What is the Best Way to Clean Cookies off my Computer?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Internet cookies are short sections of text that are downloaded to your computer when you visit various web sites. In many cases, those cookies make it possible to perform certain tasks while on a web site, such as view photos, post messages, or place an order with an online store. However, it is often recommended that Internet users clean cookies off their hard drives from time to time. There are a couple of ways you can go about accomplishing this task.

Most internet browsers make it fairly simple to delete cookies.
Most internet browsers make it fairly simple to delete cookies.

One approach is to clean cookies off your hard drive manually. This process is usually very simple and very quick. Most of the more popular search engines make it very easy to access what is known as a Temporary Internet File. This file is where those collected cookies are housed. Locate the selection that is marked to delete cookies and check that selection. By clicking on the delete function associated with your particular search engine, it is possible to wipe all the cookies off the system at one time.

Cookies should periodically be removed from a computer's hard drive.
Cookies should periodically be removed from a computer's hard drive.

However, if you only want to delete selected cookies, it is also possible to manage that task by highlighting a specific cookie in the listing found in the file. Once you have the cookie highlighted, simply press the delete key and authorize the removal. While this approach will take longer to clean cookies off your hard drive, it does allow you to keep any cookies to sites that you visit on a regular basis.

Internet cookies are short sections of text that are downloaded to your computer when you visit various web sites.
Internet cookies are short sections of text that are downloaded to your computer when you visit various web sites.

You can also clean cookies by using an external software product. This is sometimes a good option if you utilize multiple search engines. The Internet cleaner can be set up to examine the cookies associated with each search engine installed on your system, advise you of the contents, and allow you to proceed with the cleaning. Some cookie cleaners even allow you the option of reviewing and selecting which cookies to keep and which ones to remove from the hard drive.

One of the reasons that some experts recommend clearing cookies off the hard drive is that they see the presence of the cookies as an invasion of privacy. This is because some cookies make it possible for the web site to remember you when you return to the site a second time. For example, if you must log into a site to make a purchase or access a forum, the cookies may allow the site to remember your username. This means you only have to enter your access code in order to complete the entry.

These people may also feel that keeping cookies for longer periods of time can create potential for a security breach. This is because some cookies not only remember usernames, but other information as well. Hackers may be able to gain unauthorized entry to the server where the web site is housed, seize the data, and then use it in whatever manner they choose.

As part of basic housekeeping, it is a good idea to clean cookies off your hard drive. While the amount of resources used by the cookies is minimal, it can add up if you never delete any cookies at all. In addition, cleaning cookies from time to time does protect your privacy. While it may mean a few extra seconds to log into your favorite sites, the fact that no one can track your movements based on the cookies is well worth the time.

Cookies might be used by hackers as a way to gain access to computer data.
Cookies might be used by hackers as a way to gain access to computer data.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

Fiorite

@ GenevaMech- I also use my security software to clean up cookies on my computer. When I set up my software, I had an option to schedule routine maintenance. I set my software to clear cookies, scan my, and defragment my drives twice a month. I find it simplest to let my computer software take care of these things.

GenevaMech

I run three different web browsers on my computer so I use my security software to perform a system clean up. I like this method because it is quick, easy, and comprehensive. Using my security software to clean cookies on my computer also allows me to shred anything that I have approved for deletion, preventing any thief from ever retrieving my personal information.

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