You can download your Google search history, but you should delete it instead

Google search history download delete
Credit: Flickr/Robert Scoble

There's been a lot of talk lately about Google's ability to let users download their search histories. Deleting it is a better option.


There's been a lot of Internet buzz this week about the "news" that Google lets users download their search histories. Many Web commentators seem to find this capability fascinating, even though it's been in place at least since 2014 without anyone really noticing.

But here's my question: Aside from morbid curiosity, why would you really want to download it at all?

In fact, while your search history apparently has value for Google, which claims it helps the company deliver "more relevant results," "smarter predictions," and cross-device connections, it's hard to see what benefit seeing it has for the actual searcher. In fact, it seems more like a tool designed to help dig up search-history dirt on someone else!

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Given all that, why even collect it in the first place? Personally, I don't notice dramatically better results when searching on my devices vs. someone else's machines. Do you? Do you owe Google your search history in exchange for your Web searches? No, you don't.

I recommend turning on the option to delete your Web Search history, and setting Google not to record that history. Furthermore, if you run an IT department, I'd recommend that all your users do the same thing.

Even if you think all your searches are innocuous, that history file is still a security risk. There's simply not enough benefit to you or your company to bother keeping it.

If this mini Internet firestorm on this issue causes significant numbers of people to stop saving their search histories, then maybe it wasn't so pointless after all.

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