The Differences Between Cookies & Sessions

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cookies vs web sessions
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On the front end, the Internet seems simplistic but when you open it up to reveal its inner parts it can become complex. To perform multiple tasks, applications must store data about their users and then retrieve that said data when it is time to execute a user command.

Cookies, caches, and web sessions are all integral parts to retain such information.

However, each one is unique in the way that it stores data, retrieves it for later use, and how each interacts with traditional web scraping. Today we’re going to look at all of these different storage components and what they mean for individuals like yourselves when it comes to data aggregation.

Defining What Cookies Are

Internet cookies are small pieces of information stored by websites about users so that they can personalize experiences across their web applications. You will see cookies commonly used within the e-commerce and affiliate marketing verticals.

That is because the person who made the cookie can set the expiration date and track purchases well beyond a user’s first visit to an e-commerce site.

Cookies are used to facilitate shopping carts, abandoned checkouts, and filters for direct-to-consumer businesses. For affiliate marketers, cookies are essential in tracking commissions and are responsible for allocating funds to the publishers that sold the product.

How Cookies Work

A web session is an allocated amount of time given to a user once they enter an ecosystem on the internet. The data is stored server-side to be used across multiple pages of a website. Web sessions help applications authenticate users, design membership gateways, and retain user data in databases.

If a session is stored in a remote server location, then the application can call upon that data set when a user logs in to a mobile app from a website.

In this way, sessions are used to communicate between mobile applications and HTTP markup language. The unifier is the database that holds each session of the user as a preference. Web sessions matter in scraping because they determine how many requests you can make per session.

We’ll be exploring the types of sessions as it relates to data mining in a moment.

How Web Sessions Work

Typically, a session starts when someone logs into their account, or the application recognizes an IP address. Web sessions are secured because they are stored in binary form over encrypted networks.

Each user’s identification is parsed with the help of sessionID. A sessionID is a unique number stored within a web server. The information can be used site-wide within a web application but does not transfer to other web assets when the user browses the Internet.

Web sessions are frequently used when security is of utmost importance and cookies are disabled within the browser functions. Inactivity can cause a timeout which will erase the user’s data that was being used. This commonly happens to save server load within web applications.

Web Sessions Vs. Cookies

Both HTTP cookies and web sessions are used to store information that can be retrieved quickly. The main difference between them is that cookies are stored as files on the user’s device and can be read by anyone whereas web sessions are stored server-side and come with a host of security benefits.

Cookies will remain until they are expired or deleted whereas sessions recall information automatically and can be set to timeout. Cookies can be used by multiple web applications, unlike web sessions which are typically leveraged by an individual organization.

You must also factor in the size difference between cookies and sessions.

And HTTP cookie can only hold 4 kilobytes of data whereas sessions can hold up to 128 megabytes of information. While it may seem that sessions hold the advantage over cookies it’s important to note that cookies offer the most customization throughout the Internet instead of relying on a single application.

Let’s take a look now at how sessions impact web scraping.

Web Sessions As It Relates To Proxies

In the proxy world, a session simply means how long a connection maintains itself while you are requesting within your data mining operations. For example, a session with a proxy will last until that single node is no longer active at which case the session ends.

Why does this matter?

As we discussed earlier about sessions, platforms like Instagram monitor your session with them, and when a proxy changes it can discontinue your session. This is not always the case, but it is something to keep in mind when you are web scraping or signing into accounts with proxies.

It’s also important to know that it is only natural for a single session to make so many requests from a web application. To get past quota limits it’s wise to switch sessions using multiple proxies so that you can mine more data from a single application without arising suspicion.

Here are a few examples of the different types of sessions you can expect from proxies.

Rotating Web Sessions

Rotating proxies are nodes that rotate with a nice set range of time when the peers device is experiencing higher bandwidth loads. These backconnect proxies Are sourced from individuals’ devices and a session lasts as long as they are not using too much local data.

For example, if the device is inactive the session will last but if the peer starts playing high bandwidth video games your connection will rotate to the next device.

Sticky Sessions

Sticky sessions are still dynamic connections in the rotating proxy product lineup. A sticky session is just a feature within residential and mobile rotating proxies where you can force a session to last as long as possible. At ProxyEmpire we offer sticky sessions up to 90 minutes in length.

It’s not a guarantee that this session will last up to 90 minutes, but rather it signals that you wish to keep the session in place for as long as possible.

For some platforms, it is better to have sticky sessions so that it’s less suspicious when you’re signing into accounts. However, this is not always the case considering sometimes you want the proxy to rotate faster when you’re making requests.

With sticky sessions, you could force rotation down to mere seconds.

Static Sessions

A static session is available with what is called ISP proxies (static proxies) that allow you to keep the same IP address without it rotating. Usually, these connections can stay stable for up to a month before you’re assigned a new IP address.

For some projects are static connection is good because you do not want multiple sessions in a short period of time which could arouse suspicion in platforms.

Of course, the downside to static web sessions is that you can only make fewer requests, scale slower, and have limited proxy pools to choose from. Because static residential and mobile proxies do not use peer devices your IP range and locations that are available are limited.

Conclusion

Now you know how cookies and web sessions work, but more importantly, you can see how sessions tie into the fabric of data mining and leveraging proxies. Examine the scope of your project and decide which session is right to execute it.

If you need help knowing how to set up the right sticky session feel free to reach out to us in our live chat and one of our experts will be glad to help you out.

TL;DR

Balancing complex tasks on the internet requires data storage and retrieval systems like cookies, caches, and web sessions. Cookies, small pieces of user-related data stored by websites, are typically used in e-commerce or affiliate marketing to personalize and track user activity.

Web sessions, on the other hand, store data server-side, allowing applications to authenticate users and retain user details. Proxies play a key role in these scenarios, linking cookies and sessions in web scraping and data harvesting. The choice between datacenterresidential, and mobile proxies is shaped by their distinct advantages and limitations. Datacenter proxies are fast but easily blacklisted. Residential proxies offer reliable anonymity while mobile proxies mimic natural user activity, making them virtually indistinguishable.

The right choice, such as the diverse options offered by ProxyEmpire, forces rotation down to seconds or maintains a lasting session based on your project requirements.

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