As a user, it’s easy to see your Internet Explorer history by navigating to the C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\History\History.IE5 folder. From there, you’ll see history organized by day of the week for the current week, as well as by subfolders for previous weeks. When browsing other user profiles, Windows Explorer’s view of the profile isn’t as intuitive. Instead, you will see folders whose names are based on the historical dates that they represent. A folder named MSHist012007010220070103 contains historical data from Jan. 2, 2007 (20070102) to Jan. 3, 2007 (20070103). Within each folder is a file named index.dat. The index.dat file contains the actual history data. Viewing this file in a text editor such as Notepad will reveal much of the history information, but it is difficult to read. An easier way to read history data from any user’s profile is by using the tool Index Dat Spy.
Index Dat Spy is free and installs in a few minutes. To use the tool, just copy the user’s IE history folder (example: C:\Documents and Settings\dmcnabb\Local Settings\History\History.IE5) to a local folder on your system or to removable media such as a USB drive. Note that each user’s Local Settings folder is hidden by default, so you will need to enable the hidden files view in order to see this folder. To see hidden files, in Windows Explorer click the Tools menu, select Folder Options, and then click the Show Hidden Files and Folders radio button.
Once you have access to the user’s History.IE5 folder, follow these steps:
- Open Index Dat Spy.
- In Index Dat Spy, click the File menu and select Open.
- Browse to the copied History.IE5 folder, select the Index.datfile located within that folder, and click Open.
You should now see the user’s Internet history displayed. Without an external Internet usage auditing product such as a proxy server, Index Dat Spy can be a pretty handy tool for viewing a user’s Internet Explorer history data.