So I thought I’d write a blog post about the topic of ‘browser cache’ as it is something that crops up quite a lot in my daily life and so it makes sense to explain things and have a reference document to help anyone who hhasn’t heard of a ‘cache’. So here goes! We’ll start at the beginning….
What is a web browser?
So a ‘web browser’ is the program/application that you use to access the internet. This is different from a ‘search engine’ although they are often confused! Most web browsers are often pre-installed when you buy a new laptop, pc, tablet or mobile phone and each manufacturer has their favourite. These include: Microsoft Edge (or in the old days Internet Explorer), Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox to name the main ones widely used. A ‘search engine’ is the website that allows you to find other websites via its search facility – these include Google, Yahoo, and Bing as the most commonly used.
What is browser cache?
Your ‘cache’ is a temporary location on your computer, device, or phone that saves web pages you have viewed and so if you want to revisit the pages, it shows you the version stored in the cache rather than repeatedly accessing the same content. It does this to make web pages faster so the same things are not downloaded over and over again.
Why do I need to clear my browser cache?
Often when you open or close a web browser, or restart your pc/device/phone, the browser may clear itself automatically. But this is likely not to be the case if you are viewing things over the same period of time. You may have a reason to clear the cache when changes have been made to your website which is why it is something I come across. So using WordPress as I do for websites, this allows the editor, an easy way to edit text & images, add new blog posts and make other changes on the fly as required. But if you have been viewing your ‘About’ page lets say as an example and have changed the photo of your company building for a new one via WordPress, and then return to the front facing side of the website (as seen by the public), you may still see the old photo. Why? Because the helpful web browser is showing you the cached or saved version of the page and not the version you changed a few moments ago. So to refresh the view you are now seeing and see the latest up to date version of the page, you may need to ‘clear the cache’.
How do I clear my cache?
Clearing the cache depends on which web browser you are using. (See the list of popular options above). If you don’t know where to find your browser settings (which is usually where it is accessed), then I suggest going to your search engine and type in ‘clear cache + name of your browser’ and usually you can find a heap of help documents to point you in the right direction.
For Google Chrome via a pc for example:
- Click on the 3 dots in the toolbar top right
- In the drop down options go to ‘More Tools’
- Then ‘Clear browsing data’
- Then you should see a pop up box and if you tick ‘Cached images and files’ and then the button ‘Clear data’ you should then go back to your web page and refresh it to see the later version of that page and hopefully if you’ve been editing your site, the changes you’ve just made.
So after you or anyone else has made any changes on a website, its really important to clear the cache so you know you are viewing the most up to date version. Otherwise you may think the changes haven’t been applied!