Update: If you landed here for information on Google Chrome, you may want to read a more recent post “Google Chrome: Bait and Switch“.
Google released Google Chrome today, their new web browser. Why?
While you ponder that question, I note that the data clearing “Clear browsing data…” link in the Google Chrome Tools menu does not actually clear your browsing history. Your browsing history is stored in an SQLite database in the file “History”. Mine was located in Documents and settings, Local Settings, Application data, Google, Chrome, User data, History. There are also files Visited Links and Archived History, which I didn’t inspect. Clicking that “Clear browsing data…” link does not empty that database. Clicking on “History” and clicking “delete History” also does not clear that database.
Since Google has been spending so much energy assuring us that Chrome is a safe and benovolent contribution to the web, I thought I’d help out the cause and highlight this observation on privacy issues.
Personally I didn’t like that my Chrome installation automatically imported bookmarks and such from IE and/or Firefox, without asking me if that is what I wanted. I would have said no.
When I launched Chrome I was given a list of “recent” web links which were actually associated with a confidential project from many months ago (not so secret any more, if they are displayed like recommended links in the right side “ad column” of a Google-branded browser window). Oh sure it was only for me, and yes it was in my bookmark file, but that’s not the point. I don’t display my bookmark file on the sidebar of my open browser window. I suppose it was a good thing Google did, because it made me wonder “how did THAT get in there?”
Chrome is a very interesting project, and I can see why Google built it and why they may have been eager to release it today. But as with all things Google, be careful. That’s not conspiracy thinking, and if anyone suggests it is, trust them even less.
By the way just delete that database file and Google will make a new (empty) one the next time you launch Chrome.
Update: in the comments, a few people noted that the bookmark import is an option. I checked and confirmed it is an option to turn off the import from IE, but it is turned on by default.
Update: When I uninstalled Google Chrome, it sent data to Google that may be reporting on my operating system (“crversion=0.2.149.27&os=5.1.2600” ). I’m not sure what crversion and os mean to Google in this context (Adobe uses crversion for “crash report version”).
Update: I notice that the history database that is not deleted when you tell Chrome to forget the history, is also not deleted when you uninstall Google Chrome.
Update: I wonder how I can actually download Chrome? The button at google.com/chrome says “download” but it actually launches an installer app. When I cancelled that process (since I already had Chrome installed), Firefox crashed. I just wanted to download Google Chrome, not install it again.
Update: Chrome Privacy Guard clears Google’s stored user ID everytime you use chrome. I haven’t looked at the source code.