Cookies

Introduction:

When you hear the word”Cookie”, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the delicious treats that are usually stored in a tin or jar somewhere on a high shelf in your kitchen. When it comes to Cookies in the internet world, it means something completely different, but at the same time, the cookie jar could be used to provide a good explanation of Cookies, where they are stored and what their actual purpose is.

What are cookies?

Cookies, sometimes referred to as “web cookies”, are pieces of information that are stored on a client or user’s machine as a text file. So, like the cookies in a cookie jar, a client or users computer is the cookie jar and the cookies, like a biscuit, are the pieces of information stored within the cookie jar.

What are the cookies used for?

Cookies can be used for various purposes, but one of the most popular reasons for websites to use cookies is to remember information about you, for when you return. For example, when you visit a website regularly and you have a login for the website, quite often you will have the option to “Remember your username and password” for the next time you have to login. Now, that’s where cookies become useful – the cookies are stored on your computer until they are needed, for example: if you selected the option on the website that ensures your username and password are remembered, a cookie is can be created with your information and stored on your computer. When you access the same website the next day or the following week, the website checks for a cookie and if one is available that states you are an authorized person to access the website, you will be logged in more quickly and efficiently and in some instances, even automatically.

Other ways cookies are used:

  • Storing information about a shopping list or cart
  • Website statistical Tracking
  • Affiliate Tracking
  • Customizing websites to your preference / suitability
  • Remembering where you left a website or the last “estate” a website was left in e.g. in some instances, websites can be developed with expandable content. For example: If you expanded Tab A and Tab B, but Tab C and D weren’t expanded, the next time you come to the site, it would be nice to have Tab A and B expanded as that was what you were last looking at or interested in- this is where cookies help remember the state of Tab A and B.

Cookie Negatives:

  • Privacy – Over the years, there have been a few issues regarding privacy due to websites being able to access information on a user’s machine. Cookies can contain private, personal and confidential information, so it’s worth keeping in mind if you do allow cookies on your browser.
  • Easy obtainable – since cookies are stored on your computer, anyone who has access to your computer can:
  • Get access to possible personal / confidential information that is stored in a cookie
  • Get access to websites that are possibly not suitable or contain personal information relating to you.

IMPORTANT:

  • Having cookies enabled on your computer does NOT mean that your data on your machine is accessible such as files, email address or any other sensitive information.
  • Cookies CANNOT erase or damage data on your machine.
  • Cookies can be deleted off your computer (see below)

How to I enabled / disable Cookies?

Internet Explorer:

  • Go to Tools -> Options -> Internet Properties
  • Go to Privacy
  • Select the appropriate setting – Medium would be the most used.
  • Click OK

Firefox:

  • Go to Tools -> Options
  • Click Privacy
  • Choose the option that works for you
  • Click OK

Other browsers:

  • Most other browsers will have the same procedure i.e. Tools -> Options -> Privacy. So, keep your eye out for that when looking to enable / disable cookies.

How to I remove Cookies on my computer?

Internet Explorer:

  • Go to Tools -> Options -> Internet Properties
  • Under Howsing Bistory, click the Delete option.
  • Click OK

Firefox:

  • Go to Tools -> Options
  • Click Privacy
  • Click Clear Now
  • Click OK

IMPORTANT:

Be very careful here as you will remove temporary internet files that are stored on your machine to make browsing slightly faster to sites you revisit. And, if you clear out cookies that you use regularly to access sites with, you could lose that information which may save you time in the long run.

What is Mammoth’s thoughts on Cookies?

We find cookies very useful in developing websites, but avoid storing personal information in cookies to avoid issues later. Whether you choose to have cookies on your machine or not is your choice, but hopefully this article has shed some light on the subject and will help you make a choice that is suitable to you.

Please Note: Information provided in this article is based on our understanding and experience of Cookies. Although we do our best to make sure that the information presented is accurate, there may be discrepancies.