Do you remember the first time you was offered a cookie
from a web site? If you were new to the Internet it was a
surprise. A web site wanted to put a cookie on your
Maybe your first thoughts were, “What’s a cookie? Should I
accept it or reject it?”
Some sites never asked to give you a cookie… Other sites
required your acceptance of cookies to get information, to
read articles or look through their products or get their free
According to Netscape, “Cookies are a general mechanism
which server side connections (such as CGI scripts) can
use to both store and retrieve information on the client side
of the connection.”
Most cookies are set once and then go away when you turn
off your browser. The other type of cookie, the persistent
cookie, is set and remains on your hard drive until either
your space for cookies is full or the time stamp on it expires.
A site has access to any information you provide (including
information like your IP address, browser type, and the page
that referred you to their site, as well as forms you fill out)
without using any cookies at all. So, it’s more important to
know the privacy policies of a site than to worry about
Cookies are small pieces of information gathered from you
and/or your computer by a web server and stored in your
computer, ready for future access by the server or web site.
Cookies are embedded in the HTML information flowing
back and forth between your computer and the web sites
What’s The Purpose of Cookies? They allow user side
customization of web information. For example, cookies are
used to personalize web sites. They allow you to participate
in surveys, contests… And, making sure you participate only
once… And to store shopping lists of items you have
selected while browsing through a list of products or a
virtual shopping mall.
Some sites require YOU accept cookies to access their
information, tips or articles from their web site. Cookies
make use of specific information you prefer. That specific
information is transmitted by your web server into your
computer cookie file so the information is available for later
access by itself and other servers.
In most cases, not only does the storage of personal
information into your cookie file go unnoticed, so does
access to it. Web servers automatically gain access to
relevant cookies whenever you establish a connection to
Cookies are based on a two-stage process. First, the
cookie is stored in your computer sometimes without your
consent or knowledge. But… On Netscape browsers you
can go to preferences, set your browser to alert you before
accepting a cookie. On Internet Explorer follow the
Tools/Internet Options/Security menu to set cookie
preferences. It’s your choice.
For example… Some web pages are customizable so you
can select categories of interest to you from the web page.
The web server then creates a cookie that is a string of text
containing your preferences, and puts this small cookie text
file in your computer.
If your web browser is set to receive cookies… the cookie
text is stored on your computer in a file called a cookie file.
This happens without your consent unless your have set
your browser to notify you before accepting a cookie and
before it is stored on your computer.
Would you like to see your cookie file?
On a Macintosh you can do a find for ‘magiccookie’ on your
On a PC do a find for ‘cookies.txt’ on your hard drive.
Each cookie file is a small text file. After you find the file you
can open it by double clicking it. Looking at the files doesn’t
tell you much unless you get deeper into writing and setting
Remember… a site only knows what information you’ve
entered and your browser type and ISP. Cookies are neither
good nor bad, they can provide convenience for you and do
serve useful functions on the web.
You CAN delete the entire cookies file on your computer if
cookies concern you. Just find the file and delete it. Then set
your browser preferences to NOT accept cookies.
“I’ve always accepted cookies and have noticed no bad
effects. So my personal preference is to continue accepting
them,”… Now It’s Your Choice!