Windows Server

Control users' temporary Internet files and browser history using Windows Server 2003 Group Policy


If monitoring software is too costly for your company’s budget, you may want to check out a solution that comes with Windows Server 2003 that will send you users’ Internet browsing information. Windows Server 2003 caches a user's browser history when they use Internet Explorer. This makes it easier for users to find the site again, and it helps administrators monitor and track Internet activity and keep a better eye on equipment usage. Here's what happens if you enable these settings.

You can set the location of the user browser history -- and prevent users from deleting it -- using Group Policy. Group Policy is also where you control temporary Internet files and cookies. To configure these settings, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Group Policy Editor.
  2. Select the User Configuration node.
  3. Click Administrative Template.
  4. Click Windows Components.
  5. Click Internet Explorer.

With the Internet Explorer node selected, the Details pane is flooded with controls for Internet Explorer. About halfway down the list, you will see these three settings: Disable Changing Temporary Internet Files And Settings, Turn Off Delete Browsing History Functionality, and Disable Configuring History.

  • Enabling the Disable Changing Temporary Internet Files And Settings setting within Group Policy. This will cause Internet Options in Internet Explorer to gray out the caching settings on the General tab. If you disable the policy, users will be able to modify these values.
  • Enabling the Turn Off Delete Browsing History Functionality setting. Internet Explorer 7 disallows users to delete their browsing history. If you disable this policy, users will be able to delete their browsing history.
  • Enabling the Disable Configuring History policy. This prevents users from clearing the history manually or changing the number of days after which the browser history will be cleared. This policy will prompt you to supply a value for the number of days that Internet Explorer should keep the history. If you disable this policy, users will be able to change these settings.
Note: In IE 6, browser history and temporary Internet files are separate; in IE 7, they are grouped together under the Browsing History section.

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About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

17 comments
jshoemaker21
jshoemaker21

Could someone tell me how to automatically monitor sites visited as this article says?? Thanks

ChadV
ChadV

I do not have this option listed under Internet Explorer. Why is this? I am running SBS2003.

c.deolde
c.deolde

As far as I know it is only possible to set the temporary internet files location via a group policies adm template or by distributing a reg file via your login script. Too bad MS didn't introduce this option in the standard IE7 group policies, I hate having temporary internet files saved in my users' roaming profiles.

BigHamster
BigHamster

How is the history sent to the administrator?

jshoemaker21
jshoemaker21

Where is the option to send you the information??

jshoemaker21
jshoemaker21

WHere the option to send you the information?

AugustUser
AugustUser

In the article it mentions that "You can set the location of the user browser history..." Where and how do you set this?

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

No, Open Source: Download IPCop Firewall & Configure as a VMWare install on the 2003 Windows Box Download proxy server additions from: http://www.advproxy.net/ Configure and you are away...

Aakash Shah
Aakash Shah

By default, Windows does _not_ store the cache in the roaming profile. The cache is stored in the Local Settings folder in XP and this folder is excluded from being copied back to the server (hence it does not roam with the user). If your profiles are roaming with the cache, it may be because you are using re-using older profiles from older OS's where the cache used to be stored with the roaming profile. In any case, follow the steps below to create a group policy to help change this behavior in your domain: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/814592 This should help make your login/logout times faster as well. Good luck!

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland

You can use group policy to configure the locations these items are stored and if users have the ability to clear them. They are not sent to the administrator.

jshoemaker21
jshoemaker21

Can someone please anser how this informatin is sent to admin? THanks

BigHamster
BigHamster

How and where do you send the history to?

mariojjsimoes
mariojjsimoes

These measures will only limit beginners. In fact the history folder will remain available either thru windows explorer or a command line. Therefore all a user needs to do is navigate there and delete all files. This is not fixable as this folder needs to be writable as the internet explorer process uses the current user credentials. The only workaround (ugly, but works) is set up a scheduled task on a server to copy all history to a folder on the server every half an hour or so. Of course there might be legal issues (in some places it could even be a crime) and it generates complexity and network and server load... I'd appreciate any ideas, though...

jshoemaker21
jshoemaker21

That;s not what the article said though. How do you do it in the way he said?

ajitwarrier
ajitwarrier

Is there a way to do something like this for Firefox, Opera etc?

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

IPcop & the add-on runs on a dedicated host or vm on the network (as a web proxy server). It will work for any browser and can even ban users based on what browser the are using.