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  1. #1
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    Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Hi,

    Where is the IE browser's History List kept?
    Is it kept in a text file (like the custom.dic) or in the Registry?

    If I want to transfer the complete History List from one PC to a another, what's the quickest way?

    Thanks,

    m.q.

  2. #2
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    This has come up before and I don't recall a simple and quick answer... but here are the facts.

    The History data is stored inside your "History" folder. If you are a single user on a Win9x machine, then chances are it will be in C:WindowsHistory. If you are on a Win2K-XP computer, then the History folder will be stored in a User-specific folder -- one that is usually a long number and that contains your personal Desktop information, Cookies, Temporary Internet Files, etc. Simply search for all folders named "History" and you should be able to find it.

    Inside this Folder will be only two objects -- a "desktop.ini" file -- which confers special properties to the History folder (by linking to a special Class Identifier) and then a "History.IE5" sub-folder. Even if you have IE6, the folder will still be called History.IE5. (On some machines, the ".IE5" tag won't be displayed so it will appear simply as "History".)

    Inside this History.IE5 folder will be several things:

    1) Another desktop.ini file
    2) Several folders that are named for a specific date range -- for example, here are two of mine: MSHist012003080220030803 and MSHist012003080120030802. If you drop the "MSHist01" prefix and parce out the numbers, you see that these cover two dates and span a 24-hour period. For example, 2003-08-02 | 2003-08-03 is yesterday and today. Not all folders will cover ONLY 24 hours, only the present week will be stored that way.
    3) Lastly, the "index.dat" file -- which indexes all the data in the History folder.

    Inside each "date range" History.IE5 sub-folder will simply be an "index.dat" file. Each index.dat file contains the History of "visited" links for the given date range specified by the name of the folder. The main History.IE5 index.dat file is a compilation of all the smaller index.dat files in the sub-folders within.
    _________________________________

    So, on the surface, the answer appears to be -- "Just copy the History folder and paste it on the new computer". There are several problems with this simplistic approach:

    1) I don't believe Windows will let you replace a History folder of the "Current User" -- you would have to do it in "pure DOS" or when you were signed on as a different user.
    2) Just because you stick a History folder on a computer does not mean that Windows will know how to use it!

    I believe the latter occurs in part because the Internet surfing "History" of a user is considered somewhat sensitive or personal information. So, Windows tries to make it challenging for another user to see or steal this infomation -- rightfully so. Regardless, I must assume your intentions are good! <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> I am not sure if WinXP will even let you access and Copy another user's History folder -- but I suspect it does. It should not...

    OK, how do you "activate" the History folder on the new machine? Well, Windows uses one place to store its long-term memory -- the registry. You have to tell Windows -- through the registry -- for which exact History.IE5 sub-folders it needs to look. It does this through the "Extensible Cache - CachePath" values in the registry. On my Win98 box, they are stored in sub-keys here:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentV ersionInternet Settings5.0CacheExtensible Cache

    On a WinXP box, I must suspect they are instead stored in User-Specific keys -- the "Current User's" one will be in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive.
    _____________________________________

    So, I believe it would entail at least a two-step process:

    1) Copy and Replace the correct User's History folder.
    2) Modify the registry correctly to indicate the correct sub-folders and their path.

    Could this be done? Probably, but I know of no program that automates it...

  3. #3
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    You don't really want all that information, dates, times, places, etc. Are you really just looking for a list of URLs and page titles? Just the ones interesting enough that you would add them to your Favorites if it wouldn't take days and days of clicking?

    Don't let me give you the impression that I know how to do any of these things, but I am interested in why one might want it.

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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    I just had a look at history folders in my XP (Home) and it does appear to protect individual user history from prying eyes. Logged in as an admin, I can view my own history OK, in "Cocuments and SettingsanadminuseridLocal SettingsHistory", with folders named as they appear when viewed in IE.

    When looking for history in other users "...Local SettingsHistory" I get the behaviour you describe with sub folders like "History.IE5MSHist012003080120030802". But all it shows in any of these folders is the index.dat file. It may be possible to "hack" access to this information, but at least normal approaches via explorer or the command line seem to be blocked off.
    <font face="Comic Sans MS" color="blue">TimOz</font>
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  5. #5
    Silver Lounger Bruce K's Avatar
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Hi, M. Q. ~

    The history list is maintained from within the database file 'index.dat' files that are peppered throughout your computer, hidden in some locations despite [/i]'unhiding'[/i] them. As R2 mentioned, this is considered sensitive info and not easily transferred, if even possible, as one would other settings.

    Please download Spider v1.16 from the satellite icon graphic link at the top of this Spider v1.16 Tutorial. After following the first four steps exactly as outlined in the Tutorial, go to the menubar > 'File' > 'Save Scan Results'. This will give you all the URLs of all sites visited that have not been deleted. From that text file, I would follow Jefferson's recommendation and enter them into your Favorites manually or by some other means.

  6. #6
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Thanks fellow loungers.

    m.q.

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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Tim, see if you can open the index.dat files of another user with Notepad. A lot of the stuff will be computer goggledegook, but the actual "visited: www.wopr.com/lounge" entries should be in plain text near the bottom.

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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Spot on! I only looked at the start, with the messy stuff, and wrongly assumed the rest would be the same. But, as you say, towards the end you can pick out the URLs clearly, in among the computerese.
    <font face="Comic Sans MS" color="blue">TimOz</font>
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  9. #9
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Should the description that you give for the files contained in C:WindowsHistory apply to Win98, too? I have IE6 & Win98 SE, but the only thing I have inside the history files are folders named Today, Yesterday, etc. None of the folders has a Desktop.ini file & none have an Index.dat file.

    The only index.dat files that I have are:
    C:WINDOWSApplication DataMicrosoftInternet ExplorerUserDataindex.dat
    C:WINDOWSCookiesindex.dat
    C:WINDOWSLocal SettingsTemporary Internet FilesContent.IE5index.dat

    Thanks,

  10. #10
    Silver Lounger Bruce K's Avatar
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Hi, Phil ~

    If you use Spider 1.6, you will find more 'index.dat' files than the ones you found and you will be able to peruse them w/o the gobbledygook. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

  11. #11
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    I am describing what is REALLY in the History folder -- what you SEE in the History folder is all Smoke and Mirrors. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    The simplest way to verify this is to look at the History folder in DOS. Alternatively, I also figured out another little trick. Use DOS to remove the "System" attribute for the History folder. Now open it! <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

  12. #12
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    Re: Backup HISTORY List? (6.0 SP1)

    Thanks R2 & Bruce for the information. I have Spider, but haven't gotten around to using it yet. Heck, I can't even catch up with the new posts after being off for almost two weeks. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

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