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Knowledgebase Cookies 101 What is a Cookie?


What is a Cookie?

Last Updated: June 2, 2020

Cookies are pieces of data, normally stored in text files, that websites place on a visitor’s computer or mobile device to store specific information about the visitor.  Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information or to record the user’s browsing activity.

Almost all websites nowadays use cookies.  In fact, many sites rely on them to provide basic functionality.  Think about an e-commerce store.  When you add something to your cart and then move to another page, the product is still in the cart.  It is a cookie that allows the website to do this.

Cookies also allow you to login on one page, then move around to other pages and remain logged in.  They allow you to set preferences for the display of a page, and for those preferences to be remembered the next time you return.

Cookies can also be used to track the pages you visit from site to site, which allows advertisers to track your interests and behaviors. Then, when you land on a site that shows one of their advertisements, they can tailor it to those interests, which is known as ‘behavioral advertising’.

Cookies can be incredibly useful, they allow modern websites to meet people’s expectations of personalization and rich interactive functionality.

However, they can also be used to manipulate your web experience in ways you might not expect or approve.  Cookies could be used to benefit a business or organization that you have never had any direct contact with, or perhaps heard of.

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