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[Sticky] How to Clear Your Browser Cache

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Wendell
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For the TL;DR crowd: Feel free to scroll down toward the bottom to get to the actual instructions.

The thing about web browsers is that they cache the websites you visit by default. When you return to a website you've already visited, your browser will rely on its cache unless it can detect that something has changed. Oftentimes, us web developer types will build our websites to tell your browser not to cache certain areas of a website. However, it's not always that easy, especially where Javascript is concerned.

If you visit this website, then try to use certain functions and they don't work properly, then there's a good chance that the Javascript has changed. Sadly, your browser can't always tell that it has changed, so it is still trying to run the old cached code unsuccessfully. That is likely why you might see a spinning icon or flashing dots repeatedly in perpetuity. Our website is currently under active development and we try to release regular updates on a monthly basis -- except for security and/or important bug fixes, which we'll install as soon as we feel they are stable. So this caching issue may be a bit more recurring while we make big changes to the underlying code over the next few months.

Browser cache files will expire after a certain amount of time. Some websites will instruct your browser to expire them early when big updates have been made (such as we've done here). However, those "tricks" don't always work, since it is information stored on your computer and could be construed as invasive. So we walk a fine line here -- we want you to clear your caches, but it just wouldn't be right for us to just do it for you. At the same time, your browser may also try to "protect" you from such a behavior. What this means is that eventually, the updates made to our website will show up in your browser if you don't manually clear your cache, but it depends on when your browser expires cached files.

One way to run an initial test on a specific website, although not totally foolproof, is to open your browser in incognito or privacy mode and then visit the website in question. However, since running in these modes is private, it doesn't use your browser's cookies. This means that you won't be logged in (even if you were previously) when visiting a website in this mode.

Then there are browsers that cache properly and those that don't. It is a common complaint among web developers that Google Chrome doesn't truly clear ALL cached items when you use its own built-in cache clearing function. Firefox and Edge do not appear to have this problem. Chrome has other issues and is quickly becoming the IE of the browser world. Chrome can be a CPU and memory hog and I question Google's privacy policies (I think they are conniving and sneaky). Even Microsoft is very transparent about the information it collects. But, just like when IE was the king browser, I guess that's what happens when you obtain the highest market share in the browser business -- you let your product go to hell. Let me be clear: I hate Chrome.

 

How to clear your cache using built-in tools

Now that I've bored you to death, how do you clear your browser cache(s)? Well, you can use the built-in functions, if you wish.

In Edge and Firefox, most, if not all, caching issues can be resolved simply by clearing it.

In Chrome, the built-in function *might* work. In fact, you have better odds of success if you run Chrome's cache clearing tool twice. Even then, it might not clear everything. Remember what I told you above; Google is sneaky and conniving.

To use the built-in browser cache clearing tools, visit this website for instructions: https://kb.wisc.edu/helpdesk/page.php?id=12384

 

A better way to clear your cache

You can use a third-party tool such as CCleaner to clear all your browser caches, cookies, and other areas of your computer. It seems to be the only way to truly strip Chrome of all cached files. If a website works for you in every browser except Chrome, then this is probably what you need to do.

A word of caution: Many cleaners such as CCleaner will also clear your cookies -- this means that if you stored any logins for any of your websites, you'll have to login again after using the cleaner, or opt out of cookie cleansing.

One more word of caution: Many of these tools are free, but they will ask during installation if they can install other stuff. For example, CCleaner is owned by Avast AV, so if you don't pay attention to the installation dialog boxes, it will also install Avast as part of the process. Avast sucks, but CCleaner does not. Ironic, no?

And yet another word of caution: There are a lot of malware or adware based tools out there that masquerade as reputable cleaning tools, but they are quite the opposite. I recommend that you stick with CCleaner or just be very careful about which one you use.

I have no skin in the game for CCleaner. I'm just a happy customer and have been using it for many, many years.

11 Replies
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Gary
 Gary
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Great information. I use Chrome all the time as well as Crap Cleaner. 

What do you like as a browser ? 

 

Gary

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Dave Karoly
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iOS doesn’t work right as long as I’m logged onto a Windows computer. I logged out the computer and it started working again.

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Brad Ott
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Not sure if this is relevant.  I only share with the spirit of improvement opportunity.  Apparently on my iPhone I am able to “like” one post per browser session.  So, first, I liked your post.  Then, I was unable to like any more posts.  Until I “x’d” out of my broswer seesion and then started another.  Thanks BRO ;). We do appreciate you, a lot.

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Bill93
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Things have been working fine on my Samsung S7 for quite a while.  Today I couldn't like or reply to threads on it.  I eventually got it fixed.

It took some digging to find where to clear enough to fix it.  I had to go into Advanced page to get to the "site settings".   Before that, clearing "cookies and site data" and "cached images and files" didn't do it.

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Dave Karoly
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Clearing browser data on Chrome in Windows apparently doesn’t clear anything 

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