How to Find Deleted History

By Shea Laverty

Deleted Windows and browser history can be found in a number of ways, including using System Restore, cookie files and data recovery software.

There are several ways to track down deleted Windows and browser history on your computer. The best method for your situation depends on how long ago the history was deleted: Recent deletions are easier to track down than older ones.


In some cases, a history file may appear in the Recycle Bin, where it can be restored by right-clicking it and selecting Restore. What the file is named depends on what program the file is from.

Using System Restore

System Restore reverts your computer to a previously logged point in time, restoring settings and system files in the process. Once the restore process is finished, you can check through your Windows history to see the restored listings.


System Restore requires that you restart your computer. Save any files or documents and close all programs before starting a System Restore.

Using a restore point may remove programs or settings added after the restore point's date.

This option works only with Windows history. Browser history is stored in a normal file, which isn't recovered by System Restore.

Step 1

Press Windows-X on your keyboard to call up the Power User menu and select Control Panel.

For Windows 7, click Start and select Control Panel.

The Windows 7 Start menu, with Control panel highlighted.

Step 2

Type System Restore in the Control Panel search field and click Create a restore point.

System Restore Control Panel search, with Create a Restore Point highlighted.

Step 3

Click System Restore from the System Protection tab.

The System Properties menu, with System Restore highlighted.

Step 4

Click Next when the System Restore wizard pops up, then select a restore point from the list and click Next again. Pick a date as close as possible to the date the history was deleted that still came before it: For example, if the history was deleted on January 1st and there's a restore point on December 31st.

The System Restore window, with a date selected and Next highlighted.

Step 5

Click Finish to confirm and begin restoring your computer to the previous date. This process may take a few minutes and requires a restart to take effect.

The System Restore confirmation page, with Finish highlighted.

Using Browser Cookies

Internet Explorer

Step 1

Click the gear-shaped Tools button or press Alt-X on your keyboard. Select Internet Options.

The Tools menu, with Internet Options highlighted.

Step 2

Select the General tab from the Internet Options menu and click Settings.

The Internet Options menu, with Settings highlighted.

Step 3

Click View Files.

The Website Data Settings menu, with View Files highlighted.

Step 4

Scroll through the window until you find files that start with cookie. These are the cookies files, which contain information stored by IE about their associated websites. They don't display any useful information when opened, but the name after the @ symbol indicates the cookie's site of origin.

Cookie files in their folder.


Step 1

Click the Menu button and select Options. The Menu button looks like three horizontal lines. Alternatively, type about:preferences into the address bar and press Enter.

The Firefox Menu, with Options highlighted.

Step 2

Select the Privacy tab and click remove individual cookies.

The Privacy tab, with Remove Individual Cookies highlighted.

Step 3

Scroll through the list until you find the website you're looking for. If you know part of the name, type it in the search field.

The Cookies menu.

Step 4

Click the arrow next to the cookie's folder and look through the list of cookies. All information Firefox has about that particular cookie is displayed in the pane below the list.

The Cookies menu, displaying details regarding individual cookies.


Step 1

Click the Menu button and select Settings from the menu. The Menu button looks like three horizontal lines. Alternatively, type chrome://settings in the address bar and press Enter.

The Chrome menu, with Settings highlighted.

Step 2

Select the Settings tab and click Show advanced settings.

The Chrome Settings menu, with Show Advanced Settings highlighted.

Step 3

Click Content settings under the Privacy heading.

The Settings menu, with Content Settings highlighted.

Step 4

Click All cookies and site data.

The Content Settings menu, with All Cookies and Site Data highlighted.

Step 5

Scroll through the list until you find the website you're looking for — if you know part of the name, type it in the search field. Once you find the website, click its name.

The Cookies and Site Data menu, with an item selected.

Step 6

Click the type of cookie you want to view, if multiple types are available. Otherwise, just click the desired cookie in the window. The window displays all information Chrome has regarding the cookie.

Cookie data displayed.

If you cleared your browser history but not your browser cookies, you can use them to find websites you've visited. How you access cookies varies slightly for each browser.


This method doesn't work if you deleted your cookies as well as your history.

Using Data Recovery Software

Since all browsers store history data as a file somewhere on your computer, data recovery software can scan the storage folder for deleted files. There are many software recovery programs available for free that can handle the task, although each works differently from the others. Check with the program's help menu or documentation for specific instructions.

Each of the three major browsers stores its data in a unique location. Where to set your software to scan depends on which browser you use.

Internet Explorer: C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\History

Firefox: C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\FirefoxProfileName

Chrome: C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

In all cases, replace YourUsername with the name on your Windows profile. For Firefox users, replace FirefoxProfileName with the name on your Firefox profile. If you aren't using profiles with Firefox, then select the folder with the word default in its name.

Hiring Professionals

If none of these methods have worked to restore the history and its critical you recover it, take your computer's hard drive to professionals. If there is a chance that the data can be recovered, trained technicians can find history information and present it to you. This solution is a bit extreme, however, as it typically requires that your hard drive be removed from your computer for analysis. Check local computer repair shops to see if they can handle the task.


Any and all personal data on the computer will be available to the technicians while they have your computer. Anything you'd prefer not to be seen should be moved off of your computer beforehand.