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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.

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The browser cache

The cache exists because of a basic assumption made by browser designers: the internet is slow.

More accurately, your internet connection is slower than your computer.

CacheIt’s faster to get something from your hard disk than it is to get it from the internet. Even with today’s internet speeds, that still holds true.

Browser designers noticed that most websites have many of the same elements on multiple pages. For example, if you look at this page, you’ll see the Ask Leo! logo at the top. It’s actually at the top of every page on this site. So the thinking was, why download the same logo over and over for every page? Why not just download it once and then keep a copy so we can display it again without downloading it every time?

That’s the browser cache. It’s nothing more than a place on your hard disk where the browser keeps things it downloaded once in case they’re needed again.

The very first time you visit any page on this site, the browser downloads the logo, and several other items, into the cache, and then displays it as part of the page you’re viewing. For each additional page you visit, as long as the same logo is displayed, it doesn’t need to be downloaded again — it’s already on your hard disk.

The cache has a size limit, which you can usually configure. When the cache gets full, the items in it that haven’t been used in a while are discarded to make space for items you’re using now.

Naturally, there’s more to it than that. For example, there are ways for me to update the logo on my site and have that override whatever is in your cache, so what you see is always up-to-date. But by and large, that’s all it is: a place to keep things locally so you don’t have to download the same things over and over again.

And it’s all transparent to you.

Until something breaks.

Clearing the cache

Clearing the cache just means emptying it, so the next time you display a webpage, everything must be downloaded anew.

For reasons I can’t explain — other than by saying “stuff happens” — the cache sometimes get confused. This seems to happen to all browsers and at random times. You’ll see partially loaded or badly formatted webpages, pages that should update but don’t, incomplete pictures, or, in some cases, the wrong picture in the wrong place.

It’s not always a caching problem, but because it happens often enough, “clear your browser cache” is one of the first diagnostic steps you’ll hear from people like me.

I’ve put together instructions for the four most popular browsers.

An empty browser cache

Your browser cache is empty – so what?

An empty cache means there’s no confusion. As you visit webpages hereafter, the browser will download fresh copies of everything you see on each page. You’ve simply forced your browser to rebuild its cache from scratch as it loads or re-loads pages. Any cache-related issues should be cleared up.

Until the next time.

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139 comments on “What’s a Browser Cache? How Do I Clear It? Why Would I Want To?”

  1. For all three browsers, a quick method to get to the clear history dialog is the shortcut key combination Ctrl+Shift+Del which brings you directly to the that clear history page. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this also works for Safari and Opera)

  2. Browser cache is easy to clear, what about the hidden files as in Content.IE5? especially when one of the files is corrupt and unreadable? Virus scan and Antisyware cannot clean it and I can’t run CHKDSK all the way through or Defag until I do a complete Chkdsk. I have gotten right up to the Content.IE5 folders but as soon as I try to delete one the PC freezes up. Can I do something else to get rid of IE5? Thank you, Roberta.

  3. You could make frequent use of Ccleaner.

    It may take too long though if you hear the Feds battering down your front down and shouting Catch as cache can!

  4. Leo, if, I am not mistaken, there is another part to ‘controlling’ the Cache. Deleting the Temporary Internet Files does a great job, but most users are unaware that there is a ‘setting’ that helps ‘control’ the Cache, so it doesn’t get TOO big!

    It is in Internet Explorer’s Options, on the first page, under Browsing History. Look at the button that says, ‘Settings’. By Default, Internet Explorer sets this setting quite high, usually way into the 1500MBs and higher, when all that is really needed is no more than 250MBs. I know that making sure my setting is set at 250MB, I can do lots of surfing and my PC doesn’t slow down much, at all.

    There is also a ‘setting’ in Firefox. It is a little harder to find. Open up the Tools option, at the top of the browser. Click on the Advanced button, then click on the Network button. On that section, you will see where you can ‘set’ the amount you want to ‘cache’. I also, set my Firefox at 250MB. It simply works and keeps me going with both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    • I regularly set my cache to be only 50 meg and don’t see any significant performance issues. In addition I set the days to 5. I manage 20 computers at a small company and set up all of the computers this way. Most of my users don’t understand the cache concept and these settings help to keep the computers from bogging down. I haven’t had any performance complaints yet.

    • Note that the *size* of the cache is simply a space issue. The fact that it’s 50MB or 1500MB doesn’t mean anything if you have the room. When thing go *wrong* is when clearing the cache can be, and often is, a good early troubleshooting step. But if everything is working fine, then the fact that my cache is consuming 2GB of space when I have 100GB to spare is insignificant.

    • Reid, I’m not sure that you are correct about the sheer size of the cache compared to the sheer size of the remaining hard drive space. By reducing the amount of cache retained on the hard drive you are also reducing the amount of time needed to compare this retained data to newly requested data. Yes, computers work at amazingly fast rates but time is time and if every image, logo, link, etc. is compared on a page-by-page basis then it can add up. The cache concept was developed during the dial-up modem days when it took lots of time to download each web page element before it could be properly displayed as a full page. It made more sense then than it does now due to the general available of high-speed internet access.
      Remember in the dial-up modem days, that JPG files were often encoded as “interlaced progressive” so they would appear in various sharpening forms as the download progressed allowing you to see a glimpse of the image as it was being transferred.

      from a 40-year computer tech veteran

      • The cache probably makes an insignificant difference on a fast Internet connection but in most cases, the computer processing time of checking the cache for a match is faster than downloading the contents again. This is especially true for smart phones over a mobile connection.

  5. I use Firefox, but I also have Internet Explorer installed, but never use it. My question is this: Why, when I clear my private data every time I close Firefox, there are cookies, temporary internet files, and data in Internet Options? I’m assuming Internet Options is connected to IE, but I don’t use IE. So, I’ve made it a habit to clear both Firefox and IE’s Internet Options.

  6. One reason that the cache becomes corrupted (bad content, out of date content, etc) is because the cache validation settings on the browser may be (inappropriately) set to allow this… in fact, this is the default setting in IE. The safe (dare I say correct 😉 setting is to set IE’s frequency to “every time I visit the web page”. The default setting of “automatic” allows an infrequently changed file to be used in an out of date state.

  7. Hi Leo

    In response to “MmeMoxie”, apart from being correct about that particular setting. They have opted for quite a large cache.

    I don’t really know why per-se, but I opt for a much smaller cache at around 50MB instead.

    Can you elaborate on this a little? i.e. Would there be performance issue’s or anything else to consider at either end of our spectrum’s?

    I never play with the cache unless I’m in a tight disk situation. At some point unless you’re visiting LOTS of different web sites every day, a super-large cache doesn’t really buy you anything. How small is too small varies depending on your usage: visit one or two sites a day and a tiny cache will do. The only drawback to a too-small cache is performance, but I can’t tell you whether 50MB’s too small for you or not.

    Leo
    22-Jul-2010

  8. Sometimes, you may just want to “clear the cache” for the current page, rather than the entire cache. In Firefox, for example, you can hold down the shift key when you click the “reload” button. I’ve used that numerous times when, for example, a page’s CSS isn’t correct. A simple “reload” reloads the page, but any resources that it refers to, such as external CSS or Javascript, may still come from the cache.

  9. One other reason why you might clear the browser cache is (apparently) for general computer speed-up. One commentator said that this (for Internet Explorer specifically) was the single most beneficial way to improve a sluggish computer. He rated it as often more effective than disk defrag or registry cleanup, where so many efforts are focused. I put it to the test on my wife’s old Celeron. Low physical memory, but plenty of disk available. It works!! Why? That’s what I thought this article might answer. The proponent of this tactic asserted that it’s effective even when IE’s not your favoured browser. I’d like to know the science behind this hocus-pocus.

  10. Back up to that “Delete Browsing History” menu. What harm will be done if I click on the bottom “Delete All” button?

  11. So now you have to show us how to do it (Clear Cache safely) in Google Chrome…..

    Click on the wrench icon in the toolbar (Chrome's wrench), click on Tools, click on Clear Browsing Data…

    Leo
    25-Sep-2010

  12. For Mountain Lady: I always click on the Delete All button, because I DO want to delete all the things that are listed there. I try to do this at least once a week, even more often if I’ve visited lots of new websites. In three years there was only one thing deleted that I didn’t mean to delete, and a Google search found it again in no time.

  13. Thanks, I am trying to become more efficient using M-Cliqe,
    I am becoming more computer savy and a less afraid that I will break something. Thanks for your help.

  14. Cache is actually stored copy of a web page that remains in your computer so that your browser can load it whenever needed. And it is well known that browser cache plays an important role in browsing the web. It stores the text, pictures, sounds and objects on the Internet and helps the browser to get them back from its cache whenever you need to go back to the same pages in the net. There is no doubt that browser cache increases the speed of browsing the web.

    Clear cache:
    In Internet Explorer, all that you need to do is to go to ‘Tools’, then to ‘Internet Options’ in the Menu Bar and click on ‘Delete Files’. When you see the pop-up, select ‘Delete all offline content’. Then go for ‘Clear History’. On the top you would find the ‘Content’ tab. Click on ‘Auto Complete’, then ‘Clear Forms’ if at all you need to delete it once for all. Now the browser cache is cleared from Internet Explorer.

    {link removed}

  15. Leo, You ‘might’ -?- want to update the pic for IE on this: It now has a ‘Preserve Favorites website data’ that -at least in mine- is automatically checked when you select DELETE HISTORY in the front box. This Preserve Favorites…’Keep cookies & temporary Internet files that enable your favorite websites to retain preferences and display faster.’ The reason I said might -?- was because perhaps this should be ‘un’clicked and we shouldn’t preserve this data in some instances…. G

  16. Thanks again, Leo! I’ve landed on your page a few times before and you’ve always had the right answer to fix everything! I cleared my browser cache, Yaahwhoo! (Actually, I just now learned what it was!)

    Honestly, you’re the best.

    🙂

  17. Leo, my problem is my IE is absolutely unresponsive, therefore I can’t follow your suggestion. When I click Tools, almost everything is grayed out – I can’t click Internet Options, therefore I can’t delete anything from my cache. Thanks in advance for any further guidance.

    Meanwhile I’m thankful I downloaded Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome in the early stages when my IE was actually working.

    • I had this problem and it turned out that several trojans/viruses had invaded my pc. After I cleaned them all out, I uninstalled and then reinstalled IE and that solved the problem for me.

  18. @Barry
    Recent in Firefox is any time you choose it to be. When you click Clear recent history, there is a pulldown which asks you how far back you want to clear.

  19. I did this once recently in order to access my verizon account (their tech help said to do it). But I must have selected delete cookies (maybe?) because I now want to revert to signing in to my email without typing the username in (auto-fill?).

    Not sure how to accomplish this, and that is why I ended up here! My social network site keeps me ready to roll (recalls my username and password and autofills as I press the enter key) but I have lost the ability on hotmail.

    How might I refresh this ability at that site?

    I just now selected “keep me logged in” but that is not exactly what I had before. I dont want to go to hotmail to find my page already open, I was hoping to begin typing my username and see it appear by itself.

    Crazy as it may seem, I had been using yahoo simply because I did NOT have to type in my whole email address as my username, but only the part before the @ symbol.

    Now that I have you, let me ask you a million questions! First I will go check the faq’s or fill in the search bar.

    My initial question is “how do I get auto-fill to work on my hotmail again?” (I really did read the article.)

  20. Will clearing a browser cache delete any emails that got stored there, and not by the server ? Or or all web based e-mails only stored automatically on their server ?

    Web based email services store email on the server. Your browser cache is just a temporary location on your computer in an attempt to make all web pages faster by not downloading the same things over and over.

    Leo
    17-Apr-2012
    • The corporate world still uses Internet Explorer extensively…and I’m writing this reply four years after you asked that question.

  21. Hello, I followed the steps above. Cleared cache, turned of image auto resizing, and tried adjusting the graphics in the Control Panel, but it doesn’t have a slider – it only shows a scoring of 3.5 on a 1.0-7.9 scale. I still get the red x’s on any website I visit. And most of the time, the icons won’t load either, such as the download button, the close button on pop-up windows, etc. I have Norton and their website’s “virtual” support didn’t help me at all. By the way, is there a better web browser than the Internet Explorer? If so, which one(s) do you recommend? Thanks for all you’re doing to help others!

  22. I’ve used Opera for many years, specifically because its cache is much-better designed than those in the other browsers you mentioned. If you do lots of downloading of web videos, and wish to save them to your hard disk or other media, Opera’s cache is an excellent choice. All you have to do is clear the cache before starting a download, and then when it’s done, move the download from there to a folder on your hard drive, or any removable media you choose.

    • Easier? open up program and clear the cache then go to the directory and move the file instead of just telling it where you want it saved in the first place. I think not.

  23. To clear the cache in Chrome all you have to do is click on history and your there….. you don’t have to click on settings, first.

  24. It works for Android also, giving a slight performance improvement. Since I use C Cleaner, I never bother with clearing my computer’s browser cache.

  25. Firefox is actually pretty simple. Leo’s got a few extra unnecessary steps. Just click on the Firefox menu in the top left corner. Click History. Click Clear Recent History. It remembers your settings from last time you cleared it, so there is nothing to set.

  26. How come, when I wanted to buy and download your Guide to Routine Maintenance, I clicked on the “Buy” symbol and all I got was a blank page?
    Sure would appreciate how I could get your maintenance manual.

  27. Watch out when deleting cookies. Your password and user names may be removed on sites that you have not had to enter them in a while and may have forgotten.

  28. 1) If a website shows in your temporary internet cache the user must have visited the site at one point in time, correct? This could not be an advertisement, or pop up attached to something else? For example: something@twitter.com Must be from person visiting Twitter?

    2) Every website listed in the temporary internet cache is showing as:
    cookie:computeruser@yahoo.com or cookie:computeruser@webtrends.com
    (how do I know it it is an email account or just a website?)

    • 1) No, it could be a popup or advertisement. It could even be a popup that had been blocked, depending on the browser and the speed and technology used to block the popup.
      2) It’s not necessarily an email address. It may be, but that nomenclature is constructed from information that might not be related to email at all.

  29. I am trying to understand why IE5 is o important. In my view its an old browser and not supported or even secure but somehow its a necessity. Ive read that the temp can be cleared but not the folder. This is a mystery to me and I would like to know why. Again, what is so important about ie5 folder, is it sentimental value to Windows? ????? thank you.

    • If it’s the name of a folder that’s all it is – a name of a folder. It does NOT imply that IE 5 is actually running or installed. My guess is that rather than having to deal with the side effects and hassle of renaming that folder with every new version they simply stopped renaming it when IE6 came out. IE11 likely uses that IE5 folder. As I said, it’s only a name and doesn’t imply anything.

  30. my pc is not able to download any browser like opera explorer chrome when i click on dowload icon than it says low memory than i it will stop downloading everytime i have just explorer 6 which is not working properly

  31. I have a Verizon 4G LTG Tablet…. I’ve go into my apps and was deleting things I didn’t need like games and stuff, and every app gives me the option to clear cache… Before visiting this site I didn’t know what cache was… So I’ve been clearing the cache from every app, and also deleting clearing data, and uninstalling or disabling updates when it gives me that option…. Is that good?

  32. Hi! I can’t quite seem to find the answer to this, and hoping you can help. When logging in to Facebook, the username box drops down all the usernames of people who have logged into FB on that computer, even though no passwords are saved. Is this a Chrome browser or FB issue? And how long does this autofill of username but not password keep for on a computer? I have deleted browser history, but that doesn’t seem to clear it up. Any thoughts or guidance would be appreciated!

  33. This is the first time i am writing something over net.let me address my problem when i started using my personal pc,it used to open or run very late.i dont know how to speed up my pc then i go for traditional way. i used to go for history and always try to delete cache,cookies and all those bloody stuff it works fine for some time and again my headache starts . so, please can anyone give me the suggestion to speed up my pc.

  34. Just needed an email. 4mas that I’d, and didn’t know if there’re working since I didn’t know how it’ being operates. Even the one I put above, hardly my message 2be login or receiving mail either, pls. My pc is here talking of 500 internal errors, and me here knowing not on how to get it solve! The pc is new and I knew not how to operates it yet, 4now pls. Thanks. My name Hope or Idorenyin, pls, Leo

    • Ctrl+shift+delete will open the Clear Browser Data dialog in Opera. This also works with the big 3 browsers.
      If you’re wondering how to access the menus in Opera which are well hidden, click on the Opera logo in the upper left hand corner of the browser.
      To clear the browser cache from there, click “History” from the pulldown menu. Click “Clear browsing data”, make sure that “Empty the cache” is checked and the “Obliterate the following items from” period is set to the “beginning of time” (apologies to Stephen Hawking). Finally, click the “Clear browsing data” button.

  35. i have win 7 ult. i click on the start button, type in an “i” (no quotes) in the drop down click on internet options and i`m there.

  36. Hey Leo
    I’m just learning about cookies, I found out that companies follow your browsing, and then when you purchase something they go by how much they charge you when you go to their website to purchase something. They figure that if you spend a lot on items on the web you must have a lot of money and can afford higher prices. For example if you shop a lot on-line they assume you have a lot of money and overcharge you on other things. Take for instant you own a business on-line and you use the internet to shop for clothes, etc. Then you need a couple plane tickets to say Germany and they will turn around and over charge you for those tickets say like 15 times more than they would normally charge you. This is against the law yet they do it anyway. So it is best to erase your cookies that way they do not know your spending habits. I really look up to the person who told people about this cause you will not hear it from no one else. A lot of people do not know this. The person who told it has a business on line so I know he knows what he is talking about.
    How crooked is it that Companies do that? What I really want to know is why I would have cookies on my mac from websites I never ever go to? And I would erase them one day and the next day they will be back,and there would also be more cookies from websites I never visit. I’m the only one who uses this computer since my son has his own, so I know it is not cause someone else was on my computer and visited those sites.

  37. Why does it take so long for most websites that I visit to close? What I mean is that the hardrive LED stays on for sometimes as long as a couple minutes before going out. This has seemed to have got worse in the past few months. I am using a PC & Windows Vista & have Firefox & Internet Explorer 9 on this Laptop Computer.

  38. Hi Leo..I see you specialize in computers but I was hoping you could give some advice for a hone. My Samsung Galaxy mini 3 was acting up..it kept saying “unfortunately messenger has stopped”, and it said so for many of the applications and also for the andriod itself. I googled what to do and was instructed to clear my cache and cookies and I did that for the applications giving the error message but I still got the same message after restarting the phone and doing a battery pull. I then cleared the cache on the android and restarted it but then from then on the phone could not be started up again.. please help

  39. Of all the tech support I recieved over the years that said I had to clear my browser cache to fix a problem, IT NEVER WORKED!!! EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Thank you Leo! I love your site and it’s THE only secure tech site that I’m aware of. I also love How-To-Geek but they seem to have something against clearing your cache. I don’t clear my cache often at all for fear of slowing down my computer. How-To-Geek has me a bit petrified to clear it at all so I only do it about once a month now. I do use CCleaner but not the registry of course. Not clearing the cache often is fine up until I can barely play any YouTube videos because of the overflowing cache. I never seem to make the connection because until I read your article I was under the impression that cache clearing was a bad thing. I still won’t clean it too often of course! Thanks again for the article. It certainly eased most of my confusion.

    • Clearing your cache is pretty harmless, and if you have a fast internet connection, you’ll hardly notice any speed issues in most cases. If you have a metered connection, it will re-download those file which were in the cache if you return to those pages, and on a slow connection, you might feel difference. Even so, there’s generally no reason to clear the cache unless you are having browser problems.

  41. the article on the browser cache was helpful until I got to the part on clearing Chrome’s cache. I could not find the the Advance Settings page to “clear browser data & the cache images & files. What happened? Didn’t I click the right button? Help please so I complete the instructions on Clearing The Browser.

    • It can depend on what version you’re running. If you scroll *all* the way down, you should see a little URL for “Show Advanced Settings…”, then it’s under the Privacy section. A good tip way above in the comments is to press Ctl+Shift+Del, which opens the proper screen for IE, Chrome and Firefox, and perhaps others.

  42. In the pic for IE, ‘Preserve Favorites website data’ is ticked. Should it be unticked so that the cache is thoroughly cleared? I am assuming that preserve favorites website data means storing some of the site data (similar to cache)?

    Thanks

  43. I am curious about caches in general. I have noticed caches my phone apps will allow me to clear and I have heard the term in specifications for computer hardware. While I am not that interested in the specification caches I would like to know if in general caches are items that can be emptied without harm.

  44. Thank you Leo for your usual Clear & Simple support session.
    I have used them many times and I feel that an appreciation comment is long overdue.
    My original question concerned the parasitic and empty “New Tab” that is plaguing Firefox these days. It is a confounded nuisance especially if I do a staggered search as I run out of task bar space because of it. Anyway, it should not be there at all.
    I will clear the cache and see what results from it. If the parasitic tab is still there I will be back with more questions 🙂
    Thanks again,
    Arlette

    • Check your preferences, and what you have set for startup. It might be something set in in there. I don’t have a “New tab” when I open Firefox because I have it set to go to a particular page.

    • I’m not familiar with the empty tab problem you mention. Can you tell me more about it, and EXACTLY what steps you take that don’t work and exactly how they fail?

  45. How about Safari? Does that give you options to keep passwords, fill in info etc or if you delete cache does everything become lost?

    • Clearing the cache would only delete the contents of the cache. That being said, when you clear the cache, you should look at which other boxes might be ticked in the dialogue box, as that dialogue allows you to clear more than just the cache, eg. cookies, passwords, history etc., depending on which boxes are ticked.

    • Popups that have been blocked may load images before they’re blocked. Some browsers pre-load pages that are linked-to from the pages you view.

  46. Thanks and very helpful.
    Does each web bowser have its own cache? So for example, if I delete a Firefox cache will that also delete the explorer cache and the chrome cash?

    • Control + shift + r doesn’t clear your cache. It reloads the page ignoring the contents of the cache. It might serve a similar purpose in many cases, but the contents of the cache will still remain. Control + shift + delete, in most cases, will bring up the Clear History dialog, from where you can clear the cache. I’d suggest clearing the cache over bypassing it as a corrupt cache might cause future conflicts.

  47. My Chromebook won’t let me play certain games—it’ll only load them and then freeze. I’ve tried everything including clearing the cache. and downloading the newest adobe players. Help!

    • Let me rephrase that…when I leave it loading with no other tabs, five minutes later it says the page is not responsive. Also, it’ll load links but not let me go through them. Please help!

  48. Hi Leo…thanks for the tip. My question is whether this theory of browsing cache also apply to email cache and all other cached data on my phone. I’m asking because I want to clear my email cache and you tube cache to create space on my mobile device and I want to be sure I won’t be loosing my mails by doing so

    Thanks

    • The cache is just a cache. Clearing it does not delete any data such as emails or files. It just reduces the amount of information in the file that is trying to make your device work faster.

  49. I’ve always been fascinated by this topic. I’m apparently the exception to the rule, despite having 17 years of IT experience. I’ve worked on a few hundred computers in my time and not once have I ever seen clearing the cache help with anything. PLEASE don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing this article or the many that exist on the interwebs which are further proof that it’s a real solution, I’m just saying that I’ve never had to deal with this. I’ll freely admit that I’ve worked with far less computers than most IT pros. I’m in a small office of 14 users and I don’t advertise my expertise to the outside world as a side-business, other than helping family and friends with their occasional computer woes. In fact, my experience is, clearing the cache is my LAST option not just because I’ve never seen it do anything to help, but because I don’t have to hear the end user say things like, “why did my home site layout change?” or “why do my favorite websites think I’m new?”. Again, just stating my experience. Thank you, Leo, for what you do. It really does give even us seasoned veterans insight because we can’t all have the exact same experience.

    • it could be that the main activity in your office is not working online. I’ve seen clearing the cache help thousands of times – but I am working with people who are mainly having problems with online activities. All the browser cache does is clear a browser, after all. Doing things like watching lots of Youtube videos, and complex web work fills the cache up quite a bit.

    • Clearing the browser cache doesn’t change anything to do with web page layout, favorites or logins etc. All it does is remove temporary files the computer stores on the hard drive to avoid having to download those files again. Clearing the cache might temporarily slow down your web access time a bit, but usually not very much. What might change the layout is deleting cookies which can store layout information and force people to reenter passwords.

      • Good article, but I have to disagree with Mark! Clearing the cache can change page layout. Cache also stores CSS, which means layouts may not update in the browser, after CSS layout changes have been made. You may only see the changes initially in private browsing or by clearing the cache.

        This is when I am most likely to ask clients to clear their cache. Even more so, checking CSS layout changes on a smartphone, almost always requires testing in private browsing.

  50. Dear Leo, Each time I am searching and click on my choice I am met with random sites popping up, sometimes difficult to X off of. Such as 10 favorite courtrooms blah blah. As well as a reimage page. The pop up blocker is on, Do you think clearing the cache will erase this problem?

    • Why don’t you just try it? (Seriously … quicker to just try it than even ask the question and wait for an answer 🙂 ).

      There’s also a chance you may have malware, so make sure to run up-to-date anti-malware scans.

  51. When emptying ones browser history and this does not rectify the problem what is the next suggestion to consider for a neophyte in the realm of computers. I cleared the browsing cache as demonstrated in the article yet the problem continues to persist with annoying frequency, i.e. “X is not responding”

  52. I followed your instructions on Chrome. I had a cache archive a website set in my hard disk that every time I accessed my bank account was trying to enter at my hard disk to steal my password. Thanks I have Trusteer, I Knew this, and I did not enter anymore to my bank page. After a browse deleting action, the problem was gone. Thanks and greetings from Mexico.

  53. There is this site named wayback machine. It shows all the cached website pages…well not all. When i try for example to see cached page of a facebook profile it says i cant view it because it uses robots.txt. I do know what robots. txt is but i am still worried about my privacy. Could someone still see my facebook (or any other sites) cached profile even if the site is using robots.txt? IF I wanted to see cached page of someones facebook or porn profile but i cant because it uses robots.txt, would there still be a way for me to see it?

    • Robots.txt is not enforceable, so pages can still be cached even if robots.txt says not to. That being said, if, and how, all depends on EXACTLY what site, what time, and whether or not it’s been cached by anyone anywhere. There’s simply no way to know, so:

      1) if you’re concerned about your own information, assume it can be found, and behave accordingly.

      2) if you’re trying to snoop into someone else’s privacy, assume it cannot be found and move on.

      And if you have a legal issue, then talk to the authorities.

      • I’ve read somewhere that facebook doesnt allow wayback machine to cache users profiles. Even if facebook didnt allow it could there still be cachead pages of facebook (or any other website which doesnt allow) profile on deep web?

  54. Please take another look at your instructions for FireFox. In V54 it does not appear to work that way. Your way does clear something but I don’t know what. There are 2 more places to clear in FF.

    First is in Tools menu >Options command > Advanced option > Network tab. In the “Cached web content” section there is a button to “Clear now” the web cache.

    As well, there is a separate option to clear the “browser history”, the record of all web pages you have accessed. History menu > Clear Recent History. This displays a dialog similar to your screen capture.

    • It’s not clear what you’re trying to say. I just followed the steps as outlined in the article and I got to the page where the cache could be cleaned. That page includes a lot more than the cache which can be cleaned, but this article only deals with cleaning the browser cache. If there are any more things which could be cleaned via other paths, those would be beyond the scope of this article.

      Instead of going through all of those steps, I use the ctrl+shift+delete shortcut to get to the Clear History page. And the good news is it works on all 5 of my installed browsers.

  55. I’ve been concerned about deleting cache, browsing history/data and cookies because I’m not sure what it will do to my accounts like Facebook or SunTrust apps and other accounts I absolutely need to keep. I cleared data once before and it erased my Amazon completely to where when I tried to log in, it didn’t even recognize my email address so I had to create an entire new Amazon account. I don’t want my Google, Facebook or any other account being deleted where I would have to start back over by for example: my Facebook where I have to add my friends back, save and reupload my photos, etc.

    • Deleting cache and history is completely safe. Deleting cookies is also safe, but you may be required to login to the services that had previously used a cookie to remember that you’d been logged in. As long as you always know how to login to your systems and services deleting cookies is completely safe as well.

  56. Dear sir,
    i can not understand the cached file and images ?
    please explain me. i am worry about this matter.
    is this still any data from me?

    • The article above is my explanation. Not sure what more you’re looking for, to be honest. “Still any data from me” … well, if it’s your computer, probably, but if you clear the cache then the cache will have no files. Some could be recovered with extreme forensic analysis, I suppose. I really depends on why you’re asking.

  57. I’ve tried trouble shooting bowser cookie issue with holding shift/ctrl/del & clicking end (clear) with no success? Read this on Microsoft technet post. So, chronologically, when I log in icons appear, but internet, files, etc do not work when clicked on? I don’t have clear, so I’m clicking on end. Thank you, Ken Tanana

    • ctrl+shift+delete brings up the “Clear cache” (and clear everything else) dialog in all the browsers I’ve ever used. So, I guess you cn say it’s the same.

  58. On Chrome, under Clear Browsing Data, you are offered numerous options to clear:

    1-Under “BASIC”
    Browsing History
    Cookies and Other Site Data
    Cached Images and Files

    2-Under “ADVANCED”
    Browsing History
    Cookies and Other Site Data
    Cached Images and Files
    Passwords and Other Sign In Data
    Autofill Form Data
    Content Settings
    Hosted App Data (from websites)
    Media Licenses

    Questions I have:
    1-I’m pretty sure the consequences for clearing cookies would log me out of sites but what is “other site data”?
    2-What are “content settings”, “hosted app data”, and “media licenses” … and is it safe to clear these?

    Thank you for any response.

  59. Isn’t the cache where all those lovely ‘tracking’ files live? I use Ccleaner every time I close the Internet.

    • No, Cookies are separate, and while they can be used to track, the also provide a lot of additional functionality. I never worry about cookies.

  60. My wife likes to play MSN Games Solitaire – Daily Challenge. The game records her progress so that she can see how successful she is over a period of time. Recently she has complained that her record has vanished and that she is starting from scratch. Would I be correct in believing that this has occurred because I have run CCleaner, Glary Utilities, etc. and cleared all my caches? Can I select which items in my Chrome/Firefox caches I choose not to clear?

    • Quite possibly due to the clean up, yes. I don’t believe you can control within those utilities what gets cleaned to the granularity you need. You can pick and choose cookies to save if you clear cooikes in the browser itself, but good luck figuring out which cookie is which.

      As a side note: you might make sure she’s logged in to her MSN / Microsoft account. I’d actually expect the information to be stored there, and cleaning would have logged her out.

  61. there r techniques like cache bursting(adding ?v=0.1 version number to css and js files) so that browser automatically downloads new file.. My doubt is in that case what happens to old cached file? will it be still stored in user harddisk? or when we add new version it deletes old one

  62. i use arcsoft photo impressions 6.you get a warning when the cashe is full & you have to reload….is this correct ?.

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