Temporary Internet Files Folder location in Windows 7/8/10

Those who had moved from Windows XP to Windows Vista were puzzled as to where the Temporary Internet Files were located in this operating system.

Where is the Temporary Internet Files Folder located

Starting with Windows Vista, and continuing in Windows 7, the Temporary Internet Files folder is located at:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files

In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 the Internet Cache or Temporary Internet Files are stored in this folder:


Assuming that your Windows is installed on the C drive. To see it, not only do you have to check Show hidden files & folders option in the Folder Options, but also uncheck Hide protected operating system files/folders option.

Where is the index.dat file located

And then, where is the index.dat file located in Windows 7 | 8? Index.dat are files hidden on your computer that contain all of the Web sites that you have ever visited. Every URL, and every Web page is listed there. To access it, you will have to type in Explorers address bar the following location and click go:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5

Only then will you be able to see the index.dat file. Conclusion ? The Content.IE5 folder is super hidden!

Now the question which naturally arises is: Why did Microsoft decide to give the status of a Protected System Files / Folder to it?

The ‘Temporary Internet Files’ folder (Cache) is, after all, a hotbed and a breeding ground for Virus, Trojan Downloaders and other malware downloaded from the Internet. Apart from your ‘Windows’ folder, this is one folder where one can expect to find most such malware files. So why is such a ‘hotbed’ being given such protection, when even some Windows dll‘s are not accorded such privileges?

Temporary Internet Files Folder Location

Browsing the Internet can expose one to certain security risks. You could end up with malware on your PC or have a Trojan downloader surreptitiously download an unwanted program, or you could even find your browser hijacked! By clicking a link, innocently, in an e-mail or even mistyping a web address, you can find your browser visiting a ‘hostile’ site.

To mitigate against these threats, IE in Windows Vista and later runs in Protected Mode. And the Cache is now considered as a virtual folder with the same low privilege as that of the Internet Explorer process itself.

Generally speaking, in Windows 7, processes run with integrity levels as defined by MIC (Mandatory Integrity Control) Feature. ‘Protected Mode’ Internet Explorer, runs as a ‘Low Privilege’ process. This prevents the Internet Explorer from writing to areas of the file system or the Registry that require a higher privilege! What then happens, is that, Windows creates a set of folders and files, for use with Protected Mode’ Internet Explorer.

These folders and files share the same Low Privilege level as Internet Explorer. These 4 ‘low privilege’ folders, used by Internet Explorer in Windows, in the course of daily operation, are Cache, Cookies, History & Temp.

  • %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Low
  • %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies\Low
  • %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\History\Low
  • %LocalAppData%\Temp\Low

Windows 7/8 also creates Virtual Folders to store files that Internet Explorer tries to save in protected locations. So, instead of causing an ‘add-on’ to fail when it tries to write a data file to the Windows folder or Program Files, Windows 7 or Vista redirects the write operation to a virtual equivalent. Thus, the program continues to operate, believing that it wrote the files to the system location; little realizing that the data actually got written in a virtualized hidden folder, that mirrors the actual path and is stored under the ‘Temporary Internet Files’ folder.

In a similar fashion, if there is any attempt to write to the registry, it is redirected to a Low-integrity area of the registry.

Managing the Internet Cache

To manage the Internet Cache, open Internet Explorer > Internet Options > Tools > Internet Options > General Tab > Browsing History.

Temporary Internet Files Folder location

Choose the Size you want for your Cache here.  You can also see the Downloaded programs here, by clicking ‘View Objects’.  Rather than un-hiding folder, etc, from the explorers Folder Options, you can see the contents of the Temporary Internet Files folder, simply by clicking on ‘View Files’.  If you want to move the cache to another location, click on ‘Move Folder’ to do so. You will be prompted to set a new location.

Control How Internet Explorer Should Use The Cache

You have 4 options:

  1. Every Time I Visit The Webpage: This ensures that the information you see is always current, but it can slow your browsing a bit.
  2. Every Time I Start Internet Explorer: This will cause IE to check for a newer version, one time, per IE session. A check is made the first time you visit a page, but not again until you restart the browser.
  3. Automatically: This is the default option. Here IE see’s how often pages are actually updated. If a page is not updated frequently, IE reduces the frequency with which it checks that page.
  4. Never: With this option, Internet Explorer never checks for newer files and always displays what is in the cache.

Note: Even after you Refresh a page, you get the impression that your IE appears to be reading from the cache, like say reading yesterdays news, when it should be downloading afresh , simply hold down the Shift key and then click to Refresh.

It’s always a good idea to clean up your cache once in a while depending on your browsing habits. Make it a weekly or atleast a monthly habit. You may use the Disk Cleanup Utility or Quick Clean to do it.

Go here to find out why Temporary Files are created in Windows, and here to read about the Location of Cookies folder in Windows 7/8Windows Installer folder is another system folder you might want to read about.

Post ported from WinVistaClub.com and updated and posted here.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.