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“Cache” and “Cookies”

Ever wondered what they are and what they do? Or perhaps you know what they are but are unsure of how they are different? In this post, we will be covering what the Cookies and Caches are and what’s the difference between them. Let us begin!

What are they?

Cache and Cookies works and acts similarly but are used for different purposes. Both store data, typically in small sizes, into your devices to improve user experience. They are most often downloaded into your device upon the first visit to a site. The easiest way to know the differences is to go in-depth and understand how they work.

  • Cookies

    Cookies refer to a file that is stored in your device after your first visit to the site and would commonly contain the site’s name. It stores information based on your browsing history. In certain cases, the file would also be used to tailor pop-ups based on the number of times you’ve visited a certain site or page.

    You have probably seen pop-up notifications about “Cookies” on many sites, constantly asking for permissions. It is often mandatory for sites to ask for permission due to laws and regulations in the country. However, you can still browse the sites’ contents regardless of whether you consent to the cookies.

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An example of a Cookie Consent pop-up from SendGrid.

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An example of a Cookie Consent banner taken from y8.com.

  • Cache

    Have you ever noticed the difference in the loading speed of a page or site between your first visit and after multiple visits? This is all because of Cache. Cache stores backups and copies of images, videos and elements on your devices. This helps your device save time as it does not need to reload every single element on subsequent visits. Thus, the pages load faster.

    However, the cache does not always update its contents successfully. Sometimes some old files may not get overridden during an update or certain changes might not be saved. This may cause the site to be displayed incorrectly. Such issues can easily be solved when a user deletes or clears the cache files stored in their devices. It would enable the device to re-download the cache files with the latest versions.

A Scenario

Imagine browsing an online clothing store. Cookies will take note of the products that you have been looking at, regardless of whether a purchase was made. After exiting the site, ads related to the product or the product itself will start appearing even while you are browsing through other sites. Cookies store your preferences and browsing history to tailor-make advertisements.

When browsing a site for the first time, it usually takes some time to load all the images successfully. After repeated visits, it will take a much shorter time for the same images to load. When a website was first visited, a small part of all the images was stored in your device. This makes the loading time for your subsequent visits faster. The only delays would be from new resources/products that are added to the website.

Comparisons

  • How They Work

    Both the files are stored in the device upon a consumer’s first visit. Cookie stores files which record browsing history and in certain cases, tailor the site to appeal to the consumer. Cache makes the site load faster.

  • Stored Contents

    Cookies store information such as the site name, number of times users visited and preferences on the site. Cache stores resource files and elements such as videos, pictures, audio, etc.

  • Permission and Consent

    Most sites have a pop-up notification that asks for a user’s permission to allow cookies to run. This is due to the Data Protection Laws implemented. The most common or well-known law implemented is the “General Data Protection Regulation” (GDPR) in the EU region.

    Cache, on the other hand, does not usually require permission. However, some sites go the extra mile to inform their users.

  • Duration of Storage

    Cookies will often expire after a period of time. Cache would remain stored in the device until the user clears it manually.

How do I clear Cache and/or Cookies?

The answers generally differ between browsers and devices used.

For example, on mobile devices, you may clear the cache from your browser’s settings or go to your app’s settings. On a desktop, you can visit your browser’s settings. Depending on which browser you are using, there are different ways of clearing it. Generally, the Cookies and Cache can be found under the “Privacy and Security” tab.

For example, here are some screenshots of where the Cookie & Cache settings are:

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Firefox Developer Edition browser.

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Google Chrome browser.

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Safari browser.

For those who are worried about being monitored, Cookies and Cache are both harmless. We suggest clearing your browsing cache occasionally if you are having trouble loading pages.

Regardless if you dropped by to learn more about Cookie and cache, we hope this post helped. For more useful or interesting articles, check out our other entries! Or perhaps check out our services to find out what we offer.