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What is a Cookie Cleaner?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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In 1995, when Netscape first designed and implemented cookie functionality into its browser, there were no cookie controls available. Cookies were automatically enabled by default. Watchdog groups soon learned that cookies were being used for invasive purposes and third party software sprung up to address the issue. Enter the cookie cleaner.

The first versions of cookie cleaner programs merely deleted all cookies that were found on the hard drive at boot-up, or alternately at shut down. They did not prevent cookies from being set, or placed on the computer, nor were they configurable to any great degree. Cookie cleaner functionality of this type was built into many utility programs as a bonus feature, but some found it inconvenient because useful cookies were deleted along with unwanted cookies.

Soon, the cookie cleaner became more of a cookie manager, incorporating greater control over cookies. Arguably the most popular and comprehensive award-winning cookie cleaner and manager was Cookie Crusher by The Limit Software. Cookie Crusher did not just clean cookies, but was the first cookie program to allow the user to prevent cookies from being set in the first place. With this generation of cookie cleaner, users could create a list of sites that should be allowed to set cookies, preserving desirable cookies.

However, this proved to be too general as well, for sites that generated useful cookies also generated Web-tracking cookies, sometimes from third party advertisers. The cookie cleaner answered the call again, with Cookie Crusher leading the way by offering an exclusive feature to refine cookie sorting one step further. It offered sorting not only by website address, but also by the type of cookie presented at the website. A registration cookie could be identified and spared, while a tracking cookie from the same site could be automatically denied.

Today there is an abundant array of cookie cleaners and managers. Over the years, cookie control has also been built into browsers, but a third party cookie cleaner or manager can offer a higher degree of flexibility and ease in controlling cookies on the fly or on demand. If you would like more control over cookies than your browser provides, or a separate program for the sake of added security, a cookie cleaner and manager will suit your purposes.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Anna10 — On May 25, 2011

I downloaded a free cookie cleaner about a month ago and I've noticed a huge difference in speed when I'm browsing and searching. Everything is much faster.

I try to remember to use it every night before I shut down my laptop.

By Othilia — On May 24, 2011

I have something that came installed on my computer, called a registry cleaner. Is that the same as a cookie cleaner? I haven't dared use it, since I don't know exactly what it cleans.

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