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Clearing Cache, Cookies, And Active Login Sessions

I've been advising people about clearing cache and cookies, for a long time.

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 when you should clear cache, cookies, and sessions.

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 advice to clear cache, cookies, and authenticated sessions only complements other advice to check third party cookie filters and / or not clear cookies routinely. Also, you may need to check / correct script filters.

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
I do not select, and recommend not clearing:
  • Clear saved passwords
I personally do not select:
  • 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
  • Cache
  • Cookies
  • Active Logins
I do not select, and recommend not clearing:
  • Site Preferences
I personally do not select:
  • 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
  • History
  • Cookies
I do not select, and recommend not clearing:
  • Form data
I personally do not select:
  • Passwords
  • InPrivateFiltering data (this you may wish to read about)
For consistent results, do not select:
  • 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
I do not select, and recommend not clearing:
  • Clear all email account passwords
I personally do not select:
  • 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
I do not select, and recommend not clearing:
  • Remove all website icons
  • Remove saved names and passwords
I personally do not select:
  • 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.

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Christina Hicks said…
I wanted to thank you. My buttons at the top of my blog, follow, new post, etc were all missing. Driving me nuts. I came across your article and did the cookie, cache cleaning, and it worked. Thank you thank you!
Worked for me too. I am so relieved: thank you very very much

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