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A low-cost utility that hides your tracks

PC World

June 8, 2000
Web posted at: 10:26 a.m. EDT (1426 GMT)

(IDG) -- As you surf the Web, images, URLs, and cookies pile up in your wake, and they can all be tracked. If you think it's nobody's business where you go on the Internet, what files you download, and what documents you've recently opened, you'll find SurfSecret a godsend.

As its name implies, SurfSecret erases the various identifying marks made on your hard drive during your Internet activity. "Lite," browser-specific editions ($19.95 each) are available for America Online 3.0 and later versions, for Internet Explorer 3.1 and later, and for all versions of Netscape Navigator. Each will clear evidence of where you've been from history, cache, and cookie files. For $29.95, you can get the Deluxe version, which I tested. It goes beyond wiping out your path through the Internet: It can also clean out your Windows documents menu, last-run menu, temp files, and even the Recycle Bin. The utility works with all versions of Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000.

Install and Hide


SurfSecret installs in minutes; it then runs continuously in the background. With SurfSecret installed on my Pentium II-333 PC with 64MB of RAM and running Windows 98 SE, I didn't notice any glitches or reductions in system performance. You can set SurfSecret to automatically wipe out files at start-up or shutdown, or at specified intervals, ranging from once per minute to once per day. You can also call up the program at any time and click the Clean Now button to instantly wipe all the files and folders you've selected.

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By default the program is represented by a black-dot icon in the system tray. You can also set it to run instead in Stealth Mode, which offers several options: You can enable password protection for accessing the program; remove it from the system tray and elect to call it up with a hot key you specify; or even make SurfSecret invisible on your local PC and to network administrators. Also, the program can rename itself with an innocuous title.

All of SurfSecret's individual removal options can be turned off or on at any time. And not all of them are purely surreptitious; clearing out your browser cache also saves disk space, for instance. And SurfSecret's cookie control goes well beyond the ability of major browsers to turn cookies on and off, as its Cookie Saver lets you specify which cookies to save and which to reject. For example, I like to see's suggestions based on my prior purchasing habits, and SurfSecret lets me leave Amazon's cookies unaffected while eliminating others.

Handy and Adept

SurfSecret does exactly what it claims to do, but it's not completely foolproof. The program certainly can't do anything about spy software--programs that can be used by parents and employers to track PC usage, all the way down to individual keystrokes. However, SurfSecret does use what the company calls a proprietary cleaning function to "shred files into a pulpy mess." Using Norton Utilities, I was not able to reconstruct the files that SurfSecret deleted.

Some of SurfSecret's abilities--cookie control, in particular--are available in other utilities, such as The Limit Software's Cookie Crusher and Symantec's Norton Internet Security. But no utility does as thorough a job of keeping your computer activities private. Even if you don't have a lot to hide, you'll probably find comfort under SurfSecret's cover.

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Surfsecret home page
Cookie Crusher home page
Symantec home page

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