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Cookies are tiny text files that are saved to your computer when you visit a web site.
Cookies are used to store small amounts of specific information to your computer, such as your password for a website. They're most commonly used to track website activity. When you visit some websites, the site sends you a cookie that acts like an identity card. Upon each return visit to the site, your browser sends this cookie back to the website. This allows the owner of the site to find out which pages are the most popular and which pages are attracting the most repeat visits.
Cookies are also used to store user preferences. This allows you to personalise some web pages, e.g. change the colour or "theme" of a page (see iGoogle for a good example of this). When you save preferences to a site, the website places this information into a cookie. When you return, the website uses the information in the cookie to create a customised page for you.
Cookies are also used for on-line shopping. Online stores often use them to store any personal information you enter, as well as any items in your shopping cart, so you don't need to re-enter this information every time you visit the site.
Finally, and most controversially, cookies can also be used to collect demographic information.
No. A cookie is a text file, so cannot contain a virus. Cookies can only be read by the site that sent them to you. Cookies cannot access any other information on your computer.
Most modern browsers allow you to turn cookies on or off. If you disable cookies in your browser, you might have difficulty using some of the University's websites. To find out how to enable or diable cookies in your browser, please click on the relevant link:
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