Lesson 1


Optimizing Your Browser Framed | Unframed  


Adjusting Browser Cache


Browser cache stores the images and text of the last few pages you have visited in your computer's memory.  It keeps the images safely in its memory in case you return to that page and want to view its contents and load it quickly.

Safe Cracker

Cache Options  

Browser caching is one of the biggest obstacles for students trying to log into instructional sites.  Browser caching can also be an issue with web designers who need to always see a "fresh" view of their pages on the server.  They need to see or check the edits they are making.

Why do browsers use cache?
ADVANTAGE - It allows quick reloading of pages you have just accessed.
DISADVANTAGE - it shows old or "unrefreshed" page views. It uses additional computer memory.


Browser Options

Internet Explorer (1, 2, 3)    Safari  (2 & 3)    FireFox (2 & 3)    

Allows you to set how often your browser re-caches images.
2 Allows you to set the cache size
3 Allows you to manually "refresh" or "reload" the browser. (Forces browser to re- cache the page, check the server for the newest version of the page.


Internet Explorer

In both Internet Explorer 6 and 7, the cache settings are located in the Tools menu.  Select the Tools menu and find Internet Options . . .



IE7 toolbar

IE Tool Options



Caching Frequency

The cache by default is set to "Once per session". (This causes you to risk viewing old pages that may have been changed since you opened your browser.) Change it!



Select the General tab in Internet Options.


Within the Browsing history section, select Settings.



IE Internet Options

Temporary Internet Files and History Settings

Check for newer versions or stored pages:  (empties cache)

Every time

  • assures you of viewing the most recent version of a page (especially important on course pages on which changes are frequently made.)

  • loading of the page is slower because the browser is checking the server and reloading the page.

Every time I start IE

  • empties cache less frequently meaning you could be viewing pages that have had changes made. Also depends on how often user restarts the browser.

  • loading of the page is slower because the browser is checking the server and reloading the page.

Disk space: 

Use recommended amount.  This can be lowered if your computer doesn't have a lot of available disk space, memory, to use for browser work.


IE Settings


Generic Cache Settings   (other browsers)

"Once per Session" - Keeps content of a webpage in computer cache memory. 

cache preferences dialog box

RESULTS -  Turning on the cache saves the page in memory and allows you to view its text and images later, offline.

GOOD FOR slow modem service or the frequent reloading of static pages.

NOTE: A larger memory cache allows more data to be quickly retrieved. But unless you have a lot of extra memory on your computer, 1024K is large enough. A larger disk cache allows more pages to be quickly retrieved, but more of your hard disk space is used. 7680K is a good size.


OPTION 2 (best option)
"Always" - Automatically gets most recent version of web page from the server.

cache preferences dialog box

RESULTS - Because this setting (reducing the page caching) causes your browser to check the server more often for recent changes, the pages will load more slowly.

GOOD FOR seeing the latest changes or revisions made to a web page. (Important for bill paying, registering for classes, designing web pages!)

NOTE:  Emptying the cache frees up your computer's available memory.


OPTION 3   - not recommended
"Never" shows the page view in your computer's cache (memory) and does not check the server for a newer copy.

cache preferences dialog box

RESULTS - This setting results in your browser not checking to see if their are updates to a web page and your not seeing recent changes / revisions made to a web page.  This cache takes up availble computer memory.

GOOD FOR viewing static pages on which content does not need updating, or view pages offline.

NOTE: If you are uploading web pages you will not want caching because you will want the latest version of what you have just edited to be displayed -- turn cache to "always " or "everytime" for web page editing.


Setting Cache Preferences

Select the browser that you use and select options you would like.



No longer customizable:  As you open webpages, Safari saves the content of the pages in a temporary location, the "cache," to make it faster to open the pages again.

If a page you open is not displaying new content, you may want to empty the cache. If you are creating a webpage, you may need to empty the cache to see new content.

Safari Menu: Empty Cache then click "Empty".

Safari Cache Reset
Macintosh Only

FireFox Logo

To set the size of the cache or to clear it:
(Mac)  FireFox: Preferences: Privacy: Cache tab.
(PC)  Tools: Options: Privacy: Cache Tab

SET CACHE SIZE: Enter a number in the Use up to field to specify the size of the cache. 50MB to 70MB is a good size.

CLEAR CACHE: Clear Cache Now button at the bottom of the Cache tab.

Important: A larger cache allows more data to be quickly retrieved, but more of your hard disk space is used.

When you quit Firefox, it performs cache maintenance. If maintenance takes longer than you wish, try reducing the size of the disk cache.

To reload a page at any time, click the Reload button in Firefox's Navigation Toolbar. Firefox then loads and displays the latest version of the page.

FireFox Tool Menu


AOL - Preferences: Internet Properties (WWW): Empty Cache Now




Other Options

The "Reload" or "Refresh" button on your toolbar can be clicked to update or refresh the view if you do not want a "cached" copy. It is supposed to check on the network and compare the page stored in your computer's memory to the most recent network copy of the page. Then it displays the more recent version.
Tip: If it doesn't work, try "emptying the cache" and then hitting the "refresh" button.

The "Empy Cache" or "Clear Disk Cache" button in your preferences will clear any browser cached files. This will clear your computer's memory of text and image files (that you may or may not want to visit again.) It will not affect your History path, saved "Bookmarks" or "Favorites" sites.


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Centers for Teaching and Learning, San Mateo Community College District, CA USA    Updated  2/28/2010  by Sevastopoulos