What Are Internet Cookies?


Quick Answer

An Internet cookie is a message sent to a Web browser by a Web server. The cookie is installed on a user’s computer when visiting a website. The next time the user goes back to the website, it uses cookies to identify browsing habits on that site.

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Full Answer

When a form is filled out on a website providing personal information, such as email address and name, this information is placed in a cookie. The cookie is sent to the Web browser, and the information is stored for later use. The next time the website is visited, the browser sends the cookie directly to the Web server. The web server then uses the cookies to generate customized Web pages for that user. Instead of seeing the normal welcome page on the site, the welcome page may show a person’s name, as well as products they are likely to purchase.

Cookies get a bad rap, and many people think they harm their computer. This is not true, and they make browsing a website a better experience by allowing a Web server to recall customized information the user may have chosen. Cookies are never stored on the Websites server, so these companies do not have access to personal information any time they want to view it. When the person leaves the Website, the cookies automatically go back to their computer. Cookies typically go to one directory on a computer, and over time, they can add up. This is why many people clear cookies on a regular basis.

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