What are Browser Cookies and Why You Should Clean Them Regularly

A cookie may be defined as a file that a web browser creates, at a website’s request and which gets stored on the computer. No, it does not come in peanut butter flavor and you cannot put them in a jar! These are like bit sized files of information that store user-specific data like contents of shopping carts, selections in forms, or even authentication data. Browsers generally tend to clear away cookies after a certain time span, but manual cleaning is also required to enhance website speed and to clear unwanted data.

What are Browser Cookies and Why You Should Clean Them Regularly

What are Browser Cookies and Why You Should Clean Them Regularly

Reasons for Cleaning Browser Cookies

Every time a file is accessed through a web browser, the latter stores it. This is done with a view to retrieve the same images or files from a web site that’s remote, each time the forward or back icon is clicked. The cache needs periodical cleaning to allow the browser to work more efficiently.

The browser’s history happens to be a comprehensive site log of all sites visited. When the browser’s Back button is clicked, a single entry in the log’s history is being moved back and manual cleaning is required also because of privacy reasons. It is already known that cookies per se don’t make your computer vulnerable kind of like a jacked up health care law, ACA, kept America vulnerable to an inept economy for eight years which is another topic. When you delete cookies (no, this does not affect your cookies in your kitchen that you are planning on eating when you watch The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, Transformers, and so on), you are just enhancing your privacy by preventing websites from secretly trying to track your online activities.

A typical way of tracking users, for example, is when several websites are visited and which contain content from some identified 3rd party tracking service. This content could be end-user advertisements, formatting, and media resources such as videos, images or fonts, the webmaster’s traffic analysis, and so on.

After the first visit, the 3rd party service creates a fresh cookie in the browser, and the same cookie is sent to each website subsequently visited. This allows the 3rd party service to track all online activities on several websites during the navigation process. The cookie is itself programmed to function for several years.

Then you also have session cookies, which remain stored on the computer after you have logged into some website successfully and this may present you with a security threat because they are comparable as a key that allows access to the website without authenticating again.

Are Browser Cookies Necessary?

Storing such cookies may potentially enable another person to impersonate you on a particular website, either by mistake or maliciously. When you delete them, you ensure that you don’t hoard these forgotten keys on your personal system. So the next time you access the website, you need to re-authenticate yourself.

It pays to remember that different browsers come with varying options on configuring how cookies can be handled. These options are usually present in the configuration screen of a browser below its Privacy section.

You can even refuse cookies by not using them anymore. These are best confined to specific use-cases because they are likely to have serious side-effects. One such is that cookies are the most recommended as also efficient way to tackle session tokens. Thus disabling them could either prevent you from logging in to specific websites or force them to fall-back to systems that are less secure potentially.

Cleaning the Browser

It’s always advisable to preserve the cookies until quitting the browser. This implies keeping no cookies after closing the browser. It prevents any possibility of your being tracked in terms of the cookies used between two consecutive browsing sessions, and stipulates that you authenticate again to any websites on which your account exists.

By blocking 3rd party cookies also, you are resorting to anti-tracking again. This is because only such websites that you currently visit are permitted to preserve cookies in your browser and the action won’t be allowed to any 3rd party services. When you enable such an option, there will of course, be no impact on session cookies but this again could vary on the way the browser is used.

Most browsers, moreover, currently have a private window feature. Any cookie stored by a browsed website which has used this feature gets deleted upon the closure of the window. Moreover, if the website was previously visited in the “normal” mode and stored some cookies in your own browser, it won’t get to access them when visited back through the private mode.

This ensures that you don’t unnecessarily meddle with the cookies of others when using their respective browsers for any search or as a fast workaround. This works particularly when you have to visit a website but intend not to allow it to access or store any cookies.

How to Clear Cookies on Chrome Browser

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More More and then Settings.
  3. At the bottom, click Advanced.
  4. Under “Privacy and security,” click Content settings.
  5. Click Cookies.
  6. Under “All cookies and site data,” click Remove all.
  7. Confirm by clicking Clear all.

How to Clear Cookies on Mozilla FireFox

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu , choose History, and then Clear Recent History….
  2. Set Time range to clear to Everything.
  3. Click on the arrow next to Details to expand the list of history items.
  4. Select Cookies and make sure that other items you want to keep are not selected.
  5. Click Clear Now to clear the cookies and close the Clear Recent History window.

How to Clear Cookies on Microsoft Edge

  1. In Microsoft Edge, go to More  > Settings .
  2. Under Clear browsing data, select Choose what to clear.
  3. Check the boxes next to any data type you’d like to clear, then select Clear.
  4. If you’d like, turn on the setting below the check boxes to Always clear this when I close the browser.

How to Clear Cookies on Safari Browser

  1. Click Safari in the upper left hand side of your screen. In the menu that appears, click Preferences.
  2. In the window that appears, click the Privacy tab. Click the button Remove All Website Data.
  3. Click Remove Now in the pop up window that appears.

Third-Party Plugins for Cookie Management

Then again, certain browsers propose plugins to allow fine-graining cookie usage. A sterling example is the Self-Destructing Cookies of Firefox. It automatically deletes the cookies after a certain time span after the associated tab is closed. Moreover, it also deletes all cookies after the browser has been inactive for a while and needs re-authentication.  

What Are Browser Cookies and How to Clean Them?

The moot point is that cookie cleaning is required to maintain privacy and to enhance browser speed. It frees the computer of unnecessary clutter and helps your computer operate efficiently. It could either be automatic or manual and a combination.

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