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Browser cache explained: what is it and why do you need to clear it?

Browser cache explained: what is it and why do you need to clear it?

Ever seen a website displaying strangely – usually your own website? Often we will tell you to try clearing your browser cache and cookies and this will resolve the issue but why does this need to happen? Just what is a browser cache and how does clearing it resolve the issues?

What is a browser cache?

A browser cache is temporary files which automatically download and are stored on your computer when you visit a website to reduce server lag and load time. These files can include website files such as html, css, javascript and images – all which effect how your website look.

So why do I need to clear my browser cache?

Usually a browser will check for updated files and download them. However some processes can sometimes cause the cache to download incorrectly:

An interrupted or slow internet connection can cause website pages to only partially load. This can cause the cache to download incorrectly which then affects how the web page appears. Usually a simple refresh will reload the files but if the page is still displaying strangely it will require a cleared browser cache.

If you have recently had updates made by your website designer or developer you may need to clear your browser cache. Website designers or developers will often make updates to website files (html, css, etc) which are cached on your computer and if your computer cache does not match the website’s new files, elements on your website might not display how they should. Hence why the cache must be cleared to refresh the files.

How do I clear my browser cache?

In some browsers you can perform a force reload by pressing [Ctrl] + [F5]. Please see below for how to clear your cache in all browsers.

FirefoxFirefoxChromeChromeInternet explorerInternet ExplorerEdgeEdgeSafariSafari

Mozilla Firefox

  • Force reload: [Ctrl] + [F5] or [Ctrl] + [SHIFT] + [R] or [Shift] + browser Reload button
  • Clear cache: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Del]

Google Chrome

  • Reload page: [Ctrl] + [F5] or [Shift] + [F5] or [Ctrl] + browser Reload button
  • Force reload: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [R]
  • Clear cache: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Del]

Internet Explorer

  • Force reload: [Ctrl] + [F5] or [Ctrl] + browser Refresh button
  • Clear cache: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Del]

Microsoft Edge

  • Force reload: [Ctrl] + [F5] or [Ctrl] + browser Refresh button
  • Clear cache: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Del]


  • Safari > Preferences > Privacy > Remove All Website Data > Remove Now

Mobile / Tablet

  • iphone / ipad: Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data
Picture of Carly Murray
Carly Murray
Don’t let her quiet persona fool you! Carly is the creative assassin of digital design. Leaving no div open, she executes her coding with deadly accuracy, giving her designs bulletproof functionality. Having worked in agencies around the globe Carly has brought her talent and expertise to the front-line of the Mediamojo web and graphic design team Noosa. We’re just glad she’s on our side!

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