1. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    In layman's terms; what are web cookies?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Trilby, Oct 21, 2012.

    Out of curiosity I looked up web cookies - after reading through a couple of search engines (I'm still none the wiser) there was info on how to delete cookies; what are the pros and cons of having cookies and is it a good idea to delete them? :confused:
     
  2. Thromnambular
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    Thromnambular Member

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    Cookies are small files that websites create and store in your computer.

    The reason this is done is because, in order to "remember" information related to you, the website needs to keep a file of it somewhere--and it won't be on the server hosting the website, that'd be a mess.

    Let's say that a website related to alcohol in some way needs to verify your age. It'll ask you what your age is before you can enter said website and use it.

    Now, if the website doesn't store that information (your age) somewhere, it will have to ask you what your age is every time you try to access the website.

    On the other hand, if it makes a file in your computer, and "writes down" your age on said file, it'll "know" what your age is the next time you try to access it.

    If you were to delete said cookie file, the website will no longer have any idea of what your age is, and will prompt you for your age once again.

    So, in layman's terms, a cookie file is a rather disposable place where a website stores information (and the nature of this information varies wildly) on your computer in order to enhance your experience.

    There are a few things you should know as well:

    Some websites require that you allow them to create cookie files in your computer in order to function properly.

    Most of the time, you are not asked whether or not you want the website to create these files.

    It can be difficult to know what kind of information will be stored in these files, though, generally, it shouldn't be anything sensitive--if the files were created by a legitimate website.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Cookies are files on your computer, used by web sited to remember information about you from one visit to the next. As Throm pointed out, some sites depend on cookies being enabled to function properly. This site depends on cookies to keep track of your member ID, so you can post and read your private material.

    The kinds of information that a website can store in a cookie is limited. There are different categories, and there are security settings in your web browser that can restrict what can be stored in a cookie. The details are beyond the scope of most users, but if your browser is up to date, its settings will probably be appropriate to keep your cookie data adequately benign.
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks Guys.

    It was curiosity that set me off searching and once I came across ways to delete them, I wondered if it was a good idea or not; it seems not! Thanks again, Trilby
     
  5. robertpri007
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    robertpri007 Member

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    It will vary by user, but some "cleanup" software deleted all my cookies, and it was a disaster for me! I visit a lot of web sites, probably far more than average, and after the purge, every site required all kinds of extra steps in order for me to continue. I subscribe to dozens of sites, well over fifty--yes, too many but I'm a retired widower with no life--and each one remembers me.

    There is no risk of ID theft because I still have to enter a password. That is a different issue. After that purge, it took me all weekend to re-establish my favorite sites because the cookies identified me. I would never do that again. But that's me.

    Personally, I find the risk to cookies to be so infinitesimal that I ignore them. If you are concerned about ID theft, and you should, there are many anti-virus programs that will do the job.

    BTW: if you look into your anti-virus program you will see they almost never delete cookies. If those programs are not worried about cookies, then neither am I.
     
  6. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    I sometimes go into my browser options and delete any cookies that are not associated with a web site that I log into. Accumulating them for years will slow down your browser.
     
  7. robertpri007
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    robertpri007 Member

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    This has been debated for years, but I have faith in Leo Notenboom who says no, they have no effect:
     
  8. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    They are a freshly baked dessert for constant web users.
     
  9. MissClood
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    MissClood New Member

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    I work in digital marketing so obviously cookies are of great use to me but as with so many things some people have managed to find a way to use them for evil.

    Having a cookie on your computer for a popular shopping website that you use a lot could be useful, it would enable the site to remember you, show you things that are relevant to you and things that you have previously looked at before that are now on sales - great.

    Now for the not so great side, a lot of travel companies will notice you are searching for flights to, say, Venice, and will really want to sell that seat to you as an empty plane is going to lose money. So when you come back a day or so later to double check the prices sometimes you will notice the price of your flight to Venice has increased by a small amount. This is sometimes, though not always, caused by retailers using cookies to artificially increase the price to panic you into making a purchase through fear the flights will go up again if you don't book immediately.

    As I say this is not always the case - sometimes the price has naturally increased.

    The best solution is to turn on private browsing when you are shopping for something like flights or hotels to ensure no cookie is dropped on your computer.
     

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