Anyone who uses the internet probably knows what a temporary internet file (aka a “cookie”) is. It’s common knowledge that cookies will store information on your device temporarily, making certain things on the website that generated the cookie a bit easier to access.

While this is commonplace for much of internet browsing, it is very important to know exactly what kind of roles cookies and temporary files play, especially when it comes to internet speeds and security.

Although it is widely believed that cookies are negligible, they can contribute somewhat to internet speeds and can also possibly affect internet security.

Cookies contain data and disk space

Although it is not much, cookies do contain data and disk space, which is utilized when your device is utilizing the internet. Some pages, websites, or apps will “announce” that they utilize cookies, but most do not. And most all places online do not download just one temporary file, either. Usually many of them are utilized.

If you do not think that this does not affect your internet speeds, consider checking the speed of your internet after you have deleted the cookies from both your browser as well as your device and see if there is a difference. Later on, we will cover how this is done.

Data as well as disk space are both utilized in some aspect when accessing anything on the internet or any other means of digital communication. The more these temporary files exist on your device, the more it affects speeds. Again, while this may seem negligible at first, these files can slowly build up and greatly affect speeds, among other things.

If you are encountering slower internet and data speeds on your device, it is very possible that you have not deleted your cookies and temporary files in a long time.

Cookies store and retain information

If you are the type who likes to stay logged into your email and social media accounts without needing to log back in every time, you should be aware that the accounts that you are logging into will often use dozens of cookies to accomplish this.

While this is not inherently harmful, as most email and social media accounts are among the safest websites and mobile apps in existence, you need to be aware of the information these sources are retaining.

This is why having lots of tabs or windows open on your device can slow it down or drain its battery faster.

This is not because of the windows or tabs themselves - opening dozens of tabs, apps, or windows offline will not affect your device much. Remember that when something is online, data as well as memory is being used. Therefore, if you have a lot of things open that utilize a connection, as many as hundreds of temporary files are being sent to your device and/or your internet browser.

Staying logged into things is very convenient, but doing so will also put you at a slight risk where others can see your information via the information that is sent via the data on your device.

While this does not mean that others might be able to see personal information of yours, it is possible for your information to be accessible to others by way of coded data. While this is negligible in almost all cases, it is still something to be aware of, especially if you are using connected devices in public places.

How to delete cookies and how often you should delete cookies

The process of deleting cookies and temporary files from your devices is mostly uniform. On a PC, they are located in two places: The “advanced options” in your browser’s settings and a subfolder labeled “temporary internet files” in the “system” folder, which is found in the control panel.

Deleting cookies on your internet browser is a little more important and should be done more frequently than deleting cookies on the PC. This is because cookies are “accessed” more directly and frequently on your browser.

Most Smartphone or tablets are now equipped with a device maintenance app in their settings which utilizes very little data to use. This will delete most of the temporary files that have accumulated on your device.

The question of how often you should delete cookies or temporary files is answered in two ways.

First, you need to be aware that if you are using a PC and have decided to stay logged into certain accounts, deleting cookies will log you out of these, and you will need to log back in after the files are deleted.

The second determining factor depends on how your device is performing in its online or offline functions. For example, if it is taking a long time to enter an app on your phone or if it is taking a bit more time to enter your web browser on your PC, you might need to delete your temporary files.

It may also be necessary to do this if certain apps or web pages will not load. This can happen if there are too many cookies and temporary files downloaded. If too many of these files exist, they can overlap and prevent you from visiting certain pages.

Contrary to popular belief, cookies and temporary files are not “potential viruses,” nor are they completely temporary. Some cookies will last a very long time if not deleted. They are relatively harmless as far as internet security is concerned but if not micromanaged regularly, they could affect your internet speeds.

Emily Jacobs is Happiness Ambassador for SpeedCheck.org She loves to write latest technology trends and love to share her knowledge through her articles.