Monday, December 20, 2010

Exploring Firefox Cache: cool tips to explore it and speedup your browsing

The browser cache temporarily stores images, scripts, and other parts of websites while you are browsing. This is normally a good thing because this enhances performance and load time.
The browser cache usually works behind the scene: you are unlikely to notice it even exists unless you feel like digging deeper.
But do you know that you can actually have quite a bit of fun viewing your browser cache? Do you know why and how you can clean it? Today’s tutorial is just about that: what you can do with your Firefox cache.

Viewing Your Firefox Cache

The cache statistics and directory location can be viewed in about:cache. Then:
  • about:cache?device=memory – Lists memory cache entries.
  • about:cache?device=disk – Lists disk cache entries.
It is really not easy to make sense of that interface but luckily we have an addon to make it easier.
CacheView is a GUI Front-end of “about:cache”. It allows searching and sorting memory and disk cache files. CacheView gives you a preview pane for any images, and makes it really easy to save MP3s and flash files from the sites you’ve visited.
After you have it installed, just go to Tools ->CacheView (or just use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+C) and you will be presented with a nice table containing your cache files and a preview pane.
The table is sortable by column (key, size, MIME Type, storing device, Last Fetched date) and what’s more it has a search function which adds a lot of sense to your cache database:

You can also right-click on an entry and delete it. It won’t delete things if the page is still opened in one of your tabs.
CacheSearch is another useful cache addon for FireFox which can search through the full-text of cache records:

Clearing The Firefox Cache

There are a few reasons why you may want to clear the Firefox cache, including privacy concerns and technical problems. I usually do it when I have any issues with a website: problems on sign-up, incorrect interface loading, etc.

Clearing the Cache Manually

Official Guide:

  • Navigate: Tools -> Options -> Advanced panel -> Network tab
  • In the Offline Storage section, click Clear Now.

FireFox Addons:

If you find yourself clearing the cache too often, you can find this little addon helpful  it adds a button to your browser toolbar – with it you can clear the cache with one click of a mouse.
Note: After installation, you will need to manually install the button to where you want it to be. For that, right-click on the sidebar and select “Customize“.
Here’s an alternative addon that can be used for that: Cache Status which will both monitor your cache statistics for both memory and disk devices and allow to clear it any time:

Clear The Cache Automatically:

  • Navigate: Tools -> Options -> Privacy panel
  • In the drop-down select “Use custom settings for history. “
  • Select the check box for Clear history when Firefox closes and in the Settings next to this check box select Cache:

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