How Often Should You Clear Cookies On Your Browser?

How Often Should You Clear Cookies On Your Browser?

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk, then a straw, and eventually a napkin… at least according to the Laura Noomeroff’s classic children’s book.

But we aren’t talking about those types of cookies; we’re talking about browser cookies. Cookies are little data bits stored on your browser profile that allow websites to save your personal settings and reduce your loading time.

For the most part, cookies are harmless and can actually contribute to your online experience. However, they’re not all good. Some cookies can be used to send you annoying advertisements, may slow down your browser, and can even compromise your online privacy and security.

In today’s post, we’ll explain how cookies work, why they can be problematic, and how often you should clear cookies on your browser. Then, we’ll show you how to clear your browser’s cookies and explain how they affect VPN services like the one’s we’ve reviewed.

How Do Browser Cookies Work?

When you visit a new website in your browser, you may notice a little pop-up that appears towards the bottom of the screen saying something like, “Please accept our cookie policy to continue.”

Up until recently, most websites never asked if you wanted to enable cookies for their sites. However, as more individuals are getting smart about online security, more people also know about cookies. Now, it’s considered best practice for all websites to ask visitors whether or not they want to allow cookies.

So, how do cookies work?

Basically, they’re small bits of data that tell the website’s server who you are and what your preferences are. For example, maybe you log into an online account frequently. So, your browser saves your username to prevent you from having to manually type it in each time your visit the site.

Cookies may also save other preferences about sites you visit, such as:

  • The types of products you like.
  • The type of content you like.
  • Contact information.
  • Preferred background color of the site.
  • Search engine search history.
  • …and more.

Basically, the goal of cookies is to create a more seamless browsing experience. It’s kind of like going to your local cafe and having them remember your usual order. It’s just quicker and easier.

If you have cookies enabled, then websites will store these small bits of data about you on your browser. Whenever you visit the site again, the cookies communicate with the website to display a more customized version of the site for you.

What’s The Difference Between Cookies and Cache?

Cookies are often confused with cache, when it comes to conversations on internet security. Although they serve a similar function (to make your browsing experience faster and easier), they differ slightly from traditional browser cookies.

The difference between cookies and cache is that cookies are designed to store user preferences, while cache is designed to hold images and other “heavy-loading” aspects of the website

By storing these slower-loading aspects of their site on your browser, it reduces the overall load time of websites. For example, instead of having to load that large logo image at the header of your favorite site, it’ll be pre-loaded by your stored cache, allowing the site to open quicker.

How Often Should You Clear Cookies On Your Browser?

How often you should clear your browser cookies can really differ, depending on how much you browse the internet and what sites you’re visiting. For example, if you’re the type of person who’s constantly searching Google for answers to your questions, new products, services, etc., then you clear your cookies more often than somebody who just logs in and visits the same few websites.

In general, though, most professionals recommend clearing your browser cookies once a month. After a month, the amount of cookies that accumulate on your browser may be enough to actually slow down your browser, which completely defeats their purpose.

How To Clear Cookies On Your Browser

Clearing cookies from your browser is super easy and simple, so there’s no excuse to not do it! Here’s a detailed guide of how to clear cookies from your Google Chrome browser. The process is basically identical on any other popular browser you may be using, such as Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Safari.

1. Open Your Browser: First, you’ll want to open up your browser as usual. Cookies are stored within your browser profile not on your device itself, so that’s where you’ll need to delete them from.

2. Access Privacy Settings: With your browser open, access your browser settings and look for the tab that says “Privacy.” This should be the same on any browser. Here’s how it looks in Chrome:
Privacy Settings
3. Find History and Cache Settings: After selecting the “Privacy and Security” tab, look for the option that mentions history, cookies, and cache. Here’s how it appears in Chrome:
Clear Browsing Data
4. Delete All Cookies and Cached Memory: Next, you’ll need to specify what browser cadta that you want to clear out from your browser. You should have the option to clear out your browsing history, website cache, and any stored cookies.

To ensure that no website data remains on your browser, we recommend deleting all three of these items. This will be give you a clean slate and should dramatically increase your browsing speeds.
Clearing Browsing Data
5. Close Tabs and Reboot Browser: Lastly, you’ll need to reboot your browser to complete the deletion process.

Can Cookies Affect Your VPN?

Yes, they certainly can! VPNs like CyberGhost VPN and Nord VPN work by masking your IP address, making it appear to websites as if you’re located in another region than you actually are. However, if you still have active cookies stored in your browser, then it can override your VPN, allowing websites and search engines to see your actual location.

As you can imagine, this can completely defeat the purpose of your VPN, allowing snoopers and third parties to triangulate your general location. It can also affect geo-blocking. For example, if you’re using a VPN to access another country’s Netflix, it won’t work if you still have cookies for Netflix stored on your browser.

Are Cookies Bad?

Cookies aren’t inherently “bad.” More than anything, they’re used to personalize your website experience, as we mentioned above. However, they can slow down your browser if there are too many stored on your browser. Additionally, they can allow hackers and third parties to view relevant data by accessing your cookies.

For example, if your username is stored on a website and a hacker (or even just a snooping co-worker) gets access to your brower, they’ll be able to view your username and possibly how many digits your password is. This can make hacking you a lot easier, as it reduces the amount of guesses that hackers or brute force hacking software will need to complete.

Can You Prevent Cookies?

With cybercrime on the rise, you may find it beneficial to prevent your browser from storing cookies altogether. Thankfully, most browser support functions that allow you to prevent cookies (i.e., “Incognito Mode”). If you’re really gung-ho on preventing cookies, then you may also find it beneficial to use a privacy-oritented browser like Tor, which blocks all cookies automatically.

Prevent ALL Internet Tracking With A VPN

If you’re trying to improve your internet seucrity and prevent websites from tracking you, then clearing your cached browser data and cookies is a great place to start, and should be done at least once a month to ensure smoother browser functionality.

However, if you want to remain completely anonymous and prevent websites from tracking you altogther, then you’ll want to use a high-quality VPN alongside Incognito Mode. This will not only prevent websites from storing cookies on your device but it will also prevent them from being able to log your real IP address associated with your physical location.