What Are Cookies Doing to Your Computer?Email This
You know those not-so-yummy types of cookies that show up on your computer? The ones that aren't baked into perfect, melt-in-your-mouth sugary bites of happiness? We're talking about the cookies used to transfer information between the website you're visiting and your browser. They help the website and any advertisers on the website track when you visit and what you view—kind of like leaving a trail of cookie crumbs to show where you've been. Cookies aren't all bad, but you do need a basic knowledge of what to look out for so that you aren't handing all your personal information over to hackers.
Cookies may be helpful. Have you ever saved your login information on a website so you don't have to type it over and over again? Have you ever left items in an online shopping cart to purchase on your next visit to the website? Maybe even provided your zip code for local weather on your homepage or opted out of targeted advertisements? Cookies let you do that. They save your information from websites to your browser for later retrieval.
But cookies may be misused.
Plus, they can be downright annoying.
What can you do about cookies?
- Delete cookies. If you go to your browser's settings, there will be an option to clear cookies. This allows you to effectively reset your browser. However, if you do this, you'll lose your saved login information from that browser. In addition, if you turn off cookies you may not be able to visit some websites.
- Update your antivirus software. If you want to keep your cookies, make sure you have up-to-date antivirus software. Antivirus software flags suspicious cookies and helps prevent them from being used to steal information.
- Automated cleaning options. If you can't remember to delete cookies on a regular basis, look into automated software you can install to manage them for you. AOL Computer Checkup, for example, cleans out the unnecessary files on your computer, including old cookies that aren't in use anymore. This opens up disk space, helping to speed up your computer.