What is a Computer Cookie? Why Websites Use Cookies?

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When you navigate into different websites, those websites may use cookie. Some websites have their cookie/privacy policy, some have not. We also set up and use computer cookies to remember your preferences. By this article, you will find out all about cookies, are they harmful or not.

What is a Computer Cookie?

A computer cookie is a piece of information in the form of a very small text file that is placed on an internet user’s hard drive. It is generated by a web page server, which is basically the computer that operates a website.

The information the cookie has is set by the server and it can be used by that server whenever the user visits the site. Computer cookies can be thought of as an Internet user’s identification card, which tell a web site when the user has returned and what function to allow for the user.

Why a Website Set Computer Cookie?

Website servers set computer cookies to help authenticate the user if the user logs in to a secure area of the website. Login information is stored in a cookie so the user can enter and leave the website without having to re-enter the same authentication information over and over.

Cookies make the interaction between users and web sites faster and easier. Websites use cookies mainly because they save time and make the browsing experience more efficient and enjoyable. It also allow websites to remember their choices, inputs and it is used for future visit.

Cookies tell the server what pages to show the user so the user doesn’t have to remember or start navigating the site all over again. Cookies act as a sort of “bookmark” within the site.

Different Types of Cookies

Different types of cookies can be stored on your computer’s memory or hard drive. There can be –

Session Cookie : These cookies usually store a session ID that is not personally identifiable to users, allowing the user to move from page to page without having to login repeatedly. They are widely used by commercial web sites.

Session cookies expire at the end of the user’s browser session and can also become no longer accessible after the session has been inactive for a specified length of time, usually 20 minutes.

Performance Cookie : These cookies collect information about how you use a website, including which pages you go to most often and if you get error messages from certain pages.

Functionality Cookie : These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you’re in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.

Targeting Cookie : These cookies are used to tailor marketing to you and your interests. They are also used to limit the number of times you see an advertisement as well as help measure the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. Advertising networks like Adsense uses the cookies.

What Happens after Delete Cookies

If you disable or delete cookies, you may be unable to sign-in/login, sign-up/register and use websites in your preferred language. Without cookies, it would be very difficult for a website to allow a visitor to fill up a shopping cart or to remember the user’s preferences or registration details for a future visit.

Your choices, input text will also deleted if you disable/delete cookies. Disabling cookies may prevent users from using certain websites. So disabling cookies will not give you the best experience.

Can Cookies Harm You?

No. Cookies are small pieces of text. They are not computer programs, and they can’t be executed as code. Also they cannot be used to disseminate viruses, and modern versions of both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape browsers allow users to set their own limitations to the number of cookies saved on their hard drives.

Cookies are stored on the computer’s hard drive. They cannot access the hard drive – so a cookie can’t read other information saved on the hard drive, or get a user’s email address etc.

They only contain and transfer to the server as much information as the users themselves have disclosed to a certain website. A website can’t access/read cookies of another website.

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