Firefox recording browsing history; "You have visited this page X times."
I had to reinstall Firefox. I use Google as my search engine. I finally got things to where my browsing history was not saved. (Or at least I assumed it was not.) Suddenly, a week after I reinstalled Firefox, I am getting that tag "You have visited this page X times. Last visit was [date]." What is going on?
I DO NOT want my history tracked. I have Firefox clear the cache EVERY session, and I also run CCleaner.
What is very interesting about this is, I have requested my history not be tracked many months prior to reinstallation, and it seemed to not be doing it. Yet, today, when I do a Google search, it tells me my last visit to a certain site was 4/26. NOTE: I have had (supposedly) Google not tracking my search history for months.
Also note: This time, I left checked the "Remember search form and history box." But if I supposedly wasn't being tracked before, why the heck does it remember the last time I visited a site?
I want to know definitively--Is there a way to make my usage utterly anonymous, at least to Google. I am trying to get an idea of where a nonprofit site I run is appearing in search results. Because Google starts putting first any site you regularly visit, this makes it impossible for me to track how the site is actually doing.
Thanks for any help you can provide.
Where do you see "last visit" information -- in the Google search results page itself? Websites can't read your Firefox history details (e.g., number of visits, last visit date) unless there is some very dangerous add-on making that possible.
Are you logged in to your Google account? If so, you may be seeing information from your web history stored by Google. More on that: https://history.google.com/history/
If you are logged out of your Google account and/or have disabled web history in your Google account, Google nevertheless may recognize you using a cookie. Google may use both conventional HTTP cookies and so-called Flash cookies (local storage objects or LSOs) as a way to identify your browser.
You can use a private window (Ctrl+Shift+p) to avoid passing any stored HTTP cookies, and you can clear Flash storage using Adobe's management page (or probably an add-on):
Does any of that seem to make a difference?
For research purposes, you could:
Create a new Firefox profile
A new profile will have your system-installed plugins (e.g., Flash) and extensions (e.g., security suite toolbars), but no themes, other extensions, or other customizations. It also should have completely fresh settings databases and a fresh cache folder. However, Flash cookies may be shared among profiles (maybe, not sure).
Exit Firefox and start up in the Profile Manager using Start > search box (or Run):
Any time you want to switch profiles, exit Firefox and return to this dialog.
Do not delete anything!
Click the Create Profile button, use name like June2014, and skip the option to change the folder. Then start Firefox in the new profile you created.
Before searching: Let's take Flash cookies out of the picture by preventing sites from using Flash automatically. To set "Ask to Activate", open the Add-ons page using either:
- "3-bar" menu button (or Tools menu) > Add-ons
In the left column, click Plugins. Look for "Shockwave Flash" and change "Always Activate" to "Ask to Activate".
And finally, does Google give you different results in this new profile?
When returning to the Profile Manager, you might be tempted to use the Delete Profile button. But... it's a bit too easy to accidentally delete your "real" profile, so I recommend resisting the temptation. If you do want to clean up later, I suggest making a backup of all your profiles first in case something were to go wrong.
Thanks for your reply.
1. Google search.
2. I did everything I could some time ago to disable Google tracking history. Doesn't really seem to work. I clicked the link you provided, and it shows it was tracking yesterday (which is when this problem started) and then it doesn't show anything until March of this year. Crazy! I can click the Google Search History button--it seems useless. Regardless of what I click, it says, "Search history is on."
3. I will try the Adobe thing and see if that works.
4. I don't understand "You can use a private window (Ctrl+Shift+p) to avoid passing any stored HTTP cookies."
All are always set to Ask to Activate.
I have another question, related to why all are set to "Ask to activate." I am extremely bothered by flashing and moving images on a screen, regardless of the rate at which the move (slow, fast, etc.) Jiggly is particularly bad. This includes the new moving stuff Google has on its search page.
I had hoped that I could shut these off, but dont' seem to be able to. Do you know a way to do this?
(BTW, all this problem started when the electric company's new smart electric meters were installed in my neighborhood. The radiofrequency they send out and line noise (dirty electricity) they create has made me sensitive to everything from moving objects on the computer to cell phones.)
On your question about the private window, it's useful to first talk about a normal window. When you visit Google in a normal window, Firefox will send back any cookies Google has previous set. These allow Google to keep track of your session, your preferences -- you.
When you visit Google in a private window, Firefox starts a new set of cookies separate from the ones you have in your regular windows. Google can use these cookies until you close all the private windows, then they are cleared.
So if your old cookies are influencing your results, opening a private window will allow you to see results that are not influenced by those cookies.
I'm not sure what you mean about moving stuff on your Google page. Do you mean the animations on Firefox's built-in home page, above the Google search box? Or on Google's home page? Once you get your Google search results, nothing should be moving. If there are animations there, or unexpected new ads sliding in, that would be suspicious.
Could you post the address of the page that has the problem? If it is the built-in Firefox home page, there are some discussions about how to remove the animations, but it probably would be easier to search from https://www.google.com/ instead.