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When in Doubt, Clear Your Cache

Whenever I have to do any troubleshooting with a website, the first step is always clearing the browser cache. In fact, if you’ve worked with Dahl House Designs for any length of time, chances are good I’ve said “have you tried clearing your cache?” when you’ve experienced a site issue! I have a love/hate relationship with the browser cache; when they work properly, they are incredibly helpful. But when they don’t? They can cause a lot of frustration.

In this post, I’m going to explain what a cache is, why you occasionally have to clear them, and how to clear your browser cache– trust me, it is easier than it sounds!

What is a Browser Cache?

Internet speeds improve year after year, but even with all the technological advancements, people still want things faster. A browser cache helps to accomplish that! It does this by storing some of the website files locally on your computer. By storing them, your computer doesn’t have to redownload them every time you visit the same site. 

Here’s a scenario: imagine someone visits your website for the first time. When the user lands on the homepage, their computer connects to the hosting server and loads all of the page content. The amount of time this takes varies based on several factors, but generally, most sites will load in a couple of seconds. During this process, their browser will identify certain components of the website that it thinks are useful and download them to the cache.

Next, let’s say the person clicks on the “contact” link in your website’s navigation. When the user gets to the new page, their browser will recognize that some of the “contact” page components are identical to those on the homepage. So instead of having to download the same information a second time from the hosting server, the browser instead uses the file it has saved locally in the cache.

A good example of this is a website logo, like the DHD logo in the upper left screen of this page. Your computer may save this logo so that if you go to another page on the Dahl House Designs website, it will load much more quickly. 

Why Might I Need to Clear My Cache?

Website Error Troubleshooting

Browser caches are very helpful in terms of website performance, but they’re not perfect systems. Occasionally your browser cache can get confused, which may cause a web page to display incorrectly. In some cases, you may not see the most recent content on a site since the browser is continuing to use an old file that is being stored locally, or there may be other visual problems, like missing content.

An easy way to check if you have a caching issue is by opening the same website in an “incognito” window, which bypasses cached files. If what you see incognito isn’t the same as your regular browser screen, it’s time to clear your cache!

Security & Privacy

It is good practice to minimize the electronic trail you leave when public computers, such as those at a library.  Clearing the browser’s cache when you are done is a practical action you can take to help minimize your risk of identity theft and hacking.

Computer Speed & Performance

Yes, your browser cache can help speed up a website significantly. But they can also get so bloated with saved data that they start to impact your computer’s overall performance. Clearing out your cache on a reasonably regular basis will help keep your machine running optimally.

How Do I Clear My Cache?

The exact method to clear your cache depends on the specific internet browser you are using. Find your browser below, and follow the steps listed; you’ll have your cache cleared in no time! If clearing your cache doesn’t fix the problem you are seeing, Dahl House Designs would be happy to assist you with some additional troubleshooting!

Chrome

  1. Click the 3 vertical dots in the upper right of your screen 
  2. Scroll down to More Tools and hover on the right caret and select Clear browsing data; a new window will open.
  3. Set the Time range to All time.
  4. Tick the box that says Cached images and files. We recommend leaving the other boxes un-ticked.
  5. Click Clear data.

Firefox

  1. Select the Menu  and click Options.
  2. Select the Privacy & Security panel.
  3. Under Cookies & Site Data select the Clear Data button on the right.
  4. Tick Cached Web Content. We recommend leaving Cookies & Site Data un-ticked.
  5. Click the Clear button.

Microsoft Edge

  1. Select the Star icon in the upper right; a side panel will pop up.
  2. Select History
  3. Select the Clear History link.
  4. Tick Cached data and filesWe recommend leaving other options un-ticked. 
  5. Click Clear button.

Note – we do not recommend using Microsoft Internet Explorer, which no longer supports new web standards. However, the directions above should also work if you are still an IE user. 

Opera

  1. Click the Menu button, located in the upper left corner.
  2. Click on  Settings. Your settings panel will come up.
  3. Click on Privacy and Security.
  4. Under Privacy, select the Clear browsing data… button; a new window will open.
  5. Next to Obliterate the following items from: we recommend selecting the beginning of all time.
  6. Tick  Cached images and files.
  7. Click the Clear browsing data button. 

Safari

  1. Click on the Safari menu item, located at the top left of your screen.
  2. Select Preferences; a new menu will pop up.
  3. Select Advanced.
  4. Tick  Show development menu in menu barNote that this may already be ticked. Close this window.
  5. Now in your menu at the top of the screen, there should be an option called Develop; select this option. 
  6. Select Empty Caches.

You’ll find that clearing your browser cache solves a lot of issues! But again, if you are still experiencing problems after your cache is cleared, we’d be glad to help you troubleshoot

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Featured Image by: unsplash-logoJohn Schnobrich