It seems like every day I talk to a user who is having an issue with something on a Web site. Yes, that includes our site. Every now and then it is truly something that needs to be corrected. The rest of the time, the problem can be immediately solved by clearing the cache in your browser. What is the cache? It saves the files from sites you’ve visited recently so they will load faster if you visit again. Should even a single file on a site have an error in downloading on the first visit, it can cause problems when you visit again.
So if you run into a problem, clear your browser cache to see if it solves the problem. How do you do that? I’ll provide instructions for the three most-used browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Of course I hope all of you followed my advice in Install Multiple Web Browsers and Avoid Download Managers.
Clearing the Cache in Internet Explorer
At the top right of the Internet Explorer window is a gear icon just below the X to close the program. This “gear” is the Tools menu. Click on it and then select Safety | Delete Browsing History in the menu that drops-down. It will bring up the Delete Browsing History dialog box shown at right. Make sure to uncheck everything in the dialog box except Temporary Internet files. Then press the Delete button at the bottom of the dialog box to clear the files from your cache. This entire process should take less than a minute or two.
Clearing the Cache in Mozilla Firefox
If you do not have a menu bar visible in Firefox, click the Firefox button and then Options. If you do have a menu bar visible, select Tools | Options. In the Options dialog box, click on the Privacy tab. About 2/3 of the way down the dialog will be highlighted text “clear your recent history” and you should click on it. This will bring up another dialog labeled “Clear Recent History” as shown at left. At the top is a drop-down asking what timeframe to delete. Select Everything. Below that is a series of checkboxes listing types of history to delete. You want Cache to be checked and everything else to be unchecked. Click Clear Now and the cached files will be deleted. This entire process should take no more than a minute or two.
Clearing the Cache in Google Chrome
The Chrome menu is a small button at the very upper right of the browser window (just under the X like in Internet Explorer) and has three horizontal lines on it. Click this button and select Tools | Clear browsing data from the menu that appears. Choose to delete data from “the beginning of time” in the drop-down at the top of the dialog box that appears (shown at right). Uncheck every item in the dialog box except “Empty the cache”. Click the Clear browsing data button at the bottom of the dialog box and you’re all set. Just like the other browsers, this entire process should take no more than a minute or two.
If you are using any other browser, it will have a similar set of steps for clearing the cache. While this is a troubleshooting step to solve problems, it is also something you may want to consider doing every week or two just to keep things relatively clean.