What Are Cookies Cookies, otherwise referred to as HTTP cookies or browser cookies) are small text files stored in a web user's browser directory or data folder. E-commerce websites, for example, place cookies on visitors' browsers to retain login credentials, identify customers, and provide a customized shopping experience. Cookies also prevent search engines from being able to spy on a webpage and collect users' information, without consent, in compliance with privacy laws.
• Customer log-in
• Persistent shopping carts
• Custom user interfaces (i.e. "Welcome back, Steve")
• Retaining customer address and payment information
How do cookies work? Cookies can be divided into two major categories, with many subsets of:
• Session cookies stay on a browser and retain your information until it is closes. When a new browser window is opened, the same user is treated as a new visitor and must input their login credentials.
• Persistent cookies have a designated lifespan and remain in a browser until the period elapses or the cookie is manually deleted. Websites that use persistent cookies will remember users even after they close a browser. Persistent cookies enable features such as persistent shopping carts, which retain products added to cart between sessions.
When, for example, a user lands on an e-commerce website for the first time, the webpage makes a record of the activity on its remote server and it places a cookie in the user's browser files. The cookie is only a short line of text. It contains no information about the user or the user's machine. Instead, it typically contains the URL of the website that placed the cookie, a unique generated number and an expiration date for the cookie.
As a user browses the website, each new page that the user visits queries the browser, looking for the cookie. If the cookie's URL matches the website's URL, the website retrieves the user's information from its server by utilizing the unique generated number. In this way, the website adjusts the user's experience to reflect her browsing history.
So, should you search the site for the book entitled "The Death Process and Beyond", then the next time you comes to the site, the website will retrieve the your record and fill the landing page with more books in that category.