Sometimes I can tell that customers aren’t seeing the same thing that I am when we both look at their website. There could be a lot of reasons for this but sometimes it’s the cache.

A cache is where your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc) stores information about the websites you’ve visited. It stores the photos and all the files that actually make up a web page. The thinking is that if you go to the same website it might be quicker for your web browser to pull the photos and other files from the cache (its collection of stored files) rather than download them from the website every time.

It’s a good idea. But sometimes the files in the cache are old. In order to force the web browser to get the current files you need to get rid of things in the cache.

Refresh and Reload

Sometimes just clicking “refresh” or “reload” is enough to get the browser to download new files. Here’s a picture if the reload/refresh button in Internet Explorer 6:

IE Refresh

Here’s a photo of the reload/refresh button in Firefox:

FireFox Refresh

Clearing the Cache

If trying to refresh the page doesn’t work then you may need to clear the cache. This is also referred to as dumping the cache.

The steps for doing this are different for different browsers. Even different versions of browsers have different steps. In general here’s how you clear the cache for Internet Explorer:

Click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Internet Options’ and choose the ‘General’ tab. In the ‘Temporary Internet files’ section, click ‘Delete Files’. You will then get a dialogue box asking if you want to delete just the temporary files, or all offline content. Choose the latter and click ‘OK’.

For FireFox the process should be something like this:

Click on ‘Tools’ and then select ‘Options’. Select ‘Privacy’. Click on ‘Clear Now’ in the ‘Private Data’ section. When you’re done click on ‘OK’ to return to browsing.

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