Ever wondered why certain Web sites recognise your identity as soon you visit them? It's thanks to a 'cookie', a small file containing personal information inserted on your machine by a Web site.

Some cookies have the potential to be dangerous, violating user privacy by extracting more sensitive information from your machine than you might like.

Network Associates is launching McAfee QuickClean, which the company claims assists users in deleting cookies, thereby helping maintain their confidentiality on the Web.

Not restricted to cookies alone, QuickClean promises "once-click" deletion of other Internet clutter that accumulates on a machine, according to Network Associates.

"QuickClean deletes Internet cache, downloaded files, ActiveX plug-ins and temporary files. That gives a user more power to control the amount of space taken up by Internet files on the hard disk," a spokesman said.

QuickClean also deletes whole software programs residing on a hard disk, without troubling shared or critical files.

This feature originates from McAfee UnInstaller, an earlier McAfee software product designed to delete software programs from a hard disk.

QuickClean is a more Internet-savvy version of UnInstaller, according to the spokesman. "We needed to integrate Internet cleanup features into UnInstaller, so we came up with QuickClean," said the spokesman.

For users seeking regular hard disk cleanups, the ability to schedule such cleanups could be a useful feature. "QuickClean allows a user to schedule the deletion of mails from the Sent and Trash mailboxes in (Microsoft) Outlook," said the spokesman.

QuickClean could prove a useful add-on to Microsoft's recently released operating system, Windows Me.

Along with the operating system's PC Health and rollback features, "the automatic cookie deletion and file shredding (by QuickClean) promises the complete deletion of (a user's) Internet trail," said the spokesman.

QuickClean was developed with the intention of creating an anonymous user, both on the Internet and on a network, according to the spokesman.

Costing £24.99, QuickClean is compatible with Windows Me, 95, 98 and 2000 and will be available 1st October. For more information call 0800 092 7160.