Temporary Data Storage Locations in Windows
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Thread: Temporary Data Storage Locations in Windows

  1. #1
    oldie ric-o's Avatar
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    Temporary Data Storage Locations in Windows

    Do you know where your data has been???

    The Microsoft Windows OS stores copies of the original files all over the place when you open them with various Microsoft Office and other applications. There are many places where other temporary files are stored too.

    I did this research after discovering a couple places where copies of some sensitive documents (personal data, employee reviews, etc) were stored in locations I didn't know about...I got real concerned and started hunting around my file systems, couldn't believe what I found!

    I will not profess that this is a complete and exhastive list of where temp data resides but are the top areas that I found.

    Here is what I found...some of you might be as surprised as I was...


    Files You Opened or Created (non-IE)
    ====================================
    Note: Confirmed on Windows 2000 PCs, XP most likely will be the same or similar. I do NOT cover 9x or NT.

    You will want to look at ALL folders under the "Documents and Settings" folder for temp files, such as:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temp
    C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Temp

    The following folder saves LINK files pointing to the original documents. While the actual documents are NOT here someone could see what you recently opened up. This is more of a privacy/confidentiality issue:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\Recent

    I believe this directory is where Microsoft Outlook stores files opened up from emails in Outlook. Copies of the real documents exist here so you'll want to clean them out - assuming the original is safely stored elsewhere:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK38

    By the way the folder "Local Settings" is hidden, so if you cant see it go into Explorer | Tools | Folder Options | View | select radio button for "Show hidden files & folders".

    Known Temp Storage Areas:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temp
    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\Recent
    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK38
    C:\WINNT\TEMP
    C:\WINDOWS\TEMP
    C:\TEMP
    C:\My Music


    Internet Explorer Related
    =========================

    Don't try to remove the INDEX.DAT files in any of these directories and most likely you won't be able to:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files
    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.blah
    - Replace "blah" with something like "IE5" if exists
    - There also might be many subdirectories under this location with temporary files in them
    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temp\Temporary Internet Files

    IE History Files. These are files listing the web sites you visited. I found many different files and locations where they are stored:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5
    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temp\History\History.IE5
    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings\Temp\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5

    There are some commercial programs which allow you view and delete entries in the IE History files.


    Notes
    ======
    * Replace "user_name" with the name of the user account name you use to log into the computer. Example: \jsmith\ or \joesmith\
    OR
    * Replace "user_name" with the name of the user account name PLUS a dot "." and either an Windows domain name or name of the computer. This may not exist and you would simply use your user account name only. Example: \jsmith.dellcomputer\ or \joesmith.dellcomputer\ or \jsmith.homepc1\ etc


    Commercial Products
    ===================

    Of course there are products which will do this "cleaning" for you - here's a short list.
    <DISCLAIMER>I am not affiliated nor get any royalty for recommending these tools...most I haven't tried yet.</DISCLAIMER>
    Source: I got some of these off Spywareinfo.com

    System Inspector
    http://www.regnow.com/softsell/nph-s...ffiliate=13232

    Tracks Eraser Pro
    http://www.spywareinfo.com/rd/trackseraser/

    Window Washer
    http://www.spywareinfo.com/rd/webroot/

    IEClean
    http://www.nsclean.com/ieclean.html


    Hope this tutorial was helpful in helping you be aware of where you're data has been!
    ...ric-o

  2. #2
    Member
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    Nov 2002
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    great help i found a lot of history stuff in these file on my syste, awsome tut
    why?

  3. #3
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    I have noticed a lot of this too. I have gone a head and "encrypted" all those folders and more (such as palm folder, etc) with the XP encryption. (dunno if thats an oxymoron or not...)
    Plus I make it a point to kill any files in those places from time to time with "wipe" from pgp.

    Its also a good idea to set VERY restictive permissions on those folders... not to mention the whole file system. It can be a pain getting all your permissions and settings right... but its worth it in the long run.

    You can find much more too, use filemon and regmon from systernals .

    You can disable a lot of these "recent file history" and such pretty easily with a couple of .reg tweaks. Its easier to use xteq's x-setup though.

    Good tutorial!
    Quitmzilla is a firefox extension that gives you stats on how long you have quit smoking, how much money you\'ve saved, how much you haven\'t smoked and recent milestones. Very helpful for people who quit smoking and used to smoke at their computers... Helps out with the urges.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    Nov 2003
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    great info

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