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Three Types of Caching at InetSolution (and everywhere else on the Internet too.)


Donovan Myers

By Donovan Myers


When handling support requests at InetSolution, I often butt heads with caching. The client who has submitted a support case sees one version of a web page or graphic, their customers or members see something else, and I may see something completely different. This is usually the result of caching either at the CMS level, the server level, or the browser level.

CMS Caching

When your CMS is serving an older, cached copy of your content.

caching example 1

We build and host websites on many platforms, including Kentico, Wordpress and other flavors of content management platforms. All of the CMSs we host offer built-in (or plug-in based) caching to reduce server load and make pages load faster for visitors.

Unfortunately, most of the time, the control to clear the cache is only given to CMS administrators. When a CMS editor makes a change to the page, it should be configured to correctly clear the cache and immediately start serving the updated content. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, for many reasons, and the result is CMS caching preventing you from seeing your change immediately.

We generally set the CMS caching to 30 minutes, so without intervention from us, the website should reflect your new changes within a half hour.

Server-side Caching

When the server(s) between (and including the one that hosts your) website are serving an older, cached copy of your content.

caching example 2

It’s usually not your hosting server that is serving a cached copy, but there are many other servers between you, your customers or members, and your website. A service like Cloudflare or Sucuri may be configured to serve a cached version of your website to reduce server load. speed up page load times, and help mitigate DDoS attacks.

The ability to clear this cache is possibly available to your web host but, even then, they are at the mercy of other servers that make up the Internet that they have no control over.

At InetSolution, whenever possible we build automated processes within our CMS deployments that clear this type of caching in several instances to minimize the time it takes to clear the proxy server caches.

Caching like this could take hours to resolve itself and can be the most frustrating to hosts like InetSolution and the businesses we support.

Browser Caching

When your own web browser loads a cached copy of your content.

caching example 3

Pages, javascript, cascading style sheets, images, PDFs, and other documents can all be cached locally by your browser. Your browser will try and load as little as possible from the server to make surfing the web feel fast. If it notices you have a file in your browser cache that’s named the same and a similar, if not the exact same, size, it will skip requesting it from the server and load the one it has locally. This can cause visual changes (CSS and images), functionality (javascript), and even documents to appear as if they haven’t been updated.

There are a few methods to help clear your local browser cache.

  1. You may try opening a new Incognito or Private window for your browser and loading the site there. This isn’t always foolproof however and cached content has still appeared in our experience.
  2. You can turn on Developer Tools in your browser which can give you some control over disabling caching entirely. This is usually too advanced for some of our clients or potentially your customers or members.
  3. Holding shift and clicking the refresh button (several times) seems to be a silver bullet that most people can figure out – and it works the vast majority of the time!

Hopefully these descriptions give you a better understanding of caching to help you identify where the issue lies, to better initiate support, and get your website displaying as intended quickly.

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