A very vital part of the internet technology is Cookies. We get to hear about the cookies everywhere, starting from a small website to large corporate websites, whether it’s your own home pc or a company’s server, cookies are used in them for browsing the internet.
Let’s have a look at the formal definition, the formal definition says that it is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing.
It can be defined as storing data in your pc when you are browsing across the web so that when you are opening that page again, the page will be already having your data and it can help the website, give you the best user experience while browsing it again.
Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as to record the user’s browsing activity, including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers.
There are numerous advantages of using cookies. Let’s discuss that first so that you can get a clear idea of the working and advantages of cookies:
- Cookies are simple to use and implement.
- Occupies less memory, do not require any server resources and are stored on the user’s computer so no extra burden on the server.
- We can configure cookies to expire when the browser session ends (session cookies) or they can exist for a specified length of time on the client’s computer (persistent cookies).
- Cookies persist a much longer period of time than Session state.
- Increases the speed at which the site loads.
- Transparent: Cookies work transparently without the user being aware that information needs to be stored.
These are the advantages of using the cookies, but well, well, well, nothing comes with only advantages. Every coin has two sides, so even with the cookies, Let’s list some of the disadvantages of using cookies too:
- Sometimes clients disable cookies on their browsers in response to security or privacy worries which will cause problem for web applications that require them.
- Most browsers restrict the number of cookies that can be set by a single domain to not more than20 cookies (except Internet Explorer). If you attempt to set more than 20 cookies, the oldest cookies are automatically deleted. So there’s an issue of data loss too.
- Cookies will not work if the security level is set to high in the browser.
- Users can delete cookies, so the user is the king in this case.
- Complex type of data not allowed (e.g. dataset etc.). It allows only plain text (i.e. cookie allows only string content).
- SESSION MANAGEMENT: It is used for the session management tasks, which includes maintaining logs of the users being stable on that particular website.
- PERSONALIZATION: Cookies can be used to remember information about the user in order to show relevant content to that user over time. For example, a web server might send a cookie containing the username last used to log into a website so that it may be filled in automatically the next time the user logs in.
- TRACKING: Tracking cookies are used to track users’ web browsing habits.
So this should give you a brief idea about the web cookies and how they work.