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Cookies: To block or not to block?

Summary

  1. Cookies are small text files that store information about your activity on a website. Third-party cookies are often (but not necessarily) used for tracking and targeted advertising
  2. AdGuard offers features to block first-party and third-party cookies, but they both may cause usability problems
  3. We recommend blocking only harmful cookies — to do that, use AdGuard Tracking Protection filter
  4. If you only want to block cookie notices, use AdGuard Cookie Notices filter

Cookies are often associated with a great deal of annoyance: no one likes to be tracked, and notifications on every web page don’t make browsing any more pleasant. But we also know that cookies are little helpers that make the Web work better: they keep us logged in to websites and remember our language and currency. So what should we do about them?

A quick reminder of what cookies are

When you visit a new website, your browser downloads small text files called cookies. These files store information about your activity on the website, such as your login details, location, and language preferences. The next time you return to the website, it recognizes you and may display content in your preferred language.

Cookies can be set by the website itself (first-party cookies) or by its partners (third-party cookies), often in the form of ad banners or like buttons. Advertisers use cookies to track the behavior of users across multiple pages, gathering data to target them with personalized ads.

Why block cookies and which cookies to block

First-party cookies

These cookies are responsible for usability: they help websites remember how you logged in or what your preferred language is. AdGuard offers a feature to block them, too — it’s called Self-destruction of first-party cookies. You can find it in Tracking protection or Stealth Mode. The cookies will be deleted after the time period you specify.

However, we don’t advise you to block such cookies — it might break some websites.

Third-party cookies

These cookies are often used to track you across websites and place targeted ads. But they’re also required to keep the information about your logins through social networks. If you’re ready to periodically re-log in, here’s how you can block them:

  • In AdGuard for Windows, open Stealth Mode, scroll down to Self-destruction of third-party cookies, and enable the setting
  • In AdGuard for Mac, open Stealth Mode, switch to the Tracking methods tab, and enable Self-destruction of third-party cookies
  • In AdGuard for Android, open Tracking protection and set the protection level to High. Third-party cookies will be automatically deleted after 180 minutes. To customize the setting, set the protection level to Custom
  • In AdGuard Browser Extension, open Stealth Mode, scroll down to Self-destruction of third-party cookies, and enable the setting

Self-destruction of third-party cookies isn’t available in AdGuard for iOS — to block them, you can use the method described below.

Harmful cookies: Third-party cookies used for tracking and advertising

While AdGuard offers several tools to protect your privacy at the highest level, not everyone is willing to sacrifice convenience. We understand that. That’s why AdGuard filter developers thoroughly document harmful cookies and block them with AdGuard Tracking Protection filter. How to find it?

  • In AdGuard for Windows, open Ad Blocker, scroll down to Installed filters, and enable AdGuard Tracking Protection filter
  • In AdGuard for Mac, open PreferencesFilters. To add AdGuard Tracking Protection filter, click +, check its checkbox, and click Subscribe
  • In AdGuard for Android, open Tracking protection and set the protection level to Standard. The filter will be enabled automatically
  • In AdGuard for iOS, open Safari protectionFiltersPrivacy and enable AdGuard Tracking Protection filter

Or maybe just cookie notices?

Maybe you don’t really care about cookies, but the notifications “This website uses cookies” annoy you. If you just don’t want to see them, enable AdGuard Cookie Notices filter (in AdGuard for Android, you can find it in Annoyance blockingBlock cookie notices).


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