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One of the things that bothers me the most about large, full-featured desktop web browsers is that you know that no matter how much you try to delete the browsing history, the cache, the cookies and everything else – there’s always going to be a trace of something that tells people what sites you’ve visited, your login details, private messages and chat sessions.
People often desire a more private web browser – a way to browse without a trace.
While most people have nothing at all to hide on their own home PC that is usually shared among family members, there’s always the matter of writing emails, having chat sessions or even conducting financial transactions over the web from a library computer or some other form of public Internet access. Unfortunately, using a browser that’s installed on a public PC is like using a public water fountain. You know that there are germs all over the thing, but are you so thirsty that you simply have to take the chance?
Is your mobile requirement for Internet access so urgent that you’re willing to take the risk? If you’ve read Tina’s article about what the Internet knows about you – you might think twice.
Well, now you don’t have to. I would like to introduce you to Browzar, a lightweight, private web browser that you don’t have to install to use, and it doesn’t leave a single trace on the computer where you use it.
Installing the Browzar Private Web Browser Is Easy – You Don’t!
You could always install privacy plugins for the web browser that you use, such as the Close N’ Forget plugin for Firefox that Karl covered. However, considering the size and the features of Firefox (especially if you’ve installed a large number of plugins), can you be absolutely certain that there’s no trace left? So long as you’re using an installed desktop application, there’s going to be some form of logfiles, cache or temporary directory somewhere that could hold a small trace of your activities.
Instead, why not use a standalone application that you don’t even have to install on the computer? Lightweight is an understatement – Browzar weighs in at only 222K, so it’s the perfect portable application. Just download and place the executable wherever it’s most convenient for you – whether that’s your own PC or your USB stick. The next time you’re at the library or the Internet cafe and you want to check your bank account, just launch the executable private web browser and browse without a trace.
To be honest, this lightweight browser has most of the features you’ll need to do most of your online activities while you’re mobile. It even has a funny “Boss Button,” which is apparently for people to press if their boss walks by. Either pressing the Boss Button or Control-Space will instantly kill the application. The reason it’s funny is because if someone is attempting to use Browzar at work, then their Internet traffic is still being logged by the firewall and they aren’t really getting away with anything (something to keep in mind if this is your intended use).
In all fairness, Browzar is based on IE and requires that IE is installed on the target PC – this is why the executable is so small. However, unlike IE, Browzar doesn’t make use of the history or logging (unless you want it to cache your information), and upon exiting the application, it makes sure every file or directory it had to write to is completely cleaned up.
Regardless how you exit the application, this cleanup procedure gets triggered. If it crashes or fails the last time you ran it, just rerun Browzar and exit again, and the cleanup routine will repeat successfully. Now, if you’re concerned because a simple delete doesn’t really remove the information, and that a forensic scan of your PC could discover the formerly “deleted” information – then all you have to do is enable the “secure delete” feature in Browzer.
Secure Delete will actually overwrite the previously written information with random information, and it will do so several times, as well as renaming the files themselves. You can’t get much cleaner than that. The application itself is about as simple as it gets. There are no preferences or options – the app simply uses whatever Internet access you’ve configured for IE.
The only available tools are only related to your security and the browser’s ability to keep a clean trail. If you want to clean up your tracks even before you exit, just go to Tools and click on “Force Cleanup” and the app will run through the cleanup procedure.
The application is so ridiculously small that you could really use it anywhere. Rename it to a zip file and email it to yourself if you’re traveling and you can access it any time from your email account. Just download it to any PC, change back to “EXE” and run it. If you carry around a USB memory stick, this app will hardly make a dent in memory consumption, and you can run it directly from the stick.
Whether you’re at a friends house, on a business trip or at school – Browzar can give you the peace of mind that you’re truly browsing the Internet in complete privacy and security. Always beware that the Internet can be monitored by a firewall system, but as a method to access the net without leaving a trace on the PC you’re using – Browzar definitely fits the bill. And for the price (free) you can’t go wrong.
Do you use Browzar to surf the web? Do you have your own secure browsing solutions for when you’re traveling? Share your insight in the comments section below.