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Galaxynet :: All About Cookies

Cookies store information or "session information" on the client's (your) computer. Cookies are completely safe, and will not compromise your computer or privacy.

Netscape Communications says, "Cookies are a general mechanism which server side connections (such as CGI scripts) can use to both store and retrieve information on the client side of the connection. The addition of a simple, persistent, client-side state significantly extends the capabilities of Web-based client/server applications.

A server, when returning an HTTP object to a client, may also send a piece of state information which the client will store. Included in that state object is a description of the range of URLs for which that state is valid. Any future HTTP requests made by the client which fall in that range will include a transmittal of the current value of the state object from the client back to the server. The state object is called a cookie, for no compelling reason.

This simple mechanism provides a powerful new tool which enables a host of new types of applications to be written for web-based environments. Shopping applications can now store information about the currently selected items, for fee services can send back registration information and free the client from retyping a user-id on next connection, sites can store per-user preferences on the client, and have the client supply those preferences every time that site is connected to."

What the heck did they say? Are you still lost? Let us try to put it into human terms for you. Internet Web Servers now have (and have had for a long time) the ability to save customized settings for a web site on a person-by-person basis. These preferences are stored on your computer as a small file, called a cookie. A cookie's file size is limited to only 4k, or 4000 bytes.

Cookies are used for many things; whether to display a page with frames or text only, personal color preferences, shopping cart selections, your name, a user name and password, an account number for those sites that charge for viewing -- the possibilities are endless. Anytime personal data needs to be saved it can be saved as a cookie.

Imagine how hard it would be to keep preferences for every browser that has ever visited Microsoft's web site. Such a thing couldn't be done. If the preferences had to be kept on Microsoft's server, it would amount to trillions of kilobytes of data. A much better way to do this is for each browser to keep their own preferences. That's what cookies do.

Web Browsers set aside a small amount of space on your hard drive to keep these preferences, then every time you visit a website your browser checks to see if you have any predefined preferences (cookies) for that server. If you do, it sends the cookie to the server along with the request for a web page.

A browser will not give up it's cookie data to any server except the one that set it. If your browser went around spewing all it's cookies to every site you hit this would be a security risk, and would make cookies worthless.

Cookies cannot be used to get a persons e-mail address. Cookies can save the e-mail address after you type it into a web form through your browser, but they can't get anything. A cookie is just a holder.

So, if you're having difficulty accessing a section of our web site, try turning turning your cookies on in your browser, and try again. All access problems should go away when you do.