Not Seeing Your Website Updates? Clear Your Cache

Clear Cache Web Browsers

There’s nothing more frustrating than making an update in your website’s content management system only to look at the website and your changes are nowhere to be found.  Usually, this issue is caused by your web browser’s cache.  So what is the cache?  And how can you get rid of it so you can see your updates?

What is Cache?

Cache is the term used when information is stored for future use.  In your computer’s case, your web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc.) stores versions of websites as you view them and shows them to you in the future instead of downloading the newest version.  Your browser does this because using cache allows the page to load much faster since it’s already stored on your computer.  Once you clear your cache, the browser will stop using the saved version of your site and go grab the newest version, including your updates.

How to Clear Your Cache to See Your Updates

Now that you know what your cache is, you probably want to know how to get rid of it so you can see your updates.  Unfortunately, how you clear your cache varies depending on your operating system and your browser.  And while we can’t cover every variation, we’ve provided a number of videos that hopefully match the browser and operating system you’re using. Before watching it’s worth noting that the layout, buttons and text in browsers change over time.  It’s possible our video won’t match exactly what you see on your screen, but they’ll hopefully be pretty close.

 

Clear Cache on Google Chrome in Windows

This video walks through how to clear your cache on Google Chrome in Windows 8.1.  We were using version 35.0 of Google Chrome when this video was recorded.

 

Clear Cache on Mozilla Firefox in Windows

This video walks through how to clear your cache on Mozilla Firefox in Windows 8.1.  We were using version 30.0 of Mozilla Firefox when this video was recorded.

 

Clear Cache on Safari in Mac OS X

This video walks through how to clear your cache on Safari in Mac OS X Mavericks.  We were using version 7.0 of Safari when this video was recorded.

 

Clear Cache on Internet Explorer 11 in Windows

This video walks through how to clear your cache on Internet Explorer 11 in Windows 8.1.

 

Clear Cache on Internet Explorer 8 in Windows XP

This video walks through how to clear your cache on Internet Explorer 8 in Windows XP.

I hope these videos were helpful.  If you’re having issues clearing your cache feel free to reach out to us or drop us a note in the comments below.

Related Reads

The Basics of Website Hosting (in Plain English)

The Benefits of Using an Open-Source Content Management System

Web Security: 4 Things Your Nonprofit Should Almost Never Do

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee

Jonathan Goldford is Wired Impact’s resident programmer and usability chap. He spends most of his time hunkered down with code working to make websites load faster and work more simply.

22 Comments on “Not Seeing Your Website Updates? Clear Your Cache

  1. 1 Elisabeth March 4, 2016

    I cannot see or add comments when using Safari or Chrome. I have cleared my caches a million times and this makes no difference at all. Since the problem is not browser- specific, I am assuming I need to change something in my OS preferences, but nothing I have tried is working. I am not alone. Any other suggestions?

    1. 2 Jonathan Goldford March 4, 2016

      Thanks for reaching out Elisabeth. When you say “I cannot see or add comments when using Safari or Chrome” can you give me a better idea of what you mean by that? Are you referring to blog post comments or some other type of comment?

  2. 3 Lynne July 27, 2016

    Hi,

    I’m going to reach out now because something really strange is going on with our not for profit site. It’s been going on for a while, and we keep doing things that should “fix” it, but nothing does.

    Our latest attempt was to reload the entire site with a shiny new template, but the old problem is still there, and it’s nothing to do with the cache on our browser.

    The site is http://www.learnenglish.de and when you visit it it looks fine, that’s because I’ve used a workaround, but it’s not a good idea as it impacts our SEO. When you look at http://www.learnenglish.de/indexlh.html you get an idea of the issue. The main culprits are a couple of .js and .css files that refer to the www part of the site, but have nothing to do with what we have in the site.

    This is where it gets really weird – take a look at this file:

    http://learnenglish.de/css/custom.css

    This is the custom css file I wrote.

    Now take a look at this one:-

    http://www.learnenglish.de/css/custom.css

    This is the one that is nowhere on our server.

    It’s something to do with www and caching, but that’s all I know.

    If you (or anyone else) have any idea what is going on, I’d love to hear it.
    Our provider says it’s part of the CDN, but we have flushed that too.

    1. 4 Jonathan Goldford July 27, 2016

      This is an interesting challenge Lynne and it’s hard to know without taking a deeper look. That said, I think the issue has to do with your DNS settings. When I ping http://www.learnenglish.de I’m sent to the IP address 104.28.28.199. When I ping learnenglish.de without “www” I’m taken to 82.165.196.25. Basically, your website is being loaded from different servers based on whether people are including “www” in the address. Make sure both are pointed to the correct server IP and you should be good to go.

      I hope that helps. Have a good one.

  3. 5 Mel February 28, 2017

    Google chrome keeps loading the old version of PDF’s I’ve created. I’ve cleared my cache, refreshed, etc. but nothing works. Is this a bug? Firefox shows the correct PDF but Chrome only shows old versions. Is there a fix for this?

    1. 6 Jonathan Goldford March 6, 2017

      Thanks for reaching out Mel. Google Chrome’s caching can definitely be tricky and it’s something we have to work around quite often. The best approach to ensure you’re loading the most updated version of a file or webpage can be found by going to http://stackoverflow.com/a/7000899/868082. Try that process out and let me know if you’re still having issues. Good luck.

  4. 7 Todd June 21, 2017

    Jonathan, do you know if there is a way to clear a users cache on a subscription based application? Our users are not seeing updates unless they manually clear cache. Since we are a startup we have updates almost every week. This is causing unnecessary bugs. Anything you’ve heard of to force a clear cache upon login?

    1. 8 Jonathan Goldford June 21, 2017

      Sure Todd. The best way to invalidate cache is by using a query string on the end of the files you’re trying to reload. For example, if your css file is called styles.css, you could load it using the name styles.css?v=1 or styles.css?v=timestamp where the word “timestamp” is the time in seconds the file was last updated. There are some other approaches and doing a search for “cache invalidation” should help you find those, but using a query string to reload files is one of the easiest I know of.

  5. 9 Tony Mart February 7, 2018

    Hi Jonathan,
    On average how long do browsers hold onto the cache before requesting a new copy of the page?

    We make changes daily to our Charities website, however most uses can’t see those changes the same day, usually when them come back they are able to see the updates.

    Do you know of any settings we can change to our caching program to make sure end users see the new content as quickly as possible

    Regards,

    Tony Mart
    Director of Technology
    Meals on Wheels South Florida

    1. 10 Jonathan Goldford February 7, 2018

      This is a great question Tony and unfortunately, a difficult one to answer. How long your browser serves a saved version of a website depends on a number of factors including your browser settings, the amount of hard drive disk space available to the browser and the information the website’s server sends to the browser about the site. Your best bet to adjust the way caching is handled by each visitor’s browser is by adjusting the settings within the caching tool on your website. It’s a little hard to tell based on your site, but it looks like you might be using the WP Fastest Cache plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-fastest-cache/) to manage your site’s caching. I don’t have any experience with that caching plugin specifically, but I’d recommend going through the settings to see if there are options to purge the cache for pages when their content changes. That would hopefully allow visitors to see the newest content more quickly. Thanks for reaching out and let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. 11 Parvesh February 21, 2018

    Hey, This information was very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. 12 Jonathan Goldford February 26, 2018

      Of course. I’m glad to hear you found it helpful.

  7. 13 Diana March 12, 2018

    Just want to say – Thanks, Jonathan! Your answers to people comments are very thoughtful and useful (unlike the responses I got from my hosting company and domain registrar). I was able to take some of your advice and figure out a solution to my problem. You’re awesome, keep it up!

    1. 14 Jonathan Goldford March 17, 2018

      That’s great to hear Diana! Thanks for your kind note and I’m happy to hear the post was helpful for you.

  8. 15 Leif August 15, 2018

    Does clearing the cache on one computer affect the view of the same website on another computer? I don’t see how if it’s a different computer with a different browsing history..so why does my colleague at work suggest to clear the cache on his computer to make sure I see the latest version of a website on my computer? Thanks

    1. 16 Jonathan Goldford August 17, 2018

      This is a good question. Caching is somewhat confusing since there are many layers of caching happening in many different places. For example, your computer caches websites through your browser so when you load the same website in the future, it loads faster. But there is also caching on the website’s server, which allows the server itself to grab the webpage more quickly and send it to your computer. Cache can be cleared both on your computer and on the website’s server. It is true that clearing the cache on your computer won’t affect the caching on someone else’s computer, but if the cache on a website’s server is cleared, that would impact anyone who visits that website.

      I hope that’s helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions.

  9. 17 Allison January 18, 2019

    I work for a SAAS company, and any time we release updates (which has been daily this week because we had some bugs to hot patch after a major release) the site is not updating for me. Clearing out everything in Google Chrome allows the updates to show for me just fine, but it’s extremely annoying to have to do this daily.

    My question is why is this happening all of a sudden, and how do I fix it so I do not have to clear my cache/cookies/whatever EVERY time we have an update? This issue never happened for me before and is not happening for anyone else at the company or clients.

    1. 18 Jonathan Goldford January 22, 2019

      It’s hard to say why this is happening when it wasn’t before, but depending on what files are being cached you should be able to fix it. The best way to do this when JavaScript or CSS files are being cached is to use a query string on the end of the filename with a version number. When you push an update, change the version number, which will cause everyone who views the site to download the file again, instead of using a cached version. Take a look at https://css-tricks.com/strategies-for-cache-busting-css/ for more information. If it’s not JavaScript or CSS files that are being cached, then the approach varies a lot based on your hosting provider and the CMS used to build your site. I’d recommend googling around with the phrase “cache busting”. That should point you in the right direction.

      I hope that’s helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions. Good luck.

  10. 19 usama amin April 20, 2019

    thank you jonathan, your answers helped a lot in understanding the cache issues. I have a question regarding cache issue, we update our site on regular basis but every time user has to clear his cache to see the changes, can you suggest us anything in which the user don’t have to clear the cache every time.

    1. 20 Jonathan Goldford April 23, 2019

      That’s a great question and unfortunately, it depends a lot based on what changes you’re making and how your website is set up. For example, if these are text changes within a content management system like WordPress, it’s possible you would need to purge the cache if you have any type of caching plugin. If these are code changes, I’d recommend adding versioning using a query string. A query string forces the user’s browser to download the file again, even if it has already saved a copy. If you’d like, feel free to give us some more details about what’s changing and hopefully we can provide some more direction.

  11. 21 Jason October 22, 2019

    Can you please tell me how to fix an unusual issue where only my Windows 10 PC shows old cached web pages and all my other devices do not? This happens in Firefox and IE despite clearing both browser’s cache, all history, closing and restarting, etc. My ISP is not using a cache or proxy, but if they did, I would expect it to affect all of my devices, not just the one PC. I don’t understand how this is possible and it’s driving me crazy. Thank you.

    1. 22 Jonathan Goldford October 23, 2019

      That’s definitely an odd situation Jason that could be triggered by a number of things. Are you seeing this across a number of different websites or just one? My first thought is to try flushing your DNS cache to see if that fixes the problem. Take a look at https://www.hostinger.com/tutorials/how-to-flush-dns to see how to do that on your PC. This is getting fairly technical, but the other thing I would do is compare the response headers for one of the sites on the PC that’s giving you issues and the same site on one that isn’t. Doing this won’t solve the problem, but it might point you in the right direction. You can see how to do this in Firefox at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Tools/Network_Monitor/request_details. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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