How can I delete browser history on a system hard drive in a USB enclosure?

Shorty March 31, 2013
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I have a Dell E1505 laptop with private data and web addresses on it. The laptop blew out due to a motherboard issue while I was on a non-public court system site. I’ve signed nondisclosure agreements about this data and these sites so I have to be careful about who sees it. I have always cleared browser history before shutting down, but had no chance to this time since the computer went off with no warning.

I really need to get this laptop repaired since it has several programs loaded that I can’t put on another computer without paying for new licenses which I can’t afford. I have another Dell E1505 laptop with a slightly different setup, but in surfing around it appears I can’t drop the HD from the dead laptop into the other one. I have no idea who might be snooping at the repair shop so I plan to get a USB external drive enclosure and use it to pull any sensitive documents and files I can’t afford to lose from the HD.

I also need to clear the browser history and have read the articles here about that process, but they all see to apply to the system drive in a working laptop. I was using IE8 on a Windows XP Dell E1505 when it shut down.

Is there any way to clear to clear the browser history on a drive set up as an external? Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. susendeep dutta
    April 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Firstly,use a Linux Live CD/DVD and boot your laptop from it.You can ask it from friends or use other method to acquire it.

    You can use this to browse files from your HDD.See instructions in the link bellow -

    Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer

    You can have a very detailed information like if in case the HDD doesn't gets detected,then what must be done is mentioned in the below article along with other points.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Recover-a-Dead-Hard-Disk

  2. Oron Joffe
    April 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Traces of activity (not just browsing history) are kept all over the place, so if it's important to keep the machine working,but to clean it thoroughly, I'd suggest fitting the disc in another computer and reinstalling Windows on it. Windows will pick up the profiles (user settings) as long as it's the same version of Windows, and you'll be able to delete the data the usual way, and run "wiping" agents such as the "wipe free space" option in CCleaner.

  3. Nevzat A
    April 1, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Oops I've forgotten the link for "Ultimate Boot CD for Windows" : http://www.ubcd4win.com/downloads.htm

  4. Nevzat A
    April 1, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Have a look at "Ultimate Boot CD for Windows" project. The first step of building the ISO might not be easy but it includes windows cleaner tools. I'm just not sure if it can clean the external windows, but worth trying.

    You can use Windows Registry Editor (regedit) to access external registry files, details are here : http://4sysops.com/archives/regedit-as-offline-registry-editor/ This way, you can erase the sensitive registry locations manually.

  5. Jan Fritsch
    March 31, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    In a readable format:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE # TEMP # Software # Microsoft # Internet Explorer # TypedURLs

    Also make sure to select TEMP and click "File > remove structure" before unplugging the drive.

  6. Jan Fritsch
    March 31, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    There are multiple locations that store some information about your browsing including the Temporary Internet Files directory, certain cache files, even the registry of the system may contain some data.

    It's hard fully deleting the history in a working condition as there is a lot of hidden information storages. For a non-working system I believe you can only really get rid of the most common history data:

    For Windows XP the main file is the "Index.dat" file located in
    "Documents and SettingsusernameLocal SettingsHistoryHistory.IE5"

    You'd also have to open the registry editor (regedit), select "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE", then click on "File > Import structure" and select the "ntuser.dat" file located in "Documents and Settingsusername" of your external drive and supply a name e.g. "TEMP". Another set of history data could then be found under
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINETEMPSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerTypedURLs

  7. Michael Heffner
    March 31, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    The easiest way would be to copy the information you need to save off the drive then format the drive.

    If you're really paranoid about it and don't care about saving any data, there is a specialty tool called a BFH that will normally take care of it.

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