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Internet Explorer uses index.dat as part of its operation. It is not spying on you or growing without bound!
I've known about the index.dat file for years and I have a utility to erase it. I was wondering what purpose does it really serve, other than spying on me? Does not using IE protect you from index.dat? If it never shrinks and I stop erasing it, wouldn't I run out of hard drive space?
In this excerpt from Answercast #42, I look at the fear that index.dat is spying on the computer user – not so. It is just a simple cache management file.
So, I want to be very clear about this:
Index.dat is nothing more than a way for Internet Explorer to use the browser cache more effectively. It's a way that allows Internet Explorer to locate specific files within the cache quickly.
You could delete it, if you like. It will get regenerated the next time you run Internet Explorer.
If you clear your browser cache, you're effectively clearing the contents of index.dat in Internet Explorer.
Not using Internet Explorer doesn't protect you from index.dat because there's nothing to be protected from.
Internet Explorer uses index.dat as part of its operation.
Index.dat does not grow without bound. It will not fill up your hard drive.
It, and the contents of your browser cache, will pay attention to a setting in Internet Explorer that says essentially, "Don't let the browser cache get any bigger than this."
Now, index.dat relates indirectly to that in that it contains (or I believe it contains) a list of the number of files that are in your cache:
It could be 20,000 small files;
Or it could be two or three really big ones;
And index.dat probably sizes according to the number of files.
But that's it! It's not something that spies on you. It is nothing more than
Internet Explorer trying to do its job as quickly and as efficiently as it
Next from Answercast 42 – Can I read Open Office documents on my Android?