It’s funny how the tech community (service providers, browser support associates, etc) started using the term “cookies” without bothering to explain it to anyone.
Because we’ve heard the term so much, it’s obvious that cookies are an important part of our online life…but what are they?
Simply put, “cookies” are small files that websites you visit place on your computer for you. The information in the file tells your browser to give you a personalized experience.
A simple example is EarthLink.net. When you visit, you are brought to a page where you can choose to view “residential” or “business” information (see graphic below). Once you chose “residential” information, you are brought to a page showing only residential services.
When you make this selection, EarthLink gives your computer a “cookie” so it remembers that you’re interested in residential info. Because of the cookie, the next time you visit EarthLink.net, you’ll be taken directly to this page instead of the one displaying choices (see second graphic, below).
You have control of these files (you can tell your browser to accept or deny them, and you can delete them…if you want to see EarthLink.net’s “Residential or Business info?” page again, for example…), but I recommend allowing them, since their purpose is to give you an easier online experience.