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How to use the internet safely

Be aware that internet browsers will usually save certain information and keep a record of the websites you visit and search engines can also remember and show your search history. Also, deleted emails are not always really deleted and can be easily found.

If you are worried about someone knowing you have visited this – or any other – website, or about computer security in general, this information can help increase your online safety.

How can an abuser discover your internet activities?

Please take a few minutes to read the warning below and to take steps to increase your safety when visiting this website.

As a rule, internet browsers will save certain information as you navigate your way around the internet. This includes images from websites visited, information entered into search engines and a trail (‘browsing history’) that reveals the sites you have visited. Please follow the instructions below to minimise the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.

If you know what browser you are using, then skip to the relevant instructions below. If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click on ‘Help’ on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say ‘About Internet Explorer’, ‘About Mozilla Firefox’, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using – you should then refer to the relevant instructions below

Private browsing

Popular web browsers have a ‘private browsing’ mode that, once enabled, stores nothing about your activity on your computer in that browsing window. This won’t stop online services from seeing what you get up to, but it won’t leave any traces of your activity on your computer (no history, web cache or anything else), so it’s always a useful first step to take.

  • Internet Explorer: Go to Safety – Tools – ‘InPrivate Browsing’.
  • Firefox: Click the Menu button with three horizontal lines – ‘New Private Window’.
  • Chrome: Click the Menu button with three horizontal lines and select ‘New Incognito Window’.
  • Similar options can be found in Opera and Safari.

It is also best to double check that nothing has been stored by following the steps below.

Internet explorer

Click on the ‘Tools’ menu and select ‘Internet Options’. On the ‘General’ page, under ‘Temporary Internet Files’, click on ‘Delete Cookies’ and then OK. Click on ‘Delete Files’, put a tick in the box labelled ‘Delete all offline content’ and click ‘OK’. Under ‘History’, click on ‘Clear History’ and then ‘OK’. Now look at the top of the window and click on the ‘Content’ tab, select ‘AutoComplete’ and finally, ‘Clear Forms’.


Click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Options’, then click on ‘Privacy’. Click on the ‘Clear’ button next to ‘Cache’ and ‘Saved Form Information’.

Deleting your browsing history

Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as browsing ‘history’. To delete your browsing history for Internet Explorer and Firefox hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key on the keyboard, then press the ‘H’ key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that you want to remove, right click and choose ‘Delete’.


If you have received threatening or harassing email messages, you can save them and print a copy as evidence against an abuser.

Any email you have previously sent will be stored in Sent Items. If you started an email but didn’t finish it, it might be in your Drafts folder. If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message – print and delete the email if you don’t want anyone to see your original message.

When you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, etc) it does not really delete the item – it moves the item to a folder called Deleted Items. You have to delete the items in deleted items separately. Right click on items within the Deleted Items folder to delete individual items.


Search engine toolbars keep a record of the search words you have typed into the search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose ‘Clear Search History’.

General online security

Setting up a password on your personal computer will prevent others logging on and seeing what you have viewed online. By far the safest way to access sensitive information online is to use a friend’s computer or one at an internet café or library. Even a work computer can be a safer alternative.

Internet Safety