SAN FRANCISCO (03/10/2000) - Slowly but surely, your hard drive is collecting cookies from all over the Web. Maybe it's time for a little dust-off.
The Limit Software has updated its cookie-detection and -deletion tools. Cookie Crusher, priced at US$15, and CyberClean, $10.95, help you discover, control, and crumble cookies. A bundle of both products costs $19.95.
Cookies are small text files that a Web server sends to and stores on your PC.
They can store your log-in and password information for a Web site that requires you to sign on to enter. Or they could note your usual destinations within a site, so the site can greet you with related material. Most likely, your browser is set to accept all cookies.
If this seems a bit intrusive, or even creepy, you could change your browser settings to warn you whenever a cookie appears, or let you customize the interaction in other ways. But many people find the notification more hassle than just accepting all cookies.
Cookie Crusher offers real-time security, blocking unknown cookies and allowing those you want, based on the preferences you set. CyberClean lets you clear unwanted cookies, files in your cache, bookmarks, and history lists from multiple browsers, by clicking one button.
Most cookies are harmless, even helpful. Personalization cookies, like those found at online banks and booksellers, save time by remembering your personal information each time you visit.
"Cookies were originally intended to be a convenience to store user names and passwords," says Tim Hayes, president of The Limit Software. "You might want to save shopping cart and log-in cookies. These are convenience cookies, as opposed to site-tracking and advertising cookies."
Both tools employ simple interfaces with check boxes. With CyberClean, you select the types of files you want removed, then click a button to delete them.
You can let Cookie Crusher run in your taskbar and it will identify and block cookies as you browse.
So, what's new in these small upgrades? CyberClean has an improved cache-clearing capability that supports the most recent versions of Internet Explorer. Cookie Crusher now lets you treat cookies differently from a single Web site. For example, you can choose to accept a bank's personalization cookie but reject an advertisement.
"You get finer control over the process," says Hayes, who does most of the programming on the software. "It's a small new addition, but it was asked for."
Both programs are available now for download. The trial version of Cookie Crusher works for 30 days. With the CyberClean trial version, you get 30 uses before you have to register it.