The term “cache” refers to a storage container. If you’re familiar with the outdoor recreational activity geocaching, you may be familiar with the term outside of computing. But in website and computer terms, a cache is temporary storage that is used to speed up future requests and load things more quickly for the user.
Caches are used in several different ways in computing.
Your computer’s processor has its own cache called the CPU cache that links the main memory and the processor. There’s a disk cache, too, that links the CPU and storage. Computers also reserve a portion of their RAM to heighten processing speed. And then there's the browser cache.
What is a browser cache?
In computing terms, and specifically for web browsers, websites use a browser cache to store some elements for faster future loading.
When you try to visit a website, by typing in the URL, or clicking through from Google or another website, you make a request in the web browser. The website you asked for replies to your request by loading the website.
For websites that you visit often, some elements like images or fonts are stored in your browser’s cache. This way, the browser already has some parts of the website so it can load faster on your future visits.
Is it a good idea to clear your cache?
Your browser cache helps websites load faster and more efficiently. Clearing your cache regularly can be counterproductive—it will slow down websites that you visit often, because you have to load all elements just like it’s your very first visit to that site. But clearing your browser cache periodically can be helpful for performance and other reasons.
Why should I clear my browser cache?
Website owners typically update their websites regularly, and so cached website elements become outdated over time. A website that’s not working correctly because the files stored in your browser cache don't match the files loading from the Internet may perform better after clearing your browser cache. That's because your browser loads the latest version of the website rather than older cached elements. Think of it like a reset for the website.
Is it time to clear your cache? Here’s how to do so in major web browsers:
How to clear the cache in Google Chrome
- Start the Chrome browser
- Click the three vertical dots on the top right.
- Click More tools.
- Click Clear browsing data.
- Select a time range.
- Check all the boxes.
- Click Clear data to delete the Chrome cache.
How to clear the cache in Mozilla Firefox
- Start Mozilla Firefox.
- Click the three vertical lines on the top right.
- Click Settings.
- Select Privacy & Security.
- Under Cookies and Site Data, click Clear Data.
- Check the content you wish to clear.
- Click Clear to delete your Firefox cache.
How to clear the cache in Microsoft Edge
- Start Microsoft Edge.
- Click the three horizontal dots on the top right.
- Click Settings.
- Click Privacy, search, and services.
- Under Clear browsing data, click Choose what to clear.
- Tick all the boxes if you want to delete all the cache.
- Click Clear now to delete the Edge cache.
How to clear the cache in Internet Explorer
- Start Internet Explorer.
- Click the gears icon on the top right.
- Pick Internet options in the drop-down menu.
- Find Browsing history in General.
- Click Delete…
- Tick all the boxes.
- Click Delete to delete the cache in Internet Explorer
How to clear the cache on Safari
- Start Safari
- Select Preferences from the drop-down menu.
- Click the Advanced tab.
- In the menu bar pick Show Develop menu
- Select Develop from the drop-down menu and click Empty Cache to delete the Safari cache.
How to clear the cache on your iPhone or iPad
- Go to Settings
- Tap Safari.
- Scroll down until you see Clear History and Website Data.
- Tap Clear History and Website Data.
- Tap Clear History and Data to clear your browsing history, cookies, location data, etc., and delete the cache on iPhone.