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  • Writer's pictureKamil Zawadzki

How to effectively refresh a page? Types of cache in desktop and mobile browsers

Webchefs_Software _for_humans_cache_types_article

What is a cache?

Cache, also known as cache memory, is a specific area on your computer's hard drive. It saves data from websites you visit, including images, request responses, and login details.

How the cache works?

When you visit a web page for the first time, everything on that page—like text, images, or videos—is downloaded from the server. Websites use caching, where certain data chosen by the programmer is stored on your hard drive.

If you revisit the same web page, only the items the developer chose not to cache are downloaded again. This means only new or updated content is loaded, while previously viewed content is quickly pulled from the browser's cache. This process speeds up website loading times and reduces internet traffic.

Types of browser cache

The local cache, or browser cache, works similarly to cookies or local storage. It uses a designated space on your computer's hard drive to save files from a website or app's server. For websites you visit often, this cached data is regularly updated, which speeds up loading times.

A shared or proxy cache is another kind of cache used when multiple computers on a network access the internet through a local server. Since these computers often visit the same sites, the server's hard drive keeps the needed website data, improving efficiency and saving on data usage.

When revisiting a website, only the content the developer chose not to cache is downloaded anew. This means you get the latest updates while previously visited content loads quickly from the cache. This makes websites load faster and reduces internet traffic.

Cache cleaning

Clearing the cache is crucial. While cached data on the hard drive can enhance computer performance, too much can slow down websites or apps and sometimes even the computer itself. Without regular cache clearing, it might occupy several gigabytes of space.

It's also important for security reasons. Hackers can exploit cached data, mainly if it contains sensitive information.

Moreover, too much of the cached information can hinder the updating of website data. Regularly cleaning the cache helps ensure that websites, apps, and the cache itself are efficiently refreshed.

To clear the cache, the process is simple but can differ by browser.

  • First, go to the browser's main page and click the "browsing menu" in the top right corner.

  • Look for the option that says "clear browsing data" and click on it.

  • You'll see options to choose how much of the cache you want to clear—the last hour, the past 24 hours, the last seven days, or everything since the beginning.

  • Pick the time range you want and then click "clear data".

Clearing the cache is only necessary for data without an expiration date. For data with an expiration date, the browser will automatically delete it once it's outdated.

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