Cookies Policy

Image © Mark Panton FE Photographer of the year finalist

What is a cookie?

Cookies are small files which are stored on a user's computer. They are designed to hold a modest amount of data specific to a client and website and can be accessed either by the web server or the client computer. This allows the server to deliver a page tailored to a user, or the page itself can contain some script which is aware of the data in the cookie and so is able to carry information from one visit to the website (or related site) to the next.

Are Cookies Enabled in my Browser?

To check whether your browser is configured to allow cookies, visit the Cookie checker. This page will attempt to create a cookie and report on whether it succeeded.

Can I see/view the cookies I have on my computer?

Most browsers have a configuration screen which allows the user to see what cookies have been stored on the computer, and optionally to delete them. For more information, see the viewing cookies page.

Note that it is not possible for a webpage to view cookies set by other sites, as this would represent a privacy and security problem.

What's in a Cookie?

Each cookie is effectively a small lookup table containing pairs of (key, data) values - for example (first name, John) (last name, Smith). Once the cookie has been read by the code on the server or client computer, the data can be retrieved and used to customise the web page appropriately.

When are Cookies Created?

Writing data to a cookie is usually done when a new webpage is loaded - for example after a 'submit' button is pressed the data handling page would be responsible for storing the values in a cookie. If the user has elected to disable cookies then the write operation will fail, and subsequent sites which rely on the cookie will either must take a default action or prompt the user to re-enter the information that would have been stored in the cookie.

Why are Cookies Used?

Cookies are a convenient way to carry information from one session on a website to another, or between sessions on related websites, without having to burden a server machine with massive amounts of data storage. Storing the data on the server without using cookies would also be problematic because it would be difficult to retrieve a user’s information without requiring a login on each visit to the website.

If there is a large amount of information to store, then a cookie can simply be used to identify a given user so that further related information can be looked up on a server-side database. For example, the first time a user visits a site they may choose a username which is stored in the cookie, and then provide data such as password, name, address, preferred font size, page layout, etc. - this information would all be stored on the database using the username as a key. Subsequently when the site is revisited the server will read the cookie to find the username, and then retrieve all the user's information from the database without it having to be re-entered.

How Long Does a Cookie Last?

The time of expiry of a cookie can be set when the cookie is created. By default, the cookie is destroyed when the current browser window is closed, but it can be made to persist for an arbitrary length of time after that.

Who Can Access Cookies?

When a cookie is created it is possible to control its visibility by setting its 'root domain'. It will then be accessible to any URL belonging to that root. For example, the root could be set to "whatarecookies.com" and the cookie would then be available to sites in "www.whatarecookies.com" or "xyz.whatarecookies.com" or "whatarecookies.com". This might be used to allow related pages to 'communicate' with each other. It is not possible to set the root domain to 'top level' domains such as '.com' or ‘. co.uk' since this would allow widespread access to the cookie.

By default, cookies are visible to all paths in their domains, but at the time of creation they can be restricted to a given sub path - for example "www.whatarecookies.com/images".

How Secure are Cookies?

There is a lot of concern about privacy and security on the internet. Cookies do not in themselves present a threat to privacy, since they can only be used to store information that the user has volunteered or that the web server already has. Whilst it is possible that this information could be made available to specific third-party websites, this is no worse than storing it in a central database. If you are concerned that the information you provide to a webserver will not be treated as confidential then you should question whether you need to provide that information at all.

What are Tracking Cookies?

Some commercial websites include embedded advertising material which is served from a third-party site, and it is possible for such adverts to store a cookie for that third-party site, containing information fed to it from the containing site - such information might include the name of the site, products being viewed, pages visited, etc. When the user later visits another site containing a similar embedded advert from the same third-party site, the advertiser will be able to read the cookie and use it to determine some information about the user's browsing history. This enables publishers to serve adverts targeted at a user's interests, so in theory having a greater chance of being relevant to the user. However, many people see such 'tracking cookies' as an invasion of privacy since they allow an advertiser to build up profiles of users without their consent or knowledge.

Cookies In Use on This Site

Cookies and how they Benefit You

Our website uses cookies, as almost all websites do, to help provide you with the best experience we can. Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer or mobile phone when you browse websites

Our cookies help us:

  • Make our website work as you'd expect
  • Save you having to login every time you visit the site
  • Remember your settings during and between visits
  • Offer you free services/content (thanks to advertising)
  • Improve the speed/security of the site
  • Allow you to share pages with social networks like Facebook
  • Continuously improve our website for you
  • Make our marketing more efficient (ultimately helping us to offer the service we do at the price we do)

We do not use cookies to:

  • Collect any personally identifiable information (without your express permission)
  • Collect any sensitive information (without your express permission)
  • Pass personally identifiable data to third parties
  • Pay sales commissions

You can learn more about all the cookies we use below

Granting us permission to use cookies

If the settings on your software that you are using to view this website (your browser) are adjusted to accept cookies we take this, and your continued use of our website, to mean that you are fine with this. Should you wish to remove or not use cookies from our site you can learn how to do this below, however doing so will likely mean that our site will not work as you would expect.

More about our Cookies

Website Function Cookies

Our own cookies

We use cookies to make our website work including:

  • Making our shopping basket and checkout work
  • Determining if you are logged in or not
  • Remembering your search settings
  • Remembering if you have accepted our terms and conditions
  • Allowing you to add comments to our site
  • Remembering if we have already asked you certain questions (e.g. you declined to use our app or take our survey)

There is no way to prevent these cookies being set other than to not use our site.

Social Website Cookies

So you can easily “Like” or share our content on the likes of Facebook and Twitter we have included sharing buttons on our site.

Cookies are set by:

The privacy implications on this will vary from social network to social network and will be dependent on the privacy settings you have chosen on these networks.

Anonymous Visitor Statistics Cookies

We use cookies to compile visitor statistics such as how many people have visited our website, what type of technology they are using (e.g. Mac or Windows which helps to identify when our site isn't working as it should for particular technologies), how long they spend on the site, what page they look at etc. This helps us to continuously improve our website. These so called “analytics” programs also tell us if , on an anonymous basis, how people reached this site (e.g. from a search engine) and whether they have been here before helping us to put more money into developing our services for you instead of marketing spend.

We use:

Advertising Cookies

Cookies are widely used in online advertising. Neither us, advertisers or our advertising partners can gain personally identifiable information from these cookies. We only work with advertising partners who work to accepted privacy standards such as http://www.youronlinechoices.com/uk/iab-good-practice-principles

You can learn more about online advertising at http://www.youronlinechoices.com . You can opt-out of almost all advertising cookies at http://www.youronlinechoices.com/uk/your-ad-choices although we would prefer that you didn’t as ultimately adverts help keep much of the internet free. It is also worth noting that opting out of advertising cookies will not mean you won't see adverts, just simply that they won't be tailored to you any longer.

We use:

Banner Adverts

We fund our site by showing adverts as you browse our site. These adverts are usually managed by a partner specialising in providing adverts for multiple sites. Invariably these partners place cookies to collect anonymous data about the websites you visits so they can personalise the adverts to you, ensure that you don't see the same adverts too frequently and ultimately report to advertisers on which adverts are working. Our partners include:

Turning Cookies Off

You can usually switch cookies off by adjusting your browser settings to stop it from accepting cookies (Learn how here). Doing so however will likely limit the functionality of our's and a large proportion of the world's websites as cookies are a standard part of most modern websites

It may be that you concerns around cookies relate to so called "spyware". Rather than switching off cookies in your browser you may find that anti-spyware software achieves the same objective by automatically deleting cookies considered to be invasive. Learn more about managing cookies with antispyware software.

The cookie information text on this site was derived from content provided by Attacat Internet Marketing http://www.attacat.co.uk/, a marketing agency based in Edinburgh. If you need similar information for your own website you can use their free cookie audit tool.