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Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

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New Contributor

Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

Tonight I've been using Auslogics BoostSpeed v5.4.0.10 (the latest version) to clean my computer. There is a "Privacy" tool included which among other functions allows one to "Erase History". Once inside the "Track Eraser" module the user is presented with various checkbox options for deleting from installed browsers and WIndows

For Firefox I selected cookies, typed URLs, form autocomplete, saved searches, temporary internet files and download history as "history tracks" to be deleted.

The scan found approximately 1700 "history tracks" that were previously typed URLs. Upon reopenng Firefox it seems that did not touch my current history (deleted manually, last done over a month ago), nor my bookmarks. When I open the "Detailed Report" link in BoostSpeed that opens in-browser, the subsequent page shows the tracks detailed and itemized. In the list are sites I haven't visited in years. Spot-checking a few of the addresses shows that they haven't been deleted from my bookmarks file, either.

I'm curious where these addresses have been stored. I've been using Firefox since around v3 and the only common denominator I can think of, through various profile migrations and the changeover to sqlite files, is the bookmarks file.

Could a file connected with the Awesome bar have been saving these, even though I turned it off Awesome Bar capability as soon as that function was introduced? Plus, I think some of these addresses pre-date FF providing typed suggestions in the address bar.

One thing I have noticed is that when I do finally manually delete my history, there are a list of websites from years ago that seem to be "stuck", maybe about 200 links from 2008-2009 (?) that I can't get rid of no matter how many times I try to dlete the entire history. They were not touched by this Auslogics clean and are still at the bottom of my history list in the sidebar.

8 REPLIES
Support Forum Moderator

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

History has for a long while been saved in the same database as the bookmarks. The file is places.sqlite

The awesomebar display options may be changed but that is different from not saving information or clearing information. How long history items are kept for depends partly on the database size and the number of bookmarks as bookmarks are sometimes given priority where necessary.

If you do have the awesomebar working and displaying a dropdown list typing in an asterisk along with the term displays bookmarks, typing a ~ filters for typed items

Using the Private Browsing feature either temporarily or permanently prevents data being saved. There are several options for customising saving and clearing the various history items.

You mention the history sidebar, not note you will have more information available if you use the bookmarks Library. Use display all bookmarks. That includes History and tags, and options to sort and to display additional columns.

I suppose your places file may be somewhat corrupt.
If you are going to experiment with the places.sqlite file I would recommend backing it up first, and then again as you make changes. There is an add on that does some repairwork on the places.sqlite you could try using that.

You may also examine the file with a sqlite editor, but I have only dabbled in that and can not offer proper advice on editing and repairing the file manually.

New Contributor

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

I'm aware that history and bookmarks are now stored together in places.sqlite, whereas they were separate in the past. i made reference to history and bookmarks storage in my original question because those are my only points of reference with regard to Firefox and where those old visited sites could have been pulled from..

BoostSpeed refered to the items it was deleting as "History Tracks" but i tried to convey through my description (second paragraph) that the deletions were not simply browser history but "user" and use history. Based on the age and selectivity of the internet addresses (not simply bookmarks) that the "Detailed Report" showed as having been deleted by BoostSpeed, it was not simply browser history. First, these addresses were not in my history, which I am able to look at anytime I choose, and do so frequently; second, I would expect much more of my actual history would have been deleted, not sites pulled out of the ether that I haven't visited in literally four or five years.

There is no "if you have awesomebar working". I wrote that I turned it off as soon as it was pushed out three (?) years ago and have never used it short of the couple of days it took me to get around to deactivating it. I don't like auocomplete and turn it off in Yahoo, Google and wherever else it appears.

I also have never used Private Browsing. I'm not asking how to keep browsing info from being saved. I'm trying to find out how deep and far back my previous browsing info has been saved and where it could be located in my profile besides the most obvious places. Seeimg as I have the option to supposedly delete history, cookies, etc, and I do so manually at least once a month, I'm trying to understand what Firefox classifies these pulled up old addresses as if not "history" and where they were stored in my profile all these years. If as a user we are give options to delete privacy details manually, I would think Private Browsing is an alternative to having to later delete the info from various file locations, not the option that assures FF has not kept a hidden backup of what it lets you think is deleted.

I know about the Bookmarks Library, have a shortcut for it on my navigation bar and use it as an alternate view for history and bookmarks. However, it's not relevant to this discussion as those BoostSpeed "Typed URLs" addresses were not sitting in the history in the Bookmarks Library either. They were not visible anywhere, except as bookmarks I may have created in the past after initially accessing the given website.

I can't say that every last "Typed URL" has a corresponding bookmark since I checked only a few addresses I knew I would have bookmarked to make sure they weren't dleted from bookmarks. Because the spotchecking found some sites still in Bookmarks I concluded that those sites BoostSpeed classified ase "Typed URLs" was not simply their pulling old bookmarks to delete.

Right now the History in Bookmarks Library goes back only seven days. There was more going back further (I have not manually deleted history via Firefox in at least six weeks) but older entries must have gotten cleaned in all the browser and system cleaning I've been doing. However, when I scroll all the way to the bottom of the sidebar (note: my history displays in the sidebar as a function of the All-in-One Sidebar add-on), the sites I mentioned (in my original post) that are obviously old (totally different from the old sites BoostLogic cleared as "Typed URLs" ) are still not deleted. These particular links have also never shown up in the History section of the Bookmarks Library window and are not showing there now.

I've had Places Maintenance installed for a few years and have run it periodically. I suppose it would have repaired any corruption by now, either that or the untouched history entries are not technically corrupted. I'm not experiencing any of the problems in that Mozillazine page link that defines places.sqlite file corruption.

[As a final note, my bookmarks file is many years old, migrated from Netscape and through Firefox when the Bookmarks was still an html file. I back it up as an html flle which is about 12M large. There are about 20K plus bookmakrs, fully categorized in folders and subfolders, so many because I use it for reference and research as well as personal use.]

If this extra info ("typed URLs") is being stored (and for so long) is it in places.sqlite? If not where else? BoostSpeed could not just parse out four- and five-year-old typed-in addresses out of the Firefox profile files to the exclusion of all else so obviously this info is being stored somewhere and I'd like to keep it from being stored going forward.I don't even think all of them were actually typed -- some are long enough that obviously I linked from somewhere else or copy-pasted them into the address bar.

I welcome input or other suggestions. I can't be the only privacy conscious FF user who would like to be assured that sites I visited four and five years ago are not still stored in my profile somewhere (notwithstanding those saved as bookmarks, of course).

Support Forum Moderator

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

I am not aware that Firefox stores the data anywhere else. (Other than the backups of bookmarks, and of course as the relatively temporary cache files. )

My reason for menitoning the awesomebar and the fltering option was merely to point out an easy method of you acessing and displaying some such data.

I can't say that every last "Typed URL" has a corresponding bookmark since I checked only a few addresses I knew I would have bookmarked to make sure they weren't dleted from bookmarks. Because the spotchecking found some sites still in Bookmarks I concluded that those sites BoostSpeed classified ase "Typed URLs" was not simply their pulling old bookmarks to delete. 

That is why I pointed out the filtering option. You may type in an address and NOT bookmark it. The entry will be in places.sqlite, but will not show as a bookmark, only as a history item.

Site Moderator

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

You can check for problems with the places.sqlite database file in the Firefox Profile Folder.

You can use the SQLite Manager to inspect entries that have a typed=1 attribute.

  1. Open Profile Directory -> places.sqlite -> Go
  2. Hit the Execute SQL tab
  3. Use a Select like this:
SELECT datetime(visit_date/1000000,'unixepoch') AS visit_date, url, title, visit_count, frecency, typed
FROM moz_places, moz_historyvisits
WHERE moz_places.id = moz_historyvisits.place_id AND typed LIKE '1'
ORDER BY frecency DESC
New Contributor

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

I think I have a solution. First, download the add-on SQManager. This should be included with FireFox, it is really good. Look for the file moz_hosts in the folder places.sqlite. Don't delete the file, just delete the information in the file. My file has over 3600 websites, which go back years!! I did not know they were there, but I was frustrated about not being able to get rid of them. They popped up every time I used the address bar. Clearing my history would not get rid of them. This is where they are stored!! I found that by deleting the pesky web site from moz_hosts, it does not appear in my address bar anymore!!! I think that if I just delete all the websites in moz_hosts.... Wa-la...History Gone!!! As long as you don't delete the file, just empty it, FireFox won't know the difference. It will just keep adding websites to it until you empty it again. Why running "clear recent history" doesn't do this, I don't know. You are doing manually what "clear recent history" is not doing. Please tell me if you see any flaw in this. I think it's the solution we've all been looking for!

New Contributor

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

DSmith and others: thanks for your replies. I was not able to get back to this thread, until tonight. I will try various solutions and come back to let you all know what worked and how. I have SQLite Manager installed already and will take a look at SQManager (if that is not a typo) to see which one has a (for me) more user-friendly interface. As of today I still experience the same issue -- leftover years-old history of visited websites after clearing _all_ recent history.

New Contributor

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

I had the same problem: addressbar autocompletes old URLs even after cleaning history.

Thanks Dsmith for the solution!

Step by Step:

  1. Backup the file "places.sqlite" from your Mozilla Profiles Directory
  2. Install SQLite Manager Add-on
  3. Open SQLite Manager and open the "places.sqlite"
  4. Hit the Execute SQL tab and enter:
    DELETE FROM moz_hosts

5. Execute SQL. Done!

Firefox will add newly entered websites to the moz_hosts table by itself.

I have the same question as Dsmith for Mozilla Support:

  • Why running "clear recent history" doesn't do this? Is this a bug?

Or is this because through various profile migrations? I'm using Firefox since Version 1.0.0.

Support Forum Moderator

Re: Where are typed URLs stored and for how long?

General Reply

I have tried to reproduce this problem without success. I have tried several different versions of Firefox on Windows and on Ubuntu.

At one stage I thought I had seen the problem, and started to narrow down which versions it was on, only to come back to the original and not be able to reproduce the problem. (I guess I just did not clear history correctly)

There have been changes to places.sqlite, and how the location bar is used, so it did seem possible there could have been a regression.

My guess is that advanced users with large numbers of tabs and extensive use of firefox may well also have many extensions, especially ones relating to bookmark management possibly that is the problem.

If anyone has a continuing problem (and so needs to use SQL editors) I have some suggestions i could give about trying to demonstrate the problem to others.

  • The simplest is try in safe-mode and see if the problem still occurs then.

I suspect use of SQL editors is normally employed to salvage data from an otherwise unusable file. I do not see it should be recommended for routine use of clearing History !