Clean Multimedia Players


Multimedia players often keep track of the video and audio files you have played . There are so many programs that there's no space here to list the way to clean them all. But if you look carefully in each program, and search for a preferences or privacy menu or tab, you should be able to find the options yourself.

That said, here's how to turn off and clear the play histories for two of the most common media players for Windows.

Windows Media Player 10

Follow these steps to clear play histories for Windows Media Player:

1.
Open Windows Media Player 10.

2.
Click the Tools menu and then Options.

3.
Click the Privacy tab. Under the History section, click the Clear Cache and Clear History buttons to remove any evidence of previously played media files (see Figure 7.17).

4.
Also, uncheck the box next to Save File and URL History in the Player.

Figure 7.17. Windows Media Player keeps track of video and audio files you have been watching, but this feature can be disabled.


Real Player 10

Follow these steps to clear play histories for Real Player:

1.
Open Real Player 10.

2.
Click the Tools menu and then Preferences.

3.
Under the General area, click the Clear History button under the History section.

4.
Uncheck the box that says Enable a History List in the File menu to turn off the list of most recently played files on the File menu (see Figure 7.18).

Figure 7.18. Real Player keeps track of multimedia files that have been played. However, the list can be easily cleared.

Protect Your Email

Email programs are a great way to snoop on people. You can see communications back and forth and even search by sender, recipient, date, and contents. Getting inside a person's email program is like being given access to her whole life, especially for someone who relies on email as her primary mode of communication. It's often an excellent diary of someone's life. If your email falls into the wrong hands, a snooper can discover a lot about you.

Here are the basic privacy concerns that apply to many email programs:

  • Every email you send is saved in the Sent Items folder (or a similar folder), unless that option is turned off in the program.

  • All email received remains in your inbox unless it is deleted.

  • When deleted, email goes to a deleted items folder sometimes called the Trash Can or Recycle Bin folder. It's held until you empty the folder.

  • Sending email is as private as sending a postcard. Anyone who has the know-how can look at its contents as it travels to its destination.

  • Email is fetched from your mail server, but can be set to be left on the server for later retrieval (by you or someone else).

Turn Off Saved Sent Items

Here are some email privacy guidelines to help keep your email private in two of the most common email programs, Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express 6.

Each time an email is sent, it is saved by the email program. You can, however, turn off this function by following these steps in Outlook 2003:

1.
Open Outlook and click on the Tools menu.

2.
Click Options and then click the Preferences tab.

3.
Click E-mail Options.

4.
Under the Message Handling area, uncheck the box next to Save Copies of Messages in Sent Items Folder.

In Outlook Express 6, follow these steps:

1.
Open Outlook Express and click on the Tools menu.

2.
Click Options and then the Send tab.

3.
Uncheck Save Copy of Sent Messages in the Sent Items Folder (see Figure 7.19).

Figure 7.19. Most email programs save sent emails in the Sent Items or Outbox folder. You can turn this feature off to protect your privacy, as shown in the Send tab of Outlook Express 6.


Empty Deleted Items Folder

Just like in Windows, when you delete an email, it goes into a deleted items folder. This should be emptied periodically. Here's how to actually delete the deleted items in Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express 6:

1.
Open Outlook or Outlook Express.

2.
Right-click on the Deleted Items folder.

3.
Choose Empty Deleted Items Folder.

Caution

Of course, you must realize that in disabling the storage of sent items, you will have no record of the emails you send. If your job requires that you maintain a record of conversations or you need to be able to forward items you sent to one person, disabling this feature could be crippling. Sure, it's a double-edged sword, but choosing to not save sent items could be disastrous under the right circumstances.


Another good option for managing the deleted items folder is to have it automatically clear each time you close Outlook. Here's how:

1.
In Outlook, select the Tools menu.

2.
Click Options, and then click the Other tab.

3.
Check the Empty the Deleted Items Folder upon Exiting option.

4.
The next time you close Outlook, the Deleted Items folder is emptied.

Don't Leave Email on the Server

When email is sent, it arrives on an email server waiting to be picked up by your computer's email program. Think of this server as a kind of post office. The server can be set to hold a copy of the received email for a period of time before it is deleted. This is useful if you access your email from several computers. However, it also makes your privacy vulnerable. Anyone with your email account's user ID and password can retrieve copies of the email from the server.

Here's how to turn that function off in Outlook 2003 so email is deleted from the server after it is downloaded by your computer:

1.
Open Outlook and click on the Tools menu.

2.
Choose E-mail Accounts

3.
Select View or Change Existing Email Accounts and click Next.

4.
In the E-mail Accounts window, click on the name of your email account in the list and click Change.

5.
Click More Settings, and then the Advanced tab.

6.
Uncheck the box next to Leave a Copy of the Messages on the Server, and click OK.

In Outlook Express 6, have your emails deleted on the server after you've downloaded them by doing the following:

1.
Open Outlook Express, click the Tools menu, and then Accounts.

2.
On the Mail tab, select your mail account and then click the Properties button.

3.
Next click the Advanced tab on the Mail Properties window.

4.
In the Delivery area, uncheck the box next to Leave a Copy of Messages on the Server. Click OK and then click Close on the Internet Accounts window (see Figure 7.20).

Figure 7.20. Leaving your messages on your mail server can provide a snoop with the perfect opportunity to look through your email. Good thing this feature can be turned off.


Wash Windows

Windows has some very obvious places that track your computer behavior. Here are the key areas you need to know about. The program CleanCache takes care of the less obvious problems. It's a one-stop program that wipes away all the web content in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, plus all kinds of Windows data, Download CleanCache 3.0 from the very charming ButtUglySoftware.com. It's free for use on up to two computers. If you're going to use it for more than two computers, the author asks that you donate a few dollars to help support the software.

Tip

If you hold the Shift button down when you delete a file, it bypasses the Recycle Bin and is deleted. If you use this trick, make sure you want the file deleted because it's a headache to undo this.


Empty Your Recycle Bin

When you delete files in Windows, they go into a holding area called the Recycle Bin. Be sure to clear the Recycle Bin periodically by right-clicking on it and choosing Empty Recycle Bin. Note that if this option is grayed out, there is nothing in your bin (see Figure 7.21).

Figure 7.21. Be sure to empty your Recycle Bin regularly. Even on a computer someone can go through your garbage.


Clear My Recent Documents

Windows keeps track of documents you open in a list on the Start menu called My Recent Documents. This can include movie and audio files. To clear the list and turn the menu off, follow these steps:

1.
Right-click on the Start button and choose Properties.

2.
Click the Customize button on the Start Menu tab.

3.
In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window, choose the Advanced tab. Click the Clear List button under the Programs area and uncheck the box next to List My Most Recently Opened Documents (see Figure 7.22).

Figure 7.22. The My Recent Documents folder that appears on the Start menu can be turned off.


Turn Off AutoComplete in Windows Search

The Windows Search feature keeps track of what you have searched before using a drop-down menu to show you keywords used in the past. To turn this off, follow these steps:

1.
Click Start, Search.

2.
On the Search menu on the left side of the Search pane, click Change Preferences.

3.
Choose Turn AutoComplete Off (see Figure 7.23).

Figure 7.23. Turn off previous search terms in Windows Search by choosing Turn AutoComplete Off in Search preferences.


Erase the Contents of Your Temp Folder

The Temp folder is kind of a Windows scratch pad. All kinds of files are put here when Windows is working on them. The problem is that it is not cleaned after Windows is finished with it. So clear it out periodically by following these steps:

1.
Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, and choose Windows Explorer.

2.
In the Windows Explorer address bar, type %temp% and press Enter (see Figure 7.24). This opens the Temp folder.

3.
Press Ctrl+A to select all the items in this folder. Press and hold down the Shift key and then press the Delete key. This deletes the files and bypasses the Recycle Bin.

Figure 7.24. Your personal Temp folder can be accessed by typing %temp% in Windows Explorer.

Clear the Clipboard

If you have ever cut or copied and then pasted anything in Windows, you have used the Windows clipboard. This function is used to move a file from one folder to another or move or copy text from one document to another. In fact, almost any type of data can be cut and pasted using the clipboard.

Caution

Although it's good to weed out the Temp folder from time to time, please note that deleting these items can be costly the next time you try to recover a document or data that was lost when your application and/or computer crashed. Often, Temp files are the only existing copies of the lost data.


After something is in the Windows clipboard, it remains there even after it has been pasted. If you cut (or copy) and paste something and walk away from the computer, anyone else that comes along to use the computer can also paste the object from the clipboard.

To clean the clipboard, all you need to do is reboot and the clipboard is cleared. If you want to clean it manually, simply do the following on any word processor:

1.
Open Notepad, which is found in Start, All Programs, Accessories.

2.
In an empty document, press the spacebar to insert one space (or any other random character).

3.
Highlight the space by clicking your mouse and dragging it from left to right over the space to highlight it.

4.
Press Ctrl+C to copy it into the clipboard. It replaces whatever is there.

Scrub Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office keeps track of the documents opened in the MRU list in the File menu (see Figure 7.25).

Figure 7.25. The MRU list of documents shows the most recently viewed documents in a program.


Here's how to clear this list in the 2003 versions of Word, Excel, Access, PhotoDraw, and PowerPoint:

1.
Click the Tools menu of any of the programs and then click Options.

2.
Click the General tab.

3.
Uncheck the Recently Used Files check box and click OK (see Figure 7.26).

Figure 7.26. The MRU list of documents can be turned off easily in most Microsoft Office programs.


Deleted Files Are Not Gone

Simply deleting a file and clearing the Recycle Bin doesn't wipe away a file permanently. Windows removes references to it on the computer's hard drive and marks the space it occupies as free. However, an unerase program (such as the one found in Symantec's Norton Utilities) can find files that have been deleted and recover them, as long as they have not been overwritten by new data.

Tip

If you want to clear the MRU in the Microsoft programs FrontPage, Publisher, and Photo Editor, you need to edit the Windows registry. Microsoft has instructions on how to do this in its knowledge base website at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;313454.


This can pose a problem if you are giving away an old computer or want to ensure that a particular file is not recoverable.

There are many free programs that permanently destroy files. Try either of these:

  • Simple File Shredder This free utility kills files one at a time and overwrites them up to 25 times with garbage data so they can't be recovered. It can also wipe history and cached files saved in Internet Explorer and Firefox. It also wipes clean the contents of the Windows Recycle Bin and the Recent Documents folder. Get it from www.Scar5.com.

  • UltraWipe This free program wipes free space on your hard drive as well as files in the Temp folder and Windows Recycle Bin (see Figure 7.27). Get it from www.snapfiles.com/get/ultrawipe.html.

    Figure 7.27. UltraWipe can scrub empty hard drive space so no files can be undeleted.


Absolute Beginners Guide To. Security, Spam, Spyware & Viruses
Absolute Beginners Guide to Security, Spam, Spyware & Viruses
ISBN: 0789734591
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 168

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