Index.Dat Viewer and Zapper Get it from CNET!
Current version: 1.05 - see upgrade notes

This useful little tool will dump URLs and Web Addresses found in INDEX.DAT. If you are not familiar with this file and you use Microsoft Internet Explorer then you may be in for a shock.

INDEX.DAT is used by Windows to manage your web file cache. You'll be surprised by what you can find in this file - even after you have cleared your cache and history it will persist in keeping your whole browsing, emailing and document history. Many washing programs won't clear it and it can't be deleted using the normal methods as it's permanently locked open by the SYSTEM user.

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Viewer Version is Free

Zapping Version
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Where Does INDEX.DAT live?

INDEX.DAT can be pretty hard to find as it's both a system file and hidden. Even when you ask for these files to be made visible some index.dat files are still hidden away from view in Windows Explorer and DOS - unless you know the exact path. On Windows 2000 and Windows XP you can find it in these places:

\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Cookies\index.dat
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\index.dat
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Local Settings\History\
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Local Settings\History\
\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Local
Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat

On Windows 9x typical places will be

\WINDOWS\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat
\WINDOWS\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat

How does Indexdat-ZAP work?

Indexdat-ZAP is a Windows program. After downloading it into a temporary directory, unzip it and the program is ready. It's a single executable file you can place anywhere. Drag and drop it onto your Desktop to make it easy to find.

There is only one button you need to know about - "Scan". Let scan run for a few seconds or minutes (depending on your machine speed and number of files). Indexdat-ZAP will hunt down all occurrences of index.dat and check the contents to see if it contains cache information. You'll get a list of all the files it's found. Double click on any file to see the web links or other information stored in that file. Indexdat-ZAP creates a temporary text file in the root of the C:\ drive and then opens notepad to display the contents. You can print or save this information from there. The temporary file is automatically deleted when you exit the program.

ImageDat-Zap Screen Shot

IndexDat-Zap - Purchased Version - 4.99

If you support our software development and purchase IndexDat-Zap you'll have a ZAP button to zap, clean and wipe selected index.dat files on your computer. IndexDat-Zap will open multi-mega byte files and write special blocks tagged as 'empty' over the occupied file space, completely removing all useful information but not breaking the file format. The purchased version will also scan all drives - C to Z - if they exist on your computer or network - and you can select which ones to scan.

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Upgrade Notes - changes since 1.03

  • New preferences dialog allows you to specify a single folder to scan, rather than assuming all drives. Useful if your index.dat files have been collected and placed in a certain folder.
  • Your local user windows temp folder is now used for any temporary files created by the program rather than assuming it has write access to the root of C:
  • Bug fix - cancelling a scan on one drive cancelled scans on the remaining drives even if you said 'yes' to scanning them, now fixed.
Any owner of a previous version is entitled to a FREE upgrade. Simply email with a copy of your PayPal receipt. If you don't have that you can send me the old version (but please ZIP it up first).

Known Issues
  • In Windows 7 trying to expand the window will cause the buttons to slide off the edge. This seems to be a change in the operating system in the way Windows Themes work. If you disable Windows Themes the program works normally. It must be related to the way the buttons are hooked onto the window (the right hand side). (I will fix this as soon as I can find the source code again)

Note: This program is limited to version 5.2 of INDEX.DAT which is common to IE5 and later versions. The version number is the first piece of information in this file. If you have older versions of IE (that is version 4.0 or less) the program may not work. I don't have access to older browsers but if someone could provide me with example INDEX.DAT versions that are not version 5.2 I will modify the program.


I reverse engineered this file by studying it in a HEX editor. Microsoft have not documented the file format but I had help from a couple of web sites:

The program is written in C++ using Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0

How to manually delete INDEX.DAT

  • Open a Command Prompt (DOS box) and CD to the directory with the index.dat
  • Type in "del index.dat" but don't press enter
  • Close all other programs
  • Get Task Manager up, [CRTL]+[ALT]+[DEL] or right click the Task Bar
  • In 'Processes' look for 'explorer.exe'
  • End this process - it will ask you to confirm and give a stern warning
  • explorer will automactically re-load itself. In the seconds before it does that hit [ENTER] in your command prompt. Hopefully index.dat will be deleted. A new one should appear almost immediately and will be 32k in size - but it will be largely empty.

How to manually delete INDEX.DAT in Windows ME

Internet Explorer puts index.dat files in the C:\Windows\Cookies folder and / or the C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files folder, depending on your version of IE.

One way to delete your index.dat files is by logging on as a different user.

  • Select [Start]->[Settings]->[Control Panel] and lauch the Users applet (if Users isn't visible, click the View All Control Panel Options link on the left side of the Control Panel.
  • If your system doesn't already have more than one user setting, this approach will bring up the Enable Multi-user Settings Wizard. As you walk through the Wizard, create the user name noindex, and don't enter a password.
  • On the Personalised Items Settings page, check Downloaded Web Pages.
  • When you're finished, Windows will ask whether you want to restart your system. Answer in the affirmative. Windows will log you off, and then log you back on as 'noindex'.
  • Once Windows is running, select [Start]->[Log Off noindex], and log back on as yourself. Windows will tell you that you haven't logged in with this name before - click Yes, then log off and back on again with the user name 'noindex'.
  • Now you can delete all index.dat files except those intended for the user 'noindex'. Since 'noindex' doesn't surf the Web, these index.dat files won't grow. When you're done, log off and then back on again as yourself.
(credit web page for this solution no longer available.)

Note: Deleting a file in windows means it goes into the recycle bin and can be got back. If you press "shift" as well as "del" it gets deleted without going into the bin. Deleteing in DOS also avoids the recycle bin. However, the file is not really deleted. Only a proper window washer will clean your unused disk space.