WHAT ARE COOKIES? WHAT IS A COOKIE?
Cookies are small files that are stored on a user’s computer. They are designed to hold a modest amount of data specific to a particular client and website and can be accessed by either the web server or the client computer. This allows the server to deliver a page tailored to a particular user, or the page itself may contain a script that is aware of the cookie data and thus may carry information from a visit to the next website (or related site). .
ARE COOKIES ACTIVATED IN MY BROWSER?
To verify that your browser is configured to allow cookies, visit the Cookie Checker. This page will try to create a cookie and report whether it succeeded or not.
For information on how to enable or disable cookies, see “Enabling cookies”.
For information on how to delete and delete cookies, see “Deleting cookies”.
Can I see / view the cookies I have on my computer?
Most browsers have a configuration screen that allows the user to see which cookies have been stored on the computer and, optionally, to delete them. For more information, see the cookie view page.
Please note that it is not possible for a web page to view cookies set by other sites, as they would be a matter of privacy and security.
WHAT’S IN A COOKIE?
Each cookie is effectively a small search table that contains pairs of values (key, data) – for example (first name, John) (first name, Smith). Once the cookie has been read by the code on the server or client computer, the data can be retrieved and used to properly personalize the web page.
When are cookies created?
Writing data to a cookie is usually done when a new web page is loaded – for example after pressing a “Submit” button, the data management page would be responsible for storing the values in a cookie. If the user has chosen to disable cookies, then the write operation will fail, and subsequent sites that rely on cookies will have to take a default action or ask the user to re-enter the information that would have been stored in the cookie.
WHY ARE COOKIES USED?
Cookies are a convenient way to carry information from one session on one website to another or between sessions on related websites, without the need to load a server machine with massive amounts of data storage. Storing data on the server without using cookies would also be problematic, as it would be difficult to retrieve information from a specific user without the need for authentication each time you visit the website.
If there is a large amount of information to store, then a cookie can simply be used as a means of identifying a given user, so that additional related information can be searched on a database from the server. For example, the first time a user visits a site, they can choose a username that is stored in the cookie and then provide data such as password, name, address, preferred font size, page layout, etc. – this information would all be stored in the database using the username as the key. Later, when the site is reviewed, the server will read the cookie to find the username, then will retrieve all the user’s information from the database, without it being re-entered.
HOW LONG DOES A COOKIE LAST?
The expiration time of a cookie can be set when the cookie is created. By default, the cookie is destroyed when the current browser window is closed, but may be made to persist for an arbitrary period thereafter.
WHO CAN ACCESS COOKIES?
When a cookie is created, it is possible to control its visibility by setting the “root domain”. It will then be accessible to any URL belonging to that root. For example, the root could be set to “whatarecookies.com” and the cookie would then be available for “www.whatarecookies.com” or “xyz.whatarecookies.com” or “whatarecookies.com”. It can be used to allow related pages to “communicate” with each other. It is not possible to set the root domain to “top-level” domains, such as “.com” or “.co.uk”, as this would allow wide access to the cookie.
By default, cookies are visible for all paths in their domains, but at the time of creation they can be restricted to a certain subpath – for example “www.whatarecookies.com/images”.
HOW SAFE ARE COOKIES?
There are many concerns about privacy and security on the internet. Cookies do not in themselves constitute a threat to privacy, as they can only be used to store information that the user has voluntarily provided or that the web server already has. Although this information may be made available to certain third-party websites, it is no worse than storing it in a central database. If you are concerned that the information you provide to a web server will not be considered confidential, then you should ask yourself whether you should actually provide this information.
WHAT ARE TRACKING COOKIES?
Some commercial sites include embedded advertising materials that are provided from a third party site, and such advertisements may store a cookie for that third party site, containing information provided to them from the site that contains such information may include the name of the site, certain products viewed, pages visited, etc. When the user later visits another site that contains a similar embedded ad from the same third-party site, the advertiser will be able to read the cookie and use it to determine some information about the user’s browsing history. This allows publishers to run targeted ads in the interest of the user, so in theory they are more likely to be relevant to the user. However, many people see such “tracking cookies” as an invasion of privacy because they allow an advertiser to create user profiles without their consent or knowledge.