When is the last time you cleared your cache? Do you know what cache is? Do you know how to clear your cache? If the term cache eludes you, you’re probably in good company. It’s pronounced ‘cash’, yes, just like Johnny, and not ‘cashay’ as if you were from West Los Angeles.
Some of you may have a deep understanding for what cache is, and some may have heard it but wondered a little what it might be. Here are my thoughts on cache and what I feel is important to know about it, without getting all technical on you.
By the way, you can go about your lives never having to know the inner-workings of cache and be just fine. There are some things you might want to know though, like how to get rid of it! So read on if you want to know more about cache.
What is Cache?
In my own terms, cache is a temporary place to keep a copy of information for faster retrieval on the second request for said information. You might guess that I would continue on to say that information in this context is nearly anything you want it to be. It could be a stretch to say that moving the coffee brewer closer to you is no different than saving a web page onto your local computer so that the next time you need another cup, or need to visit that web page again, it’s cached for quicker delivery.
And that’s exactly it. Cache is nothing more than a mechanism that allows you to surf faster because the resources the page needs (images, the html page) are already available on the computer you are working on. The page doesn’t need to reach out across the Internet to get that picture or other things.
Here’s another way to think of it. Imagine you visit a particular site every day. This site has a banner graphic across the top that is quite large, and every time you visit, it takes a while for the large header image to travel across the wires every time. That sucks. Really, it does.
If that header graphic was stored on your computer, the browser you are using could be set up to detect that you’ve visited this page before, and that large graphic is sitting right over here next to us. Why bother to download it again when we have it right here!
Your browser can also be set up to detect when the graphic files are different and download the image to refresh your cache.
Most browsers are pre-configured to store some information into cache for quicker access to repeat data.
Why Clear or Delete the Cache?
Well, because sometimes you just get some wacky things happening. Many times while developing a web site I’ll find that it’s good to clear the cache every now and then to get a fresh perspective on the site. Once I clear the cache, I know that everything will be coming straight from the server in brand spanking new form and function.
Sometimes you just get to a point where things aren’t acting like they should. Perhaps you start getting errors with some of the web sites you work on, where there probably shouldn’t be an error. When this starts happening to me, the first thing I do is clear my browsers cache and restart the browser. If the same error happens again, then I know it isn’t due to an outdated or corrupt copy of information in the cache. If clearing the cache rectifies the issue, good deal.
How to Clear or Delete your Cache
With the number of browsers floating around the world, and the number of versions, and also the number of blogs already demonstrating how to clear your cache, instead of regurgitating the information for you, here is one video that goes through each browser and shows you how to delete your cache.
Most all browsers are set up with nearly the same menu systems and concepts, so the above video should be good enough for anyone to figure out how to clear their cache in the browsers.
Understanding the simple concept of what cache is and how it’s used by browsers to increase your surfing speed will help you in the future. No longer will someone say to you ‘clear your cache’ and leave you thinking they wanted to rob you, but walked off instead. No, cache is a good thing and helpful, but from time to time, things can go haywire and you’ll need to delete your cache.
As always, if there are further questions please feel free to ask!
Originally published on 1/12/2009