A cache, whether in software or hardware form, serves the purpose of temporarily storing data within a computer. It consists of a smaller, faster, and costlier memory component utilized to enhance the performance of frequently used data. This cached data is kept temporarily in a localized repository separate from the primary storage, generally available to the cache customer, such as the CPU, applications, web browsers, and operating systems.

Cache

The cache is implemented when the central repository struggles to hold the client’s requests, thereby reducing data access times and latency and enhancing input/output (I/O) functions. By optimizing the caching technique, application performance is improved, especially when workloads heavily depend on I/O functions.

FAQs

Q1. How often a cache should be cleared? 

A cache should be cleared occasionally, but not every day. Clearing the cache frequently is not an adequate use of resources because:

  • the user forfeits the advantage of immediate file access;
  • caches delete certain files automatically, a high level of maintenance is not required, and
  • the system will cache new files and fill the space again.

Q2. Can the cache be turned off?

In some cases, the cache can be turned off for troubleshooting purposes or to bypass caching mechanisms. However, this can significantly degrade system performance. 

Q3. What are the different types of cache?

There are several types of cache, including:

  • CPU cache: L1, L2, and L3 caches located on the processor chip.
  • Disk cache: Used in hard drives and SSDs to temporarily store frequently accessed data.
  • Web cache: Used by web browsers and servers to store web pages and resources for faster retrieval.
  • Content cache: Used in content delivery networks (CDNs) to store copies of website content closer to users.