What Is Browser Cache and Why Do You ‘Clear It’?!

A laptop open with a web browser

“Clear your cache” is a phrase we hear a lot when trying to fix an issue with our internet browser. When you search for a solution to most browsing errors you’ll notice the number one recommendation is always to ‘clear your cache’ first.

But what is cache exactly? Why do we have to clear it? What is its purpose of doing so, and why is this ‘cache’ there to begin with? The answer to these mysteries in more awaits you in this article.

What Is Browser Cache?

Cache is pronounced CASH (and if used properly with website optimization services, it can mean cash for your web page). However, cache has nothing to do with money. Cache is, put simply, your browser’s memory of your browser history.

If I sing “A-B-C-D….” and ask you to finish, you know from memory of singing the alphabet song that the next letters are E, F, and G. You already have that ingrained into your head; into your own personal memory cache. These memories are what defines cache data. Cached images and files are remembered so that the next time your internet connects with a website it’s already been too, it loads quicker.

How Does Cache Work?

When you visit a website for the first time, your browsing cache will be sure to take note and remember the site’s data. When you visit that same web page again, your computer remembers what was on that site. Remembering what was already there makes loading faster and allows you to get the information quickly. Instead of having to learn the website’s pictures over and over again, your browser remembers right away what was there before; recalling it from memory like your ABCs.

When your computer’s memory is too slow to keep up with a constantly updating internet your computer uses cache instead. Storing these temporary internet files helps shorten the time it takes to access the data.

Google Chrome browsers, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox use browsing cache to save your browsing history. Web browsers can reach cached file data much quicker than they can from the data on the website itself.

What Does Clearing Cache Do?

Sometimes in collecting too much cache we can run into problems with how it loads the information from a website. If someone has updated their website and what type of web caching it’s putting out, they may be trying to improve the performance of the site. However, in doing so they may be giving the wrong signals to the information you cache already has stored.

When this happens, it’s good to clear your cache; wiping the slate clean so fresh information can be added in the future. Moving furniture around your home will rewire your brain to remember where everything is. Sometimes you might think to sit in a chair that is no longer there!

It’s not always an update that causes a browser issue. Sometimes there is too much cache data being processed and the cache gets confused. This is why clearing all your cache can really help fix an issue. Everything starts over new!

Browser Cache vs. Web Cache: Getting Good Web Optimization

Website data and how it loads can make or break a browsing experience. With clever website optimization services, Quadshot Digital can make sure your website has the latest version of everything it needs to create great web caching. Contact us today and we can make your site delightful for your target market.

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