Have you ever heard of the two concepts, browser cache and cookies, and found it very vague?
In essence, both of these concepts are methods of storing data from a website on a visitor’s device.
But they will store different information and their purposes are not the same
In today’s article, we will explain what “browser cache” and “cookies” are.
Then, we will learn the difference between them and the purpose of each.
Now, let’s begin.
Browser Cache and Cookies: What are their differences and uses?
What is Browser Cache?
In general, the cache is a temporary memory that stores information in a location that makes data retrieval easier and faster.
There are many different ways you can “cache” your WordPress website. But in this article, we will focus on browser cache only.
As you know, a website has many static files that do not change when someone visits
Let’s take an example of a website logo.
Website master will usually keep the logo fixed and consistent and rarely change it often, and they’re usually the same across all pages.
For example, a visitor lands on three separate pages on your website.
It would take a lot of traffic to force this person to download the logo three times in a row with no change.
The browser cache will allow us to avoid this situation by storing static files on the visitor’s device (computer, laptop, mobile, tablet)
At this point, the browser cache will work as follows:
- First visit – the client browser will download the logo file from the server and store it in the browser cache.
- Second and third visits – the client browser will load the logo from the browser cache instead of reloading it from scratch.
As such, they help your website load faster and save resources. Really useful, right?
To control the browser’s file storage time, we can easily set the expiration date.
For example, you can easily set the browser to “store JPEG images for 3 months, but MP4 videos will be saved for 1 week only”.
Also, if you need to change a file before it expires (like a logo), use a technique called “cache-busting” to force the client to download the latest version of the file.
Because browser caching is a handy way to increase website performance
What is Cookies?
A cookie is a small file that is stored on a visitor’s device and contains data for a specific client.
In this case, “client” means the user’s device.
Cookies help store useful information about users, such as login/authentication information, so they don’t have to waste time manually logging in from scratch or re-selecting items in the cart.
(Trust us, today’s customers are very impatient, cookies will make the experience much more convenient for them!)
Cookies are only used to store text-based data, like IP addresses, IDs, access history, etc.
Also, unlike cache – in the form of one-way information (from server to local cache).
The client’s browser sends cookies to the website’s server on each visit – so the information goes both ways:
- Server → Client
- Client → Server
There are two types of cookies:
- Persistent cookie – although this type of cookie has an expiration date, they persist on the local computer while the server is running and appear when we visit the web. These cookies allow you to identify a visitor even when they leave the web and come back later.
- Session cookie – This type of cookie is stored in memory and is never saved to the local computer. This form works each time; as soon as the visitor closes the browser, the session cookie is gone forever.
Browser Cache and Cookies - What are their uses?
Reading this far, you probably have a relative understanding of the difference between these two concepts. Let’s go a little deeper into their intended use.
This is a one-way relationship – these files do not communicate back to the server after they are archived.
In addition, the browser cache will not recognize specific users and treat them equally.
The benefits of browser cache are obvious. They help reduce the loading on the server, thereby helping to speed up the website.
Cookies are small text files that allow you to track, identify, or store information for specific visitors.
This is a two-way relationship where the server can read information from the cookie.
Cookies help us provide a better user experience, such as recognizing logged-in users or determining who has returned and displaying their shopping cart in shopping pages.
Or, cookies also help us track and identify specific visitors.
For example, setting cookies to email pop-ups doesn’t show up again when the user has previously registered.
Finally, cookies are also used to assist with off-site functions.
For example, set a retargeting cookie to show ads to your web visitors even when they are on another web.
Or advertisers can rely on cookies to calculate commissions for their publishers (also known as affiliates) based on successful orders.
- Both browser cache and cookies allow information to be stored on the visitor’s computer. However, they store in two different ways and serve differently.
- Browser cache helps you speed up your website, while cookies allow you to store specific information about users to identify or track them.
We hope our article has helped you better understand these two concepts. Thank you for reading!
*If you are doing business (or going to be in business) and need help, do not hesitate to inbox or find out more about our available services. Thank you
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