Cookies…Ha!…What are they good for? Actua-lly something!

What are internet cookies? What happens when you accept cookies on the internet?  Is it safe?  Didn’t my mom tell me not accept cookies from strangers, or something like that? 

Hey there, it’s your old pal Uncle URL. I’m as confused as ever and trying to get unconfused. Do you know about cookies on the internet?  We will get to the internet cookie info, but I have to tell you, I love regular cookies. I am a fan of the Twinkie as well, but cookies, all cookies…just delicious. I even have diagnosed myself with what I call OCD–”Obsessive Cookie Disorder”. If I start to eat a cookie, I seem compelled to eat the entire row, and I won’t stop until it’s gone.  “Recommended serving size is four cookies”–HA!  My serving size is one ROW!  I get crazy with the cookies too.  One night I was nuzzling up to a pack of Lorna Doons, and then I must have blacked out, because I woke up the next morning with a bag of Pecan Sandies.  I just slowly got my arm out from underneath the package and left the room.  

Internet cookies

Let’s talk about cookies on the internet. Sure, everyone has seen the warning that this website collects cookies. We click accept and continue our existence, but do you really know what happens with cookies? What are they?  Are they bad for us (internet cookies,  not real, edible delicious cookies).  I’ll just bet that some of you are like me–everyone seems to know what they are, so I don’t want to ask. Well, don’t worry, your Uncle URL is here to ask the questions for you, so you don’t feel silly.  

As it turns out, for the most part, cookies aren’t bad and do no harm. They are just kind of a part of internet life until something better comes along. So let’s find out what cookies are, and what they are not.  Let’s dig into this cookie mess–batter up!

What is an Internet “Cookie”?

A cookie is an itty-bitty text file that gets created on your device when you visit a web page.  The website stores that information to keep track of your visits and activity. Kind of like when I would go walking around by my house. As soon as I walked into a field, I would get those pickers stuck to my clothes.  You could always tell which field I had been in by the type of pickers.  Internet cookies are like that.

When you visit a website, a cookie get’s created. The data in that cookie helps improve your next visit. For example; if I log onto a weather website to see if it’s safe to bale hay in the next couple of days, I put in my zip code for the weather report that I want. When I log on next time, magically, the website knows it’s me and pulls up the correct weather report. That’s cookies at work! 

Have you ever wondered how you can be doing a google search on kayak trips to Peru, then the next time you’re on Facebook, there is an add for kayak trips to Peru?  Cookies at work again. If you always look for certain items on a website, the cookies will remember and will make your browsing experience much more efficient by taking you to your regular pages right away.

Are there different “flavors” of internet cookies?

Let’s talk about first-party and third-party cookies, session cookies and persistent cookies.  What a variety of cookies!  

First-party cookies are the ones that are placed by the site you visit. They are mainly used to keep track of how many people visit the website and what they looked for.  

Third-party cookies are placed on the web page by advertisers. They want to see what you’re interested in. After they figure that out, they’ll start showing you more ads for the kinds of products or even specific products you showed interest in. 

There are also session cookies.  These are sometimes called transient cookies. a cookie that is erased when you close the web browser. The session cookie is stored in temporary memory and is not retained after the browser is closed. Session cookies do not collect information from your computer. They typically will store information in the form of a session identification that does not personally identify the user.

A persistent cookie, sometimes called a permanent cookie, or a stored cookie, does stay around for a while. After you visit a website, this kind of cookie is stored on your computer until it reaches its expiration date, or until you happen to delete the cookie. 

Does every website use cookies?

It’s safe to say most web pages have cookies.  WordPress is the most popular platform for building websites in the world, and all WordPress websites use cookies (for user authentication and for posting comments). If you use any advertising on your website or if you look at data on your website for how many visitors a month, etc. then you probably have cookies on your website. 

Are internet cookies safe?

As I said before, for the most part, cookies are a safe and necessary part of using the Internet. A lot of websites won’t work properly if you don’t have cookies enabled.  The vast majority of cookies don’t threaten your website security, but there are some malicious cookies out there.  They track you and what you look at on the web. Over time, a profile can be built about your likes and interests, and you can be targeted for advertisers for those particular interests. If you have some sort of security program on your computer, you are usually safe from these little buggers.Ultimately, what determines if the cookies are safe is how the website uses those cookies.

There are ways to delete cookies from your browser, and even block cookies altogether but remember, for the most part, they are harmless and may actually help make your internet use more efficient. I gotta go now. I have a date with Pecan Sandy! So it’s by for now from your Uncle URL!


Check out other informative and fun articles by Uncle URL, including What is the difference between a URL and a domain name?, Why do I need Web Hosting? What is a Google Business Listing? How to protect yourself against malware in three easy steps.  What is a SSL Certificate, and What is a DNS Record?

Are you ready to discuss your upcoming project?