How to Recover Search History

By Kayla Lowe

When you delete your computer's search history, it's not really totally deleted. It still exists on your computer in a hidden file known as the index.dat file. Therefore, if you accidentally delete your search history and want to recover it later, or if you want to recover search history that someone else deleted to see what he's been up to, you can do so by locating the index.dat file. All you need is an index.dat file reader to read the file.

Things You'll Need

  • Index.dat file
  • Index.dat file reader

Step 1

Open your computer's "Search Companion." Click "Start." Click "Search."

Step 2

Click "Tools," in the horizontal menu bar at the top of the window. Click "Folder Options."

Step 3

Click the "View" tab. Select the option to "Show hidden files and folders" beneath the "Hidden files and folders" section. Deselect the options to "Hide extensions for known file types" and to "Hide protected operating system files." Click "Apply." Click "OK."

Step 4

Set your search parameters to search in "All files and folders" in the "C Drive." Type "index.dat" into the search bar. Click "Search."

Step 5

Download and install an index.dat file reader to your computer if you don't already have one (See Resources for free index.dat file readers).

Step 6

Open the index.dat file within the index.dat file reader. Click on the search history that you would like to recover. Click the "Restore" button located within the index.dat file reader to recover the search history.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your computer might have more than one index.dat file on it.
  • Always restore your default file and folder settings when you are done so that your operating system files stay hidden so that they don't become damaged. Restore defaults by clicking on the "Restore Defaults" button within the "View" tab of the "Folder Options" window.