When making edits to your websites, or your client’s websites, I often hear: “I don’t see the change, you said you updated our web page.”
Internet web browsers have a lot of work to do before it can load a page for you to see. It has to read the URL, go out to the server, find the page you requested, read the code there, source extras like images, download it all, and finally convert that data to something we can consume as a webpage. (Whew! I am tired just writing about it!)
If a browser had to do all of this every time we visit a web page, we could be waiting a pretty long time. In order to speed things up, and save download time, your browser stores some of the information that is used frequently throughout a website. This information is usually stored on your hard drive in what’s called the browser’s cache and the process is commonly referred to as caching.
By storing temporary files to “your device” cache, your browser saves itself the work– and us, the wait– of having to download all this information each and every time. Can you imagine your Facebook newsfeed having to download all of those tiny profile pictures constantly? Our data plans would be gone in days!
So this is great when you want a site to load quickly, but it can become a bit of a problem when you need to see the most current information a website provides. (Or an update that we promise you we did.) This is especially prevalent if a change is minor, such as a footer phone number, a product change or address change.
Or swapping out some imagery. To fix the issue, I recommend refreshing the web page and clearing the browser’s cache.
If you are on a web page, the information you are reading has already been downloaded. As long as you stay on that page, the information will stay the same, no matter how many changes are made to the content on the server. If you know a change has been made (such as when we update the address on your website), you will need to refresh the web page in order to see the updated information.
Refreshing the page tells the browser to go back to the server and see if there is anything new. On most browsers, the refresh button is shaped like a circular arrow near the browser’s address bar. This should solve the problem with most text-based updates. When there is a more subtle change to the site – involving images, pdfs, or some styling changes, you may need to clear the browser’s cache.
This involves going to the browser settings and cleaning out all the stored files, forcing the browser to re-download the new page from the server.
How do I clear my Cache?
Internet Explorer: In the upper right corner click the settings icon – choose Safety, then Delete browsing history. This opens a pop-up where you can choose what to clear out when you hit Delete. You should delete at the very minimum the Temporary Internet files and Cookies.
Google Chrome: In the upper right corner of the browser there is a three-lined button – click that, choose Tools, then Clear Browsing Data. This opens a new page with a pop-up that shows what is deleted when you clear the data – you can check or uncheck items depending on what you want to remove.
You also have the option of choosing the time frame you want to have deleted. (Google calls it “Obliterate the following items from:”) Once you have selected everything to be cleared, and a date range, hit clear browsing data and you’re all set!
Mozilla Firefox: If you are using Windows – Click Firefox in the upper left corner, choose History, then Clear Recent History.
This will open a pop-up where you can choose what to clear. You also have the option of choosing the time frame you want to clear. At a minimum, you should clear the Cache and Cookies.
If you are using a Mac – Click on Firefox in the upper left corner of your monitor, then Preferences, click Advanced and go to the Network tab. Under Cached Web Content, click Clear Now.
Safari: Go to Safari in the upper left corner of your monitor, select “preferences”, go to the Privacy tab, and click on Remove All Website Data.
Clearing your cache usually takes less than a minute. Weekly clearing, besides giving you the freshest content, is also a good way to keep your browser running smoothly. If it stores too many files in its cache, it can become bogged down and start to move slowly, or even crash.
And as always, contact me if you have questions or need help.