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 "How to Manage Your Internet Cookies for Smooth, Safe Surfing"


There are many rumors about what Internet cookies can do, causing much concern and even frightening many internet users, but, without them, much of your web browsing and Internet activities would be a lot more tedious and less pleasant.

For example – do your favorite websites keep forgetting your name and password?

Do you constantly have to reset your preferences? Because a website "remembers" you by the "cookies" it leaves on your hard drive, if you were to delete all your cookies, websites could no longer recognize your computer and they would "forget" your preferences, name and other options.

When you understand a little more about cookies, it'll be a lot easier to Manage Your Cookies for Smooth, Safe Surfing

Here’s how Internet cookies work –

Each website you visit deposits a tiny identifying file (a cookie) onto your hard drive. Some sites give you another cookie every time you visit them. Websites use these cookies to remember you. (Any computer, PC and Mac that uses a modern and/or web browser can receive cookies.)

No doubt you have seen warnings to delete all cookies regularly. That isn’t necessarily
the best advice, however, because when you remove ALL cookies, you lose the good cookies with the bad.

Every time you log onto a website, it looks up your cookies, sets up your preferences, perhaps even logs you in. Your chosen options are ready to use as soon as you connect and your web page always looks familiar.

In addition to the cookie you collect when you enter a site, you’ll receive another one when you fill out an online form or register for something with your email address and name.

A data base at the web server stores your preferences. On your own computer, you see only a short text file named something like: "jones@jskdlf[1].txt". The content of a cookie file resembles a couple of lines of jumbled numbers and letters. To the web server’s data base, this is the link to their record of your previously submitted information.

How to manage your cookies

One of the less admirable uses of cookies, and one that is causing a lot of controversy, is their use for tracking the browsing and buying habits of individual web users. On a single web site or a group of web sites, cookies can be used to see what web pages you visit and how often you visit them.

This information is also in the server's log files and so the use of a cookie here does not increase a server's ability to track you, it just makes it easier to flood us with individually targeted advertising and other popups.

Deleting everything in your Cookies deletes the useful cookies, too. You then lose functionality that you may have come to rely on.

There is a hard way and an easy way to delete unwanted cookies while keeping the helpful ones.

1. The hard way to manage cookies

Go to your Cookies folder. Look at the name of each file; is it a website that you use all the time? Then let it be. If the name is unfamiliar, should you delete it? You can never score 100% on this test. You will still delete some useful cookies. Even worse, using this method, you will likely repeat the same mistakes on your next purge.

If you are adept at computers, you can open these files and gain slightly more information from them, especially one with a meaningless name like: "jones@jskdlf[1].txt". Opening this one might show the word "Google" in the encoded string. Since the text reveals no more than that, you should assume nothing more. (this one might set preferences within a personalized Google Homepage). It’s not unusual to have several cookies from the same site, numbered [1], [2], etc.

2. The easy way to manage cookies

Use one of the free cookie management programs. WinPatrol is an excellent choice. Its free version is exceptionally good for managing cookies, and it is fun to use.

This cookie manager lists your cookies alongside check boxes. Recognize a cookie as one to keep? Set a check in its box. When you have gone through all the cookies, you can delete all the unchecked ones with a single click. There are usually dozens of cookies, so review a bunch of them, take a break and come back later to remove some more.

Next time, you will have a base on which to build since all the checked cookies were previously removed. Now you are only making decisions on the new, unchecked, cookies. Each time you do this you refine your results.

How to recover from deleting a good cookie

Suppose after cleaning up your Cookie folder, JSKDLF.INFO no longer logs you in automatically; here is your recovery plan:

At the JSKDLF.INFO website, set up your login again. Then close your browser. Open your Cookies folder immediately to look for any cookies bearing the name JSKDLF
(e.g., "jones@jskdlf[1].txt".) and make a note to keep those. Now test the site; does it log you in again automatically?

Using a cookie management software program, the procedure is the same except that
the software opens the Cookie folder for you. Then a simple check mark saves the cookie.

Among the important facts about cookies - Your computer collects "good" cookies that make your internet experience smoother and "bad" cookies that may spy on you. Now, if cookies are causing problems for you, you know how to handle your “Cookies” with a lot more confidence.


                                                                               ... Richard Rossbauer

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Richard started his "Firewalls and Virus Protection" website and "Security Alert News Reporter" to help everyday Internet users navigate safely through the Cyber Space that has become a 'Cyber Jungle', loaded with ambushes and booby traps. He promotes his "Computer Security Awareness Campaign" thru his website at http://www.firewalls-and-virus-protection.com
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