What you need to know about browser cache

Everything you ever wanted to know about browser cache.

Every time you encounter an issue, be it on a work computer or home, the first advice (after the classic: switch it on and off) is to “try clearing your browser cache” followed by “and delete your cookies”.

So, what exactly is your browser cache? What does it do? And why would you want to clear it?

Definition: Browser cache

Your browsers cache, pronounced “cash” for old-school programmers and “kaaysh” for the new generation, is a collection of web page elements, which is not limited to text, images, HTML and JavaScript. It contains records of every item you have viewed or downloaded while surfing the web and stores it on your computer hard drive.

What’s the reason for this? It’s simply to speeds up the time it takes to display a web page by loading elements of the page locally from your cache, instead of downloading everything for the second time.

For example, a typical ecommerce website could have a consistent logo which is displayed in the same location on every page. Instead of your web browser needing to retrieve that logo for every product page you clicked on, it would pull it from the cache.

Why would I want to clear my cache?

There are a few reasons you need to clear your cache regularly:

  1. Web pages are always being updated, whether it’s to include a new functionality or information, so to ensure you are viewing the latest version of the website the cache needs to be cleared.
  2. Keeping your browser cache can be a threat to your privacy, with anyone who has access to your computer being able to see personal information (saved passwords, downloaded data, sensitive data) simply by viewing the cache history.
  3. As the browser cache begins to fill up, your computer’s performance begins to slow down. Eventually, your computer’s hard drive will run out of space.
  4. If you are experiencing 404 errors or 502 errors, it’s a good indicator that your browser cache is corrupted and needs to be cleared.

What about cookies?

Cookies are a small piece of data from a website, which is stored in your browser while you’re on a website. Every time you start a session with a website you frequent, the browser will send a cookie to the website with data from your last visit. The kind of data it sends could be your viewing preference and any autofill data such as username and protected password.

Often cookies are used to track your browsing habits so that businesses can use re-marketing to show you digital advertising. You might notice an example of this when you look at a black leather handbag on ASOS, but then notice paid search advertising for said bag in your Facebook newsfeed and other websites you visit.

How to clear browser cache and cookies

Every browser has their own unique way of clearing cache and cookies, but most can be down within a few clicks.

In Google Chrome, you can access the cache from the browser setting section. Simply click the three vertical dots on the right-hand side of the screen, select SETTINGS, then scroll down to the PRIVACY AND SECURITY section. The last option of this section will say CLEAR BROWSING DATA – select this to clear the browsing data including the history, cached files and images, download history, passwords, autofill data and hosted app data.

At iFactory, we know a thing or two about digital technology and website support. Our team of Brisbane digital specialists have been crafting and creating beautiful website design, applications and offering website support for browsers since 2004. If your website needs an overhaul, get in contact with team at iFactory today.

Read more insights