A cookie, sometimes called a web cookie, or a browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on a user’s web browser while the user browses a website. A cookie is usually a string of text, numbers and some alpha-numeric characters stored as a text file on the users computer.
A ‘persistent’ cookie can remain on the users computer after they quit the web browser or even shut down the computer. These cookies may have an expiration date set a long time in the future – effectively never expiring unless the user clears, or deletes, saved cookies from their web browser in the preferences panel.
Cookies perform essential functions for most web users, from authentication to search history. Cookies help website owners to ‘follow’ a users path through a transaction so the website is aware of what’s in your online shopping basket when you get to a check-out page, even though the transaction may be completed over a number of days Cookies also help advertisers to show advertisements relevant to items or sites a user may have searched for previously on the web.
External links & references
- SilkTide Cookie Consent script
- EU Directive on Privacy @ Wikipedia