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Computer Cookies

May 27, 2016 at 4:05 PM

Computer Cookies



What are these so called cookies in computers? We have heard about them, read about them but probably not fully understood them. However, one thing is for sure, they are not something we have for breakfast, morning tea or even lunch! They are definitely not an edible item, so what are they? What is it that makes these cookies so significant in context to computers? Let’s try to understand some cookie basics and get familiarised with the role they play in computers.


Cookies are created when a user visits a particular website through their internet  browser. The website in turn sends information back to the browser which then creates a text file. Every time the user visits the same website, the browser retrieves and sends this file to the website’s server. But why? What is the purpose? The reason is web developers use these files to help users navigate their websites quickly, more efficiently and perform certain important functions. In a nutshell, the main role of a cookie is to enhance a user’s usability while visiting a particular website.


Computer cookies are often called browser cookies, internet cookies or tracking cookies. These cookies are not just created by the website the user is browsing, but also by other websites that have alternate elements on the page being loaded or running advertisements. There are two types of cookies, mentioned below;


Session Cookies :

These are “temporary” cookie files. It is created and then erased after you exit the browser. When you browse the same site again, the website will not recognise you. It will treat you as a newcomer as there is nothing in the browser to let the site know that you have visited before.


Persistent Cookies :

These are stored on your hard drive until either you erase them manually or they expire. How long the cookie stays on your browser depends on how long the visited website has programmed to last.

                                                        



Cookies are small in size (just like the cookies shown in the photo above, hence the name) and often encrypted as a plain text file. They are not viruses. They cannot duplicate themselves and spread to other networks to execute and replicate again the way viruses do. But disabling them may prevent users using certain websites. Most browsers have built in privacy settings to provide time duration and disposal of the cookies after a user has visited a particular site.


However, there are still some debatable questions in relation to user security and privacy. New laws have been introduced to govern and regulate the usage of cookies, mainly for user protection and above all identity theft.


If you want to discuss more in depth about cookies or have concerns about any other IT issues, please feel free to contact our friendly team at McDonalds-IT.









 




Category: computer cookies

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