Understand the baffling technology words and phrases you hear every day.

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What is a Cookie?

A cookie is known as an internet cookie, browser cookie, web cookie, or HTTP cookie. Websites collect and save information about you when you visit the site. This tracking information, called a cookie, is sent and stored on your computer.

What Does an Internet Cookie Do?

Each time you revisit a website, it will read the file on your computer and know who you are. There are some definite advantages to this technique. Keeping a history of your activity on the website delivers a more tailored experience for you.

For example, an online store can track what is in your shopping cart. Without the cookie, you would have to add these items to your cart each time you returned to the site.

Cookies can also feel intrusive and creepy. We have all visited a website and suddenly found ads for that company's offerings everywhere we go on the internet. These are targeted ads based on your activity. While they are generally not harmful, they can create a question in our mind about privacy and security.

Types of Internet Cookies

Session cookies are used only when you are actively navigating the site. When you leave the website, the session cookie is gone.

Authentication cookies track your login activity on a website and verify your identity. It is important that you carefully consider allowing these authentication cookies. Websites that store your login information can expose you to potential risk.

Tracking cookies maintain a history of your website activities.

How Can You Clear Cookies?

If you are concerned about privacy and security, clearing cookies is a wise practice. Bear in mind that when you clear them, all your website history will be lost.

Each web browser has a different location for clearing cookies.

For example, the most recent version of Google Chrome (as of March 2021) has these steps:

1. Open Chrome
2. Click the three dots : in the upper righthand corner
3. Click Settings
4. Click Clear browsing data
5. Check Cookies and other site data
6. Click the Clear data button

We won't go through each browser in detail here. In your browser, find the Settings option and look for "Clear browsing history" and "Cookies and other site data" or something similar.

Keep Learning

What is a Browser?

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