What Is an HTTP Cookie? A Guide to HTTP Cookies and Web Scraping

Scraping Robot
July 12, 2023

HTTP cookies allow web servers to track the user’s browsing activity and store information, such as items added to the shopping cart, on the user’s device. Companies can use this information to provide more personalized user experiences.

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Marketers and data analysts can also use HTTP cookies to scrape information from websites without triggering anti-scraping technologies. Read on to learn how HTTP cookies work, what is an HTTP cookie used for, how are cookies sent in HTTP, the types of cookies, and how to use cookies in web scraping.

What Is an HTTP Cookie?

HTTP cookies are small blocks of data created by a web server when a user looks at a website. They are also called browser cookies, internet cookies, web cookies, or just cookies. Companies use HTTP cookies for:

  • Session management: Cookies can facilitate secure interactions between an application or service and the user. They submit requests to track users’ statuses as they interact with the web service. Examples include shopping lists, auto-filled form fields, and logins.
  • Tracking: Companies can use cookies to monitor and analyze users’ web browsing patterns across multiple sites. Companies often use tracking cookies to better understand users’ habits and preferences for marketing research.
  • User personalization: When users log in, HTTP cookies can remember their settings and preferences for future sessions. These cookies store users’ choices and sync them with a central hub, making it easy for users to return to the settings from their first interaction with the application.

How are cookies passed in the HTTP protocol? When a browser connects with a server for the first time, there are no cookies. The server then creates a unique identifier and returns a “Set-Cookie:” header. Cookies are then passed using header fields in the HTTP protocol. From then on, the browser will include a “Cookie:” whenever it connects with the server.

Companies should avoid storing sensitive data in unencrypted cookies. Malicious actors may use HTTP cookie decoders to access sensitive user information, leading to crimes such as identity theft and fraud.

Types of HTTP Cookies

Types of HTTP Cookies

Different HTTP cookies serve different purposes. Here are some of the most common HTTP cookie types.

First-party cookies

First-party cookies are directly installed and stored by domains or websites that users visit. These cookies let website owners gather analytics data, save language settings, and perform other useful functions for streamlined user experiences.

An example of a first-party cookie is when a user logs into an e-commerce website. Their web browser will send a request that proves that the user is directly interacting with the site. The web browser will then save this data to the user’s computer under the [sitename] domain. Without first-party cookies, the user would have to log in every time they visited the website. They would also be unable to buy multiple items online because the cart would reset every time they added a new item.

Third-party cookies

Third-party cookies are created and set by a third-party server, such as an advertising tech vendor. They are usually used for online advertising. Companies place third-party cookies on their sites through a tag or script.

To give you an idea of how third-party cookies work, suppose a user logs into an e-commerce website. They may look at brown and black shoes before deciding to buy gray shoes. The third-party cookies keep track of the user’s browsing history, which means the user may receive emails and other advertisements for black and brown shoes even though they bought gray shoes. The tracking data will still be on the user’s computer even if the user closes their browser and ends the session.

Session cookies

Also known as temporary cookies, session cookies help websites recognize users and the data they provide. These cookies are frequently used on e-commerce and shopping websites.

Unlike first- and third-party cookies, session cookies only retain information about a user’s activities for the session. Once the user closes the browser, the session cookies will be deleted.

Permanent cookies

Permanent or persistent cookies remain in operation after the user has closed the web browser. Websites use them to provide streamlined user experiences. For instance, permanent cookies can remember passwords and usernames so users don’t need to enter them every time they visit a site.

Permanent cookies have an expiry date and will be destroyed once that date passes. Users can also delete them from their hard drives before the expiration date.

Zombie cookies

Zombie cookies automatically regenerate after the user deletes them. Besides “respawning,” they can be saved in several locations, making it harder for users to delete them.

Third-party cookies often use the “zombie” mechanism to avoid being deleted. Zombie cookies can also be used in online multiplayer games to prevent cheating. Unfortunately, threat actors can use them to install malicious software onto users’ devices.

How To Create HTTP Cookies

How To Create HTTP Cookies

Now that you know how HTTP cookies work, let’s look at how to create HTTP cookies. You can create HTTP cookies through a web browser or a web server.

Through a web browser

First, choose a web browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Then, open the browser’s Developer Tools, go to the Console tab, and type:


Next, check to see if the HTTP cookie has been added correctly. Go to the Application menu tab, select the Cookies menu on the left, and look for the test cookie in the list. If you see “testcookie” under the “Name” column and “2” under “Value,” you have successfully created your first HTTP cookie.

Through a web server

To create an HTTP cookie on a web server or backend, you can write an HTML script for a cookie-creating button. Here’s an example:

<<!DOCTYPE html>

<html lang=”en”>


    <meta charset=”UTF-8″>

    <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>

    <meta http-equiv=”X-UA-compatible” content =”ie=edge”>




    <button id = ‘btnCreateCookie’>Create Cookie </button>


      const btnCreateCookie = document.getElementbyID(“btnCreateCookie”)

      btnCreateCookie.addEventLister(“click”, e=> document.cookie = “example-1”)




After completing the HTML file, you can create an index.js application that uses a Node.js Express application to retrieve the HTML file. 

const app = require(“express”)()

app.get(“/”, (req, res) => {    



app.listen(8080, ()=>console.log(“listening on port8080”))

Every time you press the button, you will create a cookie called “example-1.”

Cookies in Web Scraping

Companies often use cookies to provide better user experiences and gather data for marketing. They can also use cookies to block web scraping, the process of gathering internet information in an automated manner. Web scraping is usually used to gain a better understanding of market trends, competitors, and user preferences. Companies can perform web scraping using the following tools:

  • Web scraping application programming interfaces (APIs) create an automated data conduit between you and a specific section of a targeted website. They don’t extract data — they only provide you with the data that website owners permit you to access.
  • Web scraping bots or scrapers retrieve all the information from a designated website and save it as a data file.

Companies can block web scraping by setting cookies in the HTTP header on their landing pages. When a scraping bot hits a deep page and the website doesn’t see the cookie on the bot’s browser, the site will know that the scraper is a bot, not a human user who accessed the deep page from the landing page.

Fortunately, you can bypass anti-scraping cookies by forging cookies to fool the server into believing that each scraper request is coming from a different user. This can make your web scraping script more difficult to spot, track, and block. However, forging and enabling HTTP cookies can be time-consuming, especially if you have limited coding expertise. That’s why you should consider using comprehensive scraping tools that can bypass anti-scraping cookies. Industry-leading scraping tools also come with other powerful functionalities, such as frequent improvement updates and CAPTCHA solving.

Scraping Robot API and Web Scraper for Bypassing HTTP Cookies

Scraping Robot API and Web Scraper for Bypassing HTTP Cookies

To bypass anti-scraping cookies and other limitations, consider Scraping Robot’s API and codeless web scraping bot. To get started, use our Postman documentation to plug and play with our API. You can also use our web scraping bot to bypass headaches that come with scraping, such as anti-scraping cookies, traps, and CAPTCHA. Other features include:

  • JavaScript rendering: Don’t worry about whether a target site has JavaScript implementations. Our web scrapers will ensure that all JavaScript has loaded the target page’s HTML before fetching that content for you.
  • Metadata parsing: Our scrapers have built-in parsing logic to give you the data you need. Say goodbye to building a separate parser to handle this metadata.
  • No proxies required: Scraping Robot removes the need for third-party proxies. Simply send your keywords or URLs to our scrapers and let us handle the rest. We rotate through different IP pools to avoid anti-scraping technologies.
  • Stats and usage: You will receive beautiful graphs of how many scrapes you’ve performed in the last month, week, or day. You’ll also have a record of your most recently used projects and modules so you can access previous results anytime you want.
  • Guaranteed successful results: Our bots will instantly retry your requests if they encounter any bans.

Interested in experiencing the Scraping Robot difference? Sign up today to get 5,000 free scrapes per month. You will have access to all features, including new modules and seven-day storage. If you need more scrapes, consider upgrading to a Business or Enterprise account. Business accounts offer up to 500,000 scrapes at only $0.0018 per scrape, and Enterprise accounts provide over 500,000 scrapes at rates as low as $0.00045 per scrape.

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