Cookies: What They Are/What They're For

What are Cookies?

A Web cookie is a very small text file which a Web page server sends to your hard drive, in response to a browser's request for a Web page.

What is the Cookie For?

Basically, the cookie helps a website's server recognize a user. The cookie acts as a computerized ticket stub or hand stamp. It's assigned to the User by a server on the first visit to a site, and then later recalled by that same server. This allows the server to better identify the user when they visit, aid their progress through a site, and provide customized information to that user.

Not all websites use cookies. Sites designed for ordering/purchasing goods or services use cookies to help track order information. Sites that allow personalization of pages use cookies to help the server remember which "characteristics" have been optioned for that page. Sites with secured information use cookies to help recognize User IDs, or, like the UP site, to help users navigate between secured and unsecured information. Cookies also can help website managers track which information on their site is most useful and most often accessed, and which pages are seldom visited.

How Much Information Can a Cookie Collect?

A cookie can acquire only the information a User makes available to a website. A cookie cannot "read" a hard drive, or figure out a name or address.

When a user visits a site that asks for a name and address, if that site has configured a cookie to store that information, then that site's cookie will retain it.

Most sites, however, including the UP site, use cookies simply to track browsing habits or to help the server recognize authenticated users accessing secured information.

Why We Want You to Know About Cookies

We want you to know why we're sending a cookie, and why we hope you'll accept it.

We want you to understand that accepting a cookie from our server in no way gives us access to your computer, or any personal information about you (the information you provide through the Customer Registration Request or the Feedback form is used only for internal security purposes. See the UP Website Privacy Policy for more information regarding UP's protection of personal information.) The cookie for our site, recognizable only to our server, helps to identify you as well as the information on our site that you wish to read, and that which you do not.

Selective Snacking - Choosing and Controlling Cookies

Your browser can be configured to accept all cookies, or to alert you every time a cookie is offered - allowing you to decide whether to accept it or not. If the cookie has an expiration date, the alert message will indicate that, so you can see the lifespan of the cookie (many cookies are set to expire as soon as you quit the browser).

Note: Refusing cookies can be cumbersome, as some servers are set to keep offering the cookie as the User moves through new parts of the site, until it is accepted.

You can always view the cookies you've accepted, and delete them if you wish.

Setting the Browser to "Warn Before Accepting"

For Windows Systems:

If you are using Internet Explorer, from the Tool Bar:

  1. Select Tools, then
  2. Select Internet Options.
  3. Select the Privacy tab.
  4. Click on the Advanced button.
  5. Choose one of the three options to regulate your use of cookies.

For Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Select Tools, then
  2. Select Options.
  3. Select the Privacy tab.