What is a Cookie?

A cookie is a text string that is included with Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests and responses. Cookies are used to maintain state information as you navigate different pages on a Web site or return to the Web site at a later time.
Cookies cannot be used to execute code (run programs) or deliver viruses to your computer.


One of the primary purposes of cookies is to provide a convenience feature that you can use to save time. The purpose of a cookie is to tell the Web server that you have returned to a specific Web page. For example, if you personalize Web pages, or register for products or services, a cookie helps the Web page server to recall your specific information. This may be useful to simplify the process of recording your personal information, such as billing addresses, shipping addresses, and so on. When you visit the same Web site, the information you previously provided can be retrieved, so you can easily use the Web site features that you previously chose. For example:

  • If you previously entered billing or shipping information for a purchase from a Web site, you may be able to use a password to automatically enter your information on an order form instead of having to enter this information again.
  • A cookie can indicate that you previously selected one or more areas of interest you want to see each time you visit a Web site. For example, if you want to view only some types of news, you might select some types of news topics to view on a news-related Web site.

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