Microsoft, Yahoo, Google: Failing To Forget  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

Computers can be great at remembering things. Sometimes too great. The major search engine providers are competing to remember your search terms for the shortest possible period. Or at least that's what they are saying publicly. There seem to be loopholes in this competition for the shortest data retention, and in some cases I'm actually glad for that.

The latest development came when Yahoo reduced its personal data retention to 6 months, down from 13 months. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) currently keeps the data for 9 months, and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) still keeps your personally identifiable information for 18 months. There are definitely cases where the search engines can keep your data for much longer, though.

I don't mind a search engine keeping data about my searches as long as I can see the data and have some control over how long it's kept. It's useful to be able to see the results of past searches, particularly when you're trying to find something that you know you saw before but aren't able to find. I just checked my Google account and it has search results saved all the way back to October 2006. During that time, Google says I've made 10,552 searches. (Wow.)

On this very day in 2007, for example, I used Google to make several searches to determine how to repair a damaged Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) setup. I've had to go back to those pages several times, and when I search for WMI in Google it shows me the date and time that I visited those pages in the past.

If some of those 10,552 searches are so embarrassing that I wouldn't want to risk anyone seeing them, Google gives me the ability to selectively delete a search. I can even remove the entire search history so that it can't be retrieved. There is no way that I would do that, though; this information is too valuable. Even though Microsoft keeps search data for the longest period of time, I couldn't find any way to view my search history with Live Search. (full Story)

This entry was posted on Dec 21, 2008 at 3:51 AM and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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