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Trying to read Index.dat folder in DOS mode + Continued Scandisk Problems

Discussion in 'Earlier Versions of Windows' started by beaglehound, Sep 21, 2003.

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  1. beaglehound

    beaglehound Thread Starter

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    September 21, 2003

    Hi everyone:

    I posted this on the DOS board but because I'm running Windows 98 I thought this might be the more appropriate board.

    I'm using Windows '98. I recently read an article having to do with reading the contents of the index.dat file in MS-DOS. The article is quite long so I've only posted the relevant section below. I attempted to follow steps on my computer. I was doing fine until I got to step 6 which I've asterisked for you. I saw the blue screen with all the binary. But I saw no lists of URLs the author of the article describes. (By the way I can't get hold of who wrote the article but continue to try.) All I can see are thousands and thousands of repeating symbols. There are basically 3 symbols. One is a musical note. Another is the symbol for 'man' and the third is made up of 3 short horizontal lines, one above the other about 1cm in length. I hope I've created a good visual for you. This combination of symbols was repeated hundreds of thousands of times as you scrolled down the page using the arrow key. There is a menu of sorts at the top of the page. I'm able to navigate to the different buttons using my alt key and/or arrow keys but I have no luck. I'm still not able to read any of the material on the page. If anyone is familiar enough with DOS and has actually done what section 4.0 below describes I'd really like hearing from you. My 3 issues are:

    1. Though the writer says to enter IE5, I'm using IE6 but it doesn't work so I entered IE5 anyway. I don't understand why it wouldn't work when I'm using IE6.
    2. What must I do to change the screen so I can read it?
    3. I also asterisked part of #8 below. I'm assuming TIF is referring to Temporary Internet Files. The author says to, "replace "cd\windows" with the location of your TIF folder if different". I'm not quite sure what the author is meaning.

    Anyways, if anyone out there is comfortable working with DOS your help would really be appreciated. I would also like to suggest that if you're like me and enjoy experimenting to be very very careful.

    Beagle

    Here's the excerpt:


    4.0. STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE THROUGH YOUR HIDDEN FILES
    This next section is intended for the savvy user.
    The most important files to be paying attention to are your "index.dat" files. These are database files that reference your history, cache and cookies. The first thing you should know is that the index.dat files is that they don't exist in less you know they do. They second thing you should know about them is that some will *not* get cleared after deleting your history and cache.
    The result: A log of your browsing history hidden away on your computer after you thought you cleared it.
    To view these files, follow these steps:

    In MSIE 5.x, you can skip this first step by opening MSIE and going to Tools > Internet Options > [Settings] > [View Files]. Now write down the names of your alphanumeric folders on a piece of paper. If you can't see any alphanumeric folders then start with step 1 here:

    1) First, drop to a DOS box and type this at prompt (in all lower-case). It will bring up Windows Explorer under the correct directory, c:\windows\explorer /e,c:\windows\tempor~\content.ie5\

    You see all those alphanumeric names listed under "content.ie5?" (left-hand side.) That's Microsoft's idea of making this project as hard as possible. Actually, these are your alphanumeric folders that was created to keep your cache. Write these names down on a piece of paper. (They should look something like this: 6YQ2GSWF, QRM7KL3F, U7YHQKI4, 7YMZ516U, etc.) If you click on any of the alphanumeric folders then nothing will be displayed. Not because there aren't any files here, but because Windows Explorer has lied to you. If you want to view the contents of these alphanumeric folders you will have to do so in DOS. (Actually, this is not always true. Sometimes Windows Explorer will display the contents of these folders -- but mostly it won't. I can't explain this.)

    2) Then you must restart in MS-DOS mode. (Start > Shutdown > Restart in MS-DOS mode. ME users use a bootdisk.)
    Note that you must restart to DOS because windows has locked down some of the files and they can only be accessed in real DOS mode.

    3) Type this in at prompt:

    CD\WINDOWS\TEMPOR~1\CONTENT.IE5

    CD %alphanumeric%
    (replace the "%alphanumeric%" with the first name that you just wrote down.)

    DIR/P

    4) The cache files you are now looking at are directly responsible for the mysterious erosion of HD space you may have been noticing. One thing particularly interesting is the ability to view some your old e-mail if you happen to have a Hotmail account. (Oddly, I've only been able to retreive Hotmail e-mail, and not e-mail from my other web-based e-mail accounts. Send me your experiences with this.) To see them for yourself you must first copy them into another directory and THEN open them with your browser. Don't ask me why this works.
    A note about these files: These are your cache files that help speed up your internet browsing. It is quite normal to use this cache system, as every major browser does. On the other hand. It isn't normal for some cache files to be left behind after you have instructed your browser to erase it.

    5) Type this in:

    CD\WINDOWS\TEMPOR~1\CONTENT.IE5
    EDIT /75 INDEX.DAT
    You will be brought to a blue screen with a bunch of binary.

    *6) Press and hold the [Page Down] button until you start seeing lists of URLs. These are all the sites that you've ever visited as well as a brief description of each. You'll notice it records everything you've searched for in a search engine in plain text, in addition to the URL.

    7) When you get done searching around you can go to File > Exit. If you don't have mouse support in DOS then use the [ALT] and arrow keys.

    8) Next you'll probably want to erase these files by typing this:

    C:\WINDOWS\SMARTDRV

    CD\WINDOWS

    DELTREE/Y TEMPOR~1
    *(replace "cd\windows" with the location of your TIF folder if different.)
    This will take a seriously long time to process. Even with Smartdrive loaded.
     
  2. steamwiz

    steamwiz

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    In answer to your Q. 3

    He means if your tempory internet files folder is NOT located in your WINDOWS folder - then you must change to the folder it is located in - cd\?

    A question for you - why do you want to view the index.dat files in DOS - you don't need to.

    Here are 2 programs which will show you the contents of the index.dat files

    http://www.fsm.nl/ward/ ---- spider

    http://www.exits.ro/index-dat-viewer.html ----- indexview
     
  3. steamwiz

    steamwiz

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    Try this for doing a DOS level cleanup of your cache. It's more thorough than Windows.

    Click Start>Shutdown>Restart in MS-DOS mode.

    At the c:\windows\> prompt enter each bold line:

    press enter after each line

    smartdrv
    deltree tempor~1
    deltree temp
    deltree history
    deltree locals~1\tempor~1
    exit


    (you may get an error message on this last one (locals~1), just skip to "exit" if you do, it just means you don't have that directory)

    Enter smartdrv first or the process will take a very long time. For each deltree, confirm by entering 'y' if the target directory is correct.

    This will also delete the index.dat file, which will be re-created (clean and new) by windows when it boots
     
  4. beaglehound

    beaglehound Thread Starter

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    Steamwiz:

    I may have misunderstood your question and I apologize if my response sounded like a defensive retort. I see now, hours later that what you were really saying is that to view my index.dat file I don't need DOS. Dumb me. I tried the second program you suggested and was rather shocked at how my computer is being used in the house. So I thank you for the recommendation.

    Onto more pressing issues. The way this all evolved is from problems I've been having trying to run Scandisk on my system. It has yet to complete its process. In fact of the 1.2 million clusters it is trying to analyze it gets bogged down just soon after 1.1 million. The system just appears to freeze. I've been told that I have to be patient and that this may be due to scandisk doing some serious repair work. But an hour later it's still stuck. The mouse moves around but nothing else works so I once again have to retreat to safety and press the cancel button. I thought by doing the recommendations you suggested to get rid of the index.dat file would have fixed my problem Oddly enough when I did the "scandisk/checkonly function scandisk did brilliantly and said no errors. Can you believe that? But when I decided to do a complete thorough scan I ran into the same problem yet again that you just read about. Any ideas what it could be or what I could do about it? Would defragging first solve this most aggravating problem? By the way, I've tried doing it in safe mode with program shut. I even put my task scheduler on pause.

    Beagle
     
  5. steamwiz

    steamwiz

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    When you do a thorough scan, scandisk checks the sectors for bad clusters and marks them unusable - I can only assume that it is getting bogged down in bad clusters.

    If you go to thorough - options - and check the different areas to scan - you may be able to narrow it down.

    Also do NOT tick "automatically fix errors" and you may get an error message that could be usefull

    steam
     
  6. pgriffet

    pgriffet

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    There is also a shareware which could help you, on PurgeIE's site : PurgeIE

    It allows to show the index.dat under \History and you can see how many times an URL has been visited.

    System Requirements: Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP or NT 4.0
    Internet Explorer 4.x - 6.x http://www.purgeie.com/
    This trial version of "PurgeIE" may be installed and then evaluated for up to 15 non-contiguous days.

    One last thing, I don't visit porn sites but I sometimes go on sites were you have porn popups opening. So somebody looking at my index.dat could say "this guy surfs on porn sites".
    Think twice before getting upset. ;)
     
  7. marbled

    marbled

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    I followed all of the above listed steps (deleting the temp trees, etc), but when it performs a surface scan, it still hangs at 30%. There is no index.dat error. There is no error at all. I don't know what to do. What a fun day! : P Thanks for all of your help (as usual).
     
  8. steamwiz

    steamwiz

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    beaglehound and marbled

    restart your computer, hold down the Ctrl button and when you see the Windows 98 Startup Menu, select Command prompt only, or Safe mode command prompt only - type the following :-


    scandisk /all


    Note the space between the k and /

    Do either of you hear any clicking when scandisk hangs

    The problem has to be bad clusters - the question is - can scandisk mark them and move on, or is the hard drive beyond repair.
     
  9. beaglehound

    beaglehound Thread Starter

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    Steamwiz:

    Hope I didn't create anyone any problems talking about DOS and Scandisk in almost the same breath.

    Thanks for the link regarding Index.dat files. You were very helpful. I downloaded it, saw what I needed to see and followed your DOS instructions. I have a new Index.dat file and will periodically delete its contents.

    Still having problems with Scandisk even after deleting the deltree files. Those incidently are the same instruction Rollin' Rog shared with me. But I also took your suggestion and attempted another "Thorough" scan, but this time with the "Fix" box unchecked. I also decided to try the data and system scan one at a time. I never got to the system scan. I tried the data one first. Within a few minutes however, I kept getting a window popping up, first identifying the file in CAPS, then followed with the phrase, "folder cannot be opened in MS-DOS mode because its MS-DOS name is longer than 66 characters." This happened repeatedly. I would cancel it and a new one would come up. Each time I canceled, a new one took its place. I had no idea how many times this was going to happen so I just stopped running scandisk. This may be significant or it may not. If scandisk scans the data files last then maybe this is why I'm having the problem because as you'll recall I said the system stopped operating with just 100 000 clusters to go. I hope this has nothing to do with a sick hard drive. I'm not hearing any regurgitations, belches etc.

    Beagle
     
  10. marbled

    marbled

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    It does sound like it is getting caught in a loop of some sort - like a rhythmic whirring - while it hangs. I can get through scandisk, actually. Mine hangs during the surface scan - 30%. Sorry f this is the wrong thread. I am just trying to decide if I should attempt a reformat or if there is a less dramatic fix.
     
  11. beaglehound

    beaglehound Thread Starter

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    Steamwiz

    Another point of interest. RollinRog had me enter

    scandisk /checkonly

    after all of the other entries. It seemed to work fine and came up with no errors. That's one reason I was more confident giving the Thorough scandisk another go. I'll try

    scandisk /all

    and see what happens. It may take a few hours.

    Beagle
     
  12. steamwiz

    steamwiz

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    marbled

    You're right to stay with this thread as you have the same problem as beaglehound.

    Try a scandisk /all from the command prompt as mentioned in the above post.

    Any unusual noises coming from your drive are not a good sign.

    I await both of your results.

    steam
     
  13. beaglehound

    beaglehound Thread Starter

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    Steamwiz/Rollin'Rog~

    A big thanks for the help guys!

    Steamwiz~

    You were right on! "scandisk /all" in DOS mode did the trick. Well, sort of. The good news is you solved my problem. And Rollin'Rog did as well had I hung in there a little earlier with his instructions. At last count I had 103 bad clusters. I don't know how many there really are as I spent 5 hours sitting around clicking the Fix key to fix the bad ones. Sadly, there are 8 blocks so who knows how many clusters are bad. The bad news is, it is time to get a new hard drive. This has been a huge learning step forward for me and I have you and Rollin'Rog to thank.

    Along the way I learned how to not only read but to get rid of my temps, internet temps, and history more efficiently and even renew the index.dat file. Wow. What a day. I do have some questions about the scandisk process and running it in DOS.

    1. If there are any clusters that do need fixing, DOS will not do anything until you give it the command. I ended being glued to my chair for 5 hours while I painfully waited for each notification that file such and such is damaged and then being asked if I'd like to fix it. It was like watching the odometer on the car changing while driving 5 mph. Isn't there a way around this? There didn't seem to be a "bypass" command to fix all damaged files. I couldn't even go to the toilet without wasting valuable time.

    2. I mentioned earlier that I had stopped the process of repair at 103 repaired clusters. I stopped because there were 8 blocks and I estimated based on the number of columns and shape of the blocks that each block contained roughly 2000 clusters. Maybe my estimation is off, maybe way off. I don't know. But if I'm close, all DOS told me is that "some not all" of the clusters in a given block could be damaged when they are marked in red. That tells me nothing except that I could have soon been finished OR still had hours if not days to go. The bottom line is that it is time to get a new hard drive. Thanks again for all the help. Hope I can return the favor sometime.

    Beagle
     
  14. steamwiz

    steamwiz

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  15. marbled

    marbled

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    Sorry it took so long for me to get back. Nothing worked. It still freezes at 30%. It asks if I want it to fix the bad cluster, I say yes, and it hangs. It makes a repetitive whirring noise and doesn't progress. I, like beaglehound, am thinking the hard drive is toast. If you can recommend anything else to do before moving on, I am open to suggestions. Thanks so much for all of your help. I, like beaglehound, have learned so much from all of you!
     
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