Cache, also known as HTTP cache or browser cache or web cache is a temporary storage location in the computer for storing the files that are downloaded by the browser to display websites.
The first time a website is loaded onto a device its resources gets stored in the cache.
Different browsers have different means to tackle cache. But before we delete these files, it is essential to understand what cache is and why we need to cache web pages.
How does a Browser Cache work?
The main aim of cache is to store the specific resources of the website you have visited or the websites you keep revisiting again and again like the homepage.
Cache works by categorizing the resources based on how frequently they change.
The files that don’t frequently change like the website’s logo are cached while files that change regularly like the site’s scripts aren’t cached.
It is essential for the browser to understand which resource is static and which is dynamic.
The cache stores these resources so that the next time you visit the website, it gets loaded faster by retrieving them from your cache rather than from the server.
If the cache is trying to help us then why would we even want to clear the cache memory? Read on to find out.
Why should cache be cleared?
Let’s understand why cache needs to be cleared.
For the latest version of the website
A cache is showing you a web page from the resources stored into the memory. There might be a possibility that this webpage was updated and we would still be viewing the older version of the site.
And sometimes it leads to 404 errors – Page not found and 502 errors – Bad gateway. The updated sites can be viewed by performing a force reload.
To perform “Force reload” hit F5 or Ctrl + F5 in Windows or Apple + R or Command + R in Mac. Most of the times a reload won’t work, and you will have to reload the cache by hand.
To free up storage
Data collected from all the sites you visit gets stored as the cache. These resources tend to get stored in the disk storage.
If these resources are left unhandled, then the sites keep accumulating data from various pages leading to low memory. To free up memory, you need to clear the cache.
Some browsers have a maximum age limit specifying a duration during which cache lives in the memory; then it is automatically deleted.
But it is essential to check and remove the cache periodically.
To enhance the performance
The cache, stored in the disk, uses RAM. When a lot of information gets stored as cache, then it slows down the system.
The processing speed and the data fetching speed take a hit. In most cases, this information is something the user wouldn’t use in the future.
So instead of storing useless information, it can be cleared to store valuable data.
To protect personal details
Like cookies, some website stores personal information like username and passwords, mobile numbers, auto-fill forms, addresses, and credit card details.
If some these caches get into the hands of some unauthorized people, then it could be dangerous.
It is essential to keep this in mind while using public computers or computers in an office. When doubtful always switch to private browsing.
Clearing cache in desktop browsers
Clearing cache is very easy and takes only a few steps. But these steps may differ from browser to browser and Operating Systems.
Let’s see how to clear cache from some of the top few browsers.
Clearing cache from browsers on windows is very easy. Let’s find out how you can do it on different browsers.
- Open Google Chrome.
- Click on the three vertical dots from the top right end of the screen to open up Menu.
- Choose More Tools and then click on Clear browsing data. Alternatively, you can hit Ctrl + Shift + Del.
- Check Cached Images and Files and Click Clear data.
- Open Mozilla Firefox.
- Click on Tools and then choose Clear Private Data from the sub menu.
- Check Cache.
- Click Clear Private Data Now.
- Open Internet Explorer.
- From the top right end of the screen, click on the gear icon to open up the Menu.
- Navigate to Safety and then choose Delete browsing history. Alternatively, you can use Ctrl + Shift + Del.
- Check Temporary Internet files and website files.
- Click Delete.
- The browser notifies you when the process ends with a message box at the bottom of the page.
Now lets us understand how to clear the cache in Mac.
- Open Safari.
- Click Safari in the top left corner of the screen. Choose Preferences in the Menu that appears.
- Navigate to the Privacy tab in the window that appears.
- Click Remove All Website Data.
- When a pop-up window appears, click Remove Now.
- Open Google Chrome.
- Click on Chrome from the top left corner of the screen to open up the Menu.
- Choose Clear Browsing Data.
- A new window opens. Set the time range to All Time and check Cached images and files.
- Click Clear Data to clear the cache.
- Open Mozilla Firefox.
- In the Menu bar, click on History. Choose Clear Recent History in the drop-down Menu that appears.
- When the window appears, set time range to clear as Everything. If the Details section is closed expand it by clicking on the small arrow by its side.
- Check Cache and click Clear Now. You’ll see a progress wheel spinning for a while depending on the amount of data cleared. The process is complete once the spinning stops.
You can clear cache quickly by hitting Ctrl + Shift + Del in Windows or by hitting Command + Shift + Del in Mac. This combination may or may not work depending on the type of browser you use. It is recommended to clear cache manually regularly.
Clearing out cache doesn’t clear your History, your bookmarks. It doesn’t even log you out of sites. Cache only contains records of resources that you viewed or downloaded from the internet.
It only convinces your browser into thinking that this is the first time you are visiting a particular site. Thus fetching you the new and updated version of the site and keeping you safe and secure.