What exactly is cache?

Your browser’s cache, pronounced cash, is a collection of web pages stored on your hard drive or in your phone/tablet storage. The cache includes the text, images, and most other media contained on web pages that you’ve visited.

Having a local copy of a web page makes for quick loading on your next visit because your computer or mobile device doesn’t have to download it from the internet again. Over time, however, the cache may take up a big chunk of your computer’s storage.

Why do you have to clear cache?

You don’t have to clear the cache as a regular part of computer or smartphone maintenance. However, there are some good reasons to clear cache:

Clearing your cache forces your browser to retrieve the newest copy available from the website, something that should happen automatically but sometimes does not.
You’re experiencing issues such as 404 errors or 502 errors (among others) that may indicate your browser’s cache is corrupted.
Malware is another reason to delete the browser cache. It can be dropped in the cache without you knowing or alongside program installations, so clearing the entire cache can delete malicious files. (It also helps to have antivirus software.)
Another reason to delete browser cache data is to free up space on your hard drive. Over time, the cache can grow to a huge size; clearing it can recover some of that previously used space.

Basic process to clear your cache.

  • Clearing cache can fix some browsing problems, free up space, and remove saved versions of visited pages for privacy reasons.
  • Most browsers let you clear cache quickly via Ctrl+Shift+Del (Windows) or Command+Shift+Delete (Mac).
  • Otherwise, try your browser’s Settings, Privacy, or Advanced options.

Specifics for different browsers and operating systems.

There are many different web browser / operating system combinations. Far too many to maintain a detailed explanation for how to clear caches for every one here. Instead, below are a few links to other sites that specialise in such information that might help you:

  1. RefreshYourCache.com
  2. Kinsta – How to Clear Cache for All Major Browsers
  3. Lifewire – How to Clear Internet Cache in Every Major Browser
  4. DigitalTrends – How to clear your browser cache