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Browzar: A first look

Want to surf the Web leaving no trace? Check out this Internet Explorer-based application--or just use Firefox instead.
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Written by Rafe Needleman on
Everything you do on your Web browser leaves a trail on your PC. You may not want this, for a variety of reasons: say you're looking up information about a medical condition while you're at work, or you're replying to personal e-mail at an Internet cafe.

A new browser, Freeserve's Browzar, leaves no tracks. It's a very small application (only 264K) that uses the Internet Explorer engine on your Windows PC (versions for Mac and Linux are in development). When you use Browzar instead of IE, nothing that happens is recorded -- not your Web history, not data you type into forms or search engines and not Web site cookies (they're deleted when you close the application, along with your session's page cache). What happens in Browzar stays in Browzar.


What happens in Browzar stays in Browzar.

Browzar doesn't even need to be installed into Windows. The downloadable file is a self-contained application. It can also run directly from a USB thumb drive.

However, Browzar is no security panacea. It does not stop your ISP from recording what you do, and Browzar would not prevent a person from being exposed to search data leaks of the AOL kind. Total online Web anonymity requires that you also use a Web proxy service, which Browzar is not. When this was mentioned this to a Freeserve representative, the response was, 'There are other products in the pipeline', so perhaps we'll eventually see a more complete privacy solution from the company.

The Browzar browser also has interface limitations. It does not have tabbed browsing, and standard UI shortcuts are not implemented (the extra 'back' button on a mouse won't work, for example).

If you need desktop security when you're browsing, and especially if you want a somewhat secure browser you can run from a USB drive, Browzar is a good solution. But it's not the only one: there's Heatseek (designed for adult content and definitely not safe for work), for example; and if you use Firefox, don't forget the 'clear private data' keyboard shortcut--Ctrl+Shift+Delete.



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