Are browser cookies bad and do they invade your privacy?
We’re not talking about the kind of cookie you eat; we’re talking about computer cookies! It’s not really true that cookies are evil.
Let’s start off with a definition of what a cookie is made of and what it actually is used for:
Why are cookies necessary anyway? Cookies are necessary because web browsers are stateless. Stateless means that as you move from one page to another page on a web site, those actions are separate and distinct; the web server does not know it was you that was on page A and that you’re the same person who is now on page B. This is very different than desktop applications like Microsoft Word or Excel, because they run on your computer.
The web server sees all page requests as individual requests. As you move through a web site and select things, if it were not for cookies, you would have reenter or re-select that information as you load each page. A cookie can be used to keep track of you as a user so that as you move from page A to page B the web server knows it’s you and the code on the web server can reference those things that were stored in your cookie to maintain a stateful experience for your session, or visit to the web site.
Occasionally, you may want or need to delete your cookies. You can delete your cookies a few ways. Most web browsers have different ways to do this, so consult the help for your browser on how to delete the cache files and cookies. There are also several software packages to clean your PC and these packages also delete cookies.
Using cookies improves your user experience when using the Internet.
While it’s not possible for a web page to access cookies that another web site placed on your computer, it is possible for a virus, adware, spyware, or other rogue program to do so. It’s important always use anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and keep them up to date. I recommend SecureAnywhere from www.WebRoot.com. See my page Virus and Malware Removal Tools and Utilities for more info.