What is Browser’s Cache?

Aside from turning your computer or device on and off, one of the most common blanket fixes for tech is “clearing your cache”. And while that advice will sometimes take care of a variety of issues, a lot of people don’t really understand what a browser’s cache is — and why it exists in the first place.

In general terms, any type of cache refers to storing something without others knowing what and where. In terms of the internet and your browser, caching still functions as a way to store information, specifically the assets contained on various websites. Each time you visit a website, certain information gets stored in your cache. These assets typically include things like images, CSS, HTML, and other types of JavaScript. Because these assets rarely change (or change infrequently), your browser stores the information in order to do several things, including improving your overall user experience.

The website itself decides which information should get cached and which information shouldn’t. So while most websites have the same images for long periods of time, for example, websites that frequently change their visuals can choose to not have image data cached. Websites also determine how long information is cached, ranging from twelve months to just a few days.


The Benefits of Browser’s Cache

While some people don’t love the idea of information from websites getting stored on their computer, understanding the benefits of this storage system can help you better determine whether or not you want to allow certain websites to cache from your browser. Because your browser asks for information from websites you visit, it starts to “learn” about the assets of that particular website. Depending on what those assets are (and how big they are), this conversation between your browser and the website can take time, which means the load time of a website and your overall experience suffers.

This is where caching comes in.

From that first conversation, your browser stores (caches) information about a website’s assets so that the next time you visit there’s no delay in load time. More than anything, a browser’s cache is designed to make your online experience as enjoyable (and speedy) as possible. And, considering how interactive and media-heavy many websites are today, this really does matter — for you and the owner of the website.

Not only does browser caching allow you to better enjoy visiting and using your favorite websites, but it ensures that businesses perform to the best of their ability. If a website loads too slowly or it takes forever for a shopping cart to load, the chances of a visitor abandoning the site altogether jumps dramatically. Without browser caching, many ecommerce websites would see conversions drop significantly. And, when less money comes in, it’s only a matter of time before businesses have to close their doors (physical and virtual) altogether.

The faster and more streamlined a website experience is, the more visitors enjoy the time they spend, and the more likely they are to say “yes” to offers. So, while it’s possible to block caching altogether, doing so can cause more trouble than it’s really worth. In reality, if you have a good security system in place online as you browse, then having your browse cache information is actually a good thing.

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