Manage and Delete Browsing Data Components in Microsoft Edge

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Private Data Components, Cortana and Prediction Services

Microsoft Edge browsing data
Getty Images (Maciej Frolow #117075088)

This tutorial is only intended for users running the Microsoft Edge browser on Windows operating systems.

Microsoft's Edge browser for Windows stores a significant number of data components on your device's hard drive, ranging from a record of the websites which you have previously visited to passwords that you use regularly to access your email, banking sites, etc. In addition to this information, which is commonly saved locally by most browsers, Edge also maintains other items specific to your browsing sessions and preferences such as a list of sites on which you allow pop-up windows as well as Digital Rights Management (DRM) data which lets you access certain types of streaming content on the Web. Some browsing data components are even sent to Microsoft's servers and stored in the cloud, via the browser as well as by Cortana.

While each one of these components offers its own benefits in terms of convenience and an enhanced browsing experience, they can also be potentially sensitive when it comes to privacy and security -- especially if you use the Edge browser on a computer that is sometimes shared by others.

Keeping this in mind, Microsoft provides the ability to both manage and remove this data, individually or all at once, should you so desire. Before modifying or deleting anything, first, it is important to have a clear understanding of what each private data component is comprised of.

This tutorial details browsing history, cache, cookies, and the numerous other categories of information that your Edge browser stores on your hard drive_ as well as how to manipulate and clear it if you need to.

First, open your Edge browser. Next, click on the More actions menu -- represented by three horizontal dots and located in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled Settings.

Edge's Settings interface should now be displayed, overlaying your browser window. Click on the Choose what to clear button, located in the Clear browsing data section.

Edge's Clear browsing data window should now be displayed. To designate a particular data component to be deleted, place a checkmark next to its name by clicking on its accompanying check box once_ and vice versa.

Before choosing which data to wipe out, you should review the details of each. They are as follows.

  • Browsing history: Each time you visit a Web page, Edge stores its name and URL on your hard drive. This does not occur while InPrivate Browsing mode is active.
  • Cookies and saved website data: Cookies are small text files which can contain login details, user-specific preferences and other information that websites utilize to customize your personal browsing experience on subsequent visits. In addition to cookies, this category also encompasses other Web storage components including HTML5-enabled application cache and locally stored database data.
  • Cached data and files: Each Web page that you visit is comprised of multiple files and source code, all retrieved from a server as part of the loading process. You may notice that this process is sometimes quicker on your second or third visit to a page, an improvement made possible in part by browser cache_ which consists of files and other data previously stored on your hard drive.
  • Download history: In addition to maintaining a local record of the websites which you've visited, Edge also stores information about each file downloaded via the browser. This includes the filename as well as the URL where the download originated.
  • Form data: Whether it be shopping online, signing up for a new service, filling out a survey, or one of the other countless browser-based activities that require us to type, one thing is certain -- we tend to type some of the same information, such as our address, over and over again. To alleviate some of this tedium, Edge saves this data locally and prepopulates it whenever prompted by a Web form.
  • Passwords: It seems like everything we do on the Web these days requires a username and password. Remembering all of these credentials can prove tricky, and having to type them often can be exhausting. Similar to the form data component, Edge also offers the ability to save and then later prepopulate your most commonly used login names and passwords.

To view the remainder of the browsing data components that Edge stores on your hard drive, click on the Show more link.

In addition to the common browsing data components described above, Edge stores the following advanced information as well_ which can also be cleared via this interface.

  • Media licenses: Many websites that stream audio and video content incorporate methods to prevent that content from being accessed or copied without their consent, which includes utilizing DRM (Digital Rights Management) licenses. Sites that use DRM may choose to store media licenses, unique identifiers and other data on your local hard drive_ letting those sites know that you have permission to view or download said content on future visits.
  • Pop-up exceptions: Edge allows you to create a whitelist, so to speak, of websites that are allowed to push pop-up windows to your browser. While the integrated pop-up blocker is enabled, sites not on this list of exception are prevented from opening pop-ups.
  • Location permissions: Websites may attempt to glean your location, usually by IP address, for a number of reasons usually related to customizing your individual experience. Depending on your settings, Edge will ask you whether or not you wish to allow this behavior by a particular site. A record of all websites which have been granted permission to obtain your location is maintained locally on your hard drive.
  • Full screen permissions: Similar to location permissions, Edge also stores a list of all websites for which you have granted the right to automatically open in full-screen mode.
  • Compatibility permissions: Although Edge is the default and prominent browser option in Windows 10, Internet Explorer is still installed. For compatibility purposes, you are given the option to allow websites to automatically open in IE rather than Edge. The list of those sites, stored on your device's hard drive, makes up this browsing data component.

Once you are satisfied with your selections, click on the Clear button to delete browsing data from your device.

Privacy and Services

As mentioned earlier in this tutorial, Edge offers the ability to store frequently used username/password combinations on your hard drive so that you do not have to type them each and every time you visit certain websites. We've already shown you how to delete all of your saved passwords, but the browser also allows you to view, edit and delete them individually.

To access Edge's Manage passwords interface, first click on the More actions menu -- represented by three horizontal dots and located in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled Settings.

Edge's Settings should now be displayed, overlaying your main browser window. Scroll to the bottom and click on the View advanced settings button. Next, scroll down again until you locate the Privacy and services section.

You will notice that the Offer to save passwords option is enabled by default. You can disable this at any time by clicking on its accompanying button once. To access your saved usernames and passwords, click on the Manage my saved passwords link.

Saved Passwords

Edge's Manage Saved Passwords interface should be displayed. For each entry stored on your hard drive, its website URL and username is featured in the list.

To delete an individual set of credentials, simply click on the 'X' found to the far right in its respective row. To modify the username and/or password associated with an entry, click on its name once to open the edit dialog.

Cookies

Above we discussed how to delete all saved cookies in one fell swoop. Edge also allows you to specify which types of cookies, if any, are accepted by your device. To modify this setting, first return to the Privacy and services section of Edge's Settings interface. Towards the bottom of this section is an option labeled Cookies, accompanied by a drop-down menu containing the following choices.

  • Don't block cookies: The default setting, this instructs Edge to save all cookies that are sent from websites to your hard drive.
  • Block all cookies: When enabled, no cookies will be stored during your browsing session.
  • Block only third party cookies: Third-party cookies are those associated with domains other than the one you are currently visiting. These types of cookies can originate from an embedded advertisement, social media sharing button or other source found on the current page. When this setting is enabled only cookies from the active domain are allowed to be saved.

Saved Form Entries

As we also mentioned earlier in this tutorial, Edge can save information entered into Web forms such as addresses and credit card numbers to save you some typing in future browsing sessions. While this functionality is enabled by default, you have the option to disable it if you do not want this data stored on your hard drive.

To do so, return to the Privacy and services section found within Edge's Settings interface.

You will notice that the Save form entries option is enabled by default. You can disable this at any time by clicking on its accompanying button once.

Protected Media Licenses

As referenced earlier in this tutorial, websites that stream audio and video content sometimes store media licenses and other Digital Rights Management data on your hard drive in an effort to prevent unauthorized access and also to ensure that the content which you are supposed to be able to view or listen to is indeed accessible.

To prevent websites from saving these licenses and related DRM data on your hard drive, first, return to the Privacy and services section of Edge's Settings window. Once you've located this section, scroll down until you cannot proceed further.

You should now see an option labeled Let sites save protected media licenses on my device. To disable this feature, simply click on its accompanying button once.

Cortana: Clearing Browsing Data in the Cloud

This section only applies to devices where Cortana has been enabled.

Cortana, Windows 10's integrated virtual assistant, can be used with a number of applications including the Edge browser.

While utilizing Cortana with Edge, some of the browsing data referenced within this tutorial are sent to Microsoft's servers and stored in the cloud for future use. Windows 10 provides the ability to clear this data, as well as to stop Cortana from assisting you in the Edge browser altogether.

To clear this data, first, navigate to Bing.com within the browser. Next click on the Settings button, located in the Web page's left menu pane. Bing's Settings should now be displayed. Select the Personalization link, found in the page's header.

With the Personalization settings visible, scroll down until you locate the section labeled Other Cortana Data and Personalized Speech, Inking, and Typing. Click on the Clear button, located within this section.

You will now be prompted to confirm your decision to delete this data from Microsoft's servers. To commit to this action, click on the Clear button. To cancel, select the button labeled Don't Clear.

To stop Cortana from assisting with the Edge browser, and therefore preventing it from sending any of your browsing data to the cloud, first return to the Privacy and services section of Edge's Settings. Within this section is an option labeled Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge. To disable this functionality, click on its accompanying button once so that the indicator shows the word Off.

Prediction Services

Cortana isn't the only feature which stores some of your browsing data on Microsoft's servers. Edge's page prediction service, which utilizes aggregated data based off of a wealth of browsing history, attempts to determine which pages you are going to visit next — half-educated guess, half Web psychic. In order to gather this aggregated information, Microsoft retrieves browsing history from your device.

To disable this feature and prevent Microsoft from getting their hands on your browsing history, first go back to the Privacy and services section of the browser's Settings interface. Within this section is an option labeled Use page prediction to speed up browsing, improve reading, and make my overall experience better. To disable this functionality, click on its accompanying button once so that the indicator shows the word Off.