Have you cleared your cache?
When a developer makes changes or updates to your website, usually, you can revisit your website and see that the changes have been made. But occasionally, even though the developer insists the work has been done, you can’t see any difference on the website for yourself. So is your developer just trying to drive you crazy or is something else at play?
As irritating as this problem can be, it’s very important to ask yourself the question: ‘have you cleared your cache?’
Read on to learn more about what this means, or skip to the end to find out how.
What’s a cache?
Well, in this instance, we’re specifically referring to a browser cache (also known as ‘temporary internet files’ or ‘website files’).
When you visit a webpage using a web browser (like Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Explorer), you’re actually downloading all of the files needed to display that webpage. The folder on your computer where those files are saved is called the browser cache.
The reason the files are called ‘temporary internet files’ is precisely because they are temporary – your browser will continually update these files with new versions over time, as you revisit webpages.
How the cache helps (and hinders) you
If you were to wait an hour or so and then revisit the same webpage, instead of taking time to download all of the necessary files all over again, your browser will try to load it faster for you by using the files it saved to the browser cache the first time you viewed the page. These files would be described as being the ‘cached’ files.
So the browser cache brings both good news and bad news. The good news: it speeds up your internet browsing. The bad news: cached files only ever represent old versions of webpages (whether that’s 1 minute old or 5 hours old), never the most recent version.
Types of caches
It’s worth knowing that the browser cache isn’t the only cache out there. Websites can have their own caches in order to speed up the performance of the site for visitors. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) could also be running caching on your behalf. So in some quite rare cases, the instruction in this blog post may not be enough to force a website to refresh its content for you – in which case you should consider whether the ISP or the website’s own cache are the root of the problem and ask your developer for advice.
Why clear your cache?
When you empty your cache, you’re basically deleting all of the old versions of webpages that your browser has saved up to the present time. So, when your cache is empty, the next time you browse for any webpage, your browser will be forced to download the files afresh from the server containing the website and therefore show you the most up-to-date version of the page.
How to refresh your cache
First, find out which browser you’re using to browse the web – e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari
Then follow the relevant instructions on this site: http://www.refreshyourcache.com/en/home/
Or, search online ‘how to clear cache using’ and type the name of your browser
Then follow the instructions.
If the content or design of the webpage was updated since you last visited it, you should be able to see those changes now. But if not, then refer to the issues below.
Don’t forget to reload the page
If you left a webpage open while you cleared the cache, you just need to reload the page to download the most recent version of it from the web server.
Other caches are still showing you an old version
As mentioned earlier in this post, other caches do exist e.g. website caches. So if clearing the cache didn’t work for you, then speak to your developer for advice or otherwise ask your web hosting provider or internet service provider.