About Cookies

Web sites store "cookies" on your computer to keep track of information about your activity on the site. A cookie is a small text file stored by a web site on your computer to keep track of information about your browsing on that site. If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, your cookies are kept as individual files in a folder named "Cookies", often found in the "Documents and Settings" folder, If you use Mozilla Firefox, your cookies are stored in a text file named "cookies", often found in the "Firefox/Profiles" folder. Some of the reasons web sites use cookies are described below:

Customization

Some sites use cookies to record your surfing patterns, and then optimize the information the site subsequently presents. For example, a search site may present you with advertising that reflects your interests based on the keywords you search for.

Distribution

One of the key reasons web sites use cookies is to distribute the information storage. A cookie takes up a small amount of space on an individual computer, but would take up a very large amount of space if they all had to be stored back on a web site's server.

Security

If a cookie was stored on a web site, then it can be accessed by anyone with access to that web site. However, when the cookie is stored on your computer, then it can't be accessed by hackers that break into the web site.

Privacy

If a cookie was stored on a web site, then you would have to identify yourself somehow so the site would know which cookie to give you. But when the cookie is stored on your computer, then the web site simply uses whatever cookie it finds without requiring disclosure of your identity.

How to find and control your cookies

If you're using Netscape 6.0:
On your Task Bar, click:
1. Edit, then
2. Preferences
3. Click on Advanced
4. Click on Cookies

If you're using Internet Explorer 6.0:
1. Choose Tools, then
2. Internet Options
3. Click the Privacy Tab
4. Click on Custom Level
5. Click on the 'Advanced' button
6. Check the 'override automatic cookie handing' box and select Accept, Block or Prompt for action as appropriate.

If you're using Internet Explorer 5.0 or 5.5:
1. Choose Tools, then
2. Internet Options
3. Click the Security tab
4. Click on Custom Level
5. Scroll down to the sixth option to see how cookies are handled by IE5 and change to Accept, Disable, or Prompt for action as appropriate.

If you're using Internet Explorer 4.0:
1. Choose View, then
2. Internet Options
3. Click the Advanced tab
4. Scroll down to the yellow exclamation icon under Security and choose one of the three options to regulate your use of cookies.

In Internet Explorer 3.0:
You can View, Options, Advanced, then click on the button that says Warn before Accepting Cookies.

If you're using Netscape Communicator 4.0:
On your Task Bar, click:
1. Edit, then
2. Preferences
3. Click on Advanced
4. Set your options in the box that says Cookies.

How do you know which of the sites you've visited use cookies?

If you're using Netscape 6.0:
On your Task Bar, click:
1. Edit, then
2. Preferences
3. Click on Advanced
4. Click on Cookies
5. Click the View Cookies button

If you're using Internet Explorer 5.0 or 6.0:
1. Choose Tools, then
2. Internet Options
3. Click the General tab
4. Click Settings
5. View Files

If you're using Internet Explorer 4.0:
On your Task Bar, click:
1. View, then
2. Internet Options
3. Under the tab General (the default tab) click
4. Settings
5. View Files.

Internet Explorer 3.0:
On your Task Bar, click:
1. View
2. Options
3. Advanced
4. View Files.

Netscape Communicator 4.0:
Netscape bundles all cookies into one file on your hard drive. You'll need to find the file, which it calls Cookie.txt on Windows machines.

How to see your cookie code

Just click on a cookie to open it. You'll see a short string of text and numbers. The numbers are your identification card, which can only be seen by the server that gave you the cookie.

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