Protecting your Privacy – General Web Browser Guidelines

Protecting your Privacy – General Web Browser Guidelines

In order to increase website performance, web browsers make use of cookies, cache and history.

 A cookie is a file that is stored on your computer that contains the address of the websites you are visiting.  These files can include user specific information such as information used in web forms, contents of an online shopping cart etc. 

 Web browsers also store webpage contents (text, pictures, files etc.) in what is known as cache.  Having a cache greatly improves performance when navigating pages (for example when clicking Back or Forward) because the browser just displays information already stored on your computer.

 Please note that when clicking on linked files such as a .PDF or a Microsoft Word Document (.doc) files for example, your web browser will typically ask if you want to download/save or open the file.  If you choose to "download" or "save", you should be prompted to save the file in a destination of your choice (e.g. Desktop or My Documents).  If you select "open", the web browser will still download and save the file.  Most browsers will save these files in the cache, but some (such as Macintosh computers) may put the files in your "Downloads" directory.  Please be aware of this.  For privacy reasons (when downloading confidential documents for example) it's always recommended to clear the cache and delete files in the "Downloads" directory.

 Finally, your browser’s history is just a collection of sites that you visit. 

 Many of these settings are typically cleared at regular intervals pre-determined by your web browser, but clearing them manually can also help your system remove stale files to clear up space as well as aid in the protection of your privacy. 


Below are the methods used to clear cookies, cache and history from most web browsers.  If you don’t see instructions for your specific version of your browser, check the “Help” menu.


Internet Explorer 10, 9 and 8


  1. Click Tools, and select Delete Browsing History... .  (You may have to press “Alt” first to bring up the menu if it is hidden).
  2. Deselect Preserve Favorites website data, and select Temporary Internet files, Cookies, and History.
  3. Click Delete.


 Internet Explorer 7

  1.  From the Tools menu in the upper right, select Delete Browsing History… .
  2. To delete your cache, click Delete files... .
  3. To delete your cookies, click Delete cookies... .
  4. To delete your history, click Delete history... .
  5. Click Close, and then click OK to exit.


 Firefox (The following instructions apply to Firefox 3.5 and later)

  1.  From the Tools menu, select Clear Recent History. (Alternatively, in Firefox 4 and above for Windows, you can also click the orange Firefox button, and then select Clear Recent History from the History menu.)  If the menu bar is hidden, press the “Alt” key to make it visible.
  2. From the Time range to clear: drop-down menu, select the desired range; to clear your entire cache, select Everything.
  3. Click the down arrow next to "Details" to choose which elements of the history to clear. Click Clear Now.



  1.  From the Safari menu, select Reset Safari... .
  2. From the menu, select the items you want to reset, and then click Reset. As of Safari 5.1, Remove all website data covers both cookies and cache.


 Mobile Safari for iPhone OS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)

 To clear cache and cookies:

  1.  From the home screen, tap Settings, and then tap Safari.
  2. At the bottom of Safari's settings screen, tap Clear cookies and data, or Clear Cookies and Clear Cache. Confirm when prompted.

 To clear history:

  1.  From the home screen, tap Safari.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, tap the Bookmarks icon.
  3. In the lower left, tap Clear.
  4. Tap Clear History.