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What exactly is cached data and why do we need to clean it?

We often refer to clearing the cache when troubleshooting browser issues or phone faults for our business customers. It’s often one of the first things we do after a reboot or a reload of the app in question. But what is cached data and why can clearing the cache make such a difference?

Many of our tutorials around browsers will feature a recommendation to clear cached data. Many of the mobile phone articles we read will recommend doing the same for mobile apps. But why?

What is cached data?

Cached data is a copy of data downloaded in a browser or copied to memory in an app. The idea is to keep the data for a while just in case you need it again. Then, rather than calling for the data again, the application can check the cache and load the data from there. The program delivers the data faster and everyone is happy.

A browser will download copies of web pages and render them on your screen. When you close the window, that copy will be saved in the cache just in case you change your mind and want it again.

Mobile and desktop apps will use a cache to store files required when using the app. This is to stop the app having to request the same data time and again and speeds up the response of the app.

How does clearing the cache fix faults?

Cached data is stored data and not live. That means if the web page was updated since you loaded it, you don’t see the newest version. Sometimes a page will be refreshed to fix an error or the stored data can be partially overwritten or become corrupted. When the browser tries to read it, the file won’t work and can cause it to crash.

Also, some browsers will check the live version against the cached version and any inconsistency can cause a crash too.

Apps that use cached data suffer similar problems. Files can be old, corrupted, partially overwritten or replaced. Any discrepancy between the cached data and what the app expects to see can cause crashes.

How to clear your browser cache

Clearing your browser cache is simple. In Chrome, press Ctrl + Shift + Delete. In Firefox select the menu, Options, Privacy & Security and Clear Data under Cookies and Site Data.

In Android, open Settings, Apps, Storage and Clear Data and Clear Cache. On iPhone you have to delete the app and reinstall it.

If you’re suffering from an unstable computer, New Jersey can help. We can fix any issue with any computer, Windows, Linux or Mac. Try us and see for yourself!

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