Dave was fast. Lightning fast.
He was known to never leave a trace. He was a bit too sure of himself too. It is not boasting if you can back it up, right?
Researching your side hustle using other computers, especially when it is borderline criminal, is a high of its own. Add to that, using it during a party?
And who would suspect him, sneakers, dark denim and a casual shirt; a trendy set of eyewear and carefully kept stubble. He could easily be mistaken for someone who has been working in a tech startup. He let them think he was.
The sound of steps coming closer…
“Better finish this up…” He was almost done “Now to delete the cache and history”
“What?” the clear cache and history options were disabled…
“Hey man, what are you up to…” Frank entered the room…
It was too late now…
Dave was fast. Extra fast… but that was before he was caught. He was careless too. He didn’t know that browsers have adapted to the needs of normal users. Normal users, who are careful about lending their computers to others, users like Frank.
This is not so uncommon, and definitely not that dramatic either. Even in less dramatic situations like an office or a college or a home for that matter, there are certain things people don’t want others to do on their computers.
It may be content not allowed in school, accessing content not allowed in school campus or, as mundane as it may sound, being stopped from using the computer at home at some point. There comes a time when one needs to check the internet usage on one’s computer.
Clearing or deleting browser cache and temporary internet files have been the practice to cover your tracks for a long, long time now. This was the staple kill-all solution to get regular Joes off your back.
Fortunately, or unfortunately for some, this is now somewhat changed.
Browsers now have different options for a multiuser environment where the main user can block the option of deleting or clearing the cache or internet files for the other users.
While this is not a direct option to activate in all the browsers, there are some ways to get the desired effect.
Read below as we discuss popular browsers and their ability to enable you, our reader, to have the power in your hands.
Google is a tech giant, it is only fitting that their browser product is a little giant in its own terms too. Chrome, The RAM Killer, is one of the most stable and popular browsers out there, known for its ease of use approach.
Chrome does not have a straightforward method of disabling users from deleting their history and cache.
It does, however, provide you with different workarounds.
First, you need to set the privacy settings so that Chrome has the ability to first actually save all the activity, history, cookies etc. for you to view afterward.
· Setting up Privacy Settings
1. Open the menu by clicking the three dots button on top right of the Chrome interface
2. Click on the Settings option to go to the menu.
3. Once in the Settings area, find and click on Advanced to reach more options.
4. Here in the Advanced settings area, select Content settings
5. Under Cookies, search and then set Allow sites to save and read cookie data as ON.
6.Furthermore, down below is the Block third-party cookies Set it as OFF.
And that’s it—we are done with setting up privacy settings. These are the options needed to be set to enable you to view previous history and cookies.
Now we move on to how we can stop users from deleting cache and history.
The first two methods can be bypassed… but are good to block users who are not that tech-savvy. Both require the Google App Admin Console.
· App Admin Console Options
This console is a kind of a cpanel (control panel) for Google G Suite accounts.
G Suite accounts are typically owned by students or company employees. You may even set up a G Suite account on your own for a group of people to use, family or friends. It is a part of a group of accounts managed as a group, in professional or personal settings.
Google App Admin Console is where you can manage different settings for the users of the group.
1. App Admin Console Options
Here’s how to change browser settings in the Google App Admin Console:
- Once logged into the console, go to Device Management.
- Here, select Chrome Management.
- Search and click on User Settings.
- Under User Settings go to Security.
- Once in the Security, search for the option Incognito Mode. Here, set the option for Incognito Mode as Disallow Incognito Mode.
- Next, search for the Browser History Set it as Always save browser history.
Once set, users will not be able to delete the history or clear the cache. Tech-savvy users may try other methods.
2. Using Blacklist
Still logged in the App Admin Console… the first three steps are the same.
- Go to Device Management.
- Here, select Chrome Management.
- Search and click on User Settings.
- Now search and go to URL Blocking or URL Blacklist.
- Once here, add the following address into the text box and save changes.
- “Chrome://history-frame/”, and “chrome://history/
This will further help block the users from accessing the relevant options altogether.
Both these methods require that the users have:
- G Suite Accounts
- Are logged into Chrome with their Google account.
What if they aren’t using their Google account? Here we go to our third option…
· Using an Extension
Yup… as easy as that… Download and install a Google History Extension and that is it. There are a ton of different useful extensions out there. Search the one that suits your needs and add it to your Google account being used on Chrome.
Even if the users delete their history, the data will be available for you through the extension.
Unless… someone logs you out of your account on Chrome. This is where the fragility of the Chrome browser lies. You are bound by having accounts which may or may not be logged in.
If your target user base is tech-savvy, then it is best you be even more tech-savvier than them and use a pro service like OpenDNS.
Firefox is Mozilla’s Swiss knife for browser developers and admins all around the globe. It has every possible customization available and is famous for its approach to helping developers. It is no wonder that it is the second most used browser right after Chrome for desktop/laptop users.
Firefox has a couple of quirks of its own to help with saving disk space and fast browsing. One of these is deleting cache and cookies once you exit the browser.
So like before, to view the cookies and history, one must first be able to store them.
· Save History on Exit
1. In your Firefox browser, click the three “–“ sign on top right to access Options.
2. Select Privacy & Security.
3. Once here, search for History.
4. Here, choose the Use custom setting for history
5. Make sure that the Always use private browsing mode option is not set.
6. Set the following options as checked. Uncheck the rest.
- Remember my browsing and download history.
- Remember search and form history.
- Accept cookies from sites (if available).
7. Now search the Accept third-party cookies option and select it as Always. In a different version of Firefox, it may appear as Accept cookies and site data radio button.
8. Set the expiration time in the Keep until option as They expire.
9. Finally, unselect the Clear history when Firefox closes option to keep Firefox from deleting the history on exit.
10. Save and exit by pressing
Once you are done with these steps, Firefox will no longer delete the history and cookies on exit. Instead, it will keep cookies for as long as their own expiration.
This leaves us with one more way to enhance the abilities of the browser. We can further use the below-mentioned method to ensure that Firefox keeps a long list of history entries.
· Use Large Enough Space to Store History
Firefox was made for developers and customizers. You can virtually change anything you want according to your needs through different options.
The way to access these options is through about:config…
- Type about:config in the address bar of Firefox browser.
- Use the “+” symbol or right click on the Preference Name to add a new value.
- Select New->Integer.
4. Use the name history.expiration.max pages as the preference name.
5. When asking for value, enter the number of pages you want to keep.
6. Press OK and a new preference for the number of pages will be saved.
Using the combination of these methods… you can now save the history for weeks, months and even years of internet browsing.
The downside here is that… anyone with simple enough knowledge of the browser can go and manually delete the history if they know that the default behavior is changed.
Hence, we need to turn to extensions…
· Extensions and Add-Ons
Using extensions takes away the inconvenience of configuring your Firefox on your own, and leaves you with just the benefits.
Extensions are small programs; customizations added to the underlying browser that helps you get an enhanced experience. You just need to find the one that fulfills your needs and install it.
For the purpose of keeping history secured and prevent users from deleting it … use the following steps…
- Install the Public Fox
- Set the option to Lock Firefox options.
- Set the password.
- Save and exit.
And that’s it… no one can access the options without using the password.
They can, however, still disable the extension.
Microsoft has upgraded the internet explorer browser in their latest release of Windows in the form of Edge. It is inspired by the popularity of Chrome, Firefox and the likes, and focuses on robust speed and accessibility.
It does not, however, possess the ability to prevent users from deleting history. The most you can do with it is stop it from automatically deleting history on exit, which is the default behavior.
For monitoring purposes, turn this option off and hope that the users forget that they might need to manually delete the history, just in case.
Follow the below steps to turn this option off…
- Open the file menu by clicking the three-dot button on the top right.
- Select Settings.
- Search Clear browsing data and select Choose what to clear.
- Here set the Browsing history as off/unchecked.
- After that, set the Always clear this when I close the browser option as Off.
That will set the Edge to not delete history on exit and when someone wants to clear history, no matter how small, they will have an additional step to check the Browsing history as checked before hitting the clear button.
This is almost completely inadequate for the tech-savvy users.
This leaves us with…
· Internet Explorer
Microsoft to the rescue…
Internet Explorer has been the oldest one in the game. Microsoft pushed its file explorer to be in its image as early as the 90s. It was at the core of the Windows operating system’s theme and was the default program to open files of different types.
The insight that comes along with designing operating systems for multiple users and being the default browser must have been the reason why it was easy for the designers to foresee the need of administrative control of internet explorer’s preferences.
This is the reason why there is a straightforward approach to block users from deleting their browsing history and cookies.
Follow these steps to do the same…
- To do this, we must edit the Windows group policy editor.
- Click the Start button or Windows button and search for msc in the search box.
3. Once the Windows group policy editor is open, select the Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Template > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Delete browsing history.
4. Selecting Delete Browsing history will display a list of different options on the right window panel.
5. Select the options mentioned below one by one and edit them by right-clicking them and clicking Edit. This will open the respective window. Here, select Enabled and click the Ok
- Prevent deleting cookies.
- Prevent deleting websites that the user has visited.
6. Once this is done… you will see that in the Delete Browser History option of Internet Explorer, the options for History and Cookies will be disabled.
This is the safest form of preventing users from deleting history. The only way for them to delete history here are…
- By being logged in as an administrator login in the operating system and using msc to edit the changes.
- If not, then finding out the administrator login and trying to repeat step a.
- Or… downloading a new browser and using that.
… All of which seems pretty meticulous and challenging, especially considering that you cannot run installable programs without the administrative authorities as well.
Internet Explorer, huh! Who knew? Providing awesome services even after two decades of its arrival; the old man is still doing its job without being fancy.