What Is Cache?

In Blog by Lucy DohertyLeave a Comment

CLEAR YOUR CACHE!
What is cache? Why Should You Worry About It? And How Do You Do it?

What Is Caching?
Simply put caching is a process used by internet browsers and apps to store information. Data is saved temporarily on your machine so that the website, browser or app you are using doesn’t have to download all the data every time you visit.

To put it another way, caching creates a static version of a page or post on your website. Static pages are quicker to load in your browser, which means your site loads faster. More often than not, you will create a page or post and then won’t touch it again, certainly not every day. So, it’s not a problem if the page is cached and served to your users. And it reduces your server load because you’re not continuously requesting the data.

Is Caching Necessary?
Yes actually, it is. We all know how impatient people can be. If a site is too slow to load, we’re off in a heartbeat. Caching can help make your website faster to load because elements of the data are already stored locally on your machine. You might have really big image files on your site. By caching the images and similar elements, they only need to be downloaded once. So, if it’s a website that people use more than once, caching is an important tool for improving user experience.

From a WordPress developer perspective, there is a downside to caching. You might find that you make some changes to your site and then when you refresh the page, you can’t see those changes. That’s probably because the page you are working on is cached. Now you need to clear your cache to see the website as it should be.

How Do You Clear Your Cache?
Just to be clear, cached data is nothing but images, scripts and other files that are stored on your devices by the website you are viewing. Nothing will happen if you clear your cache, and actually, you should probably clear it from time to time anyway.

When clearing your cache, you will more than likely be given the option to clear cookies and browsing history too. I would leave the cookies. If you clear cookies, it logs you out of any websites you might be currently logged into and can just be a bit of a pain.

Chrome

  1. Click the three vertical dots in the top right-hand corner (at the end of the address bar)
  2. Open the settings menu. Go to ‘More Tools’ and ‘Clear browsing data.’
  3. Click the checkbox for cached images and files.
  4. Use the menu to select the amount of data you want to delete – this ranges from removing everything from the past day, to ‘the beginning of time’ if you want to clear everything.
  5. Once you’ve decided, click ‘Clear browsing data.’

Firefox

  1. Click the menu button, select ‘History’, then ‘Clear Recent History.’
  2. Choose how much of your history you want to clear by selecting the time range.
  3. Click the arrow alongside Details to select exactly what information will be cleared.
  4. Finally, click the ‘Clear Now’ button.

Safari

  1. Select ‘History’, then ‘Clear History’.
  2. A drop-down menu will appear, which lets you decide to delete all data from the last hour, today, today and yesterday, and all history. This will delete your history as well as your cookies and the entire browser cache.
  3. If you want to remove just individual sites, select an entry from the list, right click and choose ‘Delete’.

A Final Word About Cache
It is up to the browser you are using as to how it caches data, without instructions from the server. But, as a WordPress website owner, you can control the caching of your site using a plugin. Caching plugins can be easily installed and will cache your WordPress posts and pages as static files. These static files are then served to users, reducing the processing load on the server. However, we’ve encountered problems with some hosting companies who discourage the use of caching plugins.

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