ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What are Internet Cookies?

Updated on December 29, 2010
No, not THESE kind of Internet cookies.
No, not THESE kind of Internet cookies. | Source

No, really, what are they?

Cookies are one of the most misunderstood of Internet elements. Commonly cited as something to eliminate when ensuring the safety of your computer, cookies are normally meant to do one thing: satisfy all the parties in an online browsing experience, user and site owner alike.

Functionally speaking, cookies are little more than strings of data stored in .txt files on your computer. A cookie is installed every time you open a new website, and they're accessed again and again when you re-visit that website. They're meant to speed up loading time and make the experience more pleasurable for the user.

What do Internet cookies do?

Cookies do several things:

  • They store information about the user's surfing habits on a given site. This allows that site to display content the user's more likely to find interesting on subsequent visits.
  • They (optionally) store information the user must enter to access the site's services. Passwords, for example, may be stored on cookies and will pop up during the next login to save the user time.
  • They tell the web master what pages the user visited. This is important for tracking popular pages among hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Are cookies dangerous?

Normally, no. There are, however, two situations in which cookies can be problematic:

  • First, some cookies, typically installed by less-reputable sites, can track the user's browsing habits far beyond the first site. This can allow the cookie's creator to potentially steal personal information. Boost the security of your web browser to High in order to prevent cookies from installing on your computer without your initial say-so.
  • And, second, some spyware can be used to steal information from otherwise benign cookies already on a system. Some cookies expire on their own, though others may linger for a long time, exposing them to this danger. Clearing your cookies at least once a month is advisable.

How can cookies be removed from a browser?

Though the method varies from one web browser and computer to another, there are, broadly, three methods of getting rid of Internet cookies on your own:

  • The first is to locate the cookies manually on the computer and dispose of them. For PCs, cookies are typically found under Documents and Settings; on Macs, they're in the Library. In either case, cookies can easily be located by typing 'cookies' into your operating system's search feature.

  • The second is to check the list of cookies registered by your Internet browser. Again, this varies from browser to browser, though it's typically found under 'Preferences', then under your Security or Privacy settings. From here you can delete specific cookies or get rid of them all.

  • The third is to clear the history and cache of your browser. Doing so usually includes an option for easily wiping out all of the cookies paired with the browser. Again, this is usually found under Preferences, though the below example from Firefox stems from the Tools menu.


Should cookies be disabled?

Generally, no. Cookies are necessary for properly viewing (and sometimes even accessing) most sites, and are designed to make the visit more pleasing overall. It's usually better to raise the security of your web browser high enough that cookies must be approved before they're installed, allowing you to pick the diamonds form the dynamite.

Did I muck up something? Let me know.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)