So What's A Cookie For, Anyway?

Written by Richard Lowe

With all ofrepparttar rhetoric about cookies, many people don't understand that these little text files were invented for a reason. In fact, cookies were created to solverepparttar 132091 internet's equivalent of Alzheimer's disease. You see, web sites do not remember who they are talking to!

The web was designed to be simple and straightforward. You (a browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape) ask for something from a web server. The web server obediently hands it to you, then goes off to do something else. This is due torepparttar 132092 original purpose ofrepparttar 132093 web - a vast electronic library!

The web was never designed to support electronic commerce. It was designed to support reading text. Images, videos, sounds and commerce was all shoehorned intorepparttar 132094 structure later.

Okay, so web servers are forgetful. What exactly does this mean? The browser asksrepparttar 132095 web server for an object (a web page, image, graphic or whatever) andrepparttar 132096 server obligingly returns it. The connection torepparttar 132097 browser is then closed and forgotten.

Thus,repparttar 132098 next timerepparttar 132099 browsers makes a request ofrepparttar 132100 web server,repparttar 132101 poor server has no easy way to know that it isrepparttar 132102 same as before. As far asrepparttar 132103 server is concerned, every single request to do something is a unique request from a different computer.

This makes any kind of transaction control very difficult. Think about it for a minute and you'll understand. You enter your personal information into a screen, which sends you to a second screen to enter your name and address. Ifrepparttar 132104 web server does not know that you are you, then how inrepparttar 132105 heck does it relaterepparttar 132106 credit card information to your name and address?

The answer is cookies. To put it very simply, a cookie is simply a way forrepparttar 132107 web server to know that you are indeed you. Inrepparttar 132108 previous example, a cookie would allowrepparttar 132109 server to know thatrepparttar 132110 name and address are related torepparttar 132111 credit card number.

How does this work? Well,repparttar 132112 server creates a small text file on your system called a cookie. This text file can only be referenced by that server, and it contains a simple unique number which identifies you.

Wheneverrepparttar 132113 server does something it tries to read this cookie to see if it knows who you are. Thus, whenrepparttar 132114 screen allowing you to enter your name and address is displayed,repparttar 132115 browser tries to read a cookie, effectively asking "do I know who you are?". It doesrepparttar 132116 same thing onrepparttar 132117 credit card entry screen. Okay, this all seems harmless enough, doesn't it? So how is this very harmless and exceptionally useful system abused?

Backing Up Your Stuff Part 1: The Problem

Written by Richard Lowe

I don't know about your, but I depend upon my computer system daily to help me survive and prosper. I keep everything there:

- My daily journals - My writing - Letters and memos - Documents for personal and work issues - FAXes - My photo album (over 10,000 photos) - Graphics art that I've produced

In addition, if you are anything like me, overrepparttar years you've downloaded thousands of different things offrepparttar 132089 internet. You may also have installed some files from CDs and floppy disks, as well as receiving numerous files via email. Some of these downloads include such wondrous things as:

- Paint Shop Pro tubes, brushes - Photoshop filters - desktop themes - outlook stationary - Screensavers - Wallpaper - ICQ skins and sounds - Fonts - Sounds - Videos - Innumerable other things

In fact, this is one ofrepparttar 132090 activities that makesrepparttar 132091 internet so enjoyable - being able to download and install new features, plug-ins and cool stuff as often as you can.

These files tend to take up massive amounts of space on your hard drives. On my system, my outlook stationary alone requires over 150 megabytes, my desktop themes are getting close to a gigabyte and I have over 200 megabytes of Paint Shop Pro tubes.

This phenomenon is made even worse because most people (myself included) never throw anything away. I have kept just about everything that I've ever put on my computer, until today I have over 100 gigabytes of lord knows what!

Add to that yet another issue: many of us store files on remote systems. Many people use their free hosts editing tools to create and modify their web site files directly onrepparttar 132092 internet. The files are never downloaded to their author's hard drive. For example, I receive at least a couple of emails each week from someone asking how they back uprepparttar 132093 files on Geocities or MSN or any number of other hosts.

Cont'd on page 2 ==> © 2005
Terms of Use