What’s a Browser Cache? How Do I Clear It? Why Would I Want To?

The browser cache appears in more answers than questions, but often causes even more questions.

Even while following instructions to empty the cache, many people aren’t clear on what this piece of magic really is, or why clearing the cache does anything at all.

Let’s review what the browser cache is and why it exists. I’ll also point you to steps to clear it in Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome, and try to dream up some reasons why that sometimes helps.

Read moreWhat’s a Browser Cache? How Do I Clear It? Why Would I Want To?

How do I view cookies in IE 11?

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How do I view cookies in Internet Explorer 11? There used to be a menu item, but that seems to be gone now.

I had to go searching to figure this one out. While it hasn’t changed a lot, what used to be moderately difficult to discover and easy to do now seems totally obscure.

The good news is that it’s still easy to do.

Read moreHow do I view cookies in IE 11?

How does flushing a DNS cache help resolve some issues, and while you’re at it what’s DNS?

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I suddenly started to encounter ‘time-out’ error messages with certain sites – yours being one of them! On looking further, I could not find any logic to the dozen or so sites I regularly visit being unavailable. I tried accessing these sites through an online proxy – the sites loaded. I re-booted and ran all the adware / spyware / virus programs – all to no avail. I managed to Google the problem and found some obscure forum with the response ‘go to command line prompt and type “ipconfig /flushdns” ‘ which I duly did. Perfect – problem solved – but why did I need to do this, what is a DNS cache flush and how can I avoid this problem in the future?

Well, I can’t really say why that fixed your problem, since a reboot is also another way of flushing your DNS. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons tech support folks insist you reboot as the first step when investigating just about anything.

But you seem to indicate that a reboot actually didn’t help.

However, flushing the DNS cache can sometimes help, and it’s much faster than a reboot.

Read moreHow does flushing a DNS cache help resolve some issues, and while you’re at it what’s DNS?

Is It Safe to Let Websites Remember Me?

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Leo, you’ve made a big deal about how insecure it is for an internet browser to remember your login information because it can be viewed by anyone using that browser. However, what about websites that offer to remember your login information for you? An example of this is Google. When you are logging in you can simply check a box that says, “Stay signed in” and unless you actually physically log off, you’ll remain logged in. If you don’t check that box, simply closing the browser will log you off.

Let’s say I’m taking my neighbors laptop on a business trip for several days. If I stay logged into Google with the “stay logged in” button for the duration of the trip and I physically log off before I return the laptop, will my neighbor have access to my account information like he would if I had Chrome remember any of my passwords? This is assuming that I don’t delete any sort of browser information. All I do is log off.

The good news is that as long as you remember to log out, you’re relatively safe. The bad news (besides my having to use the word “relatively”) is of course what happens when you forget to explicitly log out.

Read moreIs It Safe to Let Websites Remember Me?

Does visiting a search-engine cached page prevent the original site from noting my visit?

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There are times when one might choose to search a company’s web page as cached by Google or Bing in the hope of not broadcasting one’s IP address to the company by searching its active web page. Does visiting the cached version of a page provide anonymity at least from the company being searched? If not, is there a way to modify the search to achieve this anonymity short of using a proxy address?

The answer depends a lot on the specific sites that you’re actually looking at. In many cases, yes: the original site will never know that you were looking at its content that was cached somewhere else. However, in many other cases, – perhaps even most – the answer might be very different.

Read moreDoes visiting a search-engine cached page prevent the original site from noting my visit?

How Much of the Swap File Actually Gets Used?

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Leo, I’ve been wondering how much of the swap file gets used when you have 16 or 32 GB of memory. I have been in the habit of placing the swap file and Lightroom’s cache on an SSD to improve speed. But I’ve been wondering whether the swap file should go on another hard disk drive, especially if it doesn’t get used much.

Unfortunately, there is no general answer to say how much of the swap file is going to be used. It depends entirely on the software that you’re running, what your system’s own memory requirements are, and how much software you’re running.

For example, if I’m just running a web browser and a couple of other things on a machine with lots of RAM, my system may not be using the swap file at all. On the other hand, if I’ve got Photoshop, a video editor, and a virtual machine or two running, then the memory requests of the system may be high enough that it’s going to start using the swap file.

So, I can’t answer your question, specifically, but I can review some of the things that factor in.

Read moreHow Much of the Swap File Actually Gets Used?