The low-down on browser caching, and what you should know.

(See browser cache obliterating shortcuts at the botton of this article)

The early days of the internet were rough. We had modems that talked to each other like fax machines with awful screeching noises. Those of us who logged onto AOL before the advent of cable and DSL are very familiar with that initial sound, called a handshake. The internet was slow then, and primarily text heavy, which made for some pretty ugly websites that used tables for structure and low-resolution images for backgrounds and image content.

The internet is a lot faster than it used to be, much faster, but our browsing habits somewhat offset the new increased bandwidth. Common modern data requests are comprised of huge video files which start playing before they are finished downloading (streaming), high resolution images that show every detail, web applications that take the place of desktop software, and other massive files that we use every day.

This brings us to the point: as speed/bandwidth increases, our expectations will increase as well, and caching will likely always be a thing. Caching is one of those enigmas of the internet that most people don’t really get. There are multiple kinds of caching online: one is site caching that the servers do to more quickly deliver content from a dynamically generated website, and the other is browser caching.

Browser caching is a major cause of confusion for those who have a business website and hire the web development out to a third party like Grey Goose Graphics. Browser caching is essentially a copy of a website that you have visited that is saved on your computer (ever wonder what “temporary internet files” are?). The reason for this is to make the internet faster for everyone. No need to re-download files that you’ve already downloaded once, right?

The confusion happens when you request your web developer to make a change, they tell you that the site has been updated, but it still looks the same to you. Why? Yep, you guessed it, your browser is still showing you the site saved on your computer.

Don’t worry, this resolves itself pretty fast on its own, and most people who visit your site won’t visit enough for it to be a problem. However, for those of you that need to see the changes you’ve made on your site to verify that they are what you wanted, it’s a problem. That’s why browsers have given you the ability to clear your cache.

Finally, we’ll show you how to clear your browser cache, AND clear up all that confusion. We like shortcuts, so see all the browser-cache-clearing shortcuts below.

  • Google Chrome:
    • While Chrome is the active window, Ctrl+shift+delete will quickly bring up the dialogue to clear all those pesky saved internet files that show you older data.
  • Mozilla Firefox:
    • While Firefox is the active window, ctrl+shift+delete will also activate a dialogue that allows you to initiate a cache deletion.
  • Internet Explorer or Edge:
    • If you are using Internet Explorer/Edge, we suggest switching to Chrome or Firefox. If you insist on using Internet Explorer, ctrl+shift+delete will activate the cache clearing dialogue.
  • Safari
    • Apple always has to be different, so to cmd+alt+e on a mac will get you on your way.

Now that you know how to clear your browser cache, you should never experience the affliction of seeing old data on your website. Happy Browsing!