When providing the best online experience for users, speed is of utmost importance. There are many ways to improve site performance, but caching is one of the most common ways.
What is Cache?
Cache is a storage layer that temporarily holds data, such as HTML pages and images after visiting a website. Saving this type of information allows the site to load faster the next time it is visited from the same device. This is much like learning a new process until it becomes so familiar that you don’t need to reference a tutorial—it becomes second nature and the process is much faster. Caching works the same way and is used to speed up the load time of websites.
How Does Caching Work
Every time you visit a website, your device needs to retrieve all of the data associated with the site. When you have accessed it for the first time, some information gets automatically stored on your computer or mobile device to help speed up the load times for subsequent visits. Users can’t select what information is stored to increase the speed of loading. This is predetermined by the website developers based on what they believe will offer the best experience for the visitor. While everyone benefits from caching, it is extremely beneficial for users who live in areas with unreliable internet.
The first time a website is searched, the request follows the normal DNS process to retrieve the site’s homepage. The query goes to the recursive server, which reaches out to a series of authoritative servers until it retrieves the site’s address and delivers it back to the end user. When it is already cached, the file is stored within the recursive server. This allows faster delivery of the already prepared file to the browser of any end user until the time to live expires.
Time to Live (TTL) is the amount of time that an object is stored in a caching system before it’s deleted or refreshed. TTL is a predetermined measure that is configured by the domain’s system administrator and controls how long the information is cached, or how long it is stored in the DNS record on the server.
Types of Caches
There are two types of caches: server and browser. Server caching is done on the server and browser caching takes place on the client (user) side.
I’ve discussed this type and how TTL plays a part in controlling the content being delivered and how long it is saved. Retaining the information makes it much faster than having to go through the query journey and visiting all of the servers to retrieve it. This process is a quick one, but it still saves time to retrieve the cached version since it is already stored on the server.
The ideal load time for a website is about two to three seconds. This time is crucial to keep visitors from leaving before the site loads and keep them returning. While cached information is used to improve online experience, it can also be a security risk. Hackers are lured by stored data and are always desperate to get their hands on it.
Most devices have their own cache cleanup, but sometimes it is necessary to clear your browser cache. You may choose to do so for privacy reasons or to clean out a cache that is full to enhance speed or to fix pages that aren’t displaying correctly.
How to Clear Your Cache
Here are the basic steps on how to clear your cache for the most common browsers:
Click on the three vertical dots from the upper right corner and click on More Tools and then select Clear Browsing Data. Select the box for Cached images and files and then click on the Clear data button. See Google’s support page for help clearing this data on mobile devices.
Go to Settings, select Safari, and tap Clear History and Website Data. This will clear your history, cookies, and browsing data. Visit Apple Support for advanced options.
Click on the Tools menu from the upper right. Choose Internet Options from the drop-down menu. Under the General tab, in the Browsing history section, click the Delete button.
Click on the three horizontal lines and select Settings. Choose the Privacy & Security panel. In the Cookies and Site data section, click on Clear Data. Select the box for Cached Web Content and then click on the Clear button. To set your cache to automatically clear, visit their tutorial.
See our How to Flush DNS Cache resource guide for more information on clearing DNS cache.
Caching: Refreshing Your Memory
Cached data is temporary memory that is stored after visiting a website. There are two types of cache: browser and server. Caching on both speeds up a website’s load time. Devices have a cache cleanup, but sometimes you may need to clear your cache to reduce the amount of stored information that can affect your browsing or for privacy protection. Caching helps websites load quickly upon subsequent visits and is used to improve your online experience.
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