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How to Clear a Browser Cache

It's necessary to clear the browser cache periodically to ensure a secure internet experience.

It is vital to clear browser cache files regularly when using the internet. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
It is vital to clear browser cache files regularly when using the internet.

How to Clear a Browser Cache

A browser cache is a helpful feature that lets a computer load the most-viewed pages more quickly. But it's a good idea for users to manage it and to understand how to clear a browser cache -- large files can actually bog down your browser and can even compromise your privacy.

What is a Browser Cache?

The first time a user visits a Web site, the computers browser cache stores copies of many of the sites elements (like graphics or even text) onto the hard drive. This means that on a repeat visit, the browser can load much of the page directly from the hard drive -- much faster than downloading it from the host site.

How to Clear a Browser Cache in Microsoft Internet Explorer 7

Select Tools > Delete Browsing History. This will bring up a dialog box. From the Delete Browsing History dialog box, users can erase files in the browser's cache by clicking the Delete Files button. The Delete Browsing History dialog box also allows removal of other personal information from Internet Explorer: Delete Cookies erases the browser cookies stored on a computer.

Cookies are small pieces of information that some Web sites use to keep track of a specific browser. Sometimes cookies are necessary -- for example, a bank might use cookies to authenticate a consumers computer when logged on to its Web site, and other sites might use cookies to keep track of users preferences. But the browser cookies on a computer also create a sort of record of visited Web sites, so there are privacy concerns that lead some people to periodically delete their cookies or to disable cookies entirely.

Delete History erases the list of Web sites visited. Delete Forms erases any AutoComplete information stored in a browser. The AutoComplete function saves the personal information from online forms (usually with name and address) and will automatically complete the forms when users begin to type the same information on another site. When users begin to type a phrase into Google, Internet Explorer will often show a list of past search terms that begin with the same letters. The "Delete Forms" button will erase this list of saved searches. Delete Passwords erases any passwords that Internet Explorer has stored.

How to Clear a Browser Cache in Mozilla Firefox

Select Tools > Clear Private Data. This will bring up a dialog box. The Clear Private Data dialog box provides a series of checkboxes that allow users to select what information they want to erase. The Cache checkbox allows users to delete the files in Firefox's cache. There are also a number of other options on the Clear Private Data dialog box that can erase other information that Firefox has stored: Browsing History can erase the record of the visited sites downloaded files. (To only erase the list of downloaded files, uncheck "Browsing History" and check "Download History" beneath it.)

Saved Form and Search History is useful when users enter personal information, such as name and address, into a text box. Firefox will keep track of it and supply the saved information the next time users begin to type it. This also happens when using Google -- as users begin to type a phrase into the search engine, Firefox will supply a dropdown box with previously searched-for items that start with those letters. The Saved Form and Search History box will erase all of this information. Cookies allow users to erase any browser cookies that Firefox has stored. Cookies allow Web sites to remember preferences and login info, although they can also be used to see visited Web sites.

Offline Website Data allows users to delete information that Web sites have stored on a computer for use when not connected to the Internet. Saved Passwords is checked to delete any user IDs and passwords saved in Firefox. Authenticated Sessions will effectively log users out of any Web sites that they are currently logged in to.

How to Clear a Browser Cache in Apple Safari

Click on Safari > Reset Safari. This will call up a dialog box. On the Reset Safari dialog box users can delete the files in Safari's cache by checking the Empty the Cache box. There are a number of other checkboxes that allow users to erase other private data: Clear History erases the list of visited Web site addresses. Clear the Downloads window erases the list of downloaded files.

Remove All Cookies removes any browser cookies that Safari has stored on a computer. Remove All Web Site Icons deletes the icons that appear in the Safari address bar and bookmarks list. Remove Saved Names and Passwords erases any user IDs and passwords that have been saved with Safaris AutoFill feature. Remove Other AutoFill Form Text erases any other information stored by AutoFill, including names and addresses. Clear Google Searches erases Safari's list of searched-for phrases.

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