How to Retrieve Deleted History

By James Red

When Internet browsing history is deleted, it doesn't go to the Recycle Bin (like a Word document would), so restoring it with a simple "undelete" command is not possible. Internet history is difficult to recover for a reason; it helps protect a user's privacy and can guard against identity theft. Internet history can only be recovered by backing up and restoring a PC entirely, or by downloading special programs that can look at the few files relevant to Internet history that are not deleted when the history is erased.

Things You'll Need

  • Dat File Viewer (optional)

Using System Restore

Step 1

Open Windows System Restore. To find this feature in Windows XP, click "Start" and go to "Accessories" > "System Tools" and then "System Restore." In Vista and Windows 7, go to the start menu and do a search for "restore." Click on "System Restore."

Step 2

Choose a restore point. Pick the one closest to the point when the history was deleted. Click "Next."

Step 3

Confirm your selection and click "Finish." Windows will restart and restore the system back to how it was before the history was deleted.

Using .dat files

Step 1

Go to "Folder Options" in the Control Panel. Go to the "View" tab and select "Show hidden files, folders and drives." click "OK."

Step 2

Download and install a .dat file reader. Index.dat Suite, Index.dat Scanner and Index.dat Analyzer are all well-known programs that can read .dat files. Launch the program after installation is complete.

Step 3

Search for index.dat files in Windows Search. In Windows XP and Vista this can usually be done just by doing a file search for "index.dat". In Windows 7 you must do a file search for "type:dat name:index." If you installed Index.dat Suite, you can have that program search for all the dat files on your computer by clicking "find."

Step 4

Look for index.dat files in directories with the word "History" in them. There are usually multiple files. One will typically have the history of pages recently viewed in Internet Explorer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Firefox and Chrome do not use dat files, so the dat searching method will not work for them.
  • System Restore can cause programs installed after the restore point not to work properly.