Website Health

What Is a Cache, and Why Do You Need to Clear It?

Running into little glitches in your website? There’s a good chance clearing your cache might help. Keep reading for all the details.

A woman is sitting on the floor and is working on her computer

You’ve probably heard the word thrown around a good bit, especially if your business has a website — “cache.” But what does that mean? And how do you clear it? And what does “clearing your cache” actually solve? Don’t fret, we’re about to explain it all. 

The Basics: What Is a Cache?

Essentially, the “cache” is where your browser stores code, images and other files. By storing them in the cache, your browser doesn’t have to re-download them every time you go to a new page or refresh the page you’re on.  So why does this simple and convenient thing cause so many little problems? The short answer (and the only one you need, really) is this: Sometimes the version of a website that’s cached, or stored, on your computer is different from the version you’re loading from the internet.  There’s a chance another odd web term is popping into your head right now — cookies. The difference between your cache and cookies is what they store. Cookies store information about you, and the things you’ve done online like where you’ve gone and what you’ve clicked on. They also keep track of what website you’re logged into, which is why you’ll have to log back into all of your accounts if you clear your cookies. Clearing your cache, however, doesn’t affect your personal information or web habits. 

What Clearing Your Cache Actually Does

There are plenty of benefits to clearing your cache, like increased loading speed, but it can also solve a lot of problems. If you’re running into some weird glitches with your website (or any website, really), clearing your cache might be the solution.

Keeping You Secure

Let’s start with the big one — security. There aren’t very many people out there who want to be less secure online. If you’re using a public computer, or one that’s accessible by other people, clearing your cache from time to time is a good idea. If you don’t, anyone who uses that computer will have access to not only what you’ve been doing, but potentially sensitive or personal information. Not to mention a cache’s temporary files are often a target for adware, malware and viruses.

Optimizing Performance

If you’re online a lot (which most of us are), you’ve probably built up a hefty cache. This can seriously affect the speed and performance of your computer! Add a scarcity of hard drive capacity, and your web trips will start crawling. Clearing your cache will free up some space and keep things running more smoothly.

Fixing Errors

Whether you’re getting a 404 error message, a certain page won’t load, or your website isn’t responding like it should, clearing the cache can fix a lot. Like we mentioned before, a lot of common glitches come from the fact that the stored version of the website and the actual website aren’t in agreement. Clearing, and therefore updating, your cache can usually fix them. So before you pick up the phone or send that support email, give it a try!

Want More Help With Your Website?

At Infomedia, we know a lot about websites. Plus, we know how to explain things in a non-web-developer way, so you’re always in the loop when it comes to your business’ website. For ongoing support, website design and more, trust us to keep things running. 

Alana Harmond

About Alana

Alana has always had a love for writing and all things creative. She graduated from UAB with a degree in Marketing and concentration in social media management, and she now carries her passion into her position at Infomedia as Content Strategist. When she’s not typing up copy for a client’s website or providing a continuous supply of pink Starbursts to her officemates, you can find Alana hanging out with her friends and her cats, Iver and Rosy. She also enjoys singing and playing guitar, taking care of 90+ houseplants, and compiling her “one second every day” video.

See more articles from Alana Harmond

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