Review: Top 5 cookie managers
(IDG) -- Block cookie files, or choose to accept them, before they reach your hard drive.
- WebWasher: This free program filters unwanted ads, crushes cookies, and prevents companies from profiling your surfing habits. You can eliminate pop-up windows, banner ads, and the new, larger "skyscrapers" and "rectangles" that increase the time it takes to view Web pages. You're even protected from Web bugs, invisible graphics hidden in documents that trigger the sending of messages to third parties.
- Cookie Pal: Not all cookies are mouthwatering. This program lets you decide which ones to accept and which to reject. Set the program for automatic rejection or acceptance, or have it trigger a pop-up window that gives you the choice each time a cookie is offered. You can also set it so that all sites' cookies are treated equally, or specify that some are automatically accepted and others automatically rejected. This program works with Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, AOL, and other software. (AOL Time Warner is the parent company of CNN.com)
- AdSubtract SE: This free utility prevents Web ads from appearing and selectively blocks cookies. You can track blocked cookies and ads, or turn on the sound feature to hear when ads and cookies are being blocked. The program works with Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, and AOL. A $15 verson (AdSubtract CE) has unlimited, custom settings and lets you sort ad cookies and trusted-site cookies by giving them different colors.
- Cookie Crusher: Since cookies are increasingly used by advertisers to monitor what pages you visit, this program helps you protect your privacy by stopping incoming cookies from reaching your hard disk. The best feature of the program is that it doesn't work in an all-or-nothing fashion; instead it lets you select whether you'd like to accept or reject a cookie. Unlike Cookie Pal, Cookie Crusher tells you each cookie's classification and function, helping you identify which ones are innocuous and which ones may be threatening.
- Complete Cleanup: Worried someone is peering over your shoulder, tracking your every Internet move? This utility protects your privacy by identifying and removing cookies, cache files, Web history, and location URL history. Its interface allows you to easily view and delete your temporary Internet files, yet it doesn't stop there. It also gives you the option of cleaning files on your system, including your "recent documents" list, your temp files folder, and files you've run or searched on within Windows. You can do much of this manually, of course, but if you're planning to do these tasks repeatedly, as is recommended, this program can help.
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4:30pm ET, 4/16