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Cookies and local storage

Unless you have enabled respectDoNotTrack during initialization, the tracker will persist information on the client. By default, the Snowplow JavaScript and Browser Tracker make use of Cookies and local storage. The behavior of each of these cookies and local storage keys are described here.


By default, information will be stored both in cookies and local storage, i.e. stateStorageStrategy: 'cookieAndLocalStorage' in the configuration object. This setting prefers cookie storage for _sp_id and _sp_ses.

Alternatively, you can specify localStorage to have the state stored only in local storage or cookie to only use cookies. Finally, you can set stateStorageStrategy to none in order not to store anything client-side. You may also leverage anonymousTracking to control when values are stored in cookies or local storage.

The stored state takes the form of two first party cookies: the session cookie and the ID cookie. By default their names are prefixed with _sp_, but you can change this using the cookieName field in the configuration object. Their names are suffixed with a hash of the current domain, so the full cookie names might look something like _sp_ses.4209 and _sp_id.4209.

Cookie nameExpiresDescription
_sp_id2 years or cookieLifetime set on tracker initializationStores user information that is created when a user first visits a site and updated on subsequent visits.
_sp_ses30 minutes or sessionCookieTimeout set on tracker initializationUsed to identify if the user is in an active session on a site or if this is a new session for a user (i.e. cookie doesn't exist or has expired).
sp1 year or collector.cookie.expiration set in collector configStores a server-side collector generated unique identifier for a user that is sent with all subsequent tracking event events.

This cookie is called _sp_id.{{DOMAIN HASH}} by default. It is used to persist information about a user’s activity on the domain between sessions. It contains the following information:

  • An ID for the user (domainUserId) based on a v4 (random) UUID. Generated by the uuid library.
  • How many times the user has visited the domain
  • The timestamp of the user’s first visit
  • The timestamp of the current visit
  • The timestamp of the last visit
  • The ID of the current session
  • ID of the previous session (since version 3.5)
  • ID of the first event in the current session (since version 3.5)
  • Device created timestamp of the first event in the current session (since version 3.5)
  • Index of the last event in the session (used to inspect order of events) (since version 3.5)

_sp_id is stored in the format: {domainUserId}.{createdTime}.{visitCount}.{nowTime}.{lastVisitTime}.{sessionId}.{previousSessionId}.{firstEventId}.{firstEventTsInMs}.{eventIndex}. Please note that the last 4 parts of the cookie (previousSessionIdfirstEventIdfirstEventTsInMseventIndex) are only available since version 3.5 of the tracker.

Called _sp_ses.{{DOMAIN HASH}} by default, the only purpose of this cookie is to differentiate between different visits. Whenever an event is fired, the session cookie is set to expire in 30 minutes. (This value can be altered using setSessionCookieTimeout)

If no session cookie is already present when an event fires, the tracker treats this as an indication that long enough has passed since the user last visited that this session should be treated as a new session rather than a continuation of the previous session. The visitCount (how many times the user has visited) is increased by one and the lastVisitTs (the timestamp for the last session) is updated.

Note: A new session can be started at any time by calling the function newSession.

When using anonymous tracking with session (anonymousTracking: { withSessionTracking: true }; available from v2.15.0+) this key will contain a salt value which is used to stitch page views into a session. The value is never sent to the collector.

There is a third sort of Snowplow-related cookie: the cookie set by the Collector, independently of the JavaScript Tracker. The Collector cookie is called “sp”. It is either a first or third-party cookie, depending on the collector URL (it can be used as a first party cookie is the collector is on the same domain as the site), used to track users over multiple domains.

This cookie can be disabled by setting collector.cookie.enabled to false (See here for more information).

A fourth cookie can be set that overrides all other settings.

It is possible to set an opt-out cookie in order not to track anything, similarly to Do Not Track, through setOptOutCookie('opt-out'); where ‘opt-out’ is the name of your opt-out cookie. If this cookie is set, cookies won’t be stored and events won’t be fired.

Local storage

Local storage will only be used if stateStorageStrategy is set to localStorage or cookieAndLocalStorage (default). Both the ID and session cookies listed above can be stored in local storage rather than as cookies by setting stateStorageStrategy to localStorage. Local storage can be disabled by setting stateStorageStrategy to cookie or none.

Storage keyDescription
snowplowOutQueue_{namespace}_post2Used to store a cache of unsent events. This is used to reduce the chance of events to be lost due to page navigation and events not being set to the collector before the navigation event occurs. Where GET requests are used, this key will end in _get rather than _post2.
snowplowOutQueue_{namespace}_post2.expiresUsed to match the concept of cookie expiry within local storage. This ensures a consistent behavior between cookie and local storage. Where GET requests are used, this key will end in _get rather than _post2.

Mapping values to tracker protocol

The values stored in the cookies listed above are mapped into the tracker protocol when events are sent to a Snowplow Collector.

The below table shows which parameters the cookie values map to:

Request ParameterEvent ParameterCookie Value
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