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What is a cache?

The term cache usually refers to the browser cache. This is a place on the hard disk of a computer where the browser used stores downloaded content in case it is needed again.

  • Avoids repeated downloading of the same items
  • Saves time by keeping the relevant information locally
  • Usually has a certain size limit
  • Its deletion usually fixes any problems that may occur

Why the browser cache exists

The cache exists because of an essential basic assumption of browser designers: The Internet is “slow”. In other words, the Internet is “slow”: the Internet connection is almost always slower than the computer. It is therefore faster to retrieve something from your hard disk than to download it again from the Internet. This is true even at todays advanced Internet speed. Of course, browser developers quickly noticed that most websites contain many of the same elements on several pages. For example, if you look at one page or another, you will notice a logo or similar on a web page every time you visit it. In fact, youll find it on every subpage of that website. So the thought was, why download the same logo over and over again for every single page? Why not just download it once and then keep a copy so you can view it again without downloading it each time? Thats basically what the browser cache is all about. Its nothing more than a special place on your hard drive where the browser stores downloaded content once in case you need it again. For example, the first time you visit a page of a website, the browser caches the logo and several other elements, and then displays them as part of the page youre viewing. As long as the same logo is displayed, it doesnt need to be downloaded again for each subsequent page you visit – its conveniently already on your hard drive. The cache usually has a size limit, but you can usually configure it. When the cache is full, items that havent been used for some time are deleted to make room for the items you are currently using. By and large, this is what the cache is all about: a place where things are kept locally so you dont have to download the same things over and over again.

Clearing the browser cache

The question arises: Why would you want to delete the cache and how? The phrase “Clear your browser cache” is usually the first answer that technicians or other experts like to give when you encounter problems with web pages. And there are good reasons for this. For various reasons, the cache can sometimes not work properly. This seems to happen, simply put, in all common browsers and at unpredictable times in practice. For example, partially loaded or badly formatted web pages are displayed, or pages that need to be updated, but no complete images – or in some cases even the wrong image in the wrong place. Of course, in such cases it is not always a problem of the cache, but since it happens often enough, clearing the browser cache is one of the first routine diagnostic steps you will hear from the experts. If you empty the cache, the game starts all over again: the next time you visit a web page, everything has to be downloaded again. There are easy to find instructions on the web for the most popular browsers (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge). An empty cache simply means that there is no confusion. When you visit web pages, the browser downloads new copies of everything you see on each page. So youve simply forced your Internet browser to rebuild the cache from scratch when loading or refreshing pages. Any cache-related problems should eventually be fixed.

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