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What Is Cached Data, And Is It Important?

A website, including both text and media, should load within a few seconds. If it takes longer than that, people will quit it and go to a competitor. Luckily, a website’s loading speed can be improved with the help of cached data. 

Cached data is temporary data storage that typically consists of HTML or JavaScript files, images, videos, etc. While the existence of the cashed data is not critical for an app or website to function, cashed data is useful for augmenting the user experience by (for instance) preloading pages.

Even though the term “cache” is used quite frequently, do you really know what it means and if it’s important? Is it safe to delete, and are there benefits to deleting it? And if so, how can you clear it from your Android or iPhone? Let’s take a look.   

What the Term ”Cached Data” Means on Your Phone

Erase Internet History

The term cache can be best understood as a repository of your frequently used website data. It’s like a reserved space that stores frequently used data to allow quick access. 

Every time you visit a website, your phone has to fetch that information. But if that information is stored in the cache, your phone skips the fetching, saving time.

Of course, you can’t choose what is stored in the cache; developers decide that for you, depending on what can decrease the load time and provide the best internet surfing experience.  

Is it Helpful?

Cached data can be pretty helpful in many cases, whether on your phone or your laptop. For instance, if you get spotty internet service in your area, a cache can improve your user experience on future site visits. 

It also has very low latency, which means you can access it quickly. And you can put that theory to the test. First, open a new app or go to a website you’ve never visited before and note the time it takes to load. Next, revisit the same website and then compare the two times.

While cached data isn’t the only kind of data in your phone, what makes it different from the other forms is that users can discard it themselves with a few simple steps.

Cached Data on an iPhone

Cached data can be many things. For instance, a DNS caches different DNS records to speed up lookups, while CDNs use caching to reduce latency.

Similarly, web browsers on an iPhone cache HTML files, JavaScript, files, and images to speed up website load time.

Apps on your iPhone can also store cached data, which can be anything ranging from images and scripts to files and other multimedia files. These are stored on your iPhone when you first open an app or visit a website and then used to quickly collect information about the website or app every time it’s used.   

Cached Data on an Android

Just like iPhones, Android devices also store cached data. These can be images, files, scripts, etc., from frequently used apps and websites to reduce load time. 

Can You Delete Cached Data?

We’ve established that cached data is important to ensure a better user experience, but can and, most importantly, should you delete it? And is it safe to do so? The truth is, this depends on why you want to delete it. 

If the cached data is taking up valuable memory on your device, you should delete it, especially since it isn’t necessary for the website’s or app’s performance. Once you delete it, the app or website will have to reload the file the next time you open it.

However, deleting cached data isn’t a permanent solution since data will be re-cached when you revisit websites or reopen apps. If you’re short on memory, the better option is to delete old videos, images, and texts.

It’s up to you whether you want to delete cached data on all websites or only on certain websites. The latter is especially useful if you manage multiple sites.

How to Clear the Cache on a Web Browser

There are different ways to clear the cache, depending on your device. Here’s how you can clear the cache on different web browsers:

On Chrome (Desktop, iOS device, or Android Device)

  1. Click on the three vertical dots you see on the top-right of the browser to open up Settings.
  1. From the drop-down menu, choose More Tools and click on Clear Browsing Data.
  1. You’ll now be redirected to another page where you must choose the checkboxes for plug-in and site data, cookies, and cached files and images.
  1. Next, choose how much data you want to delete (from the previous day to the beginning of time) and then select Clear Browsing Data.  

On Safari

  1. Go to History and then choose Clear History to get rid of all the data stored on the browser.
  1. You’ll then see a drop-down menu that lets you choose whether to delete the cache from the last hour, day, two days, or entire history.
  1. Choosing the entire history will delete not just the browsing history but also cookies and browser cache. You can also choose to delete the history of individual websites.

On Internet Explorer

  1. Click on the gear icon, choose Tools, Safety, and then Delete Browsing History. Alternatively, you can hold Delete, Ctrl, and Shift together to open the browsing history menu.
  1. Choose the data you want to clear by ticking all the right boxes, including the boxes for temporary internet files and cookies.
  1. After selecting all of them, choose Delete.  

On Mozilla Firefox

  1. Click on the Library button, choose History, and then Clear Recent History.
  1. Choose the time period of the cached data that you want to clear.
  1. Click on the arrow next to Details and choose the information you want to clear.
  1. When you’re done, choose Clear Now to delete the cache.

How to Clear the Cache on Mobile Devices

Cache data on mobile devices includes data stored by different apps, and you can easily clear those. Here’s how:

On Android Devices

  1. Go to Settings and open up Applications.
  1. Choose the app whose cache you want to delete and tap Storage.
  1. You will now see the amount of storage the application uses, along with the option of clearing the data. Simply tap on it to clear it.

iOS Devices

Clearing app cache on iPhone 14 Pro
  1. Open up Settings and tap on General.
  1. Then go to Storage & iCloud Usage or iPhone Storage, depending on your device.
  1. Choose an app from the list and then tap on Offload Data

What are the Benefits of Clearing Cached Data?

As mentioned above, clearing cached data is helpful if your device is running low on storage or if you have stored information for sites you no longer use. But there are other benefits, too. For instance, it can correct a page that’s loading incorrectly.

However, doing so can slow down the load times of websites you’ve previously visited.

In addition, it treats every website as if you’ve never visited before and can delete website logins and stored data, so make sure you know what you’re doing when you decide to clear cached data.  

Another benefit of cache is that it saves states. So, for instance, if you close your Instagram app and open it up again a few minutes later, you’ll be able to see previously loaded posts. In contrast, if there were no cache data, everything would have to be reloaded. 

Is Cached Data Important?

Since cached data isn’t crucial to the app’s or website’s performance and is considered temporary storage, it’s not that important. But it does help to improve user experience. 

Different on-page elements such as videos, images, and sometimes even text can take a little time to load. However, if these things are cached, you can reopen the page or app and be sure that it won’t take as much time to load.