Did you know that when you surf the web, or when you use other programs that access the Internet, these programs record where you go and what pages you browse? These trails that your Internet programs record can be very useful; for example, what if you can't remember the web page where you saw that great video, or where you read that interesting article about your favorite hobby? Check your web browser's History menu, and you'll find it (though if you surf a lot, you'll have to wade through a long list of web sites.)
When you visit web sites, your browser stores information about you and your browsing in "cookie" files. While these cookies can make your surfing easier, by, for example, storing your user name for a site you visit often, they can also hold details such as the previous web site you visited, and, over time, may allow web sites or advertisers to know about all your browsing activity.
Finally, web browsers and other programs store "caches", folders containing web pages and images you have previously viewed, so when you return to a web site the program doesn't have to download everything on a page. While this can speed up your web browsing, it can also fill up your hard disk. Browser caches can quickly reach dozens of megabytes and even more over time.
While this information can make your computer experience faster, easier and more enjoyable, it can also be seen by others who use your computer, or by hackers who have gained access to your hard drive. Intego Washing Machine steps in to help manage all this information, preventing others from seeing what you've been doing, and keeping your hard disk spic and span. Washing Machine helps you protect your privacy by making it easy to delete such information, wiping the trails that your web browsers and other programs leave behind.
With Intego Washing Machine, you can delete one, some, or all of these different types of information from your Mac. You can run Washing Machine manually or automatically; you can choose specific items to clean, or select them by file size or other criteria. Or you could have Washing Machine delete all files left behind by an old, unused web browser. Washing Machine deletes these trails simply and quickly, and can even use a secure mode that guarantees that the information cannot be recovered.
Washing Machine doesn't slow down your Mac. Once you've selected which items you want to clean, and set a schedule, you can browse freely, knowing that your privacy is assured, and that Washing Machine will clean up after you at the time or frequency that you choose.
Washing Machine can clean five types of items: Bookmarks, Caches, Cookies, Download Histories, and Browsing Histories. It works with most web browsers, and many utilities or other programs that store information behind your back. It even cleans up after some programs that you would never think are storing data. But Washing Machine knows about them, and is ready to clean up after them.
Your Mac has tens of thousands of files, but only some contain information about your Internet activity. Washing Machine knows which ones to watch and where they're located on your hard drive. There are five types of files that Washing Machine cleans, which are called Categories:
- Bookmarks record the locations, or URLs, of web pages that you have saved for future reference. Sometimes called Favorites, they show in a special menu, and you can add your favorite sites to this menu so you can visit them again without having to search for them. However, most browsers already have a list of preset bookmarks that you may not want to use.
- Caches contain data you've already downloaded, such as web pages, graphics, videos or sound files. Your browsers (and some other programs that use the Internet) store this data on your hard drive. Since hard drives deliver information much faster than the Internet, these caches make your browsing snappier. However, a snooper looking through your cache could see all those web pages, movies, sounds and graphics - and know that you've seen them, too. In addition, they can take up a lot of space. Web browsers aren't the only programs that use caches: system utilities such as Software Update, multimedia programs such as Front Row, and internet programs such as Google Earth do as well; even Apple's Mail stores caches, when you view HTML e-mail messages, and Dashboard's Widgets have their own cache folder.
- Download Histories provide a list of files that you grabbed from the Internet, ranging from software to music to documents for your work.
- Browsing Histories keep track of the names and URLs of every web site you visit.
Why Do You Need Washing Machine?
Your Mac stores two types of information:
- Data that you create
- Data that your Mac and its programs create
You usually have a good idea of what data you create: you know what it is and where it's located, and, if necessary, can delete it fairly easily.
But your Mac, and its programs, constantly create data as well, and this data isn't always easy to understand, find, or get rid of. For example, visit a major news web site using the Safari web browser, and your Mac records the following bits of data on your hard drive:
- 5 MB in the browser cache
- 6 Cookies from the web site and one from an advertiser
- Several entries in the Browsing History file
While this information may speed up and improve your online experience, it can be embarrassing or even damaging. Here are some examples of Internet information you might want to keep secret:
- You're planning a surprise party for your parents' anniversary. Your mother sits down to browse the web and sees a folder for bookmarks labeled "Mom and Dad's Party". Inside are bookmarks for a department store gift registry, a page of family photos, and a company that binds photos into a presentation book. She hits the Back button… and sees the invitation itself. If you had used Washing Machine, you could have disposed of these bookmarks and browsing histories before she stumbled on them.
- You regularly visit web sites that require a username and password for access. You like that your computer automatically enters that information, but now your son is coming to visit. You're afraid that he'll get into those sites and change your preferences, or accidentally send e-mail in your name. By using Washing Machine to delete your web browser's cookies, he won't take your place in the online world.
- You manage an office of salespeople who are competing with each other for business. One accuses another of gaining unfair advantage by looking through her e-mail and web caches to see what products she's planning to offer and at what prices. You could spend time and energy trying to resolve the issue; or you could just set Washing Machine to delete these caches on a regular basis.
In short, Washing Machine is good for any time you need to hide your online habits from the prying eyes of anyone else who uses your computer. But even if you live alone and never let anyone else sit at your desk, Washing Machine also protects you from information theft and malice on the Internet.
Before the Internet became popular in the 1990s, you could protect your privacy fairly easily. Except for digital information about you maintained mostly by large organizations such as utility companies, banks, and governments, almost all of your daily activities were purely analog. A person who wanted to know what you were up to would have to follow you around or hire a private investigator to do so.
But then two things happened: more people began using computers, and online access became cheaper and more widespread. For thieves and scam artists, other people's personal computers were like locked safes. While ubiquitous online access didn't let them in, it did give them a way to test the locks on hundreds or even thousands of "safes" every hour. Motivated by the promise of treasures - business information, personal data, bank records and credit card numbers - they became increasingly proficient at picking those locks.
Washing Machine takes unneeded information out of those safes and shreds it, cleaning the files that could give intruders valuable information about your online habits.
- Washing Machine does not offer a Free Trial or Evaluation Period.