How and Why to ‘Clear your Cache’

Have you ever had a problem with a website and seen a help screen that suggested you ‘clear your cache?’ It is often a good thing to do, and solves many problems.

First of all, what is a cache?
It’s the space reserved for temporarily keeping copies of web pages you visit. Keeping a copy in the cache can make browsing work faster because when you visit a site the second time (think of when you press the Back button), it can use the copy in the cache rather than reloading it from the web.

But what about all those web pages that you visited once, or that keep changing and still need to be reloaded? The cached copies collect and can cause problems. Think of lint in a dryer … as it collects and multiplies, it decreases the performance of the dryer until it doesn’t work at all. Temporary Internet Files are like dryer lint! You need to clean them out regularly. If you haven’t done it in a while – you may see a noticeable increase in performance when you do!

To clear the cache
How to clear your cacheTo clean it out, in Internet Explorer 7, click on Tools, Delete Browsing History and you should see a screen like the screenshot at right.

Cache = Temporary Internet Files. That’s all I’m recommending you delete. I like to keep my cookies. Cookies only contain information you entered as you visit websites such as your username and password. They make browsing the web much more convenient by remembering these things from one session to another.

History is a record of where you’ve been. It can be very useful when you can’t remember the name of a website you visited yesterday. To see your history in Internet Explorer 7 – click on the gold star for Favorites, and History is the third button over. It’s a real good idea to delete history on a public computer when you’re finished using it.

Firefox
If you use Firefox, click on Tools and then Clear Private Data. You should see a very similar list of choices:

Firefox

More Information
Microsoft has more detailed information on improving performance of Internet Explorer 7. If you use another browser (program to browse the web) like Netscape or AOL, or Safari, try googling for ‘clear cache netscape’ or ‘clear cache safari.’ You will find instructions on the process for those programs.

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