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Understanding the Differences Between Cookies and Cache

Browser cache cookies

During browsing sessions, you probably have been asked to accept cookies and cache at least once. Or else, a browser might have asked for your permission to save your username and password when logging in. 

Those are examples of cookies and cache on a browser. Both of them store information on an internet user’s device. However, their specific function is different. 

This article will help you understand the definition of cookies, cache, and the differences between them. We’ll also add a brief explanation on how to clear browser’s cache and cookies to smoothen your browsing experience. 

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are files that contain your personal information, such as a username or a password. The server creates these cookies to identify your computer when you are connecting. 

Cookies can also track how frequently you visit a website, what buttons you click on, your preferences, or even your shopping cart on an eCommerce site. 

The data stored on the cookies is labeled with a unique ID to identify your computer. Therefore, when your computer and the network server exchange the cookies, it reads the ID to access the information about you. 

Cookies can be of the following types: 

  • Session cookies. These cookies store information during your browsing session only, for example, when shopping online. They can save your shopping cart data while you’re browsing for other products.
  • Persistent cookies. They remain on your computer for quite a long period. You can also customize the period to your preference. Once the time expires, the cookies will be automatically deleted. Examples of these cookies include passwords, login information, and language preference. 
  • Third-party cookies. These cookies are responsible for tracking your data based on your online behavior. Usually, a third party, like an advertising agency, generates them from the website you are currently browsing. 

Cookies can help you elevate your browsing experience, but they can also make your data privacy vulnerable. Luckily, you are in control of blocking and removing cookies

Find the options and customization on your browser’s settings in the privacy section.

What Is Cache?

A cache is a storage location that contains files such as images, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript of a web page. 

By saving the files, browsers can elevate their loading speed by lowering the requests to the server. In short, the cached data can save up your time loading a webpage. 

There are two types of web cache: 

  • Browser cache – stores a web page’s resources to a visitor’s local computer memory. It helps reduce the page load time of the visitors. The browser’s internal policy manages the process of downloading and storing the data.
  • Proxy cache – stores data in intermediate servers, resulting in a single cached resource copy being served to multiple visitors.

Individual internet users should be more familiar with the browser cache. Proxy cache usually works for an internet service provider (ISP) to establish a faster internet connection to the most frequently visited websites. 

Though browser cache can be helpful for you, the stored files eat up space on your computer. If you don’t clear it for a long time, it will slow down your browser. 

In addition, the website’s files stored on your local computer won’t update automatically. So, your browser might not load the website’s updated version if you don’t clear the cache.

Keep in mind that clearing cached data doesn’t mean deleting your browsing history. Thus, don’t hesitate to clear your browser cache every once in a while to enhance your browser performance.  

Go to your browser’s settings to clear your cache and look for the clear cache option under the browsing history section. 

Alternatively, use ctrl + shift + del to clear the cache. 

Key Differences Between Cookies and Cache

After providing the general definition of cookies and cache, this section will cover the key differences between cookies and cache.

Size

The cached data has various sizes since it stores webpage’s resources. It can range from a kilobyte to gigabytes depending on the visited web pages.  

Meanwhile, cookies are generally small – kilobytes are enough to measure them.

Functions

Cache enhances a website’s loading speed, display, and plugins. 

On the other hand, cookies help store a website visitor’s personal information.

Types

Cookies generally come in text files and are saved in the .txt filetype. 

Caches don’t have one common file type as they can include scripts, graphics, images, audio, videos, and other website content. 

Response

Caches don’t send responses with requests. They just store and download the data automatically. 

Meanwhile, cookies send requests. That’s why browsers often ask you to accept cookies. 

Information Stored

Cookies store the personal data that you send to the server, for example, during your browsing sessions.

Cache downloads and stores webpage resources to your local computer. 

Cybersecurity-wise, cookies can be more harmful than a cache, especially third-party cookies. It’s important to check and remove your cookies from untrusted websites regularly. 

On the one hand, always clear the browser cache after using a public computer. It prevents other computer users from tracking your browsing data. 

Expire Time 

Cookies expire automatically after the custom time set by the server owner. You can also customize your preferred cookies’ expiration time. 

On the other hand, cached data should be cleared manually. 

Conclusion

Cookies consist of small text files that contain a website visitor’s personal information obtained during the browsing session. They are stored both in the local computer’s storage and the server. 

A cache is stored data of a web page’s resource stored in the user’s local computer or an intermediate server. It functions to speed up the page loading time of a visited website. 

Generally, cookies and a cache differ in their functions and data size. Note that they both can affect your browsing experience positively or negatively. Therefore, it’s recommended to regularly check your cache and cookie data and remove them if needed.

Web Desk

Web Desk is the news author at Research Snipers which mainly covers Technology News, Microsoft News, Google News, Facebook, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, and other tech news and served by Research Snipers Staff and editors.

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