Caching is term used a lot when it comes to technology, here’s a brief introduction to the subject as well as some tips on how to view and edit cached file settings in Internet Explorer.

What is Caching?

Caching is used in a wide variety of technology, both hardware and software. At the most basic level it is all the same thing, you have an area of memory or space where you can store data that you use regularly. In terms of Internet Browsing, you have some space on the hard drive in your computer where your browser can store media objects that it thinks you will be using over and over again.

A common example of this is the favicon.ico file, which is that little picture you see in your tabs. The idea behind it is that it will always be quicker to pull the resource from your hard drive than to download it from the internet, which therefore improves browsing speed. The catch is that if the server changes the file your browser might serve you the old cached file from your hard drive. Here are some settings you can change that will affect the behavior of the Internet Explorer caching engine, as well as how to see what is cached.

How to Increase the Disk Space Internet Explorer Uses as a Cache

One of the first thing you might want to do is increase or decrease the amount of information IE caches. You should remember that most of the things that it caches are static images, so a lot of the time the default cache size of 250MB is quite large. If you want to change it click on the open the Settings menu and launch Internet options.

Then click on the Settings button.

Here you will see the amount of disk space IE uses to cache files. While the default is probably OK for everyday browsing you may want to change it depending on your situation.

Then click on the OK button.

How to View What is in Your Internet Explorer Cache

So we have explained what caching is and how you can change the amount of information that gets cached, but how do you see what is cached. Well to do that, again open Internet options.


Then click on the Settings button under the Browsing history section.

At the very bottom of the dialog that opens you will see 3 buttons. However, only two of them are important to us:

  • View Objects
  • View Files

Go ahead and click on view objects.

This will open the Downloaded Program Files folder in your Windows directory. This article was written on a clean installation of Windows 8 so as you can see below my folder is empty. If you have been using IE for a while you will see a whole lot of binary file that are used by IE for certain web applications. The most common are ActiveX controls.

The other button opens up a folder with all the cached media files that IE has collected.

As you can see below they will mostly be images.

How to Change Internet Explorer’s Cache Update Interval

If you find that IE keeps serving up stale content, you most probably want to change the cache update interval. This will change how internet explorer caches your files, and how it checks for newer versions of cached files. To do this open Internet options.

Again click on the Settings button.


Here you will see four options, while they are pretty self explanatory, if you are suffering from the stale content problem you will want to change it to check every time you visit the webpage.

That’s all there is to it.

Profile Photo for Taylor Gibb Taylor Gibb
Taylor Gibb is a professional software developer with nearly a decade of experience. He served as Microsoft Regional Director in South Africa for two years and has received multiple Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) awards. He currently works in R&D at Derivco International.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.