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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