How to Clear Cache for Popular Browsers: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 19, 2022

A cache is a feature of a browser that allows you to speed up the loading of pages. Clearing your cache can help ensure that any troubles you may experience are due to a problem with the website rather than inconsistencies of a browser. Knowing how to clear a cache can enable internet users to optimize their browsing experience. In this article, we examine why it's important to know how to clear browser cache, review how a browser cache works, highlight force refreshing a webpage, and explore how to clear the cache of major browsers.

Why is it important to know how to clear a cache?

It's crucial to know how to clear a cache because it's one of the most common troubleshooting methods to employ if you are having problems with a website. It's unnecessary to clean the cache on your computer or smartphone on a regular basis, but it is advisable to do so when pages start taking time to load. There are several compelling reasons to clear cache:

  • 404 or 502 errors: These errors can indicate that a browser's cache is corrupt.

  • Avoid malware: Websites can leave harmful files in the cache or alongside software installations without your knowledge, and deleting the entire cache can remove them. Antivirus software is also beneficial.

  • Save room on a hard disc: A cache might grow to be rather large over time and emptying it can help reclaim previously used space.

A browser cache operates fully in the background and may have little impact on your routine browsing experience. For example, you may load a website and because your browser is still serving the cached version of that resource, you may not be able to view latest changes. Alternatively, a cache can also become corrupted, interfering with the normal operation of a web page.

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How does a browser cache work?

Typically the client-side storage infrastructure logs the data inside a browser cache using a variety of protocols and databases. A browser cache, in its most basic form, stores resources such as login credentials, user settings and site content. More advanced database technologies like cookies, Web Storage APIs, IndexedDB APIs, and Cache APIs help store these resources. Here's a more detailed explanation of how a browser cache works:

  • The browser notifies the web server that it needs content, most likely from a website. This constitutes a request.

  • The browser consults its database which is the browser cache. It's looking to see if any data from the requesting URL is already available inside the cache.

  • If the requested content isn't already in the browser's cache, the web server sends it directly. This constitutes a reaction.

  • The browser ignores the server and pulls the requested material from its cache if it's within the browser cache.

The browser may encounter stale cache content because practically all cached material has an expiration date. Stale cache content refers to outdated data that doesn't accurately represent the current information on a website. Given how frequently site information changes, it's inconvenient to log and offer outdated site content to users. By eliminating stale content, the browser only shows data that's almost identical to what is currently on a website. When the browser's cache has data from the requested website that isn't stale, the browser can draw from it.

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Force refreshing a webpage

A force refresh is a technique you can use as an alternative to erasing browser cache. Instead of downloading assets every time, your browser typically sends you the cached version of the page when you refresh a page. Using a few hot keys, you can bypass the cache and force a complete refresh:

  • For Windows and Linux browsers: "Ctrl" + "F5"

  • For Apple users: "Shift" + “Reload”

This strategy simply bypasses the cache for the current page. It doesn't affect the rest of your browser's cache. If you are having trouble with a specific page, this choice is ideal as it saves time. If you want to reset your experience across an entire website, you can proceed to erase the entire browser cache.

Clearing cache for popular browsers

This section outlines how to clear browser cache for these popular browsers:

Chrome

Follow these steps to clear cache for Chrome browser:

  • Start by clicking the icon with three dots in the upper right corner of your browser window.

  • From the submenu, pick "Clear Browsing Data" from the “More Tools option”. Alternatively, you can utilize the "Ctrl" + "Shift" + "Del" hotkey combination.

  • Chrome may start a new tab with a pop-up window to authenticate the action. Make sure that you check the boxes corresponding to cached images and files.

You also have the option of erasing your browsing history or opting for a full cache cleaning that includes cookies and other site data. You can also modify the time frame for which you want to clear resources. Choose one of the options in the “Time Range” area, such as “last 24 hours”, “last 4 weeks” or “entire browser history”. Finally, clear your cache by clicking the “Clear Data” button.

Firefox

Follow these steps to clear cache for Firefox browser:

  • Start by clicking the hamburger icon in the top right corner.

  • Select “History” to access the browser cache.

  • Select “Clear Recent History” from the menu that opens. You can also use the shortcut "Ctrl" + "Shift" + "Del" to access this menu.

  • A pop-up then appears. Select the “Cache” option and anything else you may want to remove from your browser's saved files.

  • Click the “OK” button once you have made a selection.

You can delete your browsing history, cookies, search history ,and other data items such as site preferences and offline website data in Firefox. While clearing the cache data, use the time range option to select how far back you want to clear data. You have the option of selecting the complete history or the data from a specific time range. For example, you can selectively delete browsing history for the past hour.

Brave

Follow these steps to clear cache for Brave browser:

  • Click the “Customize” button in the upper right corner to clear the cache on a Brave browser. You may also know this button as a stack of three horizontal lines. Clicking this button presents a menu with a variety of items.

  • Locate and choose the “Settings” item.

  • On the Brave settings page, select the “History” option. This page displays your entire browsing history record.

  • Click the “Clear Browsing Data Link” button on the left side of the window.

  • Alternatively, you can access the “Privacy and Security” section of the main settings page.

  • Select “Clear Browsing Data” from the drop-down menu to clear the cache, including browsing data and any cookies that the browser has saved from your previous browsing sessions.

Related: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use a VPN (Benefits and FAQs)

Safari

Follow these steps to clear cache on Safari browser:

  • Open Safari and go to “History”.

  • Click on “Clear Cache”. You may see a pop-up that allows you to select a period for erasing cache data.

  • In the pop-up, you can select the time range in which the data you want to delete is present. For example, you can select the last hour, a few days or the entire history, as with most browsers.

  • Click the “Clear History” option. This removes cookies, browser history and webpage data from Safari's cache.

There are more independent options to manage browser cache in Safari. To enable them, go to the menu bar and pick “Safari”. Select “Preferences” from the drop-down menu. Adjusting the field to “Remove History Items'' is one popular technique. This instructs the browser to have cache clearing happen in the background every time you browse the internet. You can also specify a time frame with which you want to periodically clear data for. For example, if you specify a year, Safari removes the browser cache periodically every year.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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