Most Internet cookies are incredibly simple, but they are one of those things that have taken on a life of their own. Cookies started receiving tremendous media attention back in February 2000 because of Internet privacy concerns, and the debate still rages.

On the other hand, cookies provide capabilities that make the Web much easier to navigate. The designers of almost every major site use them because they provide a better user experience and make it much easier to gather accurate information about the site's visitors.

In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we will take a look at the basic technology behind cookies, as well as some of the features they enable. You will also have the opportunity to see a real-world example of what cookies can and cannot do using a sample page that we developed here at HowStuffWorks.