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Windows 7: "turn off caching thumbnails" in Local Group Policy - DOESN'T WORK !!

05 Dec 2013   #1

windows 7 home premium 6.1 (build 7601:Service Pack 1) 64 bit
"turn off caching thumbnails" in Local Group Policy - DOESN'T WORK !!

For various reasons of security, I don't want thumbnails to be cached. Starting in Windows 7, thumbnails are cached in a central location ("users\...\Appdata\Local\Microsoft\Windows Components\Explorer"). They used to be cached in whichever folder they were created from.

This is a security risk. I have sensitive data in an encrypted thumb drive which I occasionally need to look up. This includes JPEG scans of, e.g., my passport and driving license. Apparently, every time I mount and look at this file, Windows puts a copy of any thumbnails it encounters, in the thumbnail database on the C: drive.

These remain there even after the encrypted drive has been dismounted and removed. I've checked, and sensitive information is easily read on several of the thumbnails!!

When I realized this, I looked for ways to turn thumbnail caching off .

I don't want to disable thumbnail display, which is a useful feature. I just want to stop Windows from indefinitely keeping clear copies of thumbnails in a location accessible to anyone who has access to my computer, including anyone who might, heaven forbid, steal my laptop while I'm travelling, or any thief who might break into my home while I'm away.

Archiving thumbnails is a pretty useless feature anyway. There might have been a point years ago, but modern PCs can create hundreds of thumbnails from scratch in the blink of an eye.

I found that I could turn off caching with an option using the Local Group Policy Editor. This itself was a pain because the Local Group Policy Editor is only available if you pay $87 for the Win 7 professional upgrade, which I have no other use for.

Anyway, I forked over the money, got the upgrade, and changed the two flags which are supposed to turn off thumbnail caching. THEN I FIND THAT THEY DON'T WORK!!! Even with the flags set, Windows 7 keeps putting thumbnails into the data base.

Now that I know about the danger, I'm going to make a practice of deleting thumbnails every time I view a file with sensitive info in it (I don't trust the Windows Disk Cleaner option to do this securely - hopefully CCleaner is secure enough). However, it all seems to be a bit of an imposition and life would be a lot easier if Windows provided a SIMPLE AND RELIABLE METHOD OF DISABLING THUMBNAIL CACHING. Preferably one that I don't have to pay nearly $90 for, for every computer that I own.

I recently bought a new Win 8 laptop - I presume this has the same problem but haven't fully researched it yet.

My System SpecsSystem Spec


 "turn off caching thumbnails" in Local Group Policy - DOESN'T WORK !!

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