Winferno’s new PC Confidential erases your tracks when you’re on the Internet and securely shreds your personal files when you want to. The program also destroys records of any chats you had on the three major chat services: MSN, AOL and Yahoo.

The shredding feature lets you skip handling

individual files and drag a whole folder to the shredder instead. The file shredding is done at the same level required by the Department of Defense.

For most people worried about what may be seen on the hard drive when they give away their computer, all they would have to do is open PC Confidential and select the My Documents folder for shredding. This is nicer than erasing the whole hard drive because the recipient will still have programs to use.

When erasing your tracks, PC Confidential generates a privacy report in each category it is about to delete. Our report found 949 items in our browser cache, 262 items in the Windows Explorer history section and 195 items in our browser history. The browser history is particularly important because it may contain information that Windows saves to allow you to auto-complete log-on forms. This could include passwords and other personal data.

The number of items deleted may seem high, but in fact is fairly typical if you actively browse the Web. The reason you want to delete those items is not merely to remove possible personal information, but also because that’s how the software on many Web sites tracks you. If your browser cache shows that you go to a lot of financial Web sites, for example, you will almost immediately start getting a lot of spam from stock market advisers, investment plans, newsletters, insurance offers, etc.

PC Confidential is a low cost program for Windows at the Winferno Web site: www.winferno.com. Winferno, by the way, is a company that has long specialized in privacy utilities.

BOOKS

Windows XP Speed Solutions by Curt Simmons from Wiley (www.wiley.com).

A slightly techie book, but with lots of information on how to get rid of the junk that accumulates on your hard drive and speed up your computer’s operation. It’s part of the PC Magazine series. The part on increasing processor speed is probably more technical than most people can handle. Some tips, like how to clear the registry file, should be used very carefully, but are good if you pay close attention.

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