How (and Why) to Delete your Internet Explorer Browser Cache

by Roberta Piket on March 7, 2009

in Tech Thoughts and Tips

A client asks whether it’s necessary to delete her browser cache after an online banking session, as her bank encourages her to do this. The reason the bank suggests deleting your browser cache is propably to make sure that personally identifying information isn’t left behind. Obviously this isn’t as big an issue when you’re on your home computer as opposed to a public computer; however, if you’re concerned about a potential hacking program infecting your machine and stealing personal info, it certainly can’t hurt to delete the cache, which contains files that IE downloaded during your online sessions.

To delete your browser cache in Internet Explorer, open your browser. Then clock on Tools. If you don’t see a Tools menu in IE 7 (you are updated to at least IE 7, right?), hit the “alt” key on your keyboard and the IE 7 menu bar should become visible. Now click on Tools, then click “Delete Browsing History…” When the box comes up, next to “Tempopary Internet Files” click the top button marked “Delete files.” It may take a few minutes to finish.

You may notice the next button down  says “Delete cookies”. For added safety you can delete your cookies as well, but be aware that if you do you may have to sign back in to web sites that currently “remember” you. Make sure you know your passwords before you delete cookies.

Deleting your browser cache has the added benefit of speeding up IE, and of making malware scans faster because there are fewer files to scan. However, it means IE has to download certain files again instead of reusing them from the cache. In theory this could make your online experience slower, but with today’s high-speed connections, I don’t think it’s going to make a noticeable difference for most users.

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