What are cookies?

Simply, a cookie is a packet of information that your computer receives and then sends back to the browser.

When you visit a website, the website sends a cookie to your computer. Your computer stores it in a file which is located inside of your browser.

Cookies are just text files and can be read on your PC using the Notebook programme. A cookie will normally only store two pieces of information; a site name and a unique user ID.

What do cookies do?

The first time you visit a website, a cookie is downloaded onto your PC. The next time you visit that same site, your PC will check to see if it has already downloaded a cookie from this site, and sends the information in the cookie back to the site.

The website will then ‘know’ that you have visited it before.

What’s good about cookies?

Some cookies are used to improve user experience. For example, if you are shopping online and close the browser, the next time you visit the website, your items will still be in your basket. Cookies can also record your preferences for page layouts and colour schemes, meaning that you won’t need to change the settings of a website every time you go on it.

Cookies are also an excellent digital marketing tool, because cookies store data and behavioural information. As a result of this, businesses can use cookies to track how a visitor to their website found them, how many pages a visitor has viewed, which pages that visitor has used and the number of times a single person has visited their website.

What’s bad about cookies?

Whilst cookies do not store any of your personal information on a website, e.g. your name or address, it does however record your activity on a website.

This means that organisations will be able to see how you have been using their website, and this information could be used to target special offers for you. So, this depends on your personal views on this data being shared.

If you don’t like the idea of cookies then you can click here for more information on how to clear, enable and manage cookies in Chrome.