A cache is a type of storage area that keeps commonly or frequently used data, programs and content readily available, so that the computer can access them more quickly. Compared to the relatively slow storage of a hard-drive or server, a cache can and will store information like pictures, instructions, even programs, so that if the user wants to call them up again, they are available more quickly. In the case of web caching, a small section of a hard drive is set aside in order to store recently accessed web pages.
Technipages Explains Cache
This means that if the user goes back to a previously visited page, they are shown a version from this cache rather than a ‘fresh’ one. This means that content is shown much quicker the second time than the first time, although it does have a down-side as well – in the case of websites with changing content, changes may not be visible if a previous, cached version is called up. Because of this, often only part of the site is cached, for, say, news sites. Things like the overall page theme and look are cached, while the individual articles of the home page are still loaded completely fresh on every visit.
In the case of a completely cached site, it is possible to visit (but not interact with) a website while not having any sort of network connectivity. For just looking information up, this is incredibly convenient, though its restrictions means that no data can be sent back and forth, no forms can be filled out, and links won’t work either. In the case of system cache, a similar idea applies. Instructions, functions and data are stored in that cache area – usually the most frequently used things – so that they are available faster the next time they are called on.
Common Uses of Cache
- The web cache of a browser is a very small section on the hard drive that is set aside in order to store certain types of content for the next use.
- Clearing the cache of a browser and thus forcing it to load a page as if it was the first time can force it to display updates and changes that may have falsely been hidden by a cached copy – such as newly uploaded pictures, that could still show up as old ones.
- While caching is useful, cached content is also limited in its abilities – not everything can be cached, meaning that if a user calls something unusual or something that simply hasn’t made its way into the cache yet, that means that the computer isn’t able to use the acceleration that caching brings.
Common Misuses of Cache
- A cache helps maintain the speed of a website by storing it on the server so that users can access it more quickly and readily.