Privacy

There's plenty of information that Firefox stores on your workstation while you're browsing. The Privacy icon section provides some level of control on how Firefox handles that information. These options are shown in Figure 8-5.

Figure 8-5: The Firefox Privacy Preferences window.

Figure 8-5: The Firefox Privacy Preferences window.

The privacy-setting options are

♦ History: The History section lets you designate how many days you want your browser to remember where you've been. You can also choose to let Firefox remember text you've entered into forms and the search bar. If you use this feature, Firefox will attempt to autocomplete words you've already typed before in those forms. You can also allow Firefox to remember the files you've downloaded so you can easily review them to avoid inadvertently downloading a file you've already downloaded.

♦ Cookies: Cookies have become a sensitive topic in the Internet world. Cookies are small files a web site stores on your machine so that data you've accumulated on the site can be accessed again when you return. A web site can read only the cookies that it sets, so one site can't tell what other sites you've been to. To prevent cookies from being stored, uncheck the Accept Cookies from Sites box. You can also only allow certain sites to set cookies by clicking the Exceptions button and adding the sites into the list.

♦ You can view every cookie you currently have by clicking the Show Cookies button, and can either remove them individually (select the cookie you want to remove, then click Remove Cookie) or click the Remove All Cookies button to toss out all of your cookies immediately. For the Keep Until drop-down list box, choose how often you want Firefox to dump cookies:

• Until they expire: Most cookies have an automatic expiry date. This setting allows Firefox to delete cookies when they expire.

• I close Firefox: If you are using a shared workstation or just don't want the computer storing cookies after you're done using the browser, choose this option.

• Ask me every time: If you want to be ultra-paranoid about cookies or to see how often they are actually used, choose this option.

♦ Private Data: This section allows you to specify which stored items (such as cookies, temporary files, history items, and stored form data) are cleared and how they are cleared. Select the Always Clear My Private Data When I Close Firefox check box if you want to clear all of your stored files every time you exit Firefox.

♦ You can select specific items to clear by clicking the Settings button and choosing the individual items you want cleared. To prevent accidental clearing of your data, the Ask Me Before Clearing Private Data check box is selected by default.

The private data also include cached web pages that Firefox stores as temporary files while you browse. Firefox stores each site you visit as a file in the cache area. The next time you visit the site, Firefox determines whether the page is the same, and, if it is, automatically displays the cached page to save network bandwidth.

These cached pages take up space on your hard drive and can slow down your browsing experience when you get too many. It's always a good idea to periodically clear the cache on a regular basis. Instead of digging down into the Preferences menu to do that, you can hit the Ctrl-Shift-Del key combination on the keyboard while Firefox is running or select Tools O Clear Private Data from the menu bar.

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