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12Ghosts Wash

12Ghosts - Wash

    Note, you need to start 12-Wash with admin rights to be able to access many of the options. On Vista, change the properties of the shortcut to 'Run As Administrator'.    


What does it do for me?

Maintains your privacy by not allowing others to see which web sites you visited or what you did in Windows. All options together can be cleared with just one click, or automatically at a certain time, or before shutdown.

12-Wash removes tracks deliberately, even where other programs fail, for example, cleaning related traces in the registry. With the optional shredder, not even finest magnetic tracks are left behind of any compromising or confidential information.

Removes browser history, cookies, temporary files, and drop-down lists of visited addresses of Internet Explorer, AOL, MSN, Firefox, and Opera. Recent Documents, recent searches, and the Windows Recycle Bin can be wiped.

It even deletes locked files (files that are in use, for example those ominous "index.dat" files). 12-Wash simply queues deletion for the next Windows restart when the files are no longer locked!

You may extend the washing with any file, folder, and even registry values. Personal files, complete folders, or certain file types, for example all *.tmp files. All cleared automatically or at your command.

Offers secrecy and concealment for visited websites and files used during a Windows session.


Where should I start?

Start 12-Wash, select the items you'd like to wash, and click on Clear Selected Items Now.

You may also click on the small buttons left of each option to clear only that one option. (The small buttons to the right that can be used to verify that the contents has been cleared.)

Note, you may click with the right mouse button on any option for help on that option.


Popup-Killer Included

Block all pop-up windows opened by Internet Explorer, both, those that are opened automatically by a script as well as links that open a new window.

   ->  NO black list you need to maintain
   ->  NO loop that uses CPU resources when waiting for new windows
   ->  NO hook into message loops what would slow down your machine
   ->  Integrated into Internet Explorer, prevents pop-ups BEFORE they are created
   ->  Contents of pop-ups is NOT downloaded from the Internet, thus saving you bandwith

(Note, our program 12-Popup also offers an "Allowed" list and more options.)

  To allow a popup: hold CTRL and refresh the page
  To open a link in new window: hold SHIFT and left-click on the link   


Boss-Key Included

A boss-key is useful if you need to hide all IE windows quickly. It hides the window also from the taskbar! One click, and nobody can see where you surfed or what you worked on. (Note, 12-Popup has an enhanced version of the boss-key feature which can also hide other application windows.)


Clearing Locked Files

There are files that cannot be deleted while they are in use by a Windows application or by Windows itself. This is why you may get a warning message when trying to delete certain files.

Sometimes you may be able to stop the application using it. On some Windows or Internet Explorer versions this works fine, on others it doesn't. You need to try if it works for you. If it doesn't, 12-Wash has other means of deleting them.

What 12-Wash does is, it marks these files for deletion for later, when Windows is not running: at the next reboot of your computer. They are 'queued for deletion'. There is a small gap when Windows is starting, shortly after the file system driver has been loaded and the file system is being checked for consistency, but before any other parts of Windows are loaded. Then, this list of files-to-delete is wind up.

The problem is - and we get many questions about this - to verify if the files were really deleted. 12-Wash could simply say, yes, they were queued for deletion, but who knows if that ever happened? Right, you could look for the files whether they are gone after reboot. However, they may already have re-appeared! Actually, when Windows restarts, it makes sure that certain files, e.g. those index.dat files, do exist. If they don't, new (empty) files are created. Since all we wanted was to delete the contents of such files (e.g. history lists of visited web sites), your private information in these files has been cleared. Although there are new files, 12-Wash did its job.

Wait, you would like to verify that all this is true, don't you? Alright, here is how: open the index.dat files. 12-Wash has got handy buttons right beside the History, Temp, and Cookies options to find the critical index.dat files which are usually locked. The left one of the two buttons opens the folder where you would find the index.dat file. (Explorer does not allow to view the real contents of these folders, that's why we open both, Explorer and a directory listing white-on-black.) The right button directly opens the index.dat file in a text editor. It is mainly a binary file that doesn't tell you anything, except, Internet addresses appear in plain text. Scroll down a bit. Do you recognize any of the addresses being one that you visited recently? Then it's time to use 12-Wash, restart your computer, and open the file again to see that the websites were removed.


Optional Shredder

Overwrite, truncate length to zero, rename, set file date to 1/1/80, and delete files and folders. Even if the file is locked!! No trails are left of any compromising or confidential information. Nobody will ever be able to recover these files. Nobody will even find out the previous name or file size. The file can be overwritten several times with random bits so that even the finest magnetic tracks are mixed up.

You may choose the number of overwrites according to your security ambitions. The higher the number the less the probability that even finest magnetic tracks could be detected. The Department of Defense (DOD 5220.22-M) recommends one character overwrite, one inverse overwrite, and one random overwrite for adequate security. You may choose up to 99 overwrites. Many people, however, would argue that one overwrite is enough in almost all situations, accept for highly expensive lab examinations.

12-Shredder, of course, writes directly to the disk and flushes the file buffers after each overwriting, so that the file is overwritten on disk, not only in cache memory... This is what takes some time if it shreds more than once. (However, if you do the cleaning during shut down started by 12-ShutDown, and the computer is set to power off automatically afterwards, you don't need to care anyway.)

After overwriting the file contents, the file size is set to zero to prevent drawing conclusions from the former file size. The file is also renamed, since the name would not be removed from the drive during a normal deletion. All file dates, created, modified, and last accessed, are reset to 1/1/80 (the default in an empty directory listing). And finally, what is left, is deleted.

Besides overwriting files or folders, you can also wipe the empty space on your disk.


FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What does "Could not delete...index.dat" mean?

These messages are invoked by locked files. Windows keeps these files "in use", or "open". Thus, they can not be deleted, at least while Windows is running. With the Delete Option "If file is locked delete at next computer restart" those files will be deleted at before Windows restarts the next time. Basically, you can ignore these message or turn off warnings in Delete Options. See "Washing Locked Files" below for more information.

Viewing history, cookies, and temporary file information opens a folder and a DOS box. Why?

This information could probably be displayed more elegantly. However, if you use our program to delete it, and then use the same program to verify that the information was deleted, you don't exactly have an independent witness. Using Windows Explorer is not possible for some folders, for exampel the History folder doesn't show single files. The low-level DOS box is infallible to see which files are left.

12-Wash does not delete my Temporary Internet Files. I still have to go in and delete them manually!?

Please turn on error messages (Wash - Log - uncheck "Do not issue warnings or error messages"). This will tell you what errors occur. Most probably you need to turn on "Delete locked files at next computer restart" and restart the computer for this temp info to be removed completely. Note, that clicking on Internet Properties - Delete Files does not clear the index.dat files. Only 12-Wash will, as you can verify by clicking on the small button to the right of this option. The right button will open index.dat, most probably still revealing which web sites you visited.

Why do cookies remain in my temporary internet files?

They only appear to remain. This is because Internet Explorer keeps an index (index.dat, similar to a database) containing file information for temporary files as well as cookies. The cookies are deleted by 12-Wash (you can verify this by opening the "Cookies" folder) but when opening the Temp folder in Explorer they appear to be still there. You may also do a DOS "dir /a" listing in the temp folder to verify that the cookies are gone.

Finally, you should ask why don't we delete this "index.dat" file. We do. However, since it's locked (in use) by Windows it can't be deleted as long as Windows is running. There is a way, though, to remove it before the next Windows restart. Just enable the option (Wash Now -> Delete ->) 'Delete locked files at next computer restart'. See 'Clear Locked Files' above for more information.

What is the 'Profile Path' for Mozilla/Thunderbird/Firefox?

For a standard installation of Netscape, Mozilla, Thunderbird or Firefox, 12-Wash will find the correct path automatically. If you moved the 'Profiles' path you may point 12-Wash to the right folder by clicking Profile Path. (Note that Netscape Navigator version 4.xx needs the 'Users' path: click v4.x Path.) The standard paths, where <user-name> is your Windows user name, are:

Netscape or Mozilla, version 6 or 7:
C:\Documents and Settings\<user-name>\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles

Thunderbird/Firefox up to version 0.8:
C:\Documents and Settings\<user-name>\Application Data\Phoenix\Profiles

Firefox versions 0.9, 1.0, 1.1, and 1.5:
C:\Documents and Settings\<user-name>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles


Command Line Options

12-Wash also supports the following command line options:

/washall         Clear all selected items (this will ask you for confirmation before washing)
/silent No warning, use in conjunction with /washall.



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