What are cookies?

Most websites you visit will use cookies to improve your user experience by enabling that website to ‘remember’ you, either for the duration of your visit (using a ‘session cookie’) or for repeat visits (using a ‘persistent cookie’).

A cookie is a simple text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device by a website’s server and only that server will be able to retrieve or read the contents of that cookie. Each cookie is unique to your web browser. It will contain some anonymous information, such as a unique identifier and the site name and some digits and numbers. It allows a website to remember things, such as your preferences or what is in your shopping basket.

The use of cookies is safe. They are not computer programs and cannot be used to spread viruses. Cookies cannot be used to derive personal information. Cookies only remember your preferences and interests.

Cookies do several different jobs, such as letting you navigate between pages efficiently, storing your preferences, and generally improving your experience while using a website. Cookies make the interaction between you and the different aspects and pages of a website seamless, for example, after you have logged in on one page, you will still be recognized and logged in when moving to another page on the same website.

Some websites will also use cookies to enable them to target their advertising or marketing messages based, for example, on your location and/or browsing habits.

Cookies may be set by the website you are visiting (‘first-party cookies’) or they may be set by other websites who run content on the page you are viewing (‘third-party cookies’).