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What do you really know about...cookies?

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Disclaimer: This post is about internet and browser cookies. If you clicked this link in the hope we'd be discussing chocolate chip cookies, feel free to check out the incredible true story of their invention here. It's actually a very interesting read.

When you visit a website for the first time, a notification will appear letting you know that the site uses cookies (providing the site is following the law). You have probably dismissed lots of these messages without reading them - but what are cookies, and what do they do?

What are cookies?

Cookies are essentially little text files. They contain information like the language you want to view a website in, if you're logged in or not, even which links you clicked on and how long you visited a page for. They don't collect personal data, or anything that can identify you outside of a visitor to the website - so no photos, contact information or login information.

How do they work?

When you visit a website, the cookie is moved from your browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox, for example) onto your computer's hard drive. Things you click on while using the website, and any changes you've made to the website (like the language, or how you view the site) are all held by the cookie.

When you type a web address into your browser, the website checks your computer for any existing cookies for that site. This is how Amazon knows what you kept in your basket, for example. Cookies for different sites do different things depending on what the owners of the website have asked it to do, and some cookies do multiple things.

Are cookies good or bad?

Cookies aren't good or bad, just as a hammer or a stapler or a half empty tube of superglue aren't good or bad. They each exist to fulfill a purpose, it's the morality of the one wielding them that you need to be wary of. We need cookies to use the internet; a lot of websites won't work without them. First and foremost they exist to make browsing the web easier for us.

However, cookies do serve organisations as well as users. Big companies like Google and Facebook can afford to offer their services for free because of the amount of valuable data they gather about your browsing habits. Their cookies, known as tracking cookies, collect information about how you use the internet, what sites you visit and your interests to create an anonymous profile of you.

This profile is then sold to advertisers and other companies, who can then target very specific groups of people with their adverts. This way they aren't wasting money on trying to sell ice to Eskimos. That's also why if you were looking at flights to Germany, for example, it might show you advertisements for German speaking lessons. Without cookies you would still see adverts, but they would be random.

So how do I know what information is being collecting?

When you're on the internet, you leave a digital footprint. How comprehensive this footprint is just depends on how much you go online, and how much of your information you have uploaded yourself. Facebook, for example, has much more comprehensive data about you from your profile and statuses than it could ever hope to gain from using cookies.

Ultimately, there is no way to know what information Google or Facebook or any business have about you, or exactly what they're doing with it beyond targeted advertising. There's no telling how accurate their data is either - any and every link clicked on your device becomes part of your profile. It cannot distinguish what has been clicked accidentally or who is using the device.

There are apps available for your browser which enable you to see who is monitoring your clicks. They let you pick and choose which cookies you are finding helpful, and which you'd rather block. It's also possible to edit cookie settings on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Firefox to do this. You can also use in-private or incognito browsing to ensure that all cookies are deleted after you've closed the pages.

Can we panic now?!

You can, but you shouldn't! Although there is potential for this data to be misused, cookies are for the most part used responsibly and with us in mind. We could throw all our internet connected devices out of the window, but it seems like an extreme reaction to Amazon recommending books that you might like.

If you are worried about how accurate their information is, and are still tempted to go into hiding, Google something random like ''aboriginal tribal chants'' every so often. That should mess with their analytics.

The Transcendit Way

Transcendit understand that when you choose to work with us, whether we're taking care of your IT, app or web development, you're trusting us with part of your business. So whether we're looking after your computers, phone systems or servers we always do things 'the Transcendit way'.

The whole of our team adhere to the same values, beliefs and policies - the principles that were written when Transcendit first formed in 2000. Whether you come to us for cloud services or recovery backup you can be confident that you'll always receive the same excellent service.

The Transcendit way outlines how we do business; following the same straightforward principles with every client and customer, regardless of how big or small they may be.

That means we get to know you and your business. We offer you a friendly, professional and efficient service, and we'll always be honest with you.
We understand that not everybody speaks fluent IT, so we try to explain things in a way that is simple and clear. We always spend as much time as is necessary explaining things to you.
If you need to talk to us about something, no matter how insignificant, we are only ever a phone call away – and we’re never too busy to make you a cup of tea and have a sit down with you in person.
We understand how frustrating it can be when things are late. When we schedule an appointment with you, we are there when you’re expecting us. If something prevents us from getting there, we always call you in advance to let you know.
Sometimes things can go wrong, but we never lie to you or try to cover something up. If things go askew we tell you what’s happened and how we plan to prevent it affecting your business.
We want you to continuously benefit from working with us. We regularly discuss your business and make suggestions for improving systems and processes wherever we can – but we never try to push you into a purchase.
When we quote a fixed price, that's always the amount we charge – you won’t find any nasty surprises on a bill from us. If you are paying by time and materials, we inform you if our approximations could change.
We understand the importance of privacy for your business and your customers. We respect the confidentiality of your data, and we will never pass on your information to third parties.
We appreciate it when you take the time to give us feedback. A system called CustomerSure records our client's responses, so you can trust that our reviews are from real people.
Find out what they're saying here.
Paul is always more than helpful...we'd be lost without him! Angela Fenwick, Streetwise

Based on 11207 reviews our customers rate us 9.8/10. Reviews and ratings by Customersure. 17-January-2024

Transcendit are proud sponsors of CHUF, the Children's Heart Unit Fund.

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