For the last few years at least, we seem to be constantly encountering a phrase that, although now commonplace, we have never truly understood, rather, we have followed blindly the instructions of those with a greater understanding of such complexities. To the uninitiated, it seems like an unnecessary, thankless task that is more complicated than it should be and wastes precious time: the chore of clearing my web browser’s cache. Why does our IT team obsess over “clearing my cache”?
Why do I need to clear my cache?
Websites are made up of files and folders that are stored on a server (a computer) which lets your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc) read the files and show you the website. The first time you visit a website your browser stores some of the website’s files on your computer making it quicker to load the next time you visit. Your web browser’s cache is the place where these files are stored and served from and it’s this mystical place, we want to de-mystify.
If your IT team/web developer has made changes or updated your website, there arises the common problem where you can’t view these changes on the live website. The reason you can’t see the changes is simple: your web browser is using the files stored in your cache, displaying the old version of the website. Until you clear the cache of the old web files you won’t be able to see the new website.
How do I clear my cache?
The simple answer is by using the settings on your web browser of choice. If you’re not particularly IT-literate then this task can be a little tricky, so here are guides for the most popular browsers:
When do I clear my cache?
A web designer may clear their cache every day. An IT manager might clear their cache once a week. You might read this blog, diligently clear your cache and never do it again. In the Holden Jones office, we try to have a weekly clean, however, your writer must admit to only clearing my home computer’s cache once a month (at best).
Clearing your cache will not automatically remove the cookies and trackers that have been building up on your computer. If you’re the sort of person that likes to have super-targeted advertising as you browse the internet, you may want to keep them, but that’s a discussion for another day.