Unmasking the Cache: Why You Can’t See Website Changes Immediately

25 May 2023

Have you ever been told by your web team that they have implemented new changes, only for you to check and not be able to see the work they have done? More often than not this is due to a thing called Cache.

Decoding Cache: A Brief Introduction

Have you ever been told by your web team that they have implemented new changes, only for you to check and not be able to see the work they have done? More often than not this is due to a thing called Cache.

Now before you start thinking I am throwing around another daunting technical term let me explain what Cache does. To put it simply, Cache is like your brain’s ability to remember that 2×2 is 4 without having to calculate it every time. Or how your brain knows how to drive to work without you even thinking about the route. It stores and recalls information to make processes quicker and more efficient.

So how does this work with websites?

The Magic of Server Cache

Think about your server which stores your website files as a diligent worker, processing each request for your website. Every time someone visits your website, it fetches the latest blog posts, generates the header and footer, pulls in your site’s sidebar widgets, loads the images etc etc. It’s an exhaustive process, especially when the output of these tasks is usually the same. I can imagine if you had to keep doing the same task over and over again you would find a quicker way to do it.

This is where server caching comes to the rescue.

With caching enabled, after the server processes the initial request, it doesn’t need to repeat all the tasks for subsequent requests. Instead, it stores the resulting HTML file (a snapshot of your website) in its high-speed ‘random access memory’ (RAM). So, when someone else requests your homepage, the server retrieves this stored HTML file without reprocessing the entire request. This results in faster load times and improved efficiency.

Understanding Browser Cache

Browser cache works in tandem with server cache to enhance the user experience. Once your webpage loads in a user’s browser, that browser stores certain elements of the page (such as your logo or background image) in its Cache. The purpose? To load these elements quicker the next time the user visits your site, enhancing loading speed and performance.

Why Can’t I See My Website Changes?

Now, you might be thinking, “This all makes sense, but why can’t I see the new updates on my site?” The answer lies in the nature of Cache. If your server or browser cache still holds the old version of your webpage, that’s what it will display.

So, how do you ensure your Cache reflects the new version? You simply clear the Cache. It’s like hitting the refresh button, allowing your server and browser to capture and store the updated elements of your webpage. Once that’s done, your latest updates will be visible.

Wrapping Up: The Cache Wisdom

Caching might seem invisible, but its impact on website performance is substantial. It accelerates load times and enhances efficiency. However, it’s important to remember that Cache requires management. When you make updates to your site, ensure you clear the old Cache to let your new changes shine through (many caching systems will automatically clear when you change certain content)

So, there you have it – the mystery of Cache unveiled.

FAQ

What is Cache and why is it important for websites?

Cache is a technology that stores and recalls information to make processes quicker and more efficient. For websites, it enhances loading speed and overall performance by recalling previously loaded page elements without having to fetch them again.

What is the difference between Server Cache and Browser Cache?

Server Cache stores a snapshot of your webpage in the server’s ‘random access memory’ (RAM), speeding up the process of delivering the webpage to the user. Browser Cache, on the other hand, stores elements of a webpage (like images or logos) in the user’s browser to quickly load these elements during subsequent visits.

Why can’t I see the updates on my website immediately?

If your server or browser cache still holds the old version of your webpage, that’s the version it will display. This is because the cached version is served up for quicker loading times, but it might not reflect recent updates.

How do I make sure the Cache reflects the updated version of my website?

To ensure your cache reflects the new version of your website, you simply need to clear the Cache. This allows your server and browser to capture and store the updated elements of your webpage.

Does Cache need any kind of management?</

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