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Registry path that logs your computing history

MRU Lists

This is a registry path that I noticed one day as I was tidying up the registry. It held a list of every file I had opened and/or saved to the hard drive since I reinstalled my operating system the month before. This list was sorted in alpha-numerical order by file type as you can see in fig. 1 below.

One of the folks that posts to Steve Gibson's newsgroups pointed me at this MSDN webpage that discusses this registry path. This is apparently where the registry stores the most recently used filenames for "open" and "save" dialog boxes. Despite it's benign purpose, I was nevertheless stunned to see such a thorough log of my activities.

fig. 1 Click to see it fullsized
MRU list

This is only one of many MRU (Most Recently Used) lists maintained by Windows and by many programs. Although they are really nothing to worry about, if you were to come under investigation or have your computer stolen, someone could piece together a very accurate picture of your computing activities. This could be embarassing or even damaging to you depending on the situation.

Previously I had instructions here on how to get rid of this. However, this is no longer necessary. A member of the Wilders Security Forums, Javacool, has written a small application called MRU Blaster which will erase this sort of usage history. This program is freeware and is constantly updated with an ever growing database.

I've also been contacted by Xteq to say that they will be including a plugin for X-Setup that also removes entries from this MRU list. It seems that several past visitors contacted them requesting this. X-Setup is my favorite program for tweaking Windows and I have yet to find anything that matches it for the sheer number of things it can do.


Also see this page about how to clean up other traces of your computing history, including files that Windows goes out of it's way to keep you from deleting.


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