If you use the Web very much, you've probably heard the term "cookies" used quite a bit, and not always in a favorable context. Many Web users have gotten the idea that cookies, whatever they are, are at best an invasive nuisance, and at worst, potentially destructive to the hapless hard drive accepting them. To separate myth from reality, it helps to know exactly what a cookie is, and what it's intended to do. A cookie is actually a very small text file which a Web page server sends to your hard drive, in response to your browser's request for a Web page.
The purpose of the cookie is basically to help a Web site's server recognize a user. Essentially, the cookie acts as a computerized ticket stub or hand stamp. It's handed to you by a server when you first visit a site, and then later retrieved by the same server. By doing this, the server can better identify the client when they visit, aid their progress through a site, and use the cookie to provide customized information to the user.