Cannot Access IE8 Browser Cache In Windows 7 - Update: Probable Answer for Feedback


  • Just converted from XP to Windows 7 via purchase of new computer. With XP system I often scanned IE8 browser cache to check for issues, unwanted cookies, often finding a lot of info and potential problem files which I took care of. The steps were simply Start > right-click Internat Explorer > Internet Properties > Settings > View files. Then I'd sort by date accessed and I had a virtual history of every file that hit my machine. VERY useful and I solved a lot of potential problems this way. In Windows 7, I finally found a similar process under Tools > Settings (under Browsing History) > View Files. The problem is, very few files ever show up. As a test, I ran a side by side XP / Windows 7 test, hitting all the same sites with each machine in the same sequence, Google News, Flickr, and other data and graphic heavy sites. In the XP machine I found over 12,000 files in the cache, but in Windows 7 there were only about 250 files. This tells me that there are a lot of files on my Windows 7 machine that I'm not able to find and/or view. Note: I have the cache size set at a half gig, but I also tested it at 1 gig (and a couple other sizes) with no change in the results.

    My question is, where are the files stored and how do I find and view them as I have in the past?

    • Edited by John Auver Thursday, April 1, 2010 3:31 PM For Feedback Re: Effectiveness
    Saturday, February 20, 2010 6:13 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

    The cache is saved in C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files. If you right click the folder and choose the properties, you can find the number of the files in the folder is different from the amount you can see in the folder. The cache is still in the folder, but we can’t see it in the folder directly.


    In the case, you can view the cache in the C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\content.ie5 folder. The content.ie5 folder is used to save the history you have browsed online. The folder cannot be seen in the general condition. You can only see the folder by typing the location of the folder.


    If you have any problems, please post here.

    • Proposed as answer by Linda Yan Thursday, February 25, 2010 8:42 AM
    • Unproposed as answer by John Auver Thursday, February 25, 2010 6:19 PM
    Monday, February 22, 2010 9:25 AM
  • Thanks for the info - it's gotten me closer, but I'm still a little bit stumped... I do see the HUGE difference in file count, almost 14,000 vs the 300 that shows in the initial screen.

    I'vefigured out how to key in the C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\content.ie5  address you suggested and it gave me only a list of 8 randomly named sub folders (like 9HG6R2LZ as an example) which by the way are 'grayed out' or faded, and when I click on any of them I get the classic message "Opening these files might be harmful to your computer. Your Internet Security Settings blocked one or more files from being opened. Do you want to open these files anyway?"

    As intended, this scared me away from opening them... Call me a coward, but I don't know the operating system well enough yet to "go for it" without getting some feedback first.

    It also seems odd that I'd have to go in and rummage through eight directories to find what I need - This also ruins the primary purpose for which I used this process, to go in and see in a date sorted format all of the files that I've accessed since I last cleared my cache. I know that even in XP that these randomly named content.IE5 subfolders existed, but I was using IE8 there also, and I never had a problem with this process of viewing my history with the Tools > Settings > View Files method discussed above.

    Again, thanks, and any further suggestions will be appreciated, John
    • Edited by John Auver Friday, March 5, 2010 9:41 PM fix tiny font forum defaulted to
    Wednesday, February 24, 2010 8:33 PM
  • Hi,

    As we all know, there may be some viruses in the temporary files. So in Windows 7, the file has been hidden.  Microsoft doesn’t suggest us to view the files ourselves.

    If you really want to view the files, you can follow my steps. And it does let you to have a look at the cache.


    If you have some problems, please post here.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 2:43 AM
  • Hi Leon,

    I understand your logic, but in reality, nothing has changed since the prior operating systems, and also, I've been using IE8 as described without incident since it was released. One of the reasons that I actually, in the pre Windows 7 days, have gone into the cache and taken a peek is to see what types of garbage has snuck by the firewalls, virus software, blockers, and other windows tools, and is resting in my cache. I've found hundreds if not a few thousand questionable items in the past and gotten rid of them. Even using all tools available, stuff gets through. Now all those questionable items have a nice invisible place to hang out and do their thing, and I can't easily look to see that they're there.  I also use the cache as a transfer tool in various photography work I'm doing - I've got piles of software and online storage sites, but sometimes the cache is the best tool available. I've been using it effectively without problems for years.

    My ultimate goal, and primary question is - via settings to make those hidden directories visable or other any means - is there any way to look at a combined or aggregate list of the contents of the cache (instead of going through those 8 randomly generated sub directories) so I can do the single all encompassing date sorted list that I discussed above? How do I make those hidden sub-directories visible so a simple search will make ALL of the contents of the diectory content.ie5 AND the sub-directories appear in one list.

    Thanks again for your help in this matter,  John

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 5:45 PM
  • Hi,

    I think you can do this through creating a second account with Windows XP. Any files you’ve viewed in the first account exists in the second folder. In the Windows XP account, you can do all you want to  the temporary files.


    If you don’t want to install Windows XP again, you can view the files in the disk cleanup. Disk cleanup is a system program, and you can type “disk cleanup” to open it. In the file, you can view your cache easily.


    If you have any problems, please post here.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 2:36 AM
  • Hi Leon,

    I had assumed that it would go without my saying that I wanted to stay in the Windows 7 platform. There are a lot of Whacky Hacky 3rd party programs I could get off the web that would enable me to accomplish my goal, but I don't want to load those or XP on my new 'Improved' system. I'm trying to keep the system pure here without re-bloating my machine, and I don't want to revert to a 10 year old program to serve my current needs... Also the Disk Cleanup function is simply a duplication of the C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\content.ie5 folder approach discussed above, and when you click on the 8 sub directories (there is no summary of the 8 listed folders there) you get the same "Click Directory And Die" error message as I discussed several posts ago.

    I think we got off topic, and didn't address the settings approach so I'l try to clarify:

    Using the Windows 7 platform only, My ultimate goal, and primary question is - via settings to make those hidden directories visable - how do I look at a combined or aggregate list of the contents of the cache - instead of going through those 8 randomly generated sub directories - so I can do the single all encompassing date sorted list that I discussed above? How do I make those hidden sub-directories visible so a simple search will make ALL of the contents of the diectory content.ie5 AND the sub-directories appear in one list.

    • Edited by John Auver Friday, March 5, 2010 9:45 PM fix tiny font forum used as default
    Friday, February 26, 2010 6:26 PM
  • Sorry, you can not realize the function in Windows 7. As I said before, Windows 7 will protect the security of the users, so it won't allow the users to enter content.ie5 easily.
    Thursday, March 4, 2010 1:23 AM
  • I'm not being difficult here, I'm just getting more confused by the conflicting responses instead of getting an answer to my original question.

    I explained that I need tips on how to access my browsers cache so I can go in and clean out any unwanted or risky items that may have made their way into the cache. In response I've been told, and I quote from the replies above:

    1) As we all know, there may be some viruses in the temporary files.
    2) "In Windows 7, the [browser cache] file has been hidden."
    3) "Windows 7 will protect the security of the users, so it won't allow the users to enter content.ie5 easily."

    Isn't this a contradiction? Isn't hiding the browser file and it's contents from the users simply ensuring that the risky files and viruses which you state "we all know, there may be some viruses in the temporary files" have a nice, secure place to hide from the user of the machine? This seems to ensure that the viruses are safe, not the user....

    Is there a second opinion out there from anybody else so I can understand this policy/structure? It's kind of hard for me to simply shrug and accept that I have to forget about and accept the growing accumulation of risky files that "we all know" slip by the firewalls, virus programs, etc.

    Any help  from anyone would be HUGELY appreciated.  John

    • Edited by John Auver Friday, March 5, 2010 9:12 PM fix tiny font
    Friday, March 5, 2010 9:07 PM
  • My issue is that I can't find very important files: after clicking on a word doc from the internet and choosing "open" instead of "save", editing it, hitting ctrl-s, and closing word, the file is gone. If I open the file again later (from same location on internet), it appears to increment the file name, so i know it's on the machine somewhere. Searching for the file name fails.

    Where is the mysterious "temp folder" that IE8 claims to be downloading to?
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 5:39 AM
  • I'm assuming that some Microsoft technical guru is still looking for an answer to this issue - The answer above started out giving me hope, then those that followed got contradictory and then flat out evasive.

    Now a month has passed and nothing... I'm sure that somewhere in the Microsoft world there is an answer to this question.

    As I said above, any help from anyone would be HUGELY appreciated.  John

    Sunday, March 28, 2010 8:33 PM
  • John,

    I also have run into the same problem...opening an .xlsx attachment and ctrl s to save and now the file seems to have been spirited away behind inaccessible folders.  I have been searching for an answer for about an hour or so and I have been led to this site.  I too believe the file is somewhere still on the computer as subject to the incremented file when I open the attachment again.

    I echo, any help from anyone would be HUGELY appreciated.  Gene

    Monday, March 29, 2010 12:07 AM
  • John,

    I was able to find my file.  What I had to do was log in as the Admin account for the computer; this is not a user which is designated as the administrator but the actual Administrator for the computer.  See this link to activate it:

    After that, I simply searched by the name of the file...sans the incremented part; i.e. the incremented filename was book1[1], and I just searched by book1.  The file ended up being located at:

    C:\Users\owner\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Low\Content.IE5\DXTNTG24

    I was would imagine your user name (owner) would be different as well as the end folder (DXTNTG24).

    I hope this helps you out John.  It is definitely a pain.

    Monday, March 29, 2010 1:55 AM
  • John,

    I also had to edit my folder options:

    Open a folder, click Tools, then Folder Options:

    Under the General tab: Check "Show all Folders"

    Under the View tab: Click "Show hidden files, folders, and drives under Hidden files and folders

    Uncheck the following: Hide empty drives in the Computer folder, Hide extensions for known file types, Hide protected operating system files

    Hope this helps... 


    Monday, March 29, 2010 2:18 AM
  • Sir Clinton,

    B I N G O !!!   You hit the nail on the head.  Bullseye... I thinks that's enough shotgunning of metaphors for now :-)

    I don't know how you dug that out, but after two months of waiting and trying several places to get answers, your approach works perfectly. The whole difference, it seems, is that when you use your approach, in the Administrative Log On, there is an additional sub-folder under - \Temorary Internet Files - that appears - \Low - that doesn't appear when you're in your user sign on, and that's with eveything else exactly the same between the two sign ons, Administrative Rights, Windows Explorer Settings, everything. That little \Low sub-sirectory is the motherload. I simply highlighted the \Low subfolders, those random generated names, searched for the files I needed and took care of business.

    Much appreciation for your help.

    Take care,  John




    • Edited by John Auver Thursday, April 1, 2010 3:25 PM typo
    Tuesday, March 30, 2010 8:01 PM
  • To All,

    To avoid a minor headache, a suggestion when use this approach: After initial setup, which requires Log-Off and Log-On for the Admin setup, I'd recommend changing to the simple "Switch User" approach. The cache access process still works, and a slight headache is avoided - When the Log-Off/On approach is used, the stored user auto logons to various sights you use on the web are erased, and they have to be re-input. With the simple "User Switch" method, nothing is lost and no additional work or re-input is required.

    Overall Request: If you find any simpler approaches, tweaks, or drawbacks that I haven't encountered, please note them here so both myself and the rest of the forum users can benefit.

    Thanks,  John

    • Edited by John Auver Thursday, April 1, 2010 3:49 PM Text edit
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 3:48 PM
  • John Auver--When the Content.IE5 folder is open, choose Organize (near top left), Layout, Navigation Pane.  In the left hand panel that opened, navigate to those alphanumeric folders like 9HG6R2LZ.  By clicking on them they should open without the threatening message.  Or just click on the alphanumeric folders in the main screen.  Click off the threat.  The folders will open without any problem.

    Content.IE5 is what used to be called the browser cache.  I do not see that the Content.IE5 folders are used in Win7.  Everything seems to go into TIF.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 5:17 PM