Speed Up Performance By Clearing Cache

Dump truck

ClinicalPosters underlying code is fre­quently under­going refine­ment. Returning visitors may need to clear browser history for optimum performance.

Cache 22

Usually, the first visit to a website is slower than normal because of some­­thing called cache. Reloading the page or revisiting is often faster. But sometimes revisits seem even slower than initially.

Computer browsers temporarily store history, images and recent HTML code snippets. This can include a logo in the page header, frequently viewed pictures, supplemental scripts and style sheets. The storage is called browser or client-side cache. A website developer may also opt to temporally store objects in a server-side cache. A time limit of 2 hours or one day might be set. Either method, together or in­depen­dently, works well for static pages.


noun: cache; plural noun: caches
  1. a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place.

Eventually browser cache fills up, so the oldest elements are purged to make room for recent visits. Some browsers allow you to allocate the amount of data to be saved within cache. It could be 10 MB or more. A large allocation is like a high-capacity’s dump truck. A lower amount might be like a the trunk of your car that requires more frequent refills.

Outdated cache offers diminishing returns. Imagine a large dump truck into which cranes load gravel. After it is nearly full, the foreman tells the truck operator to haul large boulders. The truck must first empty the load of gravel. Similarly, outdated cache returns requires periodic purging.

Why Is My Computer So Slow?

For pages undergoing frequent develop­ment, caching can actually slow down page render­ing. One of two things generally happens: Out­dated data is displayed or while cache is loading, scripts recognize a differ­ence and then attempt to reload changed objects, essenti­ally loading every­thing twice.

There are other reasons why your normal­ly fast computer may slow down to a crawl. It could be a slow internet connection. On a shared server, too many simultaneous requests from other websites impact performance. Program­ming code for the website may not be optimized. Occa­sional­ly server main­tenance is unde­rway while visiting a site.

Remedies to Sluggishness

Some­times you may have opened too many applications or are per­form­ing so many RAM intensive opera­tions that virtual memory has been triggered. Virtual memory is space allocated on your hard drive to use as backup RAM.

Since RAM is orders of magni­tude faster than a hard drive, there is notice­able system-wide perfor­mance degredation when virtual memory engages. On most computers, the only way to correct this is to close memory-hogging applica­tions and reboot.

Safari Clear History Dialog Box

If system-wide perfor­mance is functioning well but your favorite website is load­ing slowly, first try reloading the page. If that doesn’t work, try empty­ing the cache. The method of doing so varies for each browser. On a Mac using Safari, option-command-r performs a hard refresh. If the Safari Develop menu is enabled, option-command-e empties caches. If you do not see a menu item labeled some­­thing like “Empty Caches” or “Clear History,” visit the PCMag article entitled How to Clear Your Cache on Any Browser for details.

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