Web Services HOME

cookies: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a cookie?

    "cookie" is a term used by computer scientist types to mean, simply, a small piece of information stored outside your application. The world wide web uses cookies to keep track of your actions within a web site. For example, in the case of the Showcase Online Catalog this means maintaining a list of items you wish to purchase, and keeping track of who you are after you login.
  2. How do I make my browser accept cookies?

    You are using Mozilla/4.08 (Macintosh; U; PPC, Nav), but instructions for all the browsers we know of are listed below (note: "Mozilla" means "Netscape" while "Mozilla Compatible" means "Microsoft Internet Explorer." the reason why is rather a long story).

    If you use Netscape Navigator 4.x:

    1. From the "Edit" menu, select "Preferences."
    2. In the "Category" list on the left, click on "Advanced."
    3. Check the "Accept all cookies" or "Accept only cookies that get sent back to the originating server" option. You may also wish to check "Warn me before accepting a cookie," but this can get quite annoying while surfing the web.
    4. Click on "OK" to close the dialog box.

    If you use Netscape Navigator 3.x:

    1. From the "Options" menu, select "Network Preferences."
    2. In the "Preferences" dialog box, click on the tab labeled "Protocols."
    3. Remove the check in the box for "Accepting a Cookie."
    4. Click on "OK" to close the dialog box.

    If you use Internet Explorer 4.x:

    1. From the "View" menu, select "Options."
    2. In the dialog box, click on the tab labeled "Advanced."
    3. Choose "Always Accept" or "Prompt Before Accepting" option. The latter option can get rather annoying when surfing the web.
    4. Click on "OK" to close the dialog box.

    If you use Internet Explorer 3.x:

    1. From the "View" menu, select "Options."
    2. In the dialog box, click on the tab labeled "Advanced."
    3. Remove the check in the box for "Warn before accepting cookies."
    4. Click on "OK" to close the dialog box.

    If your web browser is not listed here:

      We are not familiar with your web browser. Your best bet is to check your browser's help system for information on enabling cookies.

  3. Can cookies give my computer a virus?

    No, absolutely not. A cookie is simply a little piece of text; it is not an application, a virus, a homing device, or anything very exciting at all, actually.
  4. I heard that using cookies will let people look through my hard drive. Is this true?

    No. One common myth is that letting sites set cookies in your browser will give those sites access to your hard drive and information stored there about you. This is not true: a cookie can not read your hard drive to share personal information about you. A cookie can, however, store information that you have shared with a web server and then give that information to the same server again at a later date.
  5. Can a cookie keep track of my Internet usage?

    "As with everything else about the Internet, you are only as anonymous as you want to be. The sad truth is that revealing any kind of personal information opens the door for that information to be spread. The very nature of Web servers allows for the tracking of your surfing habits alone, and other information about you can be gathered with time.

    While cookies themselves are not gathering that data, they are, unfortunately, used as a tracking device to help the people who are gathering that information. As information is gathered about you, it is associated with the value they keep in your cookie.

    To reiterate, A COOKIE ALONE CANNOT READ YOUR HARD DRIVE TO FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOUR INCOME IS, OR WHERE YOU LIVE. The only way that information could end up in a cookie is if YOU provide it to a site and that site saves it to a cookie.

    The never-ending ethical debate associated with these facts shall be left to other forums. However, it is wise to consider carefully the information you collect and share over the Internet."

    quoted from: http://www.cookiecentral.com/


    Home Services Projects The Web @ U-M

    w e b s e r v i c e s @ u m i c h . e d u

    Page Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Feb-2002 11:18:02 EST

    U-M Gateway | ITWeb