Department of Engineering

IT Services

Cambridge University Engineering Department - Cookies


What are cookies?

Cookies are little files stored on your computer on behalf of a web site you've visited so that next time you visit the site it'll already know something about you. They're often used to save information when moving from one page of a site to another, or between one session and the next. In particular they're used at CUED by the COMET system, the online surveys, etc.

How to enable cookies

Your browser may not be set up to use cookies. Here's how to enable them

  • Firefox, Mozilla and Netscape6/7 - Pull down the "Edit" menu and pick the "Preferences" menu item. Click on the box by the " Security & Privacy" option. There's a menu in the History section of the panel. If you set that to "Use custom settings for history", some further options will appear. You'll see what options are set. "third-party cookies" are cookies set by a site you're not currently looking at. You may wish to disable them. . Click on the "Close" button when you've finished.
  • Internet Explorer 6 - Pull down the "Tools" menu and pick the "Internet Options ..." menu item. Click on the "Privacy" tabs and select "Medium".
  • lynx - The query option is enabled by default on the Unix Teaching System. Use "lynx -cookies" to turn it off.
  • Netscape4 - Pull down the "Edit" menu and pick the "Preferences" menu item. Click on the "Advanced" option and choose the option that says "Only accept cookies originating from the same server as the page being viewed". Then click on the "OK" button

Cookies and privacy

Cookies can store information about you. If you let all sites read this information (i.e. select "Enable all cookies") then you might be letting sites that you visit find out more about you than you'd like. As part of the information in a cookie is the name of the site which caused the cookie to be created. If you can arrange for the originating site to be the only site that can read the cookie you should have all the benefits of cookie use with none of the disadvantages.

Managing cookies

Some browsers let you look at the values of cookies and selectively remove them. For example, Mozilla has a "manage stored cookies" option on the cookie preferences page. In the lynx browser you can use "CTRL-K" to inspect cookie values.

Problems with cookies

You may find that cookies created by one browser may not work with another because of browser bugs. If you suspect this to be the case, all you can do is remove the troublesome cookie and try creating it again using the browser both to create and use the cookie.

A cookie test

This page tries to set a cookie called "CUEDTestCookie" which will expire in an hour. It's currently not set. Try refreshing/reloading this page. If that doesn't work then you've disabled cookies