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The Anonymous ID (aka Cookies)

The Cookie ID, also referred to as the Anonymous ID, is an anonymous identifier generated by the analytics servers and assigned to each monitor contacting the servers. This means that when you integrate and start a monitor inside of your software on a machine, the specific monitor is assigned such an identifier which is stored and reused in all future communication with the analytics servers for this machine.

It is important to understand the role of the Anonymous ID in the analytics system. It is intended to be an identifier that can be used to correlate between data and identify the data without identifying the end user. In contrast, the installation id is an identifier that can be assigned as part of integrating the monitor into your software and can therefore potentially carry more semantic value.

You cannot change this anonymous identifier, but you can access the current value on most platforms through the Status.CookieID property on the monitor, which will reflect the currently active Cookie ID.

Storage and lifetime

The anonymous identifier is stored locally on the device or machine that your software runs on as part of the meta data stored for the monitor and is loaded each time the monitor is started from your software.

The storage method depends on the platform:

Platform Storage and lifetime
.NET Stored in file in app's IsolatedStorage.
Regenerated when application is uninstalled or the major version is changed.
Javascript Browser cookie called "__eqtUser" + productId.
Regenerated if not revisited by user at least once every year.
Java and Android Stored in path defined by System.getProperty("").
Only regenerated if files are removed.
iOS and MacOS Stored in subfolder Analytics in either of these folders: NSSearchPathForDirectoriesInDomains(NSLibraryDirectory, NSUserDomainMask, YES) or
NSHomeDirectory() + "Documents" (for iOS)
"~/Library/Application Support" (for MacOS)
Only regenerated if files are removed.
Windows, Win32 Stored in subfolder Analytics in either of these folders:
%USERPROFILE%\Application Data
%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data
Only regenerated if files are removed.

Installation counting

The anonymous identifier forms the basis for counting installations of your software, since the installation base of your software is calculated as the number of different anonymous identifiers that contact the servers in a given time interval. You can read more about how installations are counted based on cookie ids here. The anonymous identifier is also central when you need to run Data Studies to calculate the total number of users that match a given criteria. You can read more about how to calculate the total number of unique active users in a specific period here

A number of factors can affect the relative accuracy of this number compared to the actual number of different users of your software:

  • If the local storage is removed on a device or machine, either through a re-installation, a hard reset or the end user removing the data from the file system, the analytics servers will assign a new anonymous identifier on the next communication and this will effectively count as a new user.
  • On some platforms the monitor meta data is by default stored per-user and not per-machine on the machine, which means that each user on the machine is counted as an installation, which might not be intended behavior.

While you can hardly avoid a re-installation or a hard reset performed by the end user, you can affect where the monitor meta data is saved on the file system. This can be done by providing a custom storage for the meta data that ensures that e.g. data is stored per-machine rather than per-user.

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