What are cookies and how do we use them?

Cookies are small, often encrypted, text files which contain a string of characters. These files can be placed on a computer or mobile device and help a website to uniquely identify your browser or device.

Many people misunderstand the purpose of cookies and assume that they are viruses. The definition for a virus is: “a piece of code which is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.” but as cookies are not compiled pieces of code and cannot be executed, self-executed or copy themselves, they are not a virus.

The text files made by cookies are used to help navigate a website and perform certain functions, such as remember the items which were placed in a shopping cart. The files which form cookies are located in the browser directory and most websites use them as they are designed to help enhance the process and usability of a particular website, however cookies can be blocked.

Blocking cookies can affect the usability of a website so it’s not recommended that they’re completely disabled. Most websites have privacy settings built in which will limit what cookies are accepted by a browser and how long they are valid for before they expire. This helps to keep user data safe as cookies can be used for malicious purposes if not visiting a trusted site. If a computer has anti-spyware built in it will generate a warning if an untrusted site has been opened and will flag those cookies for removal. Trusted sites will always list what cookies are used on, or by, the site but in order to ensure that data is always secure, users should always backup their computer and delete cookies regularly.

What Do Cookies Do?

Cookies are text files which are created when a browser loads a website. These text files are designed to make the user experience more relevant and efficient when navigating between pages by understanding a user’s behaviour on a site or service.

Cookies do this by helping a user to navigate between pages efficiently by remembering their preferences. For example; if a user visited an online store and placed items in their shopping cart and then left the site, when they returned the items would still be in their basket. This is because a cookie will remember that a user has visited that site before and how they used it. The reason for cookies is vast as different cookies have different purposes for operating, but the main purpose is to improve the user experience and make everything more relevant to the user and their interests.

Types Of Cookies.

Web-pages don’t have their own memory to store information, so cookies are used to help a website remember a user’s preferences and where they got to when exploring that website, kind of like a bookmark. This makes the experience easier for the user as it means that they do not have to continuously reenter information each time they use a website. The main types of cookies are:

First-Party Cookies

These are cookies that belong to the website you are using.

Third-Party Cookies

These are cookies that another party has placed on your device through that website. Third party cookies are often used when a website owner wants to understand more about how their site is being used and will use a service which is able to track and understand this.

Session Cookies

These are cookies which are used by the server to store information on page activity by a user each session. These cookies are used so that if a user leaves a page and returns they can retrieve where they were before they left.

Persistent Cookies

These are cookies which are used to make it easier for a user to navigate by storing a user’s preferences. For example; How information is presented with the layout or theme, or the language selected by the user.

What Cookies Does Scrap Car Comparison Use?

Many websites use cookies not just on their site to regulate aesthetics, but in adverts, widgets and other elements which appear on a webpage. These cookies are trusted and are used to regulate the functions of a theme or layout. For example; if activated, a cookie can be used to store information that helps to authenticate a user when they log into a secure area so that the user doesn’t have to repeatedly log in and out.

Scrap Car Comparison uses first party cookies from wordpress and third party cookies from analytics, as well as it’s own cookies to offer the best experience to you, our visitor:

WordPress

WordPress is a ‘First Party’ cookie and we use it to run this website and further enhance the experience for users of our website. If you would like to know more about WordPress cookies you can read more at: http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Cookies

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a ‘Third-Party’ cookie which we use to see more information about the demographics of users on our website. We use this information to understand where our users come from and how they find us. We will then use this information to further develop our website to ensure that our information is always up-to-date and relevant to our users. If you would like to know more about Google Analytic cookies, you can read more at: http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/ads/#toc-analytics

For the exact names of the cookies we use and their purpose, please see our Privacy policy.

Can I Delete Cookies?

Yes, cookies can be deleted. Because cookies are transmitted back and forth between a browser and website if an unauthorised person were to get between the data transmission, sensitive cookie information could be intercepted. It’s a rare occurrence but faulty cookie settings or a user using an encrypted network or non-secure wifi channel could cause it to happen. In order to ensure that a user’s web presence is always secured it’s advised not to visit untrusted sites and that the deletion of cookies is done on a fairly regular basis.

If you want to delete cookies Wikihow has a detailed photo-tutorial which explains how to do so, which you can find here: http://www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser%27s-Cookies

In addition to deleting cookies you can also set your browser to disable them, but whilst this is an option it’s important to remember that many websites which are trusted use cookies in order to make the user experience better. If you were to disable cookies completely you may not be able to access certain parts of a website, or there may be parts which do not work properly. If you wish to disable your browser from receiving cookies Wikihow has a detailed guide to doing so, which you can find here: http://www.wikihow.com/Disable-Cookies

Disabling all cookies would limit your web options as most websites use them which means cookies are pretty unavoidable. If you don’t want to go as far as disabling all cookies, but you do want to keep your user information safe, you can do so by:

Deleting cookies and history regularly – especially if using a shared computer.
Changing cookie settings to ensure that they have expiration dates.
Install antivirus and antispyware software and ensure it’s always up to date.

Have any questions?

Our team are here to help, if you have any questions about how we use cookies then please send an email to info@scrapcarcomparison.co.uk

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