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clear There’s a running joke in my family that my paranoia (as far as security is concerned) knows no bounds. On the computer, my passwords are at least 30 characters long, I try to surf on as many secure webpages (https) as I can, I keep everything in encrypted folders behind firewalls, and when I close my Firefox browser, all my personal browsing information is automatically dumped and deleted so no nefarious devil can get their hands on it. Yep, you can call me Captain Paranoia. <salute>

This is one of the reasons why I like Firefox. If you go to Tools–>Options–>Privacy, there is a section there called “Private Data” :

clear firefox cache

Now, by clicking “clear now”, you can wipe all your private data immediately but you can set it up so it wipes your browsing history, temp files and other stuff automatically everytime Firefox closes. You can obviously achieve this by ticking “Always clear my private data when I close Firefox”.

If you want to be asked first, tick the second box “Ask me before clearing private data” but personally I found it really irritating always having a pop-up box jump out at me. So I turned it off. But I guess it all comes down to personal preference.

But you may not want ALL the private data cleared. For example, I decided to keep my cookies as I didn’t want to log in and out of certain sites all the time (preferring to manually delete them once a week instead). So by clicking on the “settings” button, you can tell Firefox what you want wiped when your browser closes and what you want kept.


clear firefox temp files

Some of them, such as cookies and cache, are fairly straight-forward. But if you would like explanations of the others, Firefox Facts has a nice article explaining what they mean and what they save exactly.

This is a feature that everyone should have enabled by default. As I said, you may find it inconvenient to always have your cookies wiped but you should always have everything else wiped and dumped everytime your browser closes. Otherwise who knows who will be looking at that information behind your back? Your partner? Your boss? Your roommate? Law enforcement without a warrant? These days, in the era of the Patriot Act, it pays to dump your internet data when you’re finished with it.

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  1. tommy s
    January 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Overkill? Not.
    I don't want my browser to remember any of my passwords for ANY site. There's no reason it should. If it mattered to no one whether others had access to their passwords on "non-critical sites"... then there wouldn't be passwords required there in the first place, would there.

    Clearing passwords has to be an all or nothing proposition. Either you clear 'em, or you don't. There should NEVER be a "oh, well, THIS password is less critical than those others, so it's okay if you don't clear this one" option. Otherwise the user will always be unsure which passwords were cleared and which were not, without auditing the whole system.

  2. zeeba neighba
    October 3, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Overkill - why would anyone want to delete saved passwords for noncritical sites? There are so many trivial passwords required, no one can keep track of them all. The key here is to never save a password or login for banking or other information-sensitive sites, and let the computer save the ones for the trivial sites - who cares if some hacks your log-in name for snarky comments you leave on Wonkette?

  3. venkat
    December 15, 2008 at 1:10 am

    This is a tip every body knows ,"shutdown" is not word might be "closing ". we can set to clear even temporary internet files in internet explorer when IE is closed .check this

  4. Aibek
    December 14, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Every good tip. It's one of those things that needs to be set right after Firefox is installed.

  5. Mackenzie
    December 14, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    As I commented on Firefox Facts's article (they deleted the commenbt), this isn't fool-proof. Firefox 3 does not clear all private data.

    See the following bugs:
    form input not cleared
    Awesome Bar still shows history (so it's obviously not cleared) after using Clear Private Data & cache is not emptied
    Zoom levels on sites are remembered after Clear Private Data which can give away that the site has been visited

    That said, I do still use it. I like that the cookies are cleared. No side-jacking for me, thanks much. The cache issue is at least gotten around by the fact that this is when quitting the browser, so it's exiting. Clear Private Data definitely doesn't work right while FF is running though.

    Just started using NoScript again...MUO needs JS to add a comment?

    • codyp
      December 14, 2008 at 6:27 pm

      I not seem to have that issue with the awesome bar on windows. The form fields only remembered for me are ones I want it to remember. The zoom thing however is a major give. I always reset it before i leave the page so I never would have known.

  6. Adam
    December 14, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I've been doing this for a looooooong time. I also, as added protection, disabled FF from saving my browsing history at all.

    And you know, add this to the fact that my OSX laptop has my home folder encrypted, and the Windows laptop has the entire drive encrypted... yeah. What, me, paranoid? I have no idea where you'd get that kind of idea.


  7. codyp
    December 14, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I had this setup for a while, but must have over looked the ask me box. It asked me everytime i closed the browser, so I just made a habit of pressing ctrl+shift+del, to clear my data to clear it on the fly. I may go back to this set up since it wont beg me for instructions. Then again my hands are trained.