The Tech Page

Emptying your browser's cache.

What is "browser cache"? Your browser (Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc.—whatever application you use to surf the web) has a folder in which certain items that have been downloaded are stored for future access. Graphic images (such as buttons, banners, icons, advertising, graphs, and color bars), photographs, and even entire web pages are examples of cache items. When going to a page on a website, your computer will check its cache folder first to see if it already has those images and, if so, it won't take the time to download them again. This makes for a faster loading of the page. Cache folders can get quite large, however, and can occupy 40-to-50-to-100 megabytes or more of hard drive space, storing graphics for sites you may never visit again, so it may be wise for those with storage concerns to empty the cache periodically. That will also enable the browser to access updated web pages without the older cache item interfering. You can also limit how much cache is stored. Here's how to do it:

NETSCAPE:

Go to EDIT, PREFERENCES, and under ADVANCED click on CACHE.

Here you will see a button that says CLEAR DISK CACHE NOW. You can also change the amount of stored cache by typing in your preferred size limit (the example shown is 20000 kilobytes, or 20 megabytes). Under PAGE IN CACHE IS COMPARED TO PAGE ON NETWORK, select EVERY TIME if you want the most recent item to load each time you access any web page, superseding an older cache item. You can also click on the RELOAD button in the browser's menu bar to load the most current version of the page.

INTERNET EXPLORER:

Go to EDIT, PREFERENCES, and under WEB BROWSER click on ADVANCED. Under CACHE, you can select ALWAYS if you want the most recent item to load each time you access any web page, superseding an older cache item. EMPTY NOW will clear the cache folder, and here you can adjust the size limit in megabytes for the folder. You can also click on the REFRESH button in the browser's menu bar to load the most current version of the page.

After having cleared your browser's cache folder, close the preferences window and return to the desired web site, or— if already there—click on RELOAD (Netscape) or REFRESH (Internet Explorer).

One way to perhaps control, to some degree, which items are kept in your cache folder (instead of emptying everything out each time) is to first clear your cache folder and then quit the application. Restart your browser (Netscape, Internet Explorer, AOL, etc) and then visit all the favorite places that you frequently go to, including your mail box. Your computer will begin storing all of the buttons and icons and such that it needs to view each of those pages. Make note of the date (October 1, for example) because you can sort the cache items by date. When you decide to empty some of the cache at a later time, simply trash everything that was created after October 1, keeping the items that your computer uses the most—that's why you have your cache to begin with.

Happy surfing.

Back to the top

Back to Tech Page

click on the logo to view the Master Index: