Have You Ever Wondered About Cookies?

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

computer.

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

downloads.

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

whether they use cookies.

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

and servers.

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

them.

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

hard drive…

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

cookies.

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!



Source by Bill Parks

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