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Controlling Your Internet Cash, er Cache


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Browser Cache Files

As you browse the internet your browser loads each page into memory (a cache file, pronounced - cash) in order to speed up it's rendering when you use your back button or return to a page. This is a great idea if you have a slower connection or review pages with lots of graphics that don't change often. There is a downside however, these files are stored on your hard drive and can take up an enormous amount of space if allowed to and eventually even slow your browser down. An outdated cache can also make it so you view an outdated web page.

Each browser allows you to set the size of it's cache, how often to check for newer pages, a location to keep the cache and a button to clear the cache. Below are screenshots of the cache preference windows for the 3 browsers I use with the menu paths to find them.


IE 5.0 - Edit:Preferences:Web Browser:Advanced


Netscape Communicator 4.7 - Edit:Preferences:Advanced:Cache


iCab Preview 2.0 - Edit:Preferences:Caches:Web Pages


Things to keep in mind as you set your preferences:

Cache size

  1. How fast is your connection?
    The faster it is, the smaller the cache.
  2. How often do you view the same pages?
    If you frequent pages that don't change, the larger the cache.
  3. How much hard drive space do you have?
    Small hard drive and slow connection, a larger cache.

How often to update

  1. Does the info on the pages you frequent change often?
    The more it changes, the more often you update.
  2. How fast is your connection?
    The faster the more often.

Where to put the cache

  1. Do you use more than one browser and want to monitor the cache sizes?
    Put them all in a common place outside your System Folder.
  2. How do you back up your browser's files?
    If you regularly back up your bookmarks and browser mail files by backing up the entire user file, there is no need to include the cache in those back ups, move it elsewhere.
  3. Is your Hard Drive partitioned?
    Keep your caches out of your start up volume and in a disposable volume.

My preferences that you see in the screenshots above are based on my needs.

  1. I have a cable connection, so my caches are fairly small.
  2. The sites I frequent change at least daily, mostly news, so I update all the time.
  3. My hard drive is partitioned so I put my caches into a temporary volume which I don't back up and it keeps them away from my important files and system folder. If that volume crashes I couldn't care less.

I hope this helps you to understand Browser Caches a bit better and keep them under control.


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