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Sandi's Site

General information about what we see when we look at Internet Explorer's cache

To quote Tom Koch of InsideOE fame:

"...What you see is an illusion created by Windows Explorer. It is designed to show you what we might call the Cache View when you open *any* folder that is part of the Temporary Internet Files. If you are on a machine with multiple user profiles, this prevents you from seeing the contents of another user's cache. Looking at any of them will cause Explorer to display the Cache View only for the current user, i.e., yourself. If you want to verify this for yourself, click Start|Run and type without quotes "winfile". That will open the old 16-bit File Manager from Win3.x, which does not know how to display the Cache View. Be careful though. Do NOT attempt to change anything at all on your computer with File Manager, as it is not aware of long file names. Just use it to peek into the cache folders and you'll see that each folder contains different files.

You might also notice that the Cache View displays all the cookies for the current user. These are not even stored in the Temporary Internet Files folder. They are kept in c:\windows\cookies, or under \windows\users\<name>\cookies. They are included in the Cache View only as a convenience.

Finally, in case you are wondering, the cache folder itself is divided into subfolders in order to make it more efficient. The subfolders are given random names as a security precaution..."

Following are instructions on how to completely delete the TIF (IE cache):

Shut down all programmes and boot into dos if you are using Windows 95 or 98. If using Windows ME use an appropriate disc to access DOS. Run the following commands from the windows directory, typically c:\windows\>

smartdrv (make sure you always run this command first)
deltree tempor~1

Reboot using ctrl, alt, del if using Windows 95 or 98. If using WindowsME remember to remove the boot floppy.

Windows 2000 users will have to log in as Administrator to be able to delete the folders in question directly from within Windows Explorer. Windows XP users will use the same procedure.


Different operating systems use different paths to the history, temporary internet files and cookies folders. Check your system to make sure that you are using the correct path for your machine. For example, you may find your folders are located at ...\documents and settings\{identity}\{dir} or similar.