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What You Need to Know About Web Caching: How It Works on the Internet

Web Caching
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What is cache? Let’s talk about Web Caching and what it does. Cache is a term that describes the storing of data to be used later on, and it works in many different ways! When you visit a webpage, your browser will download all images and other files needed for that page to load up quickly. Every time you visit the page, this will happen, but if you want to see new content or images, it can take a while! So what’s the solution? Caching! A caching program stores these files until they are updated by the server – meaning next time you visit, it will show you anything new.

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Why Does the Web Need Caching? About Web Caching

When you visit a website, there is an exchange of data between your browser and the website’s server – this creates all those pretty images and text. For example, when you go to Google, it will send hundreds of files from its cache servers so that everything appears quickly for you! Without cache servers or caching software, that process would take longer and could even crash the website.

Caching is an essential tool for both browsers and servers – it helps keep things running quickly, smoothly so that visitors don’t get bored with slow loading.

Why Does the Web Need Caching? About Web Caching
Web Caching

How Does Web Caching Work on the Internet?

Caching servers store files from websites to be used later on instead of having to load them fresh every time. This means the cache server will hold any images, text, or other media you visit most often – meaning when you open a page after cache is enabled, it will display those saved items quickly and without hassle! What’s even better is that cache servers will store the most recently updated items on top of old cached files, meaning you’ll always see any new content first.

When cache is enabled, users can view previously visited pages faster than usual because your browser can access what it has already downloaded before! This means less time waiting for images and text to load and a much more pleasant browsing experience.

Netflix as an Example of Content Caching

Imagine a Netflix viewer in London would like to watch a film that is stored in Netflix’s servers in Los Gatos, California. To make sure that the user has fast and a good viewing experience Netflix copies the video from the original server in Los Gatos to the user’s closest server which is located in London. Because Netflix transfer the file across to the London server the viewer can quickly access the file and view its contents without having to wait for the stream to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in a transatlantic file transfer.

When a CDN company moves the content to another, the more localized server it is called “Pushing content to the edge” and Netflix has a reputation of being efficient and providing a good user experience through this. Throughout Netflix’s lifespan, they have built up a huge network of caching partnerships with numerous ISPs across the globe as part of their Netflix Open Connect program. The viewer of the film is of course unaware of all the action going on behind the scene and is just happy to watch a high-quality stream with minimum buffering.

Locations Where Web Content Is Cached

Servers: Web cache servers store website files so that they can be accessed quickly the next time you visit a page. This is especially important for busy websites with lots of traffic, as it keeps the server from sending new data every time someone requests a page.

Browsers: Your web browser will also cache files, usually images and text so that they can be accessed quickly without having to load them fresh every time. This is especially helpful for frequently visited pages or those with large media files.

Devices: Many devices will cache web content as well, such as smartphones, tablets, and even smart TVs! This helps keep your device running smoothly and prevents you from having to wait for images and text to load every time you access the internet.

Networks: Sometimes cache servers are placed on local networks, meaning that files saved on one cache server can be accessed by other cache servers on the network. This is often done with large companies or organizations that have multiple locations.

Proxy Servers: A proxy server is a cache server that resides between the user and the origin server, meaning it can cache files from multiple websites. This is often done to speed up browsing or to save on bandwidth costs.

CDN: A content delivery network (CDN) uses cache servers to store website files in different locations so that they can be accessed quickly by anyone. This is especially helpful for large or popular websites because it makes files available to the user from cache servers all over the world instead of having them download everything locally.

Common Mistakes with Caching

Common Mistakes with Caching

There are a few common mistakes people make when it comes to caching:

– Not enabling cache on their devices or browsers

– Not clearing their cache often enough (every couple of weeks is recommended)

– Putting too many restrictions on what can be cached, such as disabling images or videos from loading

– Placing cache servers only on the origin server, which can cause cache misses and slow loading times

– Not using a cache on their network or proxy servers to speed up website access for multiple users.

Troubleshooting Tips for Problems with Caching

If you’re having problems with cache, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot:

– Check that cache is enabled on your device and browser

– Clear your cache regularly (every couple of weeks is recommended)

– Make sure the cache server has enough storage space to store all desired content

– Restrict caching only to certain types of files, such as images or text

– Place the cache server on a separate server than your origin server to prevent cache misses

– Use a CDN to store website files in different locations for faster access.

How to Clear Cache

There are a few ways cache can be cleared for each device. Here are some examples:

  • For web browsers, cache is usually removed by clicking ‘clear cache’ or a similar button on the browser settings menu. You may have to close out of your browser entirely before it will work! 
  • For WordPress websites, after installing the cache plugin there has an option to clear the cache from cache plugin settings.

Conclusion

47% of internet users expect that a website will load in under 2 seconds and around 40% of people will abandon a website that takes over 3 seconds to load. This means that having a fast to load website is vital to make sure customers aren’t clicking away and leaving simply because the website takes 1 second longer than needed to load. Caching your website along with other techniques will allow this rate to be substantially reduced. We offer a CDN as part of our hosting services or as an add on.

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