Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Cookies are a confusing concept. I'll revisit what they are and how they work, and what, if any, speed impact there is in deleting cookies.
I keep reading that its a good thing to delete cookies to protect privacy. But if I delete cookies, won't it make my computer slower when it try to access those websites again?
Yes and no.
It won't slow down your computer in the way that you're probably thinking.
However, in general it will slow something else down.
A cookie is a blob of data that is placed on your computer at the direction of certain web sites that you visit, and then provided back to that web site when you return.
For example: let's say you visit somerandomservice.com (not a real site). When your browser requests the page http://somerandomservice.com the web server sends back some data - something along the lines of "here's 50 bytes of data, and we'll name it 'mycookie'".
Your browser then, in addition to displaying whatever web page was returned, stores away three pieces of information:
The URL: somerandomservice.com
The name: mycookie
The data: in this case the 50 bytes of data that the website sent when you last visited.
That's a cookie.
Now, some time later - perhaps a few days later - you visit http://somerandomservice.com again. When you do so your browser connects to the somerandomservice.com web server and says (in effect): "I'd like your home page, and by the way, last time I was here you left this cookie - mycookie with these 50 bytes of data".
So a cookie is nothing more than data associated with a particular web site that is placed on your computer by that web site simply so that it can be returned to that web site the next time you visit.
Cookies are small.
Most cookies are significantly smaller than the web page you're viewing, and add almost no appreciable time to whatever it takes to download and display the page that caused the cookies to be downloaded.
In fact, even if a given cookie is already on your computer, there's a good chance that it'll be downloaded again anyway; often because it's easier, and often because the contents of the cookie have been updated by whatever you're doing with the web site.
So deleting cookies won't really make an appreciable difference in the speed of your web browser, your computer, or your internet experience.
With one, huge, exception.
One of the many things that cookies are used for is to remember who you are.
I don't mean in any privacy invasive way, I mean quite literally who you are as you go from page to page on a web site. For example, I login, identify my user name and password, and the web site places a cookie on my machine that says, in essence "this is Leo, and he's authenticated". Now each subsequent page I visit on that site knows who I am.
In other words, I don't have to login for every ... single ... page.
Now, let's say in the middle of all that I erase all my cookies.
I have to login again to any web site that I was visiting that had stored my name or status in a cookie.
The page-to-page example is to drive home the point that cookies are often used in ways that are fundamental to how websites need to operate.
But they're also often used as a convenience.
For example, a website may automatically log me out after a while, but it can continue to remember who I am, in a cookie, so that days later when I return I don't have to re-type my user name, only my password.
Having to re-enter my user name would slow me down.
And that's where deleting cookies can slow things down. If you delete all cookies on your machine you will most likely find that you'll suddenly have to re-enter data that previously had been remembered for you in those cookies.
It's up to you. Me? I never delete cookies. I just don't see that huge a risk, and there's almost certainly no performance benefit to doing so.
You may feel differently.
But at least now you'll understand that while deleting cookies won't slow down your computer, it might slow you down.
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