Flash cookies
#105 Henry, Monday, 20 June 2011 10:45 PM (Category: Linux)
(Tags: flash cookie)

I am very choosy about what cookies I allow. I reject most, and allow only a few that I have vetted. But there is one class of cookie that I don't have a lot of control over, and that's Flash cookies. These insidious little things are stored in multiple hidden places. The latest locations are

I have a cron job that erases all these files once an hour. I don't see a need for these files to be there, I don't want them, so I automatically erase them.

In trying to solve my YouTube/Flash/Firefox problem, I discovered that at work I was erasing the cookies in both locations above, but at home I was only erasing them in the .macromedia directory. There were ancient Flash cookies in there, years old. So I updated my cron job, and manually erased them all.

My initial tests of YouTube after the cleanup are promising. I am viewing a one hour special on Augustus and it has not frozen once. I shall continue my testing, but I'll also visit Anne's Mac and try and find where Flash cookies are stored on a Mac system, and see if that improves Anne's experience.

Time passes...

I have watched a whole mess of bad YouTube videos after deleting the Flash Cookies, and it has not been freezing. I think this might have solved my problem. I dug down into Anne's Mac and found two directories of Flash cookies there too. In different, and non-obvious locations. I deleted the lot, and Anne will restart Firefox later and see if that improves her experience. If you want to see what Flash stores on a Mac, go to $HOME/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player, and under there you will see two directories. One is #SharedObjects, and yes there is a # at the start of that name, and the other is macromedia.com. I deleted both these directories and all directories underneath. Not sure if that will help Anne.

After much fun watching YouTube videos till 2am, I have a better experience but it's not perfect. Before this exercise, it would freeze 19 times out of 20. Now it is freezing 1 time in 20. I am a lot happier. But something is still happening and it seems to be with regular cookies. Right about the time it used to freeze, I get asked if I want to accept cookies something like

YouTube cookie

It doesn't happen every time, but some times. I don't like cookies in general and don't accept them unless there is a need for them. I have found that old cookies can screw up operations when a website changes and it looks at the old cookies and acts on them. I like to clean cookies out regularly. I may have to block these ones in bulk. Or accept them in bulk. More experimentation necessary.