How Cached Data Works

By
Thu, 11 Jan 2018

As digital applications get larger and more complex, it gets harder for computers to run them at fast speeds. So, to cut back on loading times, many devices store certain data from apps and websites so that it can be accessed more quickly in the future. This is called cached data, and in this guide, we'll explain how it works.

What is Cached Data?

Also known as cache memory, this is a certain type of information that is stored in your laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Let's say you're browsing through Facebook on your phone, then switch over to another app. The next time you open Facebook, the pictures and posts you were looking at earlier will load almost instantly. This is because while you were running the app, your phone was storing some of the information you were looking at, so that it could save time by not having to load it all over again later.

How To Clear Cached Data

  1. Go to your device's settings menu.
  2. Find your storage or data usage settings.
  3. Select cached data
  4. Delete the data for one or more apps

HDD vs RAM vs CPU

HDD RAM CPU
Stands for Hard Disk Drive Random Access Memory Central Processing Unit
Main function Store software & data long-term Store data currently being used Process instructions from programs & apps
Commonly external? Yes No No
Speed Slowest Faster Fastest

How Can I Get My Computer Running Fast?

  • Upgrade to a high-powered CPU
  • Get a cache with 2 or 3 levels
  • Increase the amount of RAM

How Computer Memory Works

Conclusion

While you might need to clear the cache once in a while for good computer maintenance, cached data generally helps your devices to operate more quickly. Just make sure you have enough memory space, and your apps and websites should be loading at top speed.

In Depth

Before you can understand how cached data works, you need to know what it is. Basically, it's a type of stored information. As you browse through the Internet, your device automatically saves this in its storage. This happens on laptops and desktops, as well as mobile devices. Also referred to as cache memory, its basic purpose is to store program commands that are frequently referenced by a software during use. Fast access to these instructions increases the overall speed of the application.

As you browse through the Internet, your device automatically saves this in its storage.

For example, think about an application that you use often. At first, it was probably very fast, but after some time, you may notice that it has slowed down. This problem occurs because the software stores some amount of data. Application data is a collection of the cache and other saved information. This includes your login information, username, password, and the app's preferred settings.

Application data is a collection of the cache and other saved information.

Cache data is stored in a computer's central processing unit, or CPU. It is accessed in order to speed up the processing of data and instructions stored in the random-access memory, or RAM.

It is accessed in order to speed up the processing of data and instructions stored in the random-access memory, or RAM.

The CPU's cache is static, and is called S RAM. A system's primary storage RAM is dynamic, or D RAM. Both of them are volatile. This means that they can only hold the data within them if the system is powered on. When you turn off your system, the data they hold is erased immediately. Of the two, static memory is more expensive to produce and takes up more space, but is faster.

When you turn off your system, the data they hold is erased immediately.

RAM is much faster than hard disk drives, in terms of data transfer. But a device's CPU is even more important if you want things to run quickly. The architecture of these processors has improved significantly since its inception around the 1960s. So if you have an old model, it will probably be a lot slower than a modern alternative.

But a device's CPU is even more important if you want things to run quickly.

CPUs only have a small amount of megabytes, but they make tremendous use of them. When a CPU accesses something in your main system RAM, it stores it in its cache. Then it uses an algorithm to make a guess on what instructions or data it needs to fetch from the RAM. Since guessing is an imperfect solution, we have what are called Cache Misses. This happens when the CPU searches its cache, is unable to locate the proper file, and now has to access system memory instead.

This happens when the CPU searches its cache, is unable to locate the proper file, and now has to access system memory instead.

However, processors are getting better at deciding what to put in their cache and now have a general hit rate of approximately 80%. What this means is that most of the time, they are actually processing data in their own memory rather than having to interact with other systems.

What this means is that most of the time, they are actually processing data in their own memory rather than having to interact with other systems.

While cache data initially had only 1 level, latest consumer grade products have up to 3. Level 1 is the one sitting closest to the processor and is generally the smallest and the fastest. This part also stores the most critical information of visited websites. The second cache is slightly slower and larger than the first. It contains less important data. The third and farthest one from the CPU carries any data not found in the others. It's also the biggest and slowest.

Level 1 is the one sitting closest to the processor and is generally the smallest and the fastest.

At the end of the day, not every computer user really needs to know how cached data works. What's important is that you have the space necessary for it to be stored and accessed as quickly as possible. So just remember to get a CPU with a good amount of memory, so your device can run at top speed.

So just remember to get a CPU with a good amount of memory, so your device can run at top speed.