Sadly enough, not all cookies are ones you can eat with whipped cream on top.
If you’re new to the nuances of cookies vs local storage, that’s perfectly alright. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of the differences between browser cookies and local storage.
What Are Cookies?
In the simplest of terms, cookies are just little files stored on a user’s hard drive. They can store a lot of information about a particular user and website combination, and both the server and the client may access this information.
The server may then send the user a page that has been specifically designed for them, or the page itself can include a script that has access to the cookie’s data and can remember it for future use.
So, just what does one find in a cookie?
Each cookie is essentially a key-value pair lookup database. You can access the information stored in a cookie and use it to render a website in accordance with the user’s preferences. This happens after the code running on either the server or the client computer reads the cookie.
Digital cookies are a simple and effective technique to transfer data across website sessions, or between sessions on linked websites, without requiring the server machine to temporarily store large quantities of data. Without cookies, retrieving a specific user’s information from the server would be cumbersome and would require a login on each visit to the page.
Therefore, if there is a lot of data to keep track of, just use a cookie. Further, a cookie’s lifetime may be set to whatever value the user specifies.
LocalStorage: A Brief Overview
Data may be stored locally on the client’s machine using localStorage. In short, it allows for the storage of data in a web browser as a set of key-value pairs with no time limit attached to their storage.
This helps to improve performance by reducing the amount of data sent back and forth between the client and server. Finally, the same-origin policy ensures that the information you save may only be accessed from inside the same domain.
Cookies vs Local Storage: Highlighting the Differences
Cookies and local storage have complementary but distinct functions.
Local storage can only be viewed by the client, but cookies are read both by the server and the client. The amount of the data you may store is a significant technological distinction, as localStorage provides greater space.
Finally, when dealing with both, it’s important to consider who in your application — the client or the server — really requires this information.
Obtaining Server Access
Cookies, on the other hand, are only visible to the server; the server cannot access the data that is locally stored on the client.
As a result, cookies need to be used in circumstances in which it is essential for the server to have access to a compiled set of data.
The Size of Your Data
Compared to local storage, cookies have a very limited capacity. In contrast to local storage, which may hold up to 5MB, cookies are limited to a maximum of 4096 bytes.
Because of this, cookies shouldn’t be utilized to save a lot of information. To keep track of the user’s information, you should utilize the browser’s local storage.
Data Expiry Constraints
It’s possible that once a certain amount of time has elapsed, cookies will no longer be useful. It does not matter how far into the future you place the expiry date; it will still arrive at some point.
Nevertheless, the information that you keep in the local storage of a user’s browser is available whenever you need it. The user must either directly intervene in the code or utilize the browser’s built-in menu to access the storage deletion option in order to clear the local storage.
Streamlining API Use
Therefore, the use of local storage is strongly recommended above the utilization of cookies for some online applications.
Which One Is Better?
Understanding this should be easy after reading the contrasts and definitions. But let’s sum it up and make it even more crystal clear.
Cookies are useful for storing information that may be accessed by both the server and the client. In every other case, save data locally.
Larger amounts of data are better suited for local storage. So, you’ll want to use local storage for any data that will never go out of date.
Also, use local storage if you require simple access and editing of information kept on the client-side.
Exploring Browser Cookies and Local Storage: Simplified
With everchanging privacy laws, it’s essential for anyone running an online business or web application to have a solid understanding of digital cookies and local storage.
We hope that our guide has shed some light on the cookies vs local storage debate. Next stop: check out our technology section for some additional tips on how to write cleaner code (cookie-related or not) and much more.