctrl (control) and H keys both together—that will also bring up the history listings.

Users of Mozilla Firefox can click on Go on their toolbar, and then select History. This will show a list of the Web sites visited, placed in folders by date. Another option is to press the Ctrl (control) and H keys both together, that will also bring up the history listings.

Once you have the history list, most browsers allow you to just double-click on the site name to check it out.

The Cached files

Depending on which version you use, Microsoft Internet Explorer allows users to click on either Tools or View. Next, select Internet Options and click on General and then Settings. Finally, click on View Files to see a list of all the cached Web pages on your computer. You can double-click on any file name to view it.

If you are using an older version of Netscape (anything before Netscape 6), simply type the words about:global in the URL box, to get a list of recently cached files.

To locate cache files using Netscape 6 or newer versions, search your hard drive using the following path: C:\Program Files\Netscape\Users\ your name \Cache. Click here for a quick link to the folder to choose your name. You can double click on any file to view it.

Web files, videos or images stored on your computer

To find Web pages or images that someone has purposely saved on your computer (as opposed to cache files, which are automatically saved), you can use your Search for Files tool in Windows or Macintosh.

In Windows, type the following file extensions in the Search box: *.htm *.html (remember to leave a space between the two terms). To search for images, type in: *.gif *.jpg *.jpeg *.bmp. To search for video files, type in *.avi *.mpeg *.mpg *.asf (again, leave a space). Macintosh users can do the same, but they must leave out the * before the file extension.

Your Search function will return a list of all Internet Web pages, images or videos stored on your computer. Just double-click on the file name or icon to view the file.

Cookies

A cookie is a file that a Web site can park on your browser when you visit, and that records your activities on that site. Some cookies are deleted when you close the browser, some expire over time but most are left on your hard drive for when you visit that site again. The idea is that when you go back, the site can present you with customized information. You can find cookies on your computer if you are using Windows 2000 or Windows XP by clicking here. When that window opens, you will see a list of all the users registered on your computer. Open the one your child logs into the operating system under, and within that will be a folder called "cookies". Within that folder will be all of the cookies for that computer. This is not necessarily an accurate indication of where someone has been because advertisements also put cookies on a system and the domain used by the ad company may look like content your child should not be looking at, even though the site the ad was on was innocent and the site itself had nothing to do with the domain the cookie came from.