How to Find Deleted History on Internet Explorer

By Kimberly_T

If you accidentally deleted your Internet Explorer history and need to get it back, there are several ways to retrieve it that may or may not require third-party applications depending on how you have configured your system. This could be solved by a simple restore if you are consistently backing up your configuration, or you might need to download a special viewer to read one of your system files.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP
  • Internet Explorer

Step 1

Launch the Windows Explorer by going to \"Start > All Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer,\" or go to \"Start > Run\" and type “explorer.”

Step 2

Show hidden files in your Windows Explorer by going to \"Tools > Folder Options.\" On the \"View\" tab, select \"Show hidden files and folders\" then click the \"Apply to all folders\" button.

Step 3

Navigate to \"C:\\Document and Settings\\\\Local Settings\\History,\" whererefers to the username you are using to log into the system. Check to see if the Internet History is there. If it’s not there, then you have a few options. One is to use the Windows System Restore utility or find and view the index.dat file.

Step 4

Choose System Restore if you are regularly backing up your system and are sure you have an up-to-date restore point. Do this by going to \"Start > Help and Support,\" and under \"Pick a Task\" select \"Undo changes to your computer with System Restore.\" Follow the on-screen instructions, then after your system reboots go back to Step 3 and check if the Internet history is back.

Step 5

Look for the index.dat file if you do not have a valid restore point or if Step 4 fails. Launch the Search window by clicking \"Start > Search.\" Select \"All Files and Folders,\" then click \"More Advanced Options\" and choose \"Search System Folders\" and \"Search Hidden Files and Folders.\" Type “index.dat” in the search field and click \"Search.\" You will see a lot of index.dat files in the search results.

Step 6

Download a third-party application to view your index.dat file. Look for an “index.dat reader.” Once you have selected a program to view your file, install it on your machine and use it to open index.dat. You will then be able to see all the Internet history and browsing activities.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you are downloading software from a reputable source to prevent any damage to your system.
  • You don’t need to always choose paid software to accomplish your task if a free program that is just as reliable is readily available on the Internet.
  • Avoid doing a System Restore if you are not sure about your backup and restore settings, since you may end up deleting important programs from your system.