Does a Cookie Slow Down a Computer?

by John Smith

Imagine if every place you visited for a week gave you a small bag of cookies to carry around. On top of that, every time you revisited a place, they made you show your bag of cookies or gave you another bag. After a while, carrying and sorting all those cookies would take up a lot of your time. That's exactly how Internet browser cookies can degrade computer system performance.

What Are Internet Cookies?

Every Internet site you visit stores a small file--a cookie--on your drive. This is standard procedure and an integral part of the web browsing process. Cookies are text-only strings of data used by websites and web programmers to keep a client web browser current with the latest site data. But they can create computer slowdowns, particularly if they aren't cleaned regularly.

Why Cookies?

Cookies are useful in helping personalize and recall site visits and personal preferences on specific Internet servers. Internet cookies help speed up the browsing process by relaying information on whether or not the browser cache has the most up-to-date site information.

Cookie Collections

Each visited website drops a cookie in the client computer's cookie cache. Every place the user goes on the Internet brings another cookie. The browser cache can store an unlimited number of cookies.

Too Many Cookies

Once the list of cookies gets too long, browsing performance slows down because, for each site visited, the computer has to scan the list of cookies to see if there's one (or more) for the requested site. The longer the list, the longer it takes to find the answer.

Cookie Cleaning

Regular browser cache cleaning can prevent a cookie overload. Cleaning is simple in both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. In IE, use the Tools and Internet Options selection to clean the browser and cookie cache. In Firefox, use the Tools and Clear Private Data selection. A weekly cleaning will keep most computers in good shape.

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About the Author

John Smith is a former military journalist turned computer programmer. His work has been been seen in "Airman Magazine," "Pacific Stars and Stripes" and "The Ozarks Mountaineer." He currently programs computers for an automotive components manufacturer in Heber Springs, Ark. In his free time, he reads, writes, repairs computers, plays computer games and teaches Jujitsu.

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