What is the difference between session and cookies?

Data StorageDifferencesSafe & Security

The data that a user enters into multiple pages of a website can be saved using a combination of cookies and sessions. Cookies and sessions are both vitally important since they record the data that the user has provided for a variety of purposes.

Cookies and Sessions are used to store information. Cookies are only stored on the client-side machine, while sessions get stored on the client as well as the server.

Read through this article to find out more about cookies and sessions and how they are different from each other.

What is a Cookie?

Cookies are little text-based files that are kept on the user's computer and are accessible only by that user's browser. It is possible for a cookie's size to reach a maximum of 4 KB. Cookies are also referred to as HTTP cookies, online cookies, and internet cookies, amongst other names.

When a person signs into a website or application for the very first time, that website transmits a large amount of information to the user's computer in the form of cookies.

When a user opens a site, these cookies maintain track of all of the activities and surfing they do on the site. The information is saved using the string type. The information that is gathered by cookies is not considered to be secure because the information is kept in texts that are simple to read and understand. The users have the ability to control whether the cookies are enabled or disabled at any time they see fit. Only the user who initially created a cookie has access to the cookie's information; no other users can see it.

Cookies are created with the help of an HTTP header and then transferred between the browser and the server. Cookies are saved in the Temporal Internet File Folder by Internet Explorer, but the location where they are saved is determined by the browser being used. Cookies read the data that is generated when we search for and play certain songs on YouTube. Then, the next time that we open YouTube, the same songs or recommendations that are similar to them are displayed.

Why Use Cookies?

Since HTTP is a stateless protocol, it does not save any information about users on its servers. Cookies are a useful tool for accomplishing this goal. It makes it possible for us to save the information on the user's computer and monitor the state of any apps that are being used.

What is a Session?

Sessions are used to temporarily store data on the server so that it can be utilized on a variety of different websites. To put it more simply, a session is the amount of time that a user spends engaged in a particular activity. This period of time begins when the user accesses any website or program and continues until the user exits the application or shuts down the computer.

Because the HTTP protocol does not keep track of the user's status, the web server does not recognize the user as they are navigating the apps available on the internet. The information that the user enters into the program on the home page or any other page will not be moved to any other pages in the application. Sessions are what are used to remove this limitation from the game. Session variables, which can be of any sort, are where the user's data can be saved if they are chosen to do so. The data that is stored by session variables is either encrypted or converted to a binary form on the server, which protects the data from being accessed by a third party.

When the user of the application logs out of that application or closes down their computer, the session value is automatically detached. It is necessary for the session values to be saved in the database if they are to be retained for a longer period of time. Every single session is unique to the individual user, and there is no limit to the number of sessions that can be used within a single application because there are no constraints placed on it. A user can be recognized with the assistance of a session, which is a one-of-a-kind number that is kept on the server in the form of a cookie, a form field, or a URL.

The Session ID, which is a one-of-a-kind number that is temporarily stored on the server, is what is used to identify the user. It is either a cookie, a form field, or a URL that is saved.

Why Use Sessions?

Sessions are used to store information such as User ID over the server more securely, where it cannot be altered. This prevents the information from being tampered with.

In addition to this, sessions can transfer the information from one web page to another in the form of value.

Sessions can be used as a substitute for cookies in web browsers that do not support cookies, allowing for the storage of variables in a manner that is more impenetrable.

Comparison between Cookie and Session

The following table highlights the major differences between a cookie and a session −

Basis of Comparison
Cookies are client-side files that are stored on a local computer and contain user information.
Sessions are server-side files that store user information.
Cookies expire after the user specified lifetime.
The session ends when the user closes the browser or logs out of the program.
Data storage
It can only store a limited amount of data.
It is able to store an unlimited amount of information.
Cookies can only store up to a maximum of 4 KB of data in a browser.
There is a maximum memory restriction of 128 megabytes that a script may consume at one time. However, we are free to maintain as much data as we like within a session.
It is not necessary for us to execute a function in order to get cookies going because they are stored on the local computer.
Utilizing the session start()method is required before we can begin the session.
Data Format
Cookies are used to store information in a text file.
The data is saved in an encrypted format during sessions.
Cookies are stored on a limited amount of data.
A session can store an unlimited amount of data.


In summary, despite the fact that cookies and sessions are both ways to store data on a server or on web pages, the way in which the data is accessed is distinct between the two methods. The data that is kept in cookies is solely kept on the client's side, whereas the information that is kept in sessions is kept on both the client and server's sides.

Cookies are considered to be less safe than sessions since a third-party can manipulate the data that is stored in them, whereas sessions are stored in an encrypted form that the user alone can read.

Sessions also save the passwords on the computer and form data, which means that every time the user accesses an application, that program will not ask the user to log in again. This is because the passwords and form data are saved.

Updated on 28-Jul-2022 12:08:18