Tech Speak: Cookies

Tech Speak: Cookies

Online cookies are like the redheaded stepchildren of the cookie world. No one seems to be climbing up on top of chairs to steal them out of jar. In fact, most people are often looking for ways to get rid of them.

What are cookies (the online version), exactly?

“Cookies” are actually little pieces of text that a web server stores on your hard drive to provide you with a better browsing experience. For example, if you visit Amazon and shop for waffle irons, their server sends a cookie to your machine that contains an ID. Next time you visit Amazon, you might get a “Hi Carley, welcome back! There’s a new waffle iron we’d like you to see.” That’s cookies at work. It’s kinda like becoming a regular at a sushi bar. You’re on first name basis with the chef, and he’ll recommend new pieces because he knows what you usually enjoy.

Contrary to popular belief, online cookies are relatively harmless. They won’t comprise privacy or computer security, nor infect your system with viruses or malicious software. If you choose to, you can erase cookies from your computer, but every time you re-visit a site, you’ll get a new one assigned. (Because most websites assume you like cookies).

As small as they are, cookies do stack up, so sometimes it’s helpful to tell your web browser to clear cookies to free up hard drive space. Just make sure you keep a record of all of your stored passwords, as they too will be removed in the process. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles (ahem).

What tech speak do you want me to decode next? Drop me a line and let me know what baffles you.

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Photo by Daniel Collopy, Courtesy of HGTV.
I'm a digital lifestyle expert, helping busy humans make sense of the technology that's becoming an increasingly large part of our lives. I believe that technology shouldn't be stressful or scary— we can tap and swipe our way to a simpler life. Read more >



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