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Stupid Question? What is a "Cache" ???

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I have absolutely no clue what it is and I hear Adam talk about it sometimes on the MacCast and was wondering if anyone could help me?

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Depending on the situation and what type of cache you are talking about the definition of a cache could be as follows...

 

A fast storage buffer in the central processing unit of a computer. Also called cache memory.

 

Here is a better explanation:

 

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/c/cache.html

 

or it could be the temporary file created by applications to store information that will be used over and over and over to help speed up that application and its processes.

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The word cache can be used in many broad senses and mean many different (although usually connected) things. When you hear the word in a tech sense however the person is usually talking of a folder which dedicated to the automated storage of data (files) that are considered temporary but possibly useful in the near future. Because they are deemed possibly useful in the near future they are stored automatically, and often deleted or overwritten automatically. This is used in many parts of the hardware from hard drives to graphics cards and back.

 

When we talk about caches we are usually referring to web browsers (Safari, Firefox etc.) though. Your cache in this case includes web page data, images, audio and video files, and is often utilized for "remembering" usernames and passwords for automatic login to websites.

 

Clearing caches of any type on a computer looses information you may want, but will never (as far as I can think) damage your computer in an irreparable way and is considered general maintenance in many cases. Even restarting your machine can clear dozens of small caches and clear small issues. Consider though that you will loose data (although not vital data) and that can slow down your system temporarily (as well as speed it up due to clearing free space) as it has to, for example, re-download a full web page and its contents.

 

[Edit: In tech terms I think the above definition is more accurate in most cases (although certainly doesn't cover all cases as the poster will admit and knows) but I have tried to make my partially technically inaccurate definition more accessible. I hope that doesn't confuse anyone.]

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Thanks it makes much more sense now

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