Cookies are text files containing small amounts of information which are downloaded to your device when you visit a website. Cookies are then sent back to the originating website on each subsequent visit, or to another website that recognises that cookie. Cookies are useful because they allow a website to recognise a user’s device.
Cookies do lots of different jobs, like letting you navigate between pages efficiently, remembering your preferences, and generally improving the user experience. They can also help to ensure that adverts you see online are more relevant to you and your interests.
Certain cookies contain personal information – for example, if you click to “remember me” when logging in, a cookie will store your username. Most cookies will not collect information that identifies you, and will instead collect more general information such as how Users arrive at and use website, or a user’s general location.
There are mainly four kinds of cookies:
- Session cookies last only for the session. They are erased when the user closes the web browser.
- Persistent cookies remain even after the session is closed. They are stored on a user’s hard drive until they expire (persistent cookies are set with expiration dates) or until the user deletes the cookie. Persistent cookies may be used to collect identifying information about the user, including web surfing behaviour or user preferences for a specific website.
- First-party cookies belong to the site where you chose to go.
- Third-party cookies are fetched from a site whose content is retrieved indirectly for example through an image tag or a banner.
The majority of browsers support them. However, users can set their browsers to decline cookies, or they can delete their cookies at will.