What are cookies? How they are used

What are cookies? How they are used

Probably everyone has seen it before when visiting a website: the question about cookies. Some accept them without thinking while others reject them, but what are cookies?

Many Internet users don't know the answer to the question "What are cookies?" This article explains what cookies are, how they work and what happens when you agree to them. Here you can learn all about the cookies on the World Wide Web, which are actually not cookies at all!

What are cookies and what happens when I accept cookies?

Anyone visiting a website is quickly faced with an initial decision: Accept cookies or not? Many people don't even know what cookies are, so it's hard to make an informed decision here. The display is often perceived as annoying, so that Internet users sometimes simply press "Accept" without giving the issue any further thought. However, one's own data is a valuable asset, so the question "What are cookies?" cannot be ignored.

Basically, the question "What are cookies?" is answered quickly: Cookies are stored on the user's device or browser. They can linger there for quite a long time and collect information about browsing and purchasing behavior on the Internet.

What exactly are cookies?

More specifically, cookies are small text files that are stored on users' computers or browsers when they visit a website. They are then sent back to the server when a user visits the same website again.

In this regard, they often have a positive impact on the browsing experience - for example, the data collected with cookies can help to implement online purchase transactions in shopping carts, store passwords for the next log-in or user preferences for faster check-out. In this respect, cookies are very practical and save users from having to constantly dig out their password.

But what are cookies and what other purpose do they serve? They are mainly used in online marketing and are used here to analyze the behavior of users. Since May 2018, the EU General Data Protection Regulation applies to all countries in the European Union. Due to increasing digitalization and the many data protection scandals, the topic gained public interest so that users' data should be protected and more privacy should be ensured on the Internet. The guidelines of the EU GDPR therefore provide that users must expressly agree to the storage of personal data or cookies. This is the reason why you constantly see such messages while surfing the web.

When answering the question "What are cookies?" it is necessary to mention that they have an expiration date. Furthermore, they have a randomly generated unique ID, which consists of numbers. This is the only way that a user can be recognized when he calls up a website a second time.

What are third-party cookies? What are tracking cookies?

When answering the question "What are cookies?" it must also be noted that there are different types of cookies. A distinction is made between technically necessary and technically unnecessary cookies or tracking cookies.

What are cookies that are technically necessary? They are needed so that a website can provide certain functions. They are often cookies for handling purchase processes in the shopping cart.  Cookies that save user settings also fall into this category. These are referred to as session cookies. Cookies that are also necessary are those that are set by integrated payment providers. They are necessary for the processing of an online payment.

But what are technically unnecessary cookies? They do not only serve the functionality of a website, but also collect other information in addition to the necessary data. These are mostly analysis and marketing cookies. They are used to research the browsing behavior of users. They are usually integrated by third-party sites.

What are cookies that are not technically necessary and which are included?

The following should be mentioned:

· Marketing cookies (tracking cookies)
· Statistics cookies
· Social media cookies
· Cookies from scalable central measurement methods
· Cookies from video embedding applications

What are cookies and what are the ways to avoid them?

There are many people who do not want third-party cookies to be collected. But what are methods to avoid the collection of cookies for marketing and other purposes?

First of all, users should know that they can decide for themselves which cookies are collected and which are not. There are various options for this in the window that is displayed when a website is called up. However, it happens again and again that users accidentally click the wrong button or do not immediately find the desired setting. A different, permanent solution is therefore needed.

There are some tools that users can install in their browser to avoid cookies. However, you should be careful, as you should only download tools you trust.

Corresponding settings can also be made directly in the search engine. However, this is not fully possible with every search engine. However, you can simply check if private browsing mode is an option in the search engine used. Hence the trend towards anonymous search engines. There is no tracking here, nor is data collected from users. If you want to avoid cookies effectively, you should use a corresponding data-secure search engine for browsing the web.

Conclusion: What are cookies on the Internet and how do I deal with them?

In conclusion, in answering question "What are cookies?" it can be said: Cookies are not always a bad thing. There are cookies that are required for you to use all the functions of a website. On the other hand, there are the third-party or marketing cookies, which are optional. Many users do not consent to the collection of personal data. If you do not want to deal with accepting or rejecting cookies every single time, you should opt for an alternative search engine.