Website Caching

Website Caching, pronounced “Website Cashing”, can cause a great deal of frustration in people’s lives.

Ever noticed how when you visit a website for the first time, it loads slower than when you visit it again? This is where caching comes in. Caching takes place in the background and can both be a useful thing and an annoying thing to have around.

Basically, caching is when your browser visits a website and makes a “copy” of the website on your computer. When you visit the site, instead of the website’s images, text, etc being pulled again, it opens the copy on your computer i.e. the “cached” version.

Technically, there are 2 types of caching – “web browser caching” and “server level caching”. The web browser caching can be controlled by the user of the browser, whereby the server level caching can be controlled by the web developers building the website.

Why does Website Caching happen?

Caching has a number of benefits including:

  • Reduces bandwidth – in South Africa, bandwidth can be expensive. Every time a client pulls information from your site, it uses bandwidth. Caching can help reduce the amount of bandwidth used.
  • Better Performance – visitors get less annoyed or frustrated waiting for a site to load as caching gives the impression that the website is loading more quickly / efficiently.
  • Better service performance / load – each time a website is pulled from it’s server, there’s a request being sent to the server and one being sent back to the server. This adds strain / load onto the server. Again, website caching reduces the number of requests that are sent back and forth, thus relieving server performance.

How do I stop caching?

Unfortunately when it comes to server caching, you have no control at all. But, to stop caching on your web browser, it depends on what browser you are using. This setting would typically be available under the Tools -> Options information.

The alternative is when viewing a page on a website that you think is cached, try holding your Ctrl Key down and press refresh a few times – this can often help to ensure that you “pull” the latest version of the page you are viewing. Another way of refreshing the cache is by hitting the CTRL and F5 keys simultaneously.