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What is Cached Data?

Learn what cached data is, how it affects your Internet experience, and how to clear it.

Have you ever wondered how websites load so quickly? Or how information you’ve filled in on a web page on a previous visit is “remembered” so that the next time you visit the site, you don’t have to enter your info a second time? The answer, in part, is “cached data”.

So what is cached data? Cached data is a copy of previously requested data that’s been stored on your computer or smartphone, so it can be quickly accessed and reused without it having to be requested and sent again from an external server.  

In other words, when you visit a website, your web browser saves certain pieces of information from that site on your computer's hard drive in order to load the page more quickly the next time you visit. This cached data can include anything from website images to entire webpages.

What is Cached Data Used For?

Cached data is used for a variety of purposes, but the most common use is to speed up web page loading times. This improves your website's performance by reducing the amount of data that needs to be requested and downloaded each time a page is loaded.

Is Cached Data Harmful?

No, cached data is not harmful. In fact, it can be helpful in many ways, because it helps improve your computer's Internet browsing performance by storing frequently used data in a place where it can be accessed quickly. 

That being said, there are some good reasons to clear cached data:
  • Computer speed and other performance issues. Cached data does take up memory on your device. If you start to notice sluggish performance, clearing the cache might help.
  • After a hack. If a website you visit regularly experienced a cyberattack, you may uncover pieces of the attack on your device. While the site’s developers may have fixed everything after the hack, your own cached data may put you at risk.
  • Privacy. Cached data often includes your private and personal information. To keep someone from accessing your device and finding out sensitive information, clear the cache. This is especially important if you use a public computer or a shared device.

How to Clear Cached Data

Now that you know a little bit more about how cached data can improve and sometimes hinder your Internet browsing experience, here are some steps to take to clear it from a few different browsers.

Clearing Cached Data in Firefox

To clear your cache in the Firefox browser, do the following: 
  1. Go to Menu
  2. Select “History”
  3. From there, select "Clear Recent History" 
  4. Choose the date range 
  5. Click "Details" 
  6. Check the box next to "Cache" and click "Clear Now"

Clearing Cached Data in Safari

To clear your cache in Safari:
  1. Under “Safari” in the menu bar, select "Preferences" 
  2. Under "Privacy", click “Manage Website Data…”
  3. Select specific sites and click “Remove” or choose “Remove All” to clear all cached data

Clearing Cached Data in Internet Explorer

To clear your cache in Internet Explorer:
  1. In the upper-right corner of the screen, click on the settings icon 
  2. Select “Internet options”
  3. Under “Browsing history” beneath the “General” tab, click “Delete…”
  4. Click any/all of the following boxes:
    • Temporary Internet files and website files
    • Cookies and website data
    • History
    • Download History
  5. Click "Delete"
(Note: As of June 15, 2022, Internet Explorer is no longer supported and will redirect to Microsoft Edge. Learn more here.)  

Clearing Cached Data in Chrome

To clear your cache in Google Chrome:
  1. Click the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner
  2. Click on “History”
  3. Click on “Clear browsing history” on the left-hand side of the screen
  4. Select the Time Range
  5. Choose from one or more (or choose all):
    • Browsing history
    • Cookies and other site data
    • Cached images and files
  6. Click “Clear data”

Clear App Cache

Clearing app data on your iOS and/or Android device is also important. 
To clear your cache on an Android device:
  • Open up Settings and select “Storage”
  • Click Apps (or “Other Apps” on Android 11 and earlier)
  • Select the specific app you would like to clear
  • Select “Clear Cache”
  • Repeat with each app you’d like to clear
To clear your app cache on iOS devices:
  • Open Settings
  • Select the app you want to clear
  • Click “Clear app cache on next launch”
  • Repeat with each app you want to clear
If for some reason there isn’t an option to “Clear app cache on next launch”, you can clear an app’s cache by deleting then reinstalling it.

So there you have it: what cached data is and how to clear it when necessary.

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