Problem Clearing Internet Explorer History Data
from the author of
PurgeIE - Purge Cache, Cookies and Tracks for Internet Explorer
Windows 8 Note - PurgeIE, PurgeIE Pro and PurgeFox were designed to work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Prior to Windows 8, Internet Explorer utilized files named Index.dat for indexing the Cache, Cookies and History information.
Beginning with Windows 8, Index.dat files are not used. The indexing functions are implemented within a Microsoft database system. The programming interface routines used to access the Index.dat files now function for the database system.
- - - News Flash - - -
Both PurgeIE and PurgeIE Pro can clear Internet Explorer History even when Internet Explorer can't clear it's own History.
Current versions of PurgeIE and PurgeIE Pro can clear the current day's History for IE-5 through IE-7 even if the History file is locked by the other programs or locked by 'Windows Explorer'.
Additional information has been documented at - https://www.purgeie.com/clearhist.htm
For current users, just download and install the new version into your current PurgeIE, or PurgeIE Pro, folder.
For new users, download and install PurgeIE, or PurgeIE Pro, on your system and try it for yourself. You will have 15 non-contiguous days to try the software on your system. All features and functions are available during the trial.
The original information is retained below for the benefit of those that wish to learn more about the problem and how to determine its cause on their system.
Original Information follows...
You need to be aware that you are not the only one with this problem. This page is currently being visited 60 - 100 times per day. I hope that you find this information useful.
There are a lot of entries in Google "Groups" (newsgroups) asking for help in clearing their History data. They complain that the History appears to delete but will reappear later. Others complain that History simply will not delete.
There are only a few obscure Newsgroup entries that provide a solution.
The purpose of this page is to document the programs that have been found to prevent the clearing of Internet Explorer History data.
At the initial writing, I had found only one program that will cause this phenomenon. Other causes are added to this page as they are isolated.
Easy CD Creator 4
"Easy CD Creator 4" prevents the user from successfully deleting history via the 'Clear History' function of Internet Explorer.
Adaptec's "Easy CD Creator 4" is distributed with many CD-R and CD-RW units. At installation, a TrayIcon is created to provide the user a convenient means for accessing its various functions. The problem is due to the I.E. functions the program uses keeping the I.E. History file open. Most likely, the program is using the I.E. functions to support its online order capability for its 'Deluxe Upgrade'.
Basically, this is a problem with the program running full time in the background. The problem can be eliminated by eliminating the TrayIcon.
Fortunately, Adaptec made this easy to do. Simply right-click the TrayIcon and choose "Disable Create CD". This really only removes the TrayIcon. Then reply "Yes" to the message that follows.
I have received multiple reports of problems closing Internet History on systems that use Napster (v2.0 beta 9).
The reports indicate that Napster remains active even after using the "X" in the Napster upper right hand corner to close out that application.
They had to totally exit out of napster using the "FILE" | "EXIT" option in order to successfully delete history via the 'Clear History' function of Internet Explorer.
Each of these individuals made use of the "Process Explorer" utility program (described below) to isolate Napster as the program that caused the conflict with Internet Explorer.
Note - As I am not a Napster user, I have not confirmed this to be a problem. Until I receive additional reports, I can not state whether other versions cause conflict with Internet Explorer.
AOL Instant Messenger
I have received multiple reports that "AOL Instant Messenger" causes this lock. The individual that first reported this indicated that he was running I.M. on Win-XP / IE-6. He reported that once I.M. was started, both I.M. and all Internet Explorer windows had to be stopped/closed before starting I.E. and using its Clear History function (successfully).
Note - just signing off from I.M. is not sufficient. If you see the AOL I.M. TrayIcon in your task bar, you must right-click on it to close the TrayIcon as well. This would be similar to the "Easy CD Creator 4" reference above.
I have received
a report that "Kazaa
(an MP3 downloading
program) causes this lock. You have to completely shutdown "Kazaa
Lite" to allow the History file to be deleted.
I have now received a confirmation that "Kazaa Lite" will not allow you to delete the I.E. History files before it is completely shut down and removed from the system tray....
I have received a report that "MemTurbo" ver.2.1 (a memory tweak utility) causes this lock.
I have now received a confirmation that "MemTurbo" will not allow you to delete the I.E. History files before it is completely shut down...
Other Single Reports
I have received one report that "LoadQM.exe" causes this lock. This appears to be associated with Microsoft's MSN. The individual reporting this lock was running Win-ME on a new Dell computer. Apparently, this program automatically started when his system booted.
I have received one report that the Ad-Blocker feature in the program "Tweak XP" causes this lock.
I have received one report that Ontrack's "PowerDesk" can cause this lock.
I have received one report that "MORPHOUS" (a NAPSTER clone) causes this lock. You have to close the TrayIcon to shutdown "MORPHOUS" to allow the History file to be deleted.
I have received one report that the 'adware' program SaveNow also causes the History Lock. Apparently, SaveNow maintains a web connection so as to serve in popup windows.
The "Ad-Aware" program from LavaSoft <https://www.lavasoftusa.com> should be able to remove SaveNow from your system.
I have received one report that the program "Weather Watcher" causes the History Lock.
I have received one report that the program "hpbpsttp.exe" causes the History Lock. As reported, this program was installed with a HP LaserJet 1012 printer and is activated via a "RUN" registry entry named 'TomcatStartup'. The individual reporting this indicated that the printer functions without the program. You can disable this manually (see below).
Manual Removal of Auto Start Programs
If you are using Win-98, Win-ME or XP, you can make use of the Microsoft-supplied program 'MSCONFIG.EXE'. This provides for displaying the Registry RUN entries, etc., and allows you to disable the Automatic Start for these programs.
However, a version of 'MSCONFIG.EXE' was not distributed for Win-2000 or for Win-NT.
Fortunately, there are some ShareWare / FreeWare programs that can be used for any of the modern Windows systems (Win-98 up).
The one I like is 'Startup.exe' from Mike Lin, a student at MIT. You can download it as 'Startup Control Panel' from https://www.mlin.net. The download link is - https://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml
You need to download and install the program in order to use it.
When you execute 'startup.exe', you will see a set of tabs that you can select.
The tab 'HKLM/Run' processes the 'Run' entries for the 'Local Machine'
The tab 'HKCU/Run' processes the 'Run' entries for the 'Current User'
When you click the tab, the display will show you the corresponding entries.
You can remove the check mark to prevent execution or you can delete the entry.
I have seen "Startup Cop" listed with the PC Magazine utilities. I have not used it. It was developed by Neil Rubenking who does excellent work. You may prefer to try it rather than 'Startup.exe'.
Request for Feedback
Please report other programs you find to cause this problem via Email to:
How to confirm you have this problem
Start a copy of Internet Explorer.
Verify that History exists for 'Today':
Manually delete the I.E. History:
Verify that there is no History displayed for 'Today'.
Exit from the copy of Internet Explorer.
Start a new copy of Internet Explorer.
Attempt to display History for Today.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
If History exists for 'Today' at the end of the above test, something in your system is preventing Internet Explorer from being able to delete its own History data.
How to determine which program is locking your I.E. History
[ Process Explorer Instructions ]
Instructions for determining which program has History locked on your system:
Download and install 'Process Explorer' from https://www.sysinternals.com
Start 'Process Explorer'
Enter "MSHIST" (without the quote marks) into the Search Dialog box.
The resulting display in the Dialog box are the processes that reference the search string. You should ignore the following:
'MSIMN.EXE' - Outlook Express
Any other processes should be suspect.
If 'IEXPLORE.EXE' is displayed, this indicates that you have an Internet Explorer window open. This should not, in itself be a problem.
If 'EXPLORER.EXE' (My Computer) is displayed, this indicates that ' Windows Explorer'has the current day's History file open. If only 'Windows Explorer' shows that an Index.dat file is open within a "MSHIST" folder, 'Windows Explorer' is the problem.
Yes, 'Windows Explorer' can cause the lock. This has been found to be a problem with IE-5 and IE-6. Although this can exhibit itself when running Win-XP, it seems to be more frequent under Win-2000. This is due to Windows recording data file accesses in the Daily History files and in the Visited Index.dat file.
Additional Reference Sources
Another good site was recently suggested -
If you want to learn more about the the structure of I.E.'s primary folders and the Index.dat files, I have another documentation page that addresses this - https://www.purgeie.com/indexdat.htm This page is becoming popular as it has been getting 100 - 200 hits per day.
Why am I maintaining this WebPage?
I am the author and vendor for PurgeIE (a.k.a. "Purge Cache, Cookies and Tracks for Internet Explorer"). Among its many functions is a function for Deleting History.
Note that some combinations of Windows and I.E. versions set 'locks' on the History data. This began with Win-98 running IE-4 which was the system for which Microsoft argued in its Anti-Trust trial that I.E. was a part of the Operating System. Essentially, Microsoft had taken steps to tie it closer to Windows. Keeping the History Folder open (locked) was a part of this effort.
Several months ago, a customer running Win-ME with IE-5.5 reported that he could not clear History via PurgeIE.
I have a friend in the area with a Win-ME and IE-5.5 test system. Together, we confirmed that PurgeIE could not delete the history. Then we tried to manually delete the History via I.E.'s "Clear History" button. The History would clear but would return.
I later found that I could create this problem on my (then) brand new Win-2000 and IE-5.01 system. I also isolated the test scenario described earlier. Being able to reproduce the problem on Win-2000 was a blessing in that there are tools available for helping determine which programs have which files open.
It did not take long from that point to determine that "Easy CD Creator 4" was the culprit and that it was running in the background with a TrayIcon. Shutting it down resolved the problem on my system. My local friend and the customer that initially reported the problem confirmed that their systems were running "Easy CD Creator 4" and removing the TrayIcon allowed the I.E. history to be cleared. Armed with the understanding that the Adaptec program was involved, I was able to locate a few Newsgroup entries that reflected the same findings.
I would like to thank Mark Russinovich for his utility "Process Explorer" which I used to locate the offending program. As I was documenting this page, I discovered that Mark has added support to "Process Explorer" for Win-9x and Win-ME. You can find this and other excellent tools at https://www.sysinternals.com.
Note: "Process Explorer" was previously named "HandleEx".
I hope that others will report other conflicting programs to me as they discover them. It will save me time in responding to my user community as they encounter such problems. I will then include information on those programs on this WebPage.