Q: Clearing cache to solve problems with one website also entails reentering information for many other websites that had no issues. One financial institution that I deal with makes website changes too often, and its response when I complain is, “Oh, just clear cache.” My response is that it’s a sign of lazy coding, and it should do a better job for customers. Is it fair to think the institution could code updates in a more customer-friendly way? Is there a way to clear cache selectively?
— C.M., Redmond
A: First, yes, you can clear your browser’s cache for just a single site. Step-by-step instructions for doing so with Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari are available online.
But don’t blame the website coders for the need to clear browser cache. It’s an expected part of the relationship between computers and websites.
Here’s what’s going on. While a webpage may look simple on your computer, robust websites can be composed of thousands of files. Downloading all that data takes time even on a high-speed internet connection. That’s why browsers cache data. It speeds up loading those websites.
It’s understandable that complex websites, such as those of financial institutions, involve lots of data, and that they may need to change website content to add enhancement or new features. As a result, webpages might not load correctly until the cache is cleared.
In principle, I suppose the most elegant solution would be for browsers to have a way to quickly check if a website has changed so significantly that clearing the cache for just that website is required. That would require the cooperation of website developers as well as browser engineers. As far as I’ve been able to determine, that solution has not yet been achieved.
Q: In a recent column you recommended upgrading a 2014 Dell XPS8700 running Windows 7 to Windows 10 or 11. I believe that vintage computer can’t be upgraded to Windows 11. Unless you meant for your recommendation to apply to a broader audience with similar issues but having machines capable of being upgraded to Windows 11, the recommendation to that specific reader needs a caveat.
I enjoy reading your column so don’t get me wrong. I run a Dell 7010 running Windows 10 (upgraded from factory Windows 7), which the same model the reader had, but it does not meet the hardware requirements for upgrading to Windows 11. And believe me, aside from a few tweaks to the system between Windows 10 and 11, works just fine for me most of the time. I often have considered switching operating systems but, alas, most of my software might not be compatible with another OS. So, I’m in that chasm where Microsoft has me in cyber jail!
— Dan Kuhn
A: Yes, I do agree that it’s always a good idea to check whether your hardware is up to the specification required for an operating system update. That can save time and money.
Note: In respect to the reader who questioned why his computer was repeatedly shutting down, Eric Hammond of Port Ludlow wrote to confirm that radio frequency interference is unlikely to cause a computer to fail altogether. If it did, he wrote, it “would seriously affect other devices, too.” Hammond also pointed out that the cause could be the wiring in the house. “I suggest measuring the outlet voltage the computer is plugged into. In the United States it must be between 114 and 126 VAC.”