What is a Cookie?
Cookies are used by the majority of websites you’ll visit while surfing the web. They are used to improve your user experience of the website you’re visiting. Cookies are used to remember you, which is really useful if you want to login to a website or add items to a shopping cart/basket on a online shop. They are either set for the duration of your visit, known as a ‘session cookie’, or for your repeat visits to the site, known as a ‘persistent cookie’.
Cookies set by the website you are visiting are called ‘first party cookies’. Some websites have content provided by other websites which is shown on the page you’re viewing, in these instances the other website may also set cookies called ‘third party cookies’.
What’s in a Cookie
A cookie is a simple text file which is stored on your computer or any other device you use to view websites. The server that runs the website will provide the cookie and only that server will be able to retrieve the contents of the cookie. Also the cookie placed on your computer is unique to your computer and will contain a unique identifier and some digits and numbers. This information will allow the website to remember what’s in your shopping cart/basket, what your preferences are and so on.
What if you don’t want cookies set
You may feel cookies storing information on your computer or other device a bit intrusive, especially where the information is used by a third party without you knowing. Cookies are generally harmless but you may decide you don’t want targeted adverts shown to you. If this is the case it is possible to block some or all cookies, or even to delete cookies that have already been set. However, be aware you might lose some functions of that website.