Q: How often should I clear my web browser’s cache, cookies, history, etc.?

Tech Q & A- Submitted by Christy Gan, Lee’s Services
A: It is funny how many misconceptions there are regarding web browser maintenance. To hear some people talk, it would seem that “cookies” are the source of all the world’s computer problems. Probably because clearing all this browser stuff is often a step suggested to people over telephone support. Because it has become part of the lore of do-it-yourself computer maintenance, I often get this question. The answer may completely surprise you.

Honestly, you should never need to clear the web browser’s history, cache, or cookies if you aren’t experiencing any problems with your browser. For example, I use the Safari web browser on my Mac and I do a ton of web browsing. I have my browser set to keep a year’s worth of history because I often want to go back and search my history to find some article I read months ago. I don’t think I’ve ever cleared the cache, cookies, or history of my browser since I’ve had my laptop, which is going on 3 years now. As long as I’m not having any problems, there really is no reason to clear out that stuff.

However, I have seen strange browser problems be resolved by clearing out the browser’s files. Often, this is a necessary troubleshooting step when cleaning out viruses on Windows PCs. And unfortunately, Internet Explorer on Windows is susceptible to a plethora of issues that also require clearing out those files to resolve the issues.

But again, the bottom line is that there really is no good reason to do a periodic cleanup of those browser files. The only time it should be necessary is if you are experiencing a problem with your browser and in those situations, it is often best to have your computer serviced by an qualified technology professional. But in the same breath, it really won’t hurt anything to clear out those files (other than losing your history) if you really feel like it.

If you have a technology question, please let me know and it will be featured in a future newsletter!