[] Few technologies in use on the Web have been more controversial and misunderstood than cookies. Many people turn cookies off, losing valuable functionality on many websites, just because they don't understand the general nature of cookies and how they work.

Quite simply, a cookie is a small text file that is stored on a user's computer, placed there by a Web server for future access and retrieval of stored information. By themselves, cookies are completely harmless, and as their name implies, they offer surfers a treat by retrieving information exclusively pertaining to that user.

Common uses for cookies include validation routines, shopping applications, or for retrieving previously input information such as usernames or email addresses. Normally, cookies are used to benefit your experience at a given site. We are not aware of uses that could jeopardize your personal security as the information contained in cookies is actually set by the Web server, which cannot read your machine.

Normally, the information is that which you have somewhere already input, or it be that which identifies you in some other way, such as by your surfing habits. Cookies are fantastic tools for Web developers as they require no database activity and can store information about a user without taking up any additional resources. The drawback, of course, is users can simply turn cookies off in their browser settings, rendering them useless. However, current research indicates this occurs only about 1% of the time.

If you want to learn more about cookies, and how you can implement them in your own Web projects, we have listed the best resources we could find below. Remember, how you implement cookies is dependent on your server platform, be it Unix or Windows. Or you can use platform-independent cookies with JavaScript:

JavaScript Cookies

CGI/Perl Cookies

PHP Cookies

ASP Cookies