How to Enable “Cookies” in Your Browser
The 5 Minute Formula Courses require cookies be enabled to enter the members-only areas of our site.
This link will take you to a test page that will determine if your browser is accepting cookies and
explain how to set it to accept cookies.
What are cookies? Cookies are just bits of text that web sites pass to your browser to store, either in memory until you close your browser (session cookies), or for a specified length of time on your hard drive. Cookie text is so tiny, you could have thousands of them stored, and it would still take up FAR less than even a single megabyte! Your browser already uses many, many, many times more space to cache recent webpages and images, so you do not need to be afraid of cookies wasting disk space or memory.
As an example, we estimate cookies to use less than 500 bytes … that’s about 2000 times less than even a single megabyte! The most common cookies we use take up even less space, about 100 bytes. Once cookies are stored (in memory or on disk), they are returned to the website that originally stored them whenever you request other documents from that site. This allows the website to “recognize” you based on information you’ve previously provided. For example, they might store your user ID for the website, your viewing preferences, items in your shopping cart, etc. They are useful because there is no other fool-proof way for a website to immediately recognize your browser when you return later, due to the way the web works.
Feel free to only enable “session” cookies, this is the least that is required, and the cookies will only exist in your browser’s memory until you close the browser. Nothing would be stored permanently on your hard drive. (Again, we would like to reiterate that cookies take up such a tiny amount of disk space that they will have no effect on the amount of free disk space you have.)
Are cookies safe? Yes. Cookies are literally just bits of text. They are not executed, and thus cannot carry viruses. The default of all web browsers and most internet security programs is to allow cookies to be used. This is because they pose no legitimate security risk, and only the slightest privacy risk. (We will expand on the privacy issues below.) Just like anything else on the internet, if your software is flawed, security could be breached. However, cookies themselves are not any sort of security threat, and there are no known problems with the way modern browsers implement cookies. What is more, you only need to enable “session” cookies (see next question).
The primary thing we’d like to make clear about cookies is that they can only contain information that you have already provided! They cannot be used by websites to somehow grab information from your system that you have not already shared. If you have not shared your email address or name with a website, enabling cookies is NOT going to give them this information.
Cookies simply provide a way for a website to “remember” information you’ve provided.
The biggest issue with cookies and privacy is related to “third-party” cookies. These are often used by advertising companies to track which ads you have viewed, and most modern browsers allow you to block third-party cookies. You can block third-party cookies without causing any problems for sites that require cookies. Third-party cookies have given all cookies a bad name, and for those that are interested in the details and differences between the two, please read this item.
If you have made sure your browser is not blocking cookies (at least first-party, session cookies), yet the cookie test still tells you they are disabled, please redo the test one more time to confirm. If it still shows “DISABLED,” you may have software installed that is blocking cookies, or your internet provider or company may be blocking cookies at their firewall.
If you have made sure your browser and your internet security software are not blocking cookies, your service provider or company firewall may be blocking them. This is rare, as cookies are used by many sites in many useful ways, but it happens on occasion. Please read more on this here.
Cookies have gotten a bum rap, partly because many don’t understand how they work, and partly due to the way some advertisers use third-party cookies (detailed below). Since early browsers could not block third-party cookies, some organizations took the extremely conservative stance to block ALL cookies. This happens most often in large corporations, school campuses, libraries, etc. Times have changed — browsers provide great control over what kinds of cookies you want to accept, and blocking them completely at a central location should be phased out, in our opinion. We understand that it may seem as though you can do nothing about the policies of those in charge of your internet connectivity, but you may be surprised at what can happen if you explain to them that you need cookies to be able to get your work done.
We ask you to please try to contact those in charge. Try to locate the email address of your system or network administrator ([email protected]yourdomain is a good starting point). Explain that you are trying to use a membership site, that we require cookies, and you can even point them to this Cookie FAQ. Many network administrators turn on cookie blocking and will leave it on until they receive complaints.
Amazon.com, American Express, CNN, ESPN, FedEx, Google,, etc.
In fact, it is hard to find any company that is not using cookies in benign ways.
More Details About Cookies
Whenever you receive something from a website (such as a web page or an image), it contains a “header” that describes the item you are receiving. This header can include a cookie. This is how cookies are sent and received. For example, if you request a webpage from cnn.com, you know you are getting that page from cnn.com, and any cookie included in that page’s header is considered a first-party cookie. Since only cnn.com will ever see this cookie, it is completely harmless. It cannot be used to track you beyond cnn.com, since no other website can retrieve this particular cookie.
However, when you get that cnn.com page, your browser may also retrieve a banner ad image, let’s say it is from doubleclick.com (a well-known internet advertising company). This image can also include a header that contains a cookie. This cookie comes from doubleclick.com, and is considered to be a third-party cookie because it does not originate from the website you are viewing.
It is perfectly fine to block third-party cookies. Unlike first-party cookies, they serve you no useful purpose. It is conceivable that third-party cookies could pose a privacy invasion, if two things were to happen: (1) You provide information to an unscrupulous website which then divulges your information to an unscrupulous internet advertiser,
AND (2) you do not block third-party cookies, allowing the advertising firm to track you on any site that uses their services.
In summary: if you only allow first-party cookies, there can be no invasion of privacy. Even allowing third-party cookies does not necessarily mean your privacy can be invaded, as many things have to fall in place for that to happen.