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How to Protect Your Internet and Computer Activities

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 An abuser might try to track what you are doing online and on your computer. Here are some things you can do to keep yourself safer. THESE STEPS MAY NOT PROTECT YOU 100%.

General Computer Safety

  1. If you can, use a safer computer at your local library, trusted friend's home, work or Internet cafe.
  2. Do not store your passwords!
  3. Choose passwords that are harder to guess, like a combination of letters and numbers. Change your passwords often.
  4. Keep all personal files on a disk or flash drive and set options to require a password to access each and every file.
  5. If you download pictures or documents, remember to erase them from the temporary or downloaded files folder on your hard drive.
  6. Empty the "Recycle/Trash Bin" before shutting down the computer. Until it is manually emptied, anyone can still see files that have been deleted.
  7. Set a code or password to lock your cell phone or PDA.

Email Safety

  1. Email is not secure or confidential. Calling by phone from work, a trusted friend's phone, or a public phone is better, especially if your partner may have access to your phone bill. Traditional phones with cords are more private than cell phones or cordless phones.
  2. If you receive harassing or threatening emails, print them out and save them as evidence.
  3. Delete emails from the "Sent Items" box and then also delete the email from the "Deleted Items" box.
  4. If possible, use web-based email services like Yahoo or Hotmail instead of email programs like Outlook or AOL.

Surfing or Web Browser Safety

Browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox store information about the pages you have viewed online such as browsing & download history, cookies, location bar autocomplete list and cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics.) Erasing these can keep you safer, although it is not a 100% guarantee of safety. A computer expert may still be able to uncover information.

For Firefox

    1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the FIREFOX menu, choose the HISTORY menu; and select CLEAR RECENT HISTORY... (For Windows XP: At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu and select Clear Recent History...)
    2. Select how much history you want to clear in the time range; click the arrow next to Details to select all information to be cleared; click CLEAR NOW.

For Internet Explorer

    1. Click on the TOOLS menu; choose INTERNET OPTIONS; then choose the GENERAL tab at the top. In the section called "Temporary Internet Files", click on "Deleted Files" to clear your cache. On the same screen, in the section called "history", press the CLEAR HISTORY button to erase your history list.
    2. When using Internet Explorer, there is a function which will complete a partial web address automatically, giving someone the entire address you have visited. This option can be found and changed on the MS Internet Explorer page by clicking on the "VIEW" icon at the top, then "INTERNET OPTIONS" and the "ADVANCED" tab. About halfway down there is a "USE AUTOCOMPLETE" box that can be checked and unchecked by clicking on it. Make sure it is NOT checked.

For Netscape Navigator

    1. Click on the EDIT menu; choose PREFERENCES; choose ADVANCED; then choose CACHE. Click on both "Clear Memory Cache" and "Clear Disk Cache". Then hit OK.
    2. Click on the EDIT menu; choose PREFERENCES; then choose NAVIGATOR. A "Clear History" button will appear, then choose OK.
    3. Click on the EDIT menu; choose PREFERENCES; then choose NAVIGATOR, click on the "Clear Location Bar" button the bottom of the window, then choose OK.


    1. Version 4.0: Pull down My AOL menu; select PREFERENCE. Click on WWW icon. Then select CLEAR HISTORY.
    2. Version 6.0: Pull down SETTINGS menu; select INTERNET PROPERTIES. Then select CLEAR HISTORY.

Other browsers will be slightly different, but you should be able to clear the CACHE (or "temporary files") and HISTORY list.

After you have cleared your cache, you may want to visit other sites that you think your partner would NOT object to; that way, the missing information is less likely to be noticed.


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