Browser caches

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Every time you use your web browser, your computer collects information about how you use it as well as generating local copies of files and documents you have viewed. This information is stored in folders on your hard drive and can be accessed by navigating to that folder or using a viewing utility within the web browser itself. Items that are stored include the cookies that the site you visit creates to store your preferences or login information, image files, html pages, PDF documents and even video files. In short, anything that you can access through the internet. While this automatic caching can be convenient, as it helps increase the speed of the page loading on your next visit, it's also a major privacy risk.

There are two ways to take control of the browser cache. You can either periodically delete all the stored files or you can disable the caching completely in your browser. This guide is going to explain how to achieve either method in all the popular browsers.

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[edit] Clearing the browser cache in FireFox

In order to clear the cache in Firefox, simply go into Options in the header bar, select the Privacy tab and then click the Clear all current history option. Alternatively (in some versions) you can hit CTRL + SHIFT + DEL at the same time to bring up the dialog box from where you will be able to selectively delete cached browser data such as browsing and download history, cookies, general cache, active logins or site preferences.

[edit] Disabling the browser cache in FireFox

When it comes to disabling FireFox' web caching entirely you have two options. You can enable Private Browsing by clicking on Tools in the header and then selecting Start Private Browsing. The keystroke shortcut for this is CTRL + SHIFT + P. This disables the caching function and FireFox will no longer record your browser history, cookies, or cached images.

The other way to disable browser caching in FireFox is to actually set the amount of disk space assigned to the browser cache to 0. Click Tools in the header bar and then select Options. Next select the Advanced tab and finally Network. In the Offline Storage area change the number next to Use up to ** MB of space for the cache to 0.

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[edit] Clearing the browser cache in Google Chrome

Clearing the browser cache in Chrome is quite similar to other browsers. Click the wrench icon and select Options. This will bring up a Google Chrome Options box. Click Under the hood and then the Clear browsing data button to bring up a second dialog box. Here you will be able to clear the browsing history, download history, browser cache, cookies, saved passwords and form data.

[edit] Disabling the browser cache in Google Chrome

The easiest way to disable browser caching in Google Chrome is simply to use its Incognito Window mode, similar to IE’s InPrivate mode. Press CTRL + SHIFT + N to open up the relevant tab.

[edit] Clearing the browser cache in Opera

To clear the browser cache in Opera, you need to access its Delete Private Data window. The simplest way, and perhaps the only way depending on your version of Opera, is to go to the Tools tab in the toolbar and then select its Delete Private Data option. The other way is to click the down arrow beside the Opera logo in the top left corner of the browser window. Select Settings and then Delete Private Data. Once you have the private data deletion window up, you can selectively decide what cached data you want to delete.

[edit] Disabling the browser cache in Opera

To disable Opera’s browser caching completely, once again click the down arrow beside the Opera logo in the top left corner, or Tools. Select Settings and then Preferences. This brings up an additional dialog box. Select the Advanced tab and then History on the left side of the dialog box. Change the Disk Cache setting to Off.

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