What is a cookie?
A cookie is a harmless text file that is stored in your browser when you visit almost any website. The usefulness of a cookie is that the website is able to remember your visit when you return to browse the same site again. Although many people are unaware of the fact, cookies have been in use for 20 years, ever since the first browsers appeared for the World Wide Web.
What is NOT a cookie?
It is not a virus, a Trojan, a worm, spam or spyware, and does not open pop-up windows.
What information does a cookie store?
The cookies do not usually store sensitive information about you, such as credit card or bank account details, photos, national identification numbers or personal information. The data stored in them is technical and is used to remember personal preferences, to personalise content, etc.
The web server will not associate to you as a person but rather to your web browser. In fact, if you regularly browse with Internet Explorer and try to browse the same website with Firefox or Chrome you will find that the website will not realize that you are the same person because it is actually associated to the browser, and not to the person.
What kinds of cookies?
- Technical cookies: These are the most basic type and can tell, among other things, whether a human or a robot is browsing, or whether the browser is anonymous or a registered user, and are used for the basic tasks involved in running web dynamics.
- Tracking cookies: Collect information about the type of browsing being performed, the sections that are most used, products viewed, times of use, language, etc.
- Advertising cookies: Show advertising depending on browsing history, country of origin, language, etc.
What are first and third party cookies?
First party cookies are those generated by the website that the user is visiting and third party cookies are those generated by external services or suppliers such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
What happens if I disable cookies?
To explain the effects of what happens if you disable cookies, here are some examples:
- You will not be able to share contents of this website on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network.
- The website will not be able to adapt the content to your personal preferences, as tends to happen with online stores.
- You will not be able to access your personal sections of the website, such as, for example, My account, My profile or My orders.
- Online stores: It will be impossible for you to make online purchases, you will have to order by telephone or go in person to a physical store, if there is one.
- It will not be possible to customise your geographic settings, such as time zone, currency or language.
- The website will not be able to log analytics on its visitors or web traffic, which makes it harder for the site to be competitive.
- You will not be able to write posts on the blog, upload photos, publish comments, or evaluate or rate contents. Neither will the website know whether you are a human or a spam-posting robot.
- It will not be able to show sector-specific advertising, which reduces the website’s advertising income.
Can cookies be removed?
Yes. Not just removed, they can also be blocked, either generally or individually, for a specific domain.
To remove a website’s cookies, you should go to your browser’s settings and search for those associated to the domain in question and proceed with removal.
Cookie settings for the most popular browsers
The following information shows how to access a cookie on the Chrome browser. Note: these steps can vary depending on the version of your browser:
- Click on Settings or Preferences in the Chrome menu or click on the custom icon in the top right corner.
- You will see different options, click on Show advanced settings.
- Go to Privacy, Content settings.
- Select All cookies and site data.
- A list of cookies will appear ordered by domain. To make it easier to find the cookies for a certain domain enter all or part of the site address in the Find cookies field.
- After performing this filter, one or several lines will appear onscreen showing the cookies from the website in question. Now all you have to do is click X to disable these cookies.
To access the cookie settings on Internet Explorer follow these steps (these may vary depending on the browser version you are using):
- Click on Tools, then Options.
- Click on Privacy.
- Move the slider to your chosen privacy level.
To access the cookie settings when using Firefox follow these steps (these may vary depending on the browser version you are using):
- Go to Options or Preferences depending on your operating system.
- Click on Privacy.
- At History choose to Use custom settings for history.
- You will now see Accept cookies, to enable or disable cookies depending on your preferences.
To access the cookie settings when using Safari per OSX follow these steps (these may vary depending on the browser version you are using):
- Go to Preferences, then Privacy.
- In this section, you will find a Block cookies option that you can set to the required type of blocking.
To access the cookie settings when using Safari for iOS follow these steps (these may vary depending on the browser version you are using):
- Go to Preferences, then Safari.
- Go to Privacy and Security, where you will find the option to Block cookies that you should set to the desired level of blocking.
To access the cookie settings when using Android devices follow these steps (these may vary depending on the browser version you are using):
- Run the browser and click on Menu, then Settings.
- Go to Privacy and Security, and you will see the option to Accept cookies, which you can check or uncheck.
To access the cookie settings when using Windows Phone devices follow these steps (these may vary depending on the browser version you are using):
- In Internet Explorer, choose More, then Settings.
- Now you can enable or disable the Allow cookies setting.