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What are ‘cookies’ all about?

12/02/13

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As you may have noticed, many websites are now using cookies to give you ‘the best experience’ of their site when you first enter it. You may be frequently greeted by a message at the bottom or top of your screen nowadays and DEN are here to tell you what it’s all about so you don’t get freaked out or perhaps allured by such an unusual term online. So what are ‘cookies’ all about?

First of all these are cookies…

But they are not the cookies we are focusing on today unfortunately. However if you do appreciate these above baked goodies, find out here to get your hands on them here. As big foodies too, the DEN team don’t mind throwing in a few off-topic recommendations every now and then. Trust us, they are delicious and gourmet. You don’t have to thank us!

They are not programs but text files that contain key bits of information. Many people have the idea that they are harmful to a system, but we can clarify here what’s going on, so you’re not misunderstood. Cookies are in fact little smidgens of memory that are stored in your computer when you visit a website, storing memory of the page and your usage of it, in order to run it more smoothly and fluently the next times you visit. It can also help the site tailor to your needs with progressive use, giving you more of what you want or are interested in. It is a quicker way of reproducing data that doesn’t have to be processed again but can be just brought out when necessary. Like that good old happy birthday song, stored up in our memories, and brought out when necessary.

There are types of cookies that store different types of information; for example some may track how long you spend on a page and other may track the types of pages you are clicking on. Overall they can be beneficial to users and make their interactions with sites on the whole more efficient and engaging.

However to clear up the ‘bad cookie’ reputation we can provide some evidence as to why this exists. Cookies obviously store data about people using the web and so some people may feel uncomfortable about their information- for example what they are purchasing in their shopping carts etc.- being shared by businesses and organisations. There are cases where names are added to marketing lists due to their online activity and included in other relevant advertising lists. It can occasionally be annoying and the whole idea in general can make some feel uneasy.

Many websites take advantage of cookies in some way whether you’re aware of it or not, but a new online law has been passed this 2012, whereby sites must now ask user permission to use cookies. Thus things brings us to the present day messages that pop up on our screen and tempt our naïve taste buds every time we see the word! Shame they’re not the real thing..
Happy browsing!