In computing, a “cache” refers to a hardware or software component that stores frequently accessed or recently used data to speed up subsequent access to that data. Caching helps improve system performance by reducing the time and resources required to fetch information from its original source.
A cache is a temporary storage area that holds copies of data, files, or resources that are likely to be needed again in the near future. The purpose is to accelerate access to this data by providing a quicker retrieval mechanism than fetching it from the original source.
Think of a cache like a quick-access memory for your computer or web browser. It stores copies of frequently used information so that when you need it again, your computer can retrieve it faster from the cache rather than going back to the original source.
Speed Improvement: Caching is used to enhance system performance by reducing the time it takes to retrieve data. It’s particularly beneficial for frequently accessed information.
Levels of Caching: Caching can occur at different levels, including browser caching (temporary storage on your device), server caching (storage on the server hosting a website), and content delivery network (CDN) caching (storage on distributed servers globally).
Cache Invalidation: To ensure the data is always up-to-date, caches have mechanisms for invalidating or refreshing their contents. This prevents users from seeing outdated or incorrect information.
When you visit a website, your browser stores copies of images, stylesheets, and scripts in its cache. If you revisit the site later, the browser can retrieve these resources from the cache instead of downloading them again, resulting in faster page load times.
In summary, a cache is a mechanism that stores frequently used data to speed up access and improve overall system performance. It’s a crucial component in various computing systems, including web browsers, servers, and other devices.
Suggested read: Website Loading Speed – An Often Neglected Ranking Factor.