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  1. #1
    gumdrop
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    Has anyone ever really taken a look at "index.dat"

    <font face="Comic Sans MS">text</font face=comic>[img]/w3timages/icons/nuts.gif[/img]Once upon a time I desired to clean up the "cookies" on my computer, and at the time not having some type of program to do it for me, I used windows explorer, went to c:WindowsCookies and clicked on EDIT/SELECT ALL and then DELETE. After confirming the DELETE, a dialog popped up and notified me that access was denied to a file named INDEX.DAT and stopped deleting cookies. I then highlighted all the files except INDEX.DAT and deleted them. But still being curious about INDEX.DAT I highlighted it once again and tried to delete it but again was denied. Not liking to be told I couldn't do something on my on computer, I went to DOS, found the file and tried to delete it from there. Same result. This made me more curious. So back in Windows I tried to view the file, but again access denied. Getting ######ed off, I went back to DOS, located the file and command lined: "edit index.dat". Up popped the edit program and I was able to view the file. I suggest if you the reader have never done this, please do. You might be suprised at what you find. I found URLs of places I had forgotten I had been to, and since some were a little embarrassing, and since I understood what cookies where for, and assuming this also might be a file that some web site could read I was more determined to delete this file or at least edit out the parts I was embarrassed about. So I started to edit the file by deleting most of it, leaving those parts that seemed might be neccessary for it to funtion. BUT when I clicked on save, up popped the access denied message once again. This was not something I was going to sit still for.
    Such gaul Microsoft has of designing a file to keep track of something I had done and not allow me to edit or delete.
    While I was figuring out what I was going to do about it, I was rumaging around my directories and came upon the "Temporary Internet Files" folder and browsed down to the "Content.IE5" folder and found MORE COOKIES. Ah ha! Edit/Select ALL/Delete whoosh! all gone. Folder empty. Now where again was that INDEX.DAT to deal with. Start/Find/Files or Folders..Click...Named: index.dat . . .
    Look in: ALL DRIVES! AH-HA! TWO index.dat found! 1 in WindowsCookies..right, & ANOTHER in Temporary Internet FilesContent.IE5.....Wait a minute, I just emptied that folder. Windows Explorer (path)Content.IE5....EMPTY! Whoa!
    Menu/View/Folder Options/View/Hidden Files/Show all files...
    Still nothing. Back to DOS...(path)Content.IE5...there's that hidden puppy. Command line: edit index.dat...WOW even MORE information about where I had been on the internet than the first index.dat. Edit/Save...access denied. Close edit. Command line: delete index.dat...access denied.
    Noted date and file size. Back to Windows explorer, noted date and file size of (path)WindowsCookiesindex.dat. (path)Content.IE5...right clicked the FOLDER, Shift+Delete (to keep it from even going into the recycle bin...access denied. tried again just to make sure but forgot to hold down the shift key..."are you sure..recycle bin?" Sure, why not better than in the folder, but it probably won't work, will get another access denied...but no! It actually went to the bin. Ah maybe I can delete it from there. Empty recycle bin. ACCESS DENIED! Well now what's going to happen without the file being in the Content.IE5 folder?
    Reboot. Windows Explorer, checking WindowsCookies folder...Darn, there it is back in the folder. How can that be? Opened the recycle bin...THERE IT IS! Can't be in both places at the same time. Empty recycle bin...whoosh gone! What? I couldn't do that before! Windows/Cookies folder..ah ha! Different date and size of index.dat. Back to DOS. (path) edit index.dat...viewed it....ah ha...different file contents. Well that's good! Back to (path)Content.IE5 . . edit index.dat...viewed it...Now what's this, different content, embarrassing URLs gone, but what's this, content from saved E-mails? SURE! What-the-?
    What about index.dat in WindowsCookies? Went there, via DOS, different size and date of file noted, edit index.dat, yes different content, nothing to be concerned about. Back to Windows, delete Content.IE5 to recycle bin. Reboot. Back through the process again, both files have today's date and smaller sizes. View files again, even different content than previous times. Did the process a few more times just for curiousity's sake each time finding different content as if it was cycling back through saved content until finally found content that looked like something that might be considered original content such as well known URLs such as Disney and MSN and Discovery Channel which I knew I had never been there. Satisfied I stopped, feeling content that I had eliminated all content referring to places that I had been. Just thought someone but benefit from my experience and would like to know if I was the first to find this out, or does anyone else already know about the INDEX.DAT? ? ? ?

  2. #2
    Star Lounger
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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Hi, Gumdrop - a fascinating detective story! [img]/w3timages/icons/trophy.gif[/img]

    The Index.dat file is a cache file created by Internet Explorer.

    When you download a file, IE assigns the downloaded file a unique identification number and then searches the Index.dat file for that number. If the downloaded file's ID number is found, IE knows that the contents of the file are stored locally on your computer's hard disk and IE then uses that information instead of downloading it from the Internet. If the downloaded file is not found in Index.dat, the contents of the file are downloaded from the Internet and the Index.dat file is updated with the file's ID number.

    The Index.dat files are re-created each time Internet Explorer starts. Since IE is totally integrated with Windows 98 and ME, IE is started whenever Windows starts and so you cannot easily edit or delete the Index.dat files - they are open whenever Windows 98/ME is open, as you have found.

    To remove embarrassing URL references, you would be better off directly removing the links from your disk - the next time Windows starts and Index.dat is re-created, the references to those links should be gone.

  3. #3
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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Dear John,
    In your recent post you stated,"To remove embarrassing URL references, you would be better off directly removing the links from your disk - the next time Windows starts and Index.dat is re-created, the references to those links should be gone."
    Could you give me the dummies version of how to remove the links directly from my disk. Whenever I end a session I delete all the cookies,webpages,and history from IEv5.5 and then use Window Washer for what it is worth. But I still have 1452kb in the index.dat(contentIE5)and 48kb in the index.dat(cookies)
    I am not really comfortable will all the DOS work the original poster did although if there were more specific instructions, I would take a shot at it.
    Thanks for any enlightenment you may have.

    Coinman33

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Definitely interesting. Is this where all those pesky autocomplete entries are found? I have a problem where the first time in an IE session I type into a (say) search box, IE complains about an invalid page fault and shuts down. It has been suggested that this is due to corrupt autocomplete entries. If I zap the index.dat(s) from DOS, will this help me? If not any suggestions... anyone!
    John (Unreconstructed Jacobite)

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Phil,

    www.freetune.com seems to be a restricted site - you need a username and password to enter it.

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    If you use Windows Explorer to look in "C:WINDOWSTemporary Internet Files" after having done your clean up, do you still see cookies, image files etc, etc?

    If so, use Explorer to search for the ones that you don't want and delete them.

    There may also be a number of sub-directories under "C:WINDOWSTemporary Internet Files" that can be searched using Windows Explorer.

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    I can't say that I can help directly, but there have been some reports that IE will crash if the amount of disk space assigned to temporary internet files is too large.

    Check Tools>Internet Options, then the Settings button under Temporary Internet Files and see how much disk space is allocated.

    Reduce the allocated space and see if the problem resolves.

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Thanks Phil,
    I'll give that a go and post back...
    John (Unreconstructed Jacobite)

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Thanks John. I'll have a look at these options.
    John (Unreconstructed Jacobite)

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Thanks for the help John, but I have another index.dat question. As I couldn't view the 2 index.dat files that are "in use", I copied them to a zip drive and then opened them with notepad and wordpad. All that was there was symbols. Should I open these files with a different program ? Do all those symbols mean something ? Thanks in advance for your help !

    Coinman33

  11. #11
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Hi John:

    I hadn't remembered that. I must have already signed up for it; I do get the newsletter. I trust the site; it doesn't sell your email. But it is free to sign up. Perhaps you can navigate to it from

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.langa.com/>http://www.langa.com/</A>

  12. #12
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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Thanks Phil, clean9x.bat is there under Free Downloads.

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    Leave Index.dat alone

    Umm ... I probably should have said it before: I really don't think there is much joy in trying to get into the Index.dat files. This is for a number of reasons:

    1. Changing, moving or editing any files created by Windows (or by application software like IE that is integrated with it) is fraught with danger, causing un-anticipated problems, system instability, crashes, etc. While making changes to Index.dat seems to be benign, it's not a good thing to do in principle.

    2. As I understand it, the Index.dat files are simply indexes of what is in the Cookies and Temporary Internet Files directories and are re-created each time IE starts. If you purged the references from Index.dat and didn't get rid of the links in these two directories, then the next time Index.dat is created the references that you deleted from Index.dat are simply going to re-appear.

    3. If the real aim of the exercise is to eliminate the possibility of other people seeing where you have been surfing, then it's unlikely that they are going to look in Index.dat. As you have found, it's difficult to get into those files and so it's unlikely that a random looker is going to seek there. Looking in the History, Cookies or Temporary Internet Files directories is dead easy and they are going to look there, if anywhere. It's from these directories that you should purge the links you don't want anyone to see.

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    Re: Leave Index.dat alone

    Dear John,
    Thanks for taking the time to explain this.

    Coinman33

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    Re: Has anyone ever really taken a look at

    Right, My bin-out problem.
    I've clean9x'ed. Didn't help [img]/w3timages/icons/frown.gif[/img]
    I've gone further and used a utility I found on the clean9x site to totally zap the TIF folder. Didn't help [img]/w3timages/icons/frown.gif[/img]

    I'll look at the temporary internet files size and report back. But any help still gratefully accepted.
    John (Unreconstructed Jacobite)

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