Temporary Internet Files: A Basic Introduction

by hmiller 5. November 2009 22:23

Every time your computer opens a webpage, it requests to retrieve pictures, images, and other data from a website to your computer. This process can take some time, especially on heavily loaded websites or if you're using a slow Internet connection like dial-up. To save time and be more efficient, your computer saves many of the files that download from each website to your harddrive. This makes several things possible:

* When you revisit a site you have already been to, your computer needs only to search for new information or changes to the website, and load all of the identical features (like images, logos, and layouts that don't change) from your computer.

* Sites you visit frequently will load because it does not need to re-download the entire site, every time you visit.

* When you click the “back”, “forward”, and “refresh” buttons on your browser toolbar, you can quickly reload pages you are currently visiting.

* Features like “History” used temporary Internet files to keep track of sites you visited recently, in case you want to go back to something you visited earlier that day or up to several weeks ago.

* You can view entire “stored” websites on your browser when you are not on the Internet. They may not have the most up-to-date information, but you will still be able to view information and use features that were loaded from a previous online visit.

* Some websites that have browser-based flash games can be played offline, because the temporary Internet files have saved this content to your computer. This means you can play some of your favorite games for hours without using online time on your Internet service.

Temporary Internet files are not always a good thing. It's nice to save the information from websites you visit frequently, but eventually, your computer will be full of saved files from hundreds of websites you only visited once and may not visit again. There is no need to keep this information.

Many times a technician will direct you to your Internet Options and have you delete all your temporary Internet files and cookies in order to free your browser of the clutter of all this unnecessary saved information from visited sites over time. This sometimes helps browsers run faster, and aviod error messages like “This page cannot be displayed”, etc.

This can be a quick fix that you can do if you are having problems with your browser. It may not solve your problem, but it never hurts to try—plus, cleaning out your browser is a good thing to do—especially if you do a lot of surfing.

  • First, click Tools at the top of your browser.
  • Then click “Internet Options” (or maybe “Options” if you are not using Internet Explorer)
  • Then look for “Browsing History” or Temporary Internet Files”. Click the Delete or Delete Files button.
  • If you click Delete, you will see a list of different types of stored information on your computer. You can select which you prefer to delete from here.

If you are using a browser other than Internet Explorer, the options will look slightly different. If you cannot find what you are looking for, you will find step by step instructions for most browsers on websites like wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser's-Cache. Also, there are many downloadable tools that clean your computer of Internet files and cookies regularly that are stored deep in your computer that will still remain behind after a manual delete described above. This is usually not necessary unless you need to make sure no one ever knows what websites you have visited.

Many browsers now offer the ability to surf the Internet without saving any information to your computer in the first place. Internet Explorer 8's “In-Private Browsing”, Firefox's “Private Browsing”, Chrome's “Incognito Mode”, are all the same concept—surf the Internet without leaving a trace on your computer. This is one of the best ways to surf privately and not allow anyone to retrieve the information later.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, Copper.net.

Copper.net is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at www.copper.net! Check out my blog for more articles!

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About the author

Hannah Miller is an Online Marketing Representative for Copper.net - America's best provider for Dial-Up Internet Service since 1997.

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for Copper.net since 2007, which has supplemented her knowledge of dial-up, computers, and the Internet. The entries that are posted in this blog are professional articles relating to our industry. Email your questions, suggestions, and other comments to hmiller@copper.net.

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