Common Website Caching Issues When Updating Pages
Are you not seeing what you should be seeing on your website after a recent update? This is likely due to a caching issue.
Before we dive into the root of the problem, and how to resolve it, it’s important we define what “caching” is.
What is Caching?
Caching is storing copies of files in a cache, or temporary storage area, to enable faster retrieval of those files, such as when accessing a website. In essence, the information is kept close at hand rather than having to go far across the internet.
Websites frequently receive hundreds of thousands or even millions of monthly visits. Every time a browser requests a web page, the server has to carry out a number of complex (and time-consuming) computations. It locates your site’s navigation, sidebar widgets, most recent postings, builds the header and footer, and more. This is where caching comes into play. By using caching, the server can reuse the final output rather than starting from scratch each time a user accesses the same website.
What is the benefit of using Caching?
In order to optimize the performance and effectiveness of a webpage, data caching is essential. By storing data locally on your device, everything will appear to load quickly as a user navigates through a site.
Major benefits include:
- Improving the speed and functionality of your website (which can ultimately make Google rank your page higher in search results)
- Improved performance and user experience due to quick loading times – this means less risk of a user bouncing due to a slow load speed
- Caching can help to reduce the load on your hosting server.
- Caching will ensure a user utilizes less bandwidth
Common Issues When Utilizing Caching and How to Resolve Them
- Problem: The most common caching issue involves the user’s web browser cache, which stores web files from previously visited web pages on the local computer to speed up future visits to these sites. The drawback of browser caching is that it could hold outdated versions of web pages and the files they are connected with, such as stylistic or interactive elements, which could lead to showing outdated content to a user. In other words, the user isn’t seeing what they should on the website!
- Solution: Clearing your browser cache and/or restarting your browser. Another alternative is to open a page on an incognito or private window to see if the expected content is shown. If so, you’ve confirmed that it was a caching issue and your site is currently up-to-date.
Content Management System (CMS) Caching
- Problem: The majority of websites organize their content by way of a Content Management System (CMS). CMS’s make it easy for a website developer to make it function how they desire. One such CMS is called WordPress, which accounts for the majority of websites online. WordPress (and other CMS) websites will sometimes utilize a caching tool to make the website run faster – but these tools are not without risk. Just like with a browser cache, they can still show outdated content after an update.
- Solution: Flush your CMS’s Cache. In your WordPress (or other CMS) backend, there will be an option within your caching tool to flush, or clear, the cache. Complete this action, clear your browser cache, then refresh your webpage to see the true version of your website content.
Server-Side or Content Delivery Network (CDN) Caching
- Problem: Sometimes website developers utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to optimize the speed of showing their websites’ content across the world wide web. Essentially, CDN’s are a group of servers that work together by caching content across the world, thereby making delivery of that content much faster. Just like with other caching types, similar issues can potentially arise. Sometimes, after clearing your browser’s cache, changes that were made to the website still are not appearing correctly. We can likely conclude that this is due to server-side or CDN caching; meaning the server (as opposed to the browser) is instead presenting outdated data.
- Solution: Force refresh, reset, or clear the cache within your hosting provider or CDN platform. There will be an option within any hosting provider or CDN to complete this step.
- New people to the website who have never been there before will not experience any caching problem.
- For people that have been there before the majority of them will not experience a caching problem.
- Usually a person’s router or browser cache will automatically flush every 24 hours so after that period of time it is highly unlikely anybody will experience a caching issue.
- The main takeaway is that someone experiencing a caching issue is possible (and probable). It would only be for a very small volume of individuals and is not something that is going to have a detrimental effect.