What is a cookie?
A cookie is a harmless text file that is stored on your browser when you visit almost any website. The purpose of the cookie is for the website to be able to remember your visit when you return to that page. Although many people are unaware of the fact, cookies have been used for 20 years, since the first World Wide Web browser was released.
What is NOT a cookie?
It is not a virus, trojan, worm, spam, spyware, and it does not open pop-up windows.
What information does a cookie store?
Cookies do not usually store sensitive information about you, such as credit cards or bank details, photographs, your ID or personal information, etc. The data they store is of a technical nature, and it relates to personal preferences, content customisation, etc.
The web server does not associate you to a person and, instead, it sees you as your web browser. In fact, if you usually browse with Internet Explorer and try browsing the same website with Firefox or Chrome you will see that the web does not realise that you are the same person because it is actually associating details to the browser and not the person.
What types of cookies are there?
Technical cookies: These are the most basic cookies and allow, among other things, to know when a human or a computerised application is browsing, when an anonymous user or registered user are browsing, and perform basic tasks to operate any dynamic website.
Analysis cookies: These collect information on the type of browsing you are doing, the sections you use most, products consulted, time zone, language, etc.
Advertising cookies: These show advertising based on your browsing habits, your country of origin, language, etc.
What are first-party and third-party cookies?
First-party cookies are those generated by the website you are visiting, and third-party cookies are those generated by external services or providers such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
What happens if I disable the cookies?
To help you understand the extent to which cookies can be disabled, here are some examples:
You will not be able to share content from this website on Facebook, Twitter or on any other social networks.
The website will not be able to adjust the content to your personal preferences, as is often the case with online shops.
You will not be able to access the personal area of that website, including areas like My account, My profile or My orders.
Online shops: You will not be able to purchase items online, you will have to buy them by telephone or by visiting the brick-and-mortar shop if there is one available.
It will not be possible to customise your geographical preferences, with details like your time zone, currency or language.
The website will not be able to perform web analytics on visitors and web traffic, which will make it difficult for the website to be competitive.
You will not be able to write on the blog, upload photos, post comments, review or rate content. The website will not be able to know whether you are a human or an automated application that publishes spam.
You will not be able to see targeted advertising, which will reduce the website’s advertising revenue.
Can cookies be deleted?
Yes. Not only can you delete them, but you can also block them, either in general or for specific website domain.
To delete cookies from a website, you must go to your browser settings. There you can search for those associated with the domain concerned and delete them.
Cookie settings in most popular browsers
Here’s how to access a particular cookie in the Chrome browser. Note: these steps may vary depending on the browser version:
Go to Settings or Preferences via the File menu or by clicking on the customisation icon situated at the top right.
You will see different sections, click on Show advanced options.
Go to Privacy, Content Settings.
Select All cookies and site data.
You will see a list of all cookies sorted by domain. To make it easier for you to find the cookies for a particular domain, enter part or all of the address in the Search cookies field.
After this filter, one or more lines with the cookies of the requested website will appear on the screen. Now all you have to do is select one and press X to delete it.
To access the cookie settings of the Internet Explorer browser, follow these steps (they may vary depending on the browser version):
Go to Tools, Internet Options.
Click on Privacy.
Move the slider to set the privacy level you want.
To access your Firefox browser’s cookie settings, follow these steps (they may vary depending on browser version):
Go to Options or Preferences depending on your operating system.
Click on Privacy.
Under History choose Use custom settings for history.
You will now see the option Accept cookies; you can enable or disable the option according to your preferences
To access the cookie settings in the Safari browser for OSX follow these steps (they may vary depending on browser version):
Go to Preferences, then Privacy.
Here you will see the option Block cookies so that you can adjust the type of blocking you prefer.
To access the cookie settings in the Safari browser for iOS follow these steps (they may vary depending on browser version):
Go to Settings, then Safari.
Go to Privacy and Security, you will see the option Block cookies to adjust the type of blocking you prefer.
To access the browser cookie settings for Android devices, follow these steps (they may vary depending on browser version):
Launch the browser and press the Menu key, then Settings.
Go to Security and Privacy, you will see the Accept cookies option, allowing you to check or uncheck the box.
To access your browser cookie settings for Windows Phone devices, follow these steps (they may vary depending on browser version):
Open Internet Explorer, then More, then Settings
You can now check or uncheck the Allow cookies box.