What is a cookie?

Many websites you visit use cookies to improve your user experience by enabling that website to remember you, for the duration of your visit (session cookies) or repeat visits (persistent cookies).

Cookies do different jobs, like letting you go between pages efficiently, saving your preferences, and generally improving the user experience of the website. Cookies make your interaction with the website faster and easier. If a website doesn’t use cookies, it will think you are a new visitor every time you move to a new page on the site – for example, when you enter your login details and move to another page it won’t recognise you and it won’t be able to keep you logged in.

Some websites also use cookies to enable them to target advertising and marketing messages based on things like your location and/or browsing habits.

Cookies may be set by the website you are visiting (first-party cookies) or they may be set by another website that runs content on the page you are looking at (third-party cookies).

What is in a cookie?

A cookie is a text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device by a website’s server and only that server will be able to retrieve or read the contents. Each cookie is unique to your web browser. It will contain some anonymous information such as a unique identifier and the site name and some digits and numbers. It allows the website to remember your preferences or what’s in your shopping basket.

What to do if you don’t want cookies to be set?

Some people find the idea of a website storing information on their computer or mobile device unappealing, particularly when this information is stored and used by a third party without you knowing. This is generally quite harmless you may not, for example, want to see targeted advertising. If you prefer, it is possible to block cookies or even delete cookies that have already been set; but you need to be aware that you might lose some functions of that website.