Microsoft indicates this as the definition of cookies on their site:
"A very small text file placed on your hard drive by a Web Page server. It is essentially your identification card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you."
Plain and simple, cookies are only used to benifit you. If you're visiting a webpage and you would like any information remembered, like your username and password or perhaps, the most recent things you have looked at, you would need cookies enabled within your browser. The website you have visited; would also use a cookie to see if you have already voted on a poll, or have accessed their site before.When you visit a website, and a cookie has been placed- you can find the cookie here:
C:WindowsTempCookies or C:WindowsCookies
All cookies are in .txt format, meaning that they are a text file. Here is an example of a cookie used on my computer: ( email@example.com )
BUT I HEAR, COOKIES ARE THE DEVIL!!!
Many people have a misconception with cookies. They think- "oh my god, they give out personal information about me to the website" or "they can impose viruses through them if used malaciously." Both of those statments are incorrect. The website which you have allowed to use a cookie does not actually see any of that information stored within. The site will use the information to your benifit and will virtually make your experience and interactivity with website more pleasurable. So dont listen to those people. (They also think Elvis is alive)
MANAGING YOUR COOKIES
Before you make any decisions first know that their are several ways you can actually manage your cookies. You can have the ability to not permit cookies whenever you want. But; this can be very annoying.You can also allow them forever (defualt), and you can never allow them to be stored. To begin managing your cookies, open a browser window and go to:
Tools --> Internet Options --> Security--> (2nd tab at top).
Now hilight "Internet" in the zones (earth pic).
Next, look down at the Security Level, and press the button that says, "Custom Level..."
Now scroll down that list, and just under the ActiveX Scripting b/s you will see, Cookies, "Allow coookies that are stored on your computer" : Disable, Enable or Prompt.
If you select ENABLE (default): This is the default setting... cookies are currently allowed to be stored on your computer, and accessed only by the server that placed them.
If you select DISABLE: This will no longer allow cookies to be stored on your computer, however; cookies are still on your computer from webpages before you turned them off.
If you select PROMPT: This will prompt you each time a cookie is attempted to be placed when viewing a webpage. You then have the option to do as you wish the the cookie, and the future of placing cookies with that site. ( annoying )
PERSISTENT AND PER-SESSION COOKIES
What you just enabled or disabled or whatever was a persistent cookie. Its stored on your hard drive, and accessed by the website, ect. Something we have not discussed yet are "Per-Session" cookies. Per-Session are cookies that are not stored on your hard drive, and are stored in memory. They cannot permanently record any information. The Per-Session cookie will be cleared from memory when you leave the site. This "memory" is also know as cache.
Under the options you previously selected, you will see the options for allowing Per-Session cookies. You have the same options, to Enable, Disable or Prompt. Enable is default for good reason. If you didnt use Per-Session cookies, browsing would be least pleasurable. These are used in helping remember if you want to be kept logged in when you come back to a site.
There you have it, a small brief introduction to cookies: persistent and per-session, and how to manage them. Im sure I pretty much covered everything. However; im sure you can find more in-depth discussion of cookies. Try searching Google as usual ;) Happy browsing~
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