Clearing your browser cache

99% of the time, the answer from support is to clear your cache.

Cache issues create frustration when providing over the phone support because you can see your screen, and we can see our screen, and we see different things. The reason we see different things is because of caching

It's in the nature of the internet that things are cached to make them go faster. The browser caches, the network caches, the ISP caches... lots of caches... DNS caches...

One thing that confuses people is when they update their website via websitebuilder, they wonder why they can't see the changes. This is because the web browser does not understand there is any connection between what you do on website builder and your personal website address... The 2 are completely separate from the web browser perspective. Security and privacy between websites is paramount to web browsers, so authough you update your website via website builder, the browser doesn't notice. There is no difference irrespective of what CMS you use, or even if you use software on your computer and use FTP to upload the files... Any which way you update your website, you need to refresh your browser or clear your cache.

Caching is for speed. It's also in the nature of web browsers to be as fast as they can be. There is no reason for the web browser to check if a "stylesheet" has changed in the last few minutes or hours. Caching the stylesheet can save about 3 seconds on every single page load, so that's why if you make a design change via any CMS, you won't see it straight away until you refresh your browser or clear your browser cache.

The simplist way to clear your cache is to press the refresh button on your browser. But sometimes the browser only refreshes the page, but not the stylesheets and images connected to the page (those are separate files for the browser). Hence clearing your cache will ensure the browser retrieves every part of your website for the first time, and show you the latest version. You will notice it's slower the first time you view a page on your website after clearing the cache, but when you go back to that page it will be faster. 

DNS changes are also cached. It is assumed by the internet that if a website was served from a location on one day, that it will probably be the same the next day. Caching DNS means websites can load very fast on their first access also. 

Just to increase the complexity, website builder also has 2 other items to consider. The first is publishing, we have a publishing step so that you can work on your website to make changes, and not let the world see them until you press publish.

In addition to the publishing step, we also use a CDN (content delivery network) which is a caching layer between your website on our servers and the rest of the world. This is really effective, as if someone from the UK accesses your website, they should get a copy delivered from the UK, rather than fetching the files all the way from NZ, same goes for south Africa, or north America, etc. It takes anythin gfrom 30 seconds to 10 minutes to publish changes to all servers around the globe.

So caching is done for speed, and it also creates some frustration when we don't see what we expect to the first time. Please bare in mind this is the nature of the internet, and we all benefit from the speed it produces when working well. 

Posted: Friday 28 March 2014


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