What are the cookies?
The cookies are small pieces of information (text) that are created by Web sites that you are
visiting and are sent to your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox or any other) along with the Web pages that you are
viewing. Some of these cookies are saved to your hard disk and
when you visit the same Web page again, your browser sends these cookies back to this Web site.
There are few general goals that are accomplished by the usage of cookies:
- To notify the Web site that you have visited it in the past. This information can be used to block some
one-time services (for example Web pools, one-time promotional services, etc.).
- To remember your user name and password so that you don't need to enter them each
time when you visit this Web site.
- To remember your personal information that is important to the Web site you are visiting.
It can be your name, personal preferences, advertising information, etc.
- To show you a different ad each time when you visit the site or similar ads to
ones that you have clicked in the past.
As you can see there are plenty of ways for cookies to threaten your privacy. Even if it seems that the purpose
of some cookies is innocent they still reveal the fact that you have visited this specific Web site.
Furthermore, the Web site can update the cookie every time you visit its pages, adding new usage information.
Cookies remain on your computer as long as their creator decides (from few days to many years). Some cookies are automatically deleted
when you close your browser (so called session cookies) but others can stay on your PC virtually forever.
You can use Mil Shield to delete the cookies while keeping some of them
(some decent and useful Web sites don't work without cookies).
As more and more people are becoming aware of the cookies, many Web sites started to use alternative methods to
identify their visitors - Flash cookies (local shared objects), UserData records, DOM storage. Each of these methods is
very similar to the ordinary cookies. Mil Shield cleans all these traces (selectively if you wish so) and it
also cleans the content of index.dat files, history, temporary Internet files and many other tracks.
How to see my Internet Explorer cookies?
The cookies of Internet Explorer are kept in special folder, which contains an index.dat file and
one text file for each stored cookie. The location of this folder depends on the
version of Windows.
For Windows 7 and Windows Vista:
If you have Windows 7
or Windows Vista
then the cookie folders
are in these locations (on your PC they can be on other drive instead of drive C):
Note, that you will have to change the settings of Windows Explorer to show all kinds of files
(including the protected system files) in order to access these folders. Here is how to do this:
- Start Windows Explorer. You can do this by clicking the yellow Windows Explorer icon on the task bar or, alternatively, by typing the words
windows explorer in the search box of the Start menu and then clicking the Windows Explorer icon when it appears in the search results.
- Click the Organize button in the top left corner of the window and then select Folder and search options from the drop-down menu.
- This will open the Folder Options window, which is shown in the right. In this window, you have to click the View tab.
- In the Advanced settings tree, you have to turn on the option Show hidden files, folders and drives, and to turn off the options
Hide extensions for known file types and Hide protected operating system files.
- Finaly, click the OK button to confirm your changes and close the Folder Options dialog window.
- After you have done viewing the Temporary Internet Files folder, you can restore the settings of Windows Explorer to their previous state.
For Windows XP and Windows 2000:
If you have Windows XP
or Windows 2000
then cookie folder is in this location
(on your PC it can be on other drive instead of drive C):
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Cookies\
If you have only one user account on Windows XP or Windows 2000 then replace <username>
to get the paths.
For Windows Me, 98, 95 or Windows NT:
If you have Windows Me
, Windows 98
, Windows NT
or Windows 95
cookie folder is in one of these locations:
Note that on your computer the Windows directory may not be C:\Windows
but some other directory.
If you don't have Profiles
directory in you Windows directory don't worry - this just means that
you are not using user profiles.
In these folders you can see all persistent cookies that are saved to your user account. The names of the
cookie files are in form username@hostname. For example the cookie name administrator@altavista
is showing that this cookie came from www.altavista.com and the current computer user was administrator.
You can also open the cookie file to see its content but it most cases it will be encoded and not human readable.
WARNING! Even if you delete all cookie files from this folder most of the information for the cookies will not be
deleted because it is saved in so called index.dat file. In some cases you can see the index.dat file in
the cookie folder but even if you cannot see it, it is always there. You cannot delete this file
because Windows and Internet Explorer keep it open all the time. The only way to get rid of the cookies for good is
to shred the content of the index.dat file with a specialized privacy protection program -
Mil Shield. It cleans not only cookies but also the
content of all other index.dat files (yes, there are many other index.dat files - to learn where are they read
the article Where are Index.dat files located?) along with history, temporary Internet files,
recently used documents history, Google, Yahoo and Bing toolbars search history and many other tracks.
How to see my Firefox cookies?
The cookies of Firefox are kept in special file in your Firefox profile. The file name
and format are different in the various versions of Firefox but you can see the cookies using the Firefox
- Start Firefox.
- Go to the Tools menu in the top part of the Firefox window and select Options... from the drop-down menu.
- This will open the Options window, which is shown in the right. In this window, you have to click the Privacy tab.
- In the Privacy tab, in the Firefox will: combo box, you have to select Use custom settings for history. This will show the
Show Cookies... button. Click the Show Cookies... button.
- Now, you will see the Cookies window, which contains a list of all Firefox cookies in your Firefox profile. The cookies are sorted by
the websites that have sent them. You can open each site to see the list of cookies from this site.
- You can filter the cookies by site if you type part of the site's domain in the Search box at the top of Cookies window. You can use this
search feature to quickly find the cookies from certain web site.
- When you have done viewing the cookies, click the Close button to close the Folder Options dialog window and then click Cancel
button to close the Firefox Options window.
How to delete the cookies?
You can delete Internet Explorer cookies by deleting all text files in the cookie folders on your computer.
The locations of IE cookie folders are given here.
The problem is that even if you delete all cookie files from the cookie folders, most of the
information for the cookies will not be deleted because it is saved in the index.dat file.
In some cases you can see the index.dat file in the cookie folder but even if you cannot see
it is there. You cannot delete this file because Windows and Internet Explorer use it all the time.
The only way to get rid of the cookies for good is to shred the content of the index.dat file
with a specialized privacy protection program - Mil Shield.
It cleans not only cookies but also the content of all other index.dat files (yes, there are many other index.dat files)
along with history, temporary Internet files, recently used documents history,
Google and Yahoo toolbars search history and many other tracks.
The Firefox cookies can be cleaned by going to the corresponding Cookies window as described here and
clicking the Remove All Cookies button. However this will not delete the information from the cookie files as they are not
securely deleted and their content can be revealed with raw disk scan tools.
Note that you can turn off the cookie support from your browser but this is not a good
idea because most of the sites today require cookie support in order to work properly.
After you delete all cookies you will have to enter your user name, password
and other details every time when you visit a web site that needs registration and some
sites may not work at all. Another good reason to keep some of the cookies is
to avoid being suspicious when others notice that your cookie folders are always empty.
So it comes down to a choice between privacy and convenience of Web browsing.
With Mil Shield you don’t have to make this choice. You can turn off
the cleaning for the cookies from sites that don’t contain any sensitive
information or are not considered forbidden in your environment.