Browser Cache Vs. Cookies: What’s the Difference?

cache vs cookies

Both of these essentially help numerous websites improve their general performance by giving website users greater and more individualized access.

During a user’s interaction with a website, a cache permanently saves online resources from that page in the browser. As a result, it shortens the website’s future loading time and makes login for its users easier.

In contrast, cookies keep track of the user’s preferences. It contains information about their internet surfing activity, favorite web pages, etc. In essence, cookies utilize these to track their general preferences and areas of interest.

What are caches?

A web cache, also known as an HTTP cache, is a type of information technology used to temporarily store web content, including HTML pages and pictures, to cut down on bandwidth use, perceived latency, and server load. A cache is merely a group of files downloaded to aid in displaying a web page.

If certain requirements are met, future requests can be fulfilled from the cache through a web cache system, which saves copies of the information that passes through it. A web cache system can reference either software or equipment.

For instance, loading websites with huge graphics and videos could take some time. Your computer’s web browser saves the site’s contents, including photos, videos, music, etc. You’ll notice that it loads quicker the following time you visit the same page.

What are Cookies?

Cookies are tiny files that websites can implement to store data about a user, including passwords, browser preferences, date and time of visits, IP addresses, and other information. The browser transmits the cookie to the server each time a user accesses a website so that the website is aware of the user’s prior behavior.

Cookies have a specified lifespan that expires after a predetermined amount of time.

Cookies usually track data such as how often a user visits, when they visit, which ads are clicked, which buttons have been clicked, the user’s preferences, the items in their shopping cart, etc. This process enables the website to give you information tailored to your requirements.

Cookies are often used to store data needed for transient purposes. Cookies come in two types:

  • Persistent cookies: Despite having an expiration date, these cookies remain on a visitor’s local computer while active and “persist” between your visits to the website. Even if a visitor leaves and returns to the website, it allows them to be identified.
  • Session cookies: These are only ever held in memory and never saved to the user’s local computer. A session cookie is only active while a visitor is browsing, but once their browser is closed, it is completely deleted.

Difference between cache and cookies

ParametersCacheCookies
BasicsCaches are used by a system to store data from websites and apps. They improve a user’s ability to access items.Cookies are used by an application or a website to record user activity and track their preferences.
Things StoredJavascript, HTML pages, CSS, media (images and videos), and such are all stored in the cache.Cookies keep track of browser sessions, past website and app usage, and other momentary data.
CapacityIn comparison, caches use less memory. They take up large amounts of room on any device.Cookies use the device’s memory space far more effectively. They use a tiny fraction of the memory.
Location of StorageThe cache saves a copy of the website material on the user’s browser.Cookies keep their information both on a server and in the browser. 
ExpirationThe cache has to be manually deleted as it does not automatically expire.The lifespan of the cookies is quite short and largely dependent on who created them. As a result, the cookies have a set shelf life.
Sent with a RequestNo user is requested to send a response that takes a cache format.Cookies appear to users as a request for their authorization or consent. Put another way, it only communicates with the servers after receiving the end user’s approval.
TypesProxy cache and Browser cachePersistent cookies and Transient cookies

Frequently asked questions

Are clearing cache and cookies bad?

You always give up convenience when you clear your cache or cookies: the website will load slower the next time you visit, you’ll have to log into your accounts anew, whatever site modifications will be lost, and you will need to enter information into form fields from scratch. The use of cookies or cache is not so essential.

Is browsing history the same as cookies?

No. Simply put, your browsing history lists the pages and websites you have viewed. Cookies keep track of your activities on specific websites.

Does every website use cookies?

Nearly all websites utilize cookies, sometimes a handful of them. Because of this, some cookie authorization forms allow you to select which cookies you do and do not want to accept.

Should I clear the cache or cookies?

Depending on what you aim to accomplish, you can either erase the cache or the cookies.

Clear the cache if you wish to see a brand-new website version, fix loading problems, or free up space.

If you wish to protect your personal information on a shared device, stop tracking, and delete your search history from websites like Facebook, clear your cookies.

Conclusion

Cookies and browser caching allow you to save data on a visitor’s computer. They do it, though, in various ways and for various reasons.

As stated, cookies enable information retention about individual users so they can be identified or monitored, but browser caching speeds up a site.

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