Summary: Temporary Internet Files explained. There is also information how to delete temporary internet files and corresponding index.dat files.
What are Temporary Internet Files?
Temporary Internet Files are, in fact, the cache of the Internet Explorer. This means that when you load a web page with Internet Explorer, it is saved on your computer so that if you later decide to open the same page again, it will open a lot faster. Temporary Internet Files improve speed of web browsing and also make possible so called offline browsing, which gives you the ability to open the web pages from cache even when you are not connected to the Internet.
Despite all these positive things about Temporary Internet Files, they have one big drawback: they compromise your privacy. Everyone with access to your computer can look into your Temporary Internet Files folder (location of this folder is discussed here) and see the sites that you have visited in the past. You can manually delete the contents of Temporary Internet Files folder (explained here) but this will not erase all traces of the pages because a special file called Index.dat is placed in this folder and it will still preserve the names and even the dates of your first visits to many pages.
Where is located Temporary Internet Files folder?
The location of the Temporary Internet Files folder depends on the version of Windows and whether or not you are using user profiles.
If you have Windows XP or Windows 2000 then Temporary Internet Files are in this location (note that on your PC they can be on other drive instead of drive C):
C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\
If you have Windows Me, Windows 98, Windows NT or Windows 95 then index.dat files are in these locations:
C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\
C:\Windows\Profiles\\Temporary Internet Files\
Note that on your computer the Windows directory may not be C:\Windows but some other directory. If you don't have Profiles directory in you Windows directory don't worry - this just means that you are not using user profiles.
How to delete Temporary Internet Files?
To delete Temporary Internet Files manually, do the following things:
1. Start Internet Explorer and click Tools menu, then select Internet Options... from this menu. This will open the Internet Options window.
2. Click General tab and then find in the section Temporary Internet Files the button Delete Files... and click it. A new dialog box opens.
3. In the Delete Files dialog box, click to select the Delete all offline content check box if you want to delete all Web page content that you have made available offline.
4. Click OK to delete the files. Note that if you are doing this for the first time, the deleting can take a large amount of time, so be patient.
WARNING! This will most probably delete all visible items in the Temporary Internet Files folder (except cookies) but a number of invisible traces may remain in the index.dat files. The only way to be sure that you are getting rid of all traces for good is the usage of specialized privacy protection program like Mil Shield - a powerful privacy protection program that was designed specifically to clean and shred the Temporary Internet Files. Additional benefit is the ability to preserve the tracks from some chosen by you sites (selective cleaning), which makes your browsing more comfortable and safe (it is rather suspicious to always have empty history, cookies and Temporary Internet Files - it is better to leave some tracks from "innocent" sites). Mil Shield also cleans all other tracks as index.dat files, cookies, history, cache, AutoComplete records, UserData records, history of recently used folders and documents and many more.