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What Are Cookies And Do I Want Them On My Computer?

Aug 17, 2007
Surfing the Net or tweaking the settings on your computer, you may have come across the term "cookies" before. Many of us go about our regular routine, while others are stomped as to what they are and how they fit into the workings of your computer and Internet use.

In computer terms, a cookie is actually a form of data that is transferred by a server to your computer browser. It is the hope of whoever sent the cookie that your browser saves this information and at a later time, sends back a response to the server. This usually includes details regarding you and your computer. So, what kind of information do cookies contain? The details of your computer use, from your login name to registration details to user settings to even your shopping cart info can be included.

There are also a few additional details about cookies that you should know. After a specified amount of time, cookies are often configured to run out. This means that they are saved into memory until the browser has been shut down. If they still possess a certain amount of time before expiring, they could be saved to your hard drive. This is one of the reasons that computer users aren't too fond of cookies (in the computer sense). They don't particularly care for the information gathering tactics and they don't like not knowing when personal details about themselves are sent over the World Wide Web. Even though many look down the idea upon, cookie really don't cause any harm. You have already given the information that they are retrieving from your computer.

Commonly, your computer will encounter a cookie that just lets webmasters know when you have visited their site. This allows them to keep track of the number of new visitors to their site. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that the cookie can pinpoint specific users. The details of your hard drive are kept hidden from cookie users. Cookies act as a way to speed up the logging in and navigation of a website by saving information that you have previously entered, such as name and IP address.

If you are against cookie infiltrating your computer, you can also set up firewall protection. Blocking your IP address is another way to avoid cookies on your PC. So, why do websites use cookies if numerous people wish to block them? Cookies are helpful for search engines, which allows for customization on their web pages. Cookies are also responsible for the ability to automatically log into your favorite sites. Besides tracking visitors, all of the above reasons are pretty decent, don't you think?

If you are that concerned about cookies, you can always delete them. When you are finished browsing a website, you can delete the attached cookies and feel better that you have gained some shreds of your privacy back. You should also know that all browsers and popular websites utilize cookies. For some, they embrace them because they save time when it comes to logging in and remembering your password for every site you enter. This can become quite a hassle when you have numerous site created passwords made with a jumble of letters and numbers. The point is, cookies are actually harmless and you can live life with or without them; it is up to you.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Florida. Find more about this as well as private internet surfing at http://www.privateinternetsurfing.com
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