What Is The Difference Between Cache & Cookies?

Read this article to understand the difference between Cache and Cookies that are present in the browser. Know what is their role in the smooth functioning of a browser, what are their impact on security and performance and how to clear them when required.

We were all made painfully aware of just how frequent cookies are in our internet surfing activities after GDPR. But, exactly, what are they? And what distinguishes them from the cache, the other thing we're always told to delete to fix internet problems? With assistance from leading VPN Surfshark (we highly recommend getting Surfshark if you haven't already), here's a detailed look into the differences between cache and cookies.

TLDR; Cache vs. Cookies

  • A cache makes it easier than ever for websites to load faster on your device by saving (or "caching") their resources (images, videos, etc.) so that they load faster on repeat usage.
  • Cookies are small bits of data that a website saves on your computer or phone to improve your user experience.

What is a cache?

The cache – which is almost the same as local storage – speeds up websites by keeping more demanding page assets on your device. The cache holds static and unchanging information, so you don't have to download it every time you come back to the site. The following are examples of things that cache keeps:
  • Images (background, logos, cat pictures, etc.)
  • Videos
  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript

The web's biggest advantage is that it allows you to do previously impossible things. This is a non-obvious benefit of the web. Everything you see on websites is downloaded and stored on your device in some form or another - otherwise, you wouldn't be able to see it. Unlike right-clicking to save a picture of your cat or an NFT, this is done without your explicit approval - downloading each part of the website would be time consuming and ineffective.

The same with bandwidth usage – It's pointless to download the same image 100 times if you just go through 100 website pages.

The cache may be manually erased. The data stored there are not required for the website to function. They can be redownloaded once they have been removed. Clearing the browser cache is one way to free up space on devices with limited storage (old PCs, some smartphones, etc.).

Note: Outside of the web cache, however, there are several types of caching that don't factor into this essay.

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a tiny file that a website saves information about you on your device by using. It's one of the methods by which a website keeps track of user preferences. It may retain data such as form-filling data, previous site visits, what buttons you pressed, and what you have in your shopping basket (though the latter is increasingly stored on the server-side these days).

Cookies are divided into two categories: transient and permanent. Transient cookies exist for a short time only, after which they vanish. Persistent cookies, on the other hand, store data from one browsing session to the next.

Cookies are used to store information about your computer and browser, and websites may use them to identify you. Every time you visit the website, cookies are sent along with the data that you submit. By linking the ID with each request, a website may customise responses to you, the user. That's one of the ways store sites know to show you exactly what's in your cart, no matter where you are on the site.

Cookies-by-function includes authorization cookies and tracking cookies, which are two different kinds of cookies.
  1. Facebook cookies are like authorization cookies, which allow you to access Facebook without having to log in. The cookie accepts the user automatically and thus saves you a few seconds. There have previously been security concerns with every other online service, and there are with the Magical File That Allows You to Access an Online Account.
  2. Cookies that are used to keep track of you. These cookies stay on your computer and remember the pages you visit and how long you spend on each one. A website owner can use this information to construct a picture of a user's recent activities. Tracking cookies are what enable obnoxious "personalised" targeted advertising, search results that are tailored to you, and marketing departments that get up in copywriters' grill about "bounce rates" and other nonsense.

Cookies are necessary for the site to function. However, like all the post-GDPR cookie warnings and settings*, a lot of them are useless data that adds to your digital footprint while benefiting only the website.

When you visit a website, typically the server saves some information to you. This data is known as a "session," and it can't be deleted since it isn't saved on your device.

What are the differences between cache and cookies?

Here's a table summarising everything we've said above:
  • Saves website information for repeated use.
  • Stored items include pictures, movies, HTML documents, and JavaScript scripts.
  • Stored only on your device.
  • It takes up a lot of space.
  • It is necessary to clean it manually.
  • Is not sent to the website.
  • It reduces the amount of data transmitted and the time it takes to load.
  • makes it possible to track you.
  • It implies re-downloading the assets from scratch the next time you load them up.

  • Stores information regarding your interactions with the website to enhance your user experience.
  • Saves your session ID, IP address, location, field entry results, and other information about the service.
  • The web-based session is linked to a web server.
  • It consumes little space and is very lightweight.
  • Has an expiration rate.
  • A request is sent to the website.
  • Eliminating user actions like typing in data or selecting options.
  • Used to track you.
  • Deletion means redo all of the user preferences the next time you sign in.

Should I delete cache or cookies?

Whether you should clear cache or cookies is a personal choice.
  • If you want to see a new version of the website, resolve loading difficulties, or save space, clear the cache.
  • If you want to clear search history from websites, such as Facebook, secure your data on a shared device and prevent tracking, delete cookies.

Is it necessary to delete the cache and cookies?

You always give up convenience by clearing cache and/or cookies: the website will take longer to load next time you visit, you'll have to log in to your accounts again, any site settings will be lost, and you'll have to re-enter information into form fields.

However, nothing very essential relies on cache or cookies.

Are Cookies the same thing as browsing history?

No, browsing history is not a record of the websites and pages you've visited. Information about what you do on particular websites is saved by cookies.

Take a look at your own history

Cookies and cache are only two of the many technologies that make the internet function. In isolation, they're neither wonderful nor awful; they're simply present. However, how businesses approach the internet world, as well as the methods they use to profit from it, makes them vulnerable to being utilised for evil ends.

After reading this article, you should be in a better position to deal with it all. So, would you like to switch to utilising a search engine that doesn't utilise cookies to deliver personalised advertisements? That's just one of the many advantages of using Surf Shark Search!


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