Refresh and Review: Caching

Image of the Google Search Console interface on a screen.

What is a hard refresh and caching?

Caching, pronounced ‘cashing’, is the process of storing data associated with website content, like a website’s page elements (images/text) or resources like CSS.  

A hard refresh is a way of clearing the browser’s cache of a specific page and its elements, forcing it to load the most recent version of a page.

This matters because… 

You may have seen that when you return to a website you’ve visited before, it loads faster than it did the first time. This is because your browser stores a copy of the website, known as caching.

Caching is implemented because it’s significantly faster for your browser to load the website locally (meaning on your personal computer), as opposed to your computer’s browser downloading the website from the internet again.

Why would someone do a hard refresh?

Knowing your browser stores website pages in the cache to help load them faster the next time may leave you wondering what happens when new things are added to the page.

Caching can sometimes create an issue when updates are made to the existing site since the browser has the old site version stored. 

So, to see new changes on your website, or other sites, you might need to hard refresh since the old site history is saved and will be pulled up the next time you visit that same webpage. 

We see this often and frequently advise our clients to do a hard refresh if they are unable to view the updates or improvements we’ve made to their website.

Additionally, for SEO purposes, a hard refresh/clearing of the cache can help those optimizing their website see if their website ranking has moved up in the search engine results. This is useful since individual browser search history can affect how high a site appears in someone’s search results. 

How to hard refresh

With all this said, here’s how to hard refresh your cache.

For a Google Chrome browser

A hard refresh is done by using the following shortcut keys:

  • Windows or Linux Operating Systems:
  1. Hold down Ctrl and click the Reload button.
  2. Or, Hold down Ctrl and press F5.
  • Mac Operating Systems:
  1. Hold down ⌘ Cmd and ⇧ Shift keys and then press R.
  2. Or, hold ⇧ Shift and click the Reload button.

For a Firefox browser

A hard refresh is done by using the following shortcut keys:

  • Windows or Linux Operating Systems:
  1. Hold down Ctrl and ⇧ Shift keys and then press R.
  2. Or, hold the Ctrl key and press the F5 key.
  • Mac Operating Systems:
  1. Hold down ⌘ Cmd and ⇧ Shift keys and then press R.
  2. Or, hold down the ⇧ Shift and click the Reload button.

For a Safari browser

A hard refresh is done by using the following shortcut keys:

  • Mac Operating Systems:
  1. Hold down the Option + ⌘ Cmd keys and press the ‘E’ key.

For an Internet Explorer browser

A hard refresh is done by using the following shortcut keys:

  • Windows or Linux Operating Systems:
  1. Hold the Ctrl (Control) key, press the F5 key.
  2. Or, hold the Ctrl (Control) key, click the Refresh button.

For a Microsoft Edge browser

A hard refresh is done by using the following shortcut keys:

  • Windows or Linux Operating Systems:
  1. Hold the Ctrl key and click the Refresh button.
  2. Or, hold the Ctrl key and press the F5 key.
  • Mac Operating Systems:
  1. Hold the ⇧ Shift key and click the Refresh button with your mouse.
  2. Or, hold the ⌘ Command and ⇧ Shift keys down and then press the R key.

*It’s important to note if a hard refresh on a page doesn’t solve your problem, try clearing your browser’s cache.*

In the end

While caching webpages typically improves user experience by helping website content show up faster, for people making changes or viewing website work on their site, it can be frustrating not to see the changes instantly. 

So, whether you are doing website work or looking at the changes someone made to your site, it’s helpful to know this technique to avoid wasting your or your developer’s time. 

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions regarding caching or hard refreshing. Also, if you need help with any other website issues, contact us—we’d be more than happy to help solve your website woes!

Sources:

How to hard refresh your browser Chrome, Firefox, Safari 

What is caching? – Definition from WhatIs.com 

How to do Hard Refresh in Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Mac’s Browser? 

How to hard refresh your browser 

 

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