What Are Cookies?

In computing terms, a cookie is much different from the sweet treat you might associate with the name. Computing cookies are small text files sent and returned on a server. The files can then be stored on a user’s computer. They are used to identify a user or track their access to a network.

Cookies deliver websites tailored to the interests of a user. A cookie does this by carrying information from one site over to the next.

For example, if you search for vacation destinations and later see an advertisement for that destination in the next website you view, it means your computer has stored a cookie to transmit that information.

Check for browser cookies

You can check whether your browser allows cookies. View your browser’s settings to disable, enable or delete cookies that may have been stored. Internet cookies act as memories for your browser.

Some people view them as helpful, while others see them as a violation of privacy. The good thing about cookies? You can easily disable them if they make you uncomfortable.

How do cookies work?

Cookies contain pairs of data that can be read by the server you use. The data is sent and retrieved to personalize a new website for you.

If you enter your name or address at one website, there’s a chance your browser has saved it to be available for future logins. If you choose to disable cookies, you might be prompted to re-enter all your information, such as passwords, each time you visit a new webpage.

Are cookies good or bad?

Cookies are generally not malicious and are not considered a type of computer virus. They are not self-executing and cannot make copies of themselves, unlike a computer worm.

However, they are used to store a user’s preferences. If you’re okay with your information being stored on your computer, cookies can very helpful to your browsing experience.