Recently, I realised that terminology is changing - and some browsers refer to "cache" and "cookies" generically as "private data". Some browsers also refer to a third type of "private data", as "active logins" or "authenticated sessions".
It's important to understand why you should not clear cache, cookies, and sessions, indiscriminately - and alternately, why you should clear cache, cookies, and sessions, at the proper time.
Different browsers will offer different menu selections, to allow you to clear the components in private data.
Try clearing cookies selectively, if this option is provided in your browser - and if you understand which cookies you need to clear.
Note that, in spite of opinions expressed by some blog owners, advice to clear cache, cookies, and / or authenticated sessions only complements other advice to permit third party cookies and / or not clear cookies routinely. Please don't confuse advice to clear content, with advice to adjust your security policy - and permit the proper services.
With Chrome, you clear private data using the "Customize ..." icon - More tools - "Clear browsing data" wizard. My selections for clearing are:
- (select "the beginning of time") for "Obliterate the following items from:"
- Clear browsing history
- Clear download history
- Empty the cache
- Delete cookies and other site data
- Clear saved passwords
- Clear saved form data
With Firefox, you clear private data using the History - "Clear Recent History" wizard. My selections for clearing, in this case, are:
- Browsing & Download History
- Active Logins
- Site Preferences
- Form & Search History
With Internet Explorer, you clear private data using the Tools - "Delete Browsing History" wizard. My selections for clearing, in this case, are:
- Temporary Internet files
- Form data
- InPrivateFiltering data (this you may wish to read about)
- Preserve Favorites website data
With Opera, you clear private data using the Tools - "Delete Private Data" wizard. My selections for clearing are:
- Delete temporary cookies
- Delete all cookies
- Delete password protected pages and data
- Delete entire cache
- Clear history of visited pages
- Clear history of downloads
- Clear bookmark visited time
- Clear all email account passwords
- Clear Password Manager
- Delete persistent storage
- Close all tabs
With Safari, you clear private data using the Gear icon - "Reset Safari" wizard. My selections for clearing are:
- Clear history
- Empty the cache
- Clear the Downloads window
- Remove all cookies
- Close all Safari windows
- Remove all website icons
- Remove saved names and passwords
- Remove other AutoFill form text
- Reset all location warnings
Firefox appears to distinguish between "Cookies" and "Active Logins". If you examine the IE V8 "Delete Browsing History" screen, you'll note the advice about cookies.
Files stored on your computer by websites to save preferences such as login information.This makes it appear that the equivalent of "Active Logins" (aka "authenticated sessions", in some of my advice) may be simply part of "cookies".
If you are reading this article as part of protecting yourself when using a public computer, select everything in the above checklist, when you are closing the browser. Then, if at all possible, reset the computer - either Shut Down and Restart, or Power Off, after closing all open applications. Better safe then sorry.
Clearing of "cache, cookies, and active login sessions" is a broad process, and can have unwanted side effects. It's possible to only clear "browser cache", and it's possible to remove cookies, selectively. You'll also want to know how to enable cookies and scripts.
Remember to restart the browser, after clearing any private data, or changing any settings. And note the possible effects, depending upon your Internet service, of cache outside your browser, which you cannot clear. And finally, consider how all of this fits into the topic of Layered Security - which includes filters in the browser, in add-ons in the browser, in applications on the computer, and in appliances on the network.