Clear your Cache, Cookies and History

When you browse the internet, your web browser will keep a record of the sites you visit in your Browser History. If you've got cookies enabled, you'll also pick up various "cookie" files which websites place on your computer which can be used to track your activity online.

Your web browser will also keep copies of the files it's downloaded to show you the various websites you've seen (eg. the images, text and code for a website). Because your computer already has a copy of these files, it means that it's much quicker to load the site when you return the next time.

Web Developers: Use our auto-redirect

Send your users straight to the right Cache guide

If you want to link your site to our guides (or provide a link via your help desk), we've built a handy redirection URL which will automatically send your user to the correct guide.

Simply place a link to: anywhere on your website and when your users click it, we'll send them to the best guide for their system. It saves them having to click the browser and operating system icons.

Why should I clear my cookies, history and cache?

Normally, there's no real reason to need to clear these things. Most browsers will hold on to the files for a set time (usually a few weeks) so that when you return to a site, it doesn't have to re-download all the files again.

To fix problems

Sometimes a website might have some kind of problem with it, and because your computer keeps a copy of the code on itself (in the cache), even when the problem with the website is fixed you still encounter it. Clearing your cache and cookies is a good way to "reset" your browser so that you try everything fresh again.

To enhance your privacy

Occasionally, you want to clear what you've been looking at the internet on your computer; perhaps you're buying someone a birthday present and you don't want them to see what you were looking at for them. Or perhaps you've used a shared public or library computer and you don't want the next user to see all the URLs you were looking at.

Remember: it's not a complete privacy solution

Remember, that clearing your cookies, history and cache only affects the computer you're on at the time. It's still possible for anyone responsible for providing you with your internet connection to snoop on what you've been looking at: this can include your ISP, the Wifi point you've accessed, or your Work's internet. Using a VPN is one way of helping prevent other people snooping on your online activities. Read our guide on hiding your IP address.

What gets deleted when I clear my cache?

Most browsers give you a good level of control of what will be deleted from your computer when you refresh your browser. There is usually a list of options about what will and won't be deleted (Safari on iOS is the only one that just blanket deletes everything). So you have control over what will be deleted - you might just want to clear your cache but keep your cookies - you might want to do the opposite! It's up to you.

If someone is helping you solve a problem you're having, the chances are they'll want you to clear both your cache and your cookies to be safe.

Unless you really want to, it might be a good idea to hold on to some other things which make browsing more convenient - things like the data you've entered into forms (to save you re-typing it each time), saved passwords, site permissions and so on.

When you delete your cookies, you'll need to re-login to websites that you use. When you delete your cache, your browser will need to re-fetch all the files it needs to display websites when you visit them.

Any files you've downloaded yourself won't be deleted; this operation is more about deleting the files that your browser has automatically downloaded as a part of its normal operation.

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