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What is caching? How do I clear my cache?

Updated on September 15th, 2022

Caching is the process of saving website assets (files, images, etc.) to a temporary storage location so they can be quickly accessed. Put simply, caching allows pages to load faster. Woohoo!

However, these cached assets maybe be out of date and can prevent you from viewing recent changes you’ve made to your site, which can be frustrating.

There are a few different layers of caching that occur from the site host (in your case, Flywheel) to your browser. There are many methods available to either circumvent or clear these caches, which we’ll go over below. Follow these steps in order and you’ll be viewing your beautiful site changes in no time!


Table of Contents:

1. Site/Server caching
2. Browser caching
3. Device/DNS caching
4. Network caching
5. ISP caching
6. Maybe it isn’t a caching issue after all


Site/Server caching

Flywheel caches your site at the server level to help make your site super speedy (we call it FlyCache). Also, some plugins and themes manage their own cache to improve site performance. Clearing these caches can ensure the server is providing the most recent changes to visitors.

  1. To clear your site’s theme and/or plugin caches, reference our guide here: The Flywheel guide to clearing your theme/plugin cache
  2. To clear your site’s server cache, follow the steps outlined here: How do I clear my Flywheel site’s cache?

Note

During development, you can enable Development Mode, which bypasses the Flywheel cache. Keep in mind Dev Mode should not be used when a site is in production, as it can affect server performance.

Browser caching

When you visit a site, your browser stores files and images directly on your device. Here are some methods to either bypass or purge your browser’s cache.

  1. Try opening the page in a different browser.
  2. Add a “cache busting string” to the site URL. Load the page, then navigate to the URL bar and add ?= and a unique string to the end of the URL, for example ?=nocache1. Press Enter to load the page with the cache busting string. Each time you try the cache busting string method, you’ll need to update the string (e.g., ?=nocache2, ?=nocache3, etc.)
  3. View the page in your browser’s Incognito or Private Mode.
  4. If your site loads correctly, using the methods above, you can flush your browser cache using this guide: How do I clear my browser’s cache?

Note

Browser cache is unique to each browser on each device. Clearing your browser cache won’t have an effect on the browser on your client’s device, for example.

Device caching

Your computer, tablet, or smartphone will often cache DNS lookups. It’s not very common, but sometimes this can prevent changes from being displayed.

  1. Reboot your device to clear the DNS cache.
  2. View your site using a different device.

Network caching

Sometimes the network you’re connecting to is the caching layer causing issues.

  1. Reboot your modem and/or router.
  2. Connect to a different Wi-Fi network, if available.
  3. If you have a smartphone or tablet with a data plan, load the site with the Wi-Fi connection disabled.
  4. Connect your device to a Mobile hotspot.

ISP caching

Your ISP (internet service provider) may cache pages as well. While you can’t directly flush an ISP cache, assets are usually only cached for about 30 minutes.


Maybe it isn’t a caching issue after all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you’ve gone through all the steps above and you’re still unable to view your changes, caching may not actually be causing the issues.

Perhaps your changes didn’t save or they were made on the staging environment and you’re viewing a production URL.

If you get stumped, our Happiness Engineers are always here to help!

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