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How Cache Makes Browsing Faster

-Stan Gelber

Ever wonder why your Internet access is so much faster when you re-visit a web site? It's because of an area on your disk drive called the “cache.” There are many different types including memory, disk, display, and browser cache. All of these different types work on the same basic concept of cache being a storage area either in memory or in a folder/directory on your disk drive. Cache is used to store frequently accessed files, web pages, or screen images that you have already accessed and may need again. It helps to speed up whatever you're doing on your computer.

Your web browser takes full advantage of caching by storing every web page you access. So when you need it again, instead of downloading it over the Internet, it's called up from cache­much faster.

The Internet Explorer program sets up its cache in the Windows directory/folder within a sub-folder called "Internet Temporary Files". Netscape Navigator does the same thing in the Navigator directory and names it “cache.”

While the cache can provide a major benefit, it can also create a minor problem in that it will keep the web pages for several days or more. If you are short on disk space, your disk cache area can be released making available the disk space it occupies. You can specify in both Netscape Navigator as well as Internet Explorer the amount of time you want to retain the cache. This can be modified in the options or preferences pulldown on the menu bar.

One other minor problem is that you will need to reload a web page that changes frequently if you retain the contents of your cache for a long time. This is because your web browser, when told to access a web page, will always retrieve it from cache if it can find it, rather than download it off the net.

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