Internet Cookies: Love 'em or Lose 'em?

by hmiller 30. October 2009 20:22

What Are Internet Cookies?

An Internet cookie is a text file that a website saves to your hard drive when you visit their site. This is helpful for websites to get an accurate representation of how many different people visit their site and how often. They can also make polls and surveys and ensure that no one is voting more than once.

It's also helpful to the visitor, for example, who want to save preferences. For example, if you like to check the weather and you enter your zip code, a cookie on your computer will notify the website that it's you that's looking at the webpage. They can automatically load the website with your location information in place. You don't have to reenter your zip code!

Here's another example of how cookies help you. If you check your email or log in to any other website, you can check to save your user name on your computer and it will be entered for you the next time you visit. Conveniences like shopping carts on online stores would not be possible without cookies. For many types of basic browsing and Internet uses, cookies are helpful and necessary.

How Internet Cookies Affect You

Since website store information about your searches, browsing practices, and purchases, it can be questionable whether cookies are really doing you a favor. Should you allow these website to gather this somewhat personal information? Well, for one thing, you are still anonymous. A cookie will just identify you as a string of letters and numbers. The only information it has is what you give it. For example, if you add your name and email address onto the website to register for their services, you are volunteering this extra information. Furthermore, if you use a free email account and a phone name, they still don't really know anything about you.

The worst thing that could happen from cookies having your information, or from registering your name and email on a website is that you might start getting unwanted email advertising. Unless you are a very private or overly cautious person, you will not suffer from allowing the websites you visit to store cookies on your computer.

Recommended Privacy Settings

There are differing options on what would be the best way to handle cookies. There are always going to be a few conspiracy theories going around about how terrible and unsafe the Internet is. The truth is that prominent Internet websites from reputable companies will often have a privacy policy to protect your information and only use it for their own marketing purposes (like recommending items similar to those you searched for or bought). ISP's and Internet browsers like Internet Explorer are constantly looking for ways to keep you safe and often block or warn you about harmful website. Most of the time, if you just use the default setting to handle your cookies, you will be safe and be able to use the Internet as you please.

There are two extremes when it comes to handling cookies. For example, you might be advised to not allow any cookies other than the ones from trusted sites whose privacy policy promises not to sell your personal information, and delete all your cookies once day/week/month, etc. This might sound like a great idea, but it is a lot of work, and, as mentioned in the previous section, is not really necessary unless you are overly concerned about your privacy. Furthermore, any time you begin placing stricter guards on your Internet surfing, you risk causing some features not to work properly, for example:

* If you don't allow session cookies, you might not be able to stay logged into your email long enough to finish writing your message and lose your content when you click send.

* If you block all cookies from incoming websites, some perfectly safe websites will not be able to load certain functions, or may not load at all. If you get a message on your browser saying that something like "this page cannot load because you are not accepting cookies", it means you must either add the site to your safe list or lower your cookies restrictions if you want that site to load.

*If you constantly delete cookies, websites will not be able to save log in information and preferences.

The other extreme to the recommendations for your Internet privacy is to allow all and every cookies, both first and third party cookies. This is not necessarily bad for you, because your safely on the Internet often correlates directly with what websites you go to. If you only surf on secure websites and only do basic browsing, like surfing, banking, and reading news, etc., you might never have any problems with privacy infringement. Sometimes, allowing all cookies, or deleting all your stored cookies is recommended by computer technicians if you are having problems viewing webpages because this is the easiest way to ensure that your browser settings or stored information is not causing the problem.

The best cookie settings depends on you and your surfing habits. For most users, leaving the cookies at the default settings and occasionally clearing all temporary Internet files is the best recommendation.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles!

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Protecting Your Privacy: Handing Internet Cookies

by hmiller 29. October 2009 19:26

Internet cookies are often misunderstood as wretched little monsters that attach themselves to your computer so Internet hackers can spy on you! Thankfully this is not the case. A cookie is just a text file sent to your computer that saves basic information about you so the next time you visit the same website, it can retrieve the cookie from the website and recognize you as a returning visitor.

The idea of a website placing something on your hard drive to get information from you can sound a little scary. Some very private people have no interest in being recognized upon returning to a website and see this as an invasion to their privacy, regardless of the benefit that it could be to them. Usually, a cookie is only an identification method meant to benefit you, much like a person who runs a general store in a small town can be more helpful because he or she knows many of the customers and their preferences.

Sometimes, cookies also save information about the pages you visited, the searches you performed, and the items you bought while on a website. For example, an online store like Amazon noted that you often buy or search for books from the romance genre and would use this information to recommend other romance books when you visit the site again. This is a marketing tactic, but is still helpful to the customers.

The information that a website can gather from tracking the habits of its customers could become invasive. They could (and some do) sell their information (like shopping or surfing habits) and their email addresses to third parties, so they can send soliciting emails, or spam to your inbox based on searches or purchases you have made.

The following are a few ways to control cookies if you are highly concerned about the risk of becoming spammed with advertising from other parties. Keep in mind that none of these options are recommended or necessary for your safety. Most anti-virus programs and Internet browser filters are already designed to protect you from harmful websites and spyware. Also, these options will limit your use of the Internet and some may cause certain websites not to function correctly or at all.

* Check the privacy policy in the terms of service on websites you visit. Many reputable websites have privacy policies saying they will not sell your information to third parties. If this is the case, they should be safe to visit and allow any cookies from them.

* Don't register your personal information on websites. Many website require that you register and provide your email address to use certain features on their site. If you do not want your personal email address to be spammed, you can set up free email account to use for this purpose, like Yahoo Mail or Gmail, and use a name and address other than your own. You can also simply refuse to use these sites, but this could severely limit your shopping options.

* In your Internet Options, click on the Settings button under Browsing History (or Temporary Internet Files) and click Veiw Files. You can select all or some of the cookies that are stored on your computer and view or delete them as often as you like. This will not, however, prevent websites from reassigning a cookie to you if you visit their site again.

* Under the Privacy Tab of Internet Options, you will see a slider that has different levels that handle cookies. You can raise or lower the strictness of cookie handling here, as well as manually enter a list of website that you trust from which cookies are always allowed. If, after you have made these changes, you cannot veiw a webpage, you may need to add it to your allowed list or lower your privacy settings so the website can load properly

*If you don't want to use the slider, simply click the Advanced button on the Privacy Tab of Internet Options, and check "Override automatic cookie handling". Then choose specifically how to handle different types of cookies. First party cookies are from the website and third party cookies are from other websites that the website you are visiting uses. The "Prompt" option will ask your permission on each separate occasion that a website attempts to save a cookie on your computer.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles!

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Internet Cookies: A Basic Introduction

by hmiller 28. October 2009 23:23

A cookie is a simple text file placed on your computer by websites you visit. When you revisit these sites, they retrieve the cookie information from your computer and uses it to identify you and sometimes to alter the website's display or add your preferences from a previous visit.

The information stored in a cookie is usually some sort of identification code, but sometimes includes more information about you. The following are possible because of cookies:

* Changes you make to the layout of a website, like background colors, fonts, etc., are saved for when you go back to the site.

* When you check “remember me on this computer”, your user name and password is automatically entered when you return.

* Shopping websites can remember what items you viewed, searched for, bought, or place in the shopping cart while you are on their site. They use this to make recommendations for you, etc.

* Polls and surveys remember that you have already voted and don't allow you to vote again.

* Websites that show the number of visitors to their site can keep an accurate count because they know you are a returning visitor.

The following are various ways to control the cookies saved on your computer.

Deleting Cookies

On Internet Explorer, click on Tools at the top of the page, then click Internet Options. You should automatically be directed to the General Tab. On an older version of IE, you will see the "Temporary Internet Files" heading and the button, "Delete Cookies...". Click "Delete Cookies...", then click Yes to confirm.

On IE7 or 8, you will see the "Browsing History" heading instead and a button that says "Delete...". From here, you will see a list of different Internet files that can be deleted. On IE7, you can either click "Delete Cookies" and click yes, or click "Delete All" and click Yes to clear all the Internet files. On IE8, check the box next to "Cookies", then click "Delete." If you want to deleted everything completely, even for your favorites, uncheck "Preserve Favorites website data".

Viewing Stored Cookies

Click Tools > Internet Options > General Tab from your IE window. Next to the delete buttons mentioned above is a "Settings" button. Click "Settings", then "View Files". This will show you all the cookies, files, and web images that have been saved on your computer. If you select a cookie from the list and double click it, you may get a warning message asking you if you want to continue. Click "Yes", and then you can see the text string the cookie contains.

Your can also delete all your cookies and other Internet files from here. Simply click Edit > Select All, then push the delete button on your keyboard, then click Yes.

Allowing (and Prohibiting) Cookies

From the IE browser, click Tools > Internet Options. Then click on the Privacy tab at the top. Under the "Settings" heading is a slider that has various levels of restriction from "Accept All Cookies" to "Block All Cookies". Move the slider to the setting that best suites you. To the right of the slider, there is a description of what each level will allow or block. The stricter settings may cause some websites to not function properly, so you may need to manually add the addresses of sites you approve of by clicking the "Sites" button under the slider. Click the "Default" button under the slider to set your privacy settings back to the default settings.

You can also set custom settings for your cookies by clicking on the "Advanced" button under the slider. Click "Advanced", then check "Override automatic cookie handling" to override the slider settings on the previous page. You can specify which cookies you want to allow or block. First party cookies are the cookies that are created by the website you are visiting, and third party cookies are the ones the website uses from another website. Click "Accept" or "Block" for each party, or "Prompt" if you would like to be asked permission every time a website wants to store cookie information on your computer.

Under those lists is an option to "Always allow session cookies". Check this option if you prefer not to be logged out of secure sites automatically. For example, if you keep getting kicked out of your email because you spent some time reading or composing a message, check this box to allow a website to keep you logged in even if you're idle.

Go to for more information about handling cookies and where to access the settings on other browsers.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles!

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Internet Explorer 8: New and Improved

by Hannah Miller 16. October 2009 00:45

Internet Explorer is known for having the majority of the market share for Internet browsers, and it's role as a part of the Windows operating system. Microsoft says their new browser is better than ever and worth the upgrade! Here are a few ways IE8 has improved from IE7, and why you might be interested—even if you haven't liked IE in the past.

Accelerators are a new addition to Internet Explorer. These tools save you browsing time by turning common searches into a simple right-click function. For example, highlight an address, right click on it, and choose a mapping feature to veiw a small map of the location and a link to get to directions. This saves time you would have spent opening a new window, looking up a map website, and copy/pasting the address on a mapping website, performing the search, then clicking the directions option.

You can see search results on multiple engines like Google,, and Wikipedia. Simply highlight any length of text on the web site, like “Empire State Building” for example, and right click. Accelerators will either show entries directly from the menu, or open the page of your choice in a new tab. You can jump to “Empire State Building” search results on Google, the dictionary or Wikipedia entry, or even look for books or related products on Amazon or Ebay instead of pulling up the sites individually and performing the search. There are dozens of accelerators, including shortcuts to Urban Dictionary, YouTube, and Facebook.

Another new IE8 feature is the Web Slice. It's a miniature window that is available for participating websites (indicated by the green web slice icon at the top of the page) that can be added to your favorites toolbar. For example, you bid on an Ebay item, then add a slice for that particular item, which appears in your favorites toolbar. When the slice has new information (and you can edit how often it checks), the slice title become bold so you know when someone bid on your item no matter what site you are on at the time. You can then click the slice to see a miniature page showing your item, increase the bid, or click a link to go to that page. There are also web slices for news, stocks, weather, sports, and email sites.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles! 

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Chrome: A Browser for Google Users

by Hannah Miller 16. October 2009 00:41


If you like Google for its speed and simplicity, you might be interested in their Internet browser, Chrome. Google created Chrome because they wanted to start from scratch on a browser made for today's Internet. The Internet has changed a lot since the first browsers were developed. Chrome is simple and neat, but loaded with security, speed, and functionality features.

Google acknowledges their use of features already implemented on browsers, like Firefox Safari, to design Chrome. Chrome is an open source project, meaning that other can use from their ideas as well. One of the features you'll recognize is bookmarks. You can automatically copy bookmarks or favorites from another browser and instantly save a new bookmark by clicking the star icon next to the address bar. These features are identical to those of Firefox.

Like Internet Explorer, Chrome as the option of tabbed browsing and reordering the tabs. However, Chrome allows you to drag tabs into their own windows, or drag windows to become a tab of another window. Chrome also has “Crash Control”, which lets each tab run individually to avoid shutting down the whole browser if one tab crashes.

Chrome carries Google's tradition of personalizing and simplifying tasks, using the features from the homepage and Google toolbar. When you open a new tab, for example, you will see a thumbnails of previous and often visited websites to choose from, instead of a blank page. Also, while typing in the address bar, Google suggests visited sites and popular sites, or to run a Google search on the keyword(s) you entered.

Chrome was one of the first browsers to have a private searching option. While surfing “incognito”, pages are displayed as read-only, and nothing from these sites are saved on your computer. Google Chrome also has its own task manager. Just like Windows, Chrome allows you to track usage and running processes on the browser. You can detect what add-on, tab, or other process that is using the most bandwidth and end processes separately without disrupting the other processes.

Like many browsers, Google Chrome claims to be the safest and the fastest browser. There are so many ways to test this and different factors that effect actual speed, that this is difficult to prove. In fact, Chrome could work faster for some people or websites, where Internet Explorer or another browser would be faster in another area. Regardless, there is no doubt that this browser is well made and is preferred by a small group of users.

If you just want a fast engine and don't need a bunch of buttons and toolbars, Google Chrome might be just right for you. To read more details about Chrome features or to download the latest version of Chrome, go to


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles! 

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About the author

Hannah Miller is an Online Marketing Representative for - America's best provider for Dial-Up Internet Service since 1997.

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for since 2007, which has supplemented her knowledge of dial-up, computers, and the Internet. The entries that are posted in this blog are professional articles relating to our industry. Email your questions, suggestions, and other comments to

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