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Google released a new feature called Google Web History. Once you’ve enabled it, Google will start recording your entire browsing history. It does this by using grabbing information from the Google toolbar that is sent for every page you access when you have Pagerank enabled. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with giving Google my browsing history, but considering how much adsense is out there, they probably have it anyway, right? At least this will add some utility value to giving up your browsing data.

Enabling Google Web History
First off, you’ll need the google toolbar installed and running on your browser. Make sure to enable the Pagerank display, as the web history application uses the pagerank meter’s communications to base your history on.

Next, go to http://www.google.com/history/. You’ll be asked to sign in and then you’ll be presented with an option to either “Enable Web History” or “Limit Web History to searches”. It’s pretty self explanitory – you can have Google only store the history of your searches, or you can go for the full-meal-deal and have every page you visit stored.

Using Google Web History
The service is actually pretty interesting. On the surface, it’s similar to your browser’s history tool, except that you can search your history using a similar interface to Google’s web search.

Additionally, you can filter your history by media category, Ie. Web, Images, News, Video, Maps, etc.

There’s also a “Trends” and “Interesting Items” feature which would appear to offer browsing recommendations, presumably by comparing your browsing patterns against other, similar users’ behavior. I haven’t been using the service long enough to judge how well this works, but it seems potentially useful.

Pause / Resume
If you want to temporarilly disable the history service, there’s an included “Pause” button. You’ll need to remember to visit the history service and click this before browsing to anything sensitive, but once you’ve enabled it, nothing is supposed to be recorded. Clicking resume will start things back up.

Deleting your web history
The privacy policy says that deleting your web history will completely remove it from your account, but there is also a note saying that they maintain a seperate log system as a “common industry practice”. What the latter means is anyone’s guess, but I’d bet they store that information anyway if you’re using the Pagerank meter.

  1. Go to the “My Account” link to manage your account.
  2. Under “My Services” lick “Edit”
  3. There’s a link to “Delete web history” – click it.
  4. Click the “ok” box and enter your password. Your history will be removed.

Now, if you really don’t want Google’s giant eyeballs on your browsing data, make sure to turn off Pagerank or completely disable the Google toolbar.