How Do I Scan for Tracking Cookies?

by Erin McManaway

Tracking cookies are tiny text files that are stored on your computer by your Internet browser. These files record information, such as your username and password, for sites that you visit often, allowing you to quickly log into these websites without typing your information in each time. Cookies can also be used by marketers to track your browsing behaviors on the Internet. While this may not be dangerous, some users feel this is an intrusion on their privacy and use scanners to remove these cookies from their machines.

CCleaner

Download and install the CCleaner program from the CCleaner website (see Resources).

Click on the CCleaner shortcut on your desktop to launch the program.

Review the list of files that the program will clean. Internet Explorer cookies are an option on the list. If you uncheck everything except for cookies, the scan will remove cookies only.

Navigate to the "Applications" tab if you use a browser other than Internet Explorer. You should see options to scan for cookies in other browsers in this tab.

Click the "Run Cleaner" button. Allow the program to completely remove all of the cookies from your system.

SuperAntiSpyware

Download and install the SuperAntiSpyware program from the SuperAntiSpyware website (see Resources).

Click the SuperAntiSpyware icon on your desktop to launch the program.

Allow the program to update if it prompts you on the first run.

Click on the "Scan your Computer" button.

Choose the drives on your computer to scan, select "Perform Quick Scan" and click the "Next" button.

Allow the scan to complete. While this program will scan for malware present on your computer, it will also allow you to remove tracking cookies that it finds.

Click "OK" to see a list of cookies and other malware. You can choose which issues you want the program to remove.

Click "Next" and allow SuperAntiSpyware to remove the cookies. Reboot your computer if prompted after the scan.

AVG Free

Download and install the AVG Free Virus scan from the AVG website (see Resources).

Click the AVG icon on your desktop to launch the program. You may have to configure the scan if this is the first time you have run the program.

Click "Computer Scanner" from the menu, then click the "Change Scan Settings" option under "Scan Whole Computer." This will take you to a configuration window.

Uncheck everything in the list except for "Scan for Tracking Cookies," then click the "Start Scan" button.

Allow AVG to scan your computer. Once it is complete, it will report the tracking cookies it has found and allow you to remove them from your computer.

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About the Author

Erin McManaway holds a B.A. in professional writing from Francis Marion University, where she earned the Richard B. Larsen Memorial Award for Business and Technical Writing. She has worked in materials development, media and information technology in the nonprofit sector since 2006. McManaway has also been a writer and editor since 2008.

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