What is Browser Cache? Know its Purpose and How to Clear It

Cached data is information saved in Internet browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari and can be easy to use, but it can also take up a lot of space in the memory of the PC or smartphone. This data is used to make browsing faster and more efficient since features such as photos and documents are already saved on the user’s computer. The following are all the details about the cache, how it works, and also the difference between cookies and history.

What is a Cache and what is it for?

A cache is a term used to classify a particular set of saved information that reflects static components of the site, such as images and documents in general that form the page. The good thing about this is that every time you open a page, your browser doesn’t have to request all the data from the Internet, loading it from the cache in a process that saves bandwidth and makes browsing faster since it’s faster to read files on your computer than to request them from the Internet.

One thing about caching is that it can take up a lot of space. Some browsers, such as Firefox, allow you to manage the limits, but by default, the Mozilla app can take up 1 GB of your hard drive space with data that may not even be that relevant. It is because of these factors that the habit of removing cached data from time to time is recommended.

Where is the cache on your computer

Locations will vary depending on the browser, which may use a different directory structure. Using Google Chrome as an example, you can find the cached files in the browser by opening the directory:

C:\Users\<your-name>>ApplicationData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache.

Since it is not practical to manually navigate to these directories every time the user prefers to perform a cleaning, browsers usually offer cache-cleaning features.

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How to clear your browser’s cache

Clear Cache in Chrome

Clear Cache in Chrome

If you are a Google Chrome user, the process to follow is very simple. The first thing to do is to open Chrome on your computer. Then, you will have to click on the “⋮” located in the upper right corner of the window and go to “More tools”, where you will find the option Clear browsing data.

Clear Cache in Chrome

The browser will ask you to choose a certain time interval (if you want to clear the entire browser cache, choose the “All time” option). Finally, you will have to check the box corresponding to the option “Cached images and files”. Click the “Clear Data” button to complete the process. Do not check the Cookies and other site data or the Browsing history option if you only want to delete the cache.

Clear Cache in Firefox

Clear Cache in Firefox

Firefox users also have it easy. If you want to clear the cache of this browser you will have to click on the Menu button (located in the upper right corner of the window) to access the browser options. Next, you will have to click on the “Privacy and Security” option, where you will find a section called “Cookies and site data”. Click on the “Clear data” button.

Clear Cache in Firefox

Finally, you will have to uncheck the box corresponding to the Cookies and site data option to avoid deleting browser cookies by mistake. Therefore, you should make sure to check only the box corresponding to the “Cached Web Content” option. Click the Clear button and close the about:preferences page to complete the process.

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Clear Cache in Safari

Clear Cache in Safari

The process to follow to clear the cache in Safari is simple, but it requires an additional step. First of all, you will need to have enabled Developer mode within the browser. You can complete this step by clicking on Safari – Preferences – Advanced and checking the Show Developer menu option in the menu bar.

Once you have completed the above step, you can clear the cache by clicking on the Developer button in the menu bar, where you will find the Clear Caches option. Just click this button to clear Safari’s cache.

Difference between Cookies, Cache, and History

Cache are local copies that browsers use to load websites faster, using the logic that reading files on the computer is much faster than reading this data from scratch from the Internet. Browser history is just a list of the addresses the user visits, usually arranged chronologically. The idea is that history allows you to find a previously accessed site, but does not remember the address.

Cookies are another type of data stored on your computer. The idea is that they record the access data and usage preferences of a given site so that when you access the address, all preferences are loaded automatically, including with automatic login. Cookies are what allow direct access to the Facebook home page, and no login is required, for example.

As long as cookies are applied correctly, they are safe and useful. The problem is that these files, which act as digital identifiers, can be used to track data on the Internet and generate profiles about user behavior on the network.

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