Cookies comprise a small piece of data stored on a user's computer or device by a web browser while the user is browsing a website. Cookies are designed to remember information about the user, such as login credentials, language preferences, items added to a shopping cart, or other user-specific data. This information helps enhance the user experience by allowing websites to tailor content and functionality based on the user's previous interactions with the site.
Cookies serve several purposes, including:
1. Authentication: Cookies enable websites to identify and authenticate users, allowing them to maintain a user's logged-in state across different pages or sessions.
2. Preferences: Cookies can store user preferences, such as language settings or display preferences, to provide a personalised browsing experience.
3. Session management: Cookies help manage user sessions by tracking their activities on a website, such as items added to a shopping cart, pages visited, or form inputs.
4. Analytics and tracking: Cookies allow website owners to collect data on user behaviour and site usage, enabling them to optimise website performance, improve content, and target advertising more effectively.
There are two main types of cookies: session cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies are temporary and are deleted when a user closes their browser, while persistent cookies remain on the user's device for a specified period or until they are manually deleted.
It is important to note that cookies can also raise privacy concerns, as they can be used by websites to track users' online activities and collect data about their browsing habits.