What is Cookies, Cache and Browsing data? Why do we clear it?

Internet has become an integral part of our life. There’s barely a day when we do not visit the virtual world of web. Yet as informative and useful it is, browsing the web sometimes turns irritating. We promptly blame the network provider for low page loading speeds, but what we do not know is that a little responsibility on our side may improve our web experience.

Personal experience and general response available points that the most common of all the terms that we come across while browsing the web are the ones misunderstood or not understood at all. Let’s talk about three such terms: –

(i) cookies
(ii) cache
(iii) browsing history

delete cookies cache stored files firefox

All of us are aware of the options available in the web settings present in our mobile phone browser or the PC browser, which is, allow/disable cookies. We usually hit on disable cookies, but do we actually know what cookies are? Let’s get an idea about that.

A COOKIE is nothing but a piece of information that is stored by a website on your computer, once you visit it. A piece of information that helps a website keep track of whether you’ve earlier visited the same website, or in the case of sites, where you’ve to sign up as a member (e.g. -Amazon, Facebook, etc). It helps the site keep a track of how many times have you logged in.

Now, since the disable cookies option is available, therefore there must be an underlining concern that directs you to disable cookies. Actually, the only problem cookies can turn up with is TRACKING. Suppose a particular website has a third-party advertising on it.

As soon as you visit the website, the advertising party leaves a cookie of its own on your computer. This cookie will then keep a track of how many times you exactly visit that particular website. Thus, the advertising agency gets an idea of how productive advertising on that site is turning out to be. Even then, using the third party cookie to specifically track your activity is very difficult. Such cookies are meant to give a collective data, a collective visitor number on a particular site by tracking individual visits.

Thus, using a cookie to individually track your operations on the net is very difficult and is worthless. Hence, cookies are not a privacy concern but more of a tool to use you as an advertising profit surveyor.

Similar to the cookie is the CACHE. We have the ‘CLEAR THE CACHE’ option available in our web settings, but what actually is cache? When a browser loads a web page, it tries it’s best to cut down on page loading time. Each web page is made up of hundreds and thousands of files. Websites specially designed for faster loading also require loading of numerous files at one go.

A significant part of files are loaded fresh from the server. Yet at the same time, the browser also stores little bits of the site exclusively known as CACHE. This cache ensures that the next time you visit that website, some part of it is directly loaded from the cache of your browser collected last time. This significantly lessens page loading time.

However, the problem with cache is that websites continuously update their pages. Thus, if you visit a website after a long time, you may see the CACHED pages which of course are older because their updated and present versions have not been loaded from the server but simply displayed by your browser when it stored those pages, the first time you visited the website. Hence, to avoid such problem you should regularly CLEAR THE CACHE.

Lastly, we talk about BROWSING HISTORY or BROWSING DATA. Clearing your browsing history is very important because any other individual can easily have a look at the websites you visited. If you are visiting a website that holds sensitive or confidential content, then you would not want anyone in your family (especially children) or friends to have a look at it.

The most lethal danger is that if you leave a website like Facebook, Orkut, Google+ or even your banking website LOGGED IN and it is listed in the history then anyone can easily misuse your social networking page to tarnish your image, perform cybercrime or leave your bank account empty.  Hence, to avoid detection of your browsing activity you should always clear or disable BROWSING HISTORY or BROWSING DATA.

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Topics:  Browser