Refreshing or Reloading Your Browser Window

Skip to the Tip Below.

Ever return to a website expecting to find updated information but it isn't there? Someone else can get the update on their computer but you still see the old content? This can be caused by the fact that your browser will cache information on your computer for speed and efficiency.

Your computer will save copies of web pages as you navigate around the Internet. It will actually save many resources associated with each page including pages, images and files. Then, if you return to that page within a certain amount of time, instead of your browser asking the server for it again, it just pulls it up from the storage on your own computer.

The two main reasons cache is used are:

Speed for You

At least the perception of speed.

It can take some browsers across some Internet connections an order of minutes to download large files or images. If you return to a website and your computer recognizes that you have been there before it will look inside its cache for associated files. If it finds them, that is what is displayed for you to see.

If you navigate through one website that uses the same logo at the top of every page, most likely your computer downloaded it once, the first time, and calls up the stored image on each subsequent page.

It takes less time for your browser to call up files from your computer and display them than it would to call up files from a server at another location. This makes the Internet seem faster and more responsive.

Efficiency of the Internet

If your browser has to download a file from a server every time you hit your back button or return to a website, you are taxing, not only the resources of your own computer but also the network resources between your computer and the server where the file is located. Because your browser uses cache, it reduces the amount traffic across the Internet and the amount of bandwidth at the server where the original file is located.

Although there may be higher speed connections, most users are still paying for access to the Internet with limitations on bandwidth, or connection speed. Similarly, websites are hosted for a fee and generally have a price associated with the amount of bandwidth they use. When caching is utilized it saves resources, and possibly money, for you and the owner of the website you are visiting, again.

Tip: Refreshing or Reloading your Browser

To make sure you have the most up-to-date version of a web page you can refresh your browser. Your browser will then access a resource on the Internet to update your page and update the stored cache content on your computer.

On the most popular browsers you can press the F5 key or click on the refresh button. Look inside your browser toolbar for the refresh button, an icon similar to these:

IE Refresh Button or FireFox Reload Button

Some specific methods are:

In Internet Explorer:

  • Right Click on your screen and inside the pop-up menu choose "Refresh"
  • or, press your F5 key
  • or, from the menu, select "View" and select "Refresh"
  • or, click on the refresh button

In FireFox:

  • Right Click on your screen and inside the pop-up menu choose "Reload"
  • or, press your F5 key
  • or, from the menu, select "View" and select "Reload"
  • or, press <Ctrl> + R
  • or, click on the reload button

In Netscape Browser:

  • Right Click on your screen and inside the pop-up menu choose "Reload"
  • or, press your F5 key
  • or, from the menu, select "View" and select "Reload"
  • or, press <Ctrl> + R
  • or, click on the reload button

In most browsers you can go into the advanced settings and clean out the cache and/or set limits on storage space used. However, cache is a good thing and if you are not sure about the settings you should accept the defaults.

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