How to Clean Up The Web Cache and Move The Cache Folder
Normally you do not even need to think about the browser’s cache. You may not even know what the web cache does. The web cache stores some of the web pages you have visited on the PC, so that when you visit the same site it does not need to get all the data from the Internet again. Thus the web cache uses space on the hard disk.
The web cache automatically clears out old items and adds new items as the user browses. In day-to-day usage the cache operates in the background with the user not needing to worry about it. However, if the disk drive the cache is stored on runs low on space then the cache may need to be cleaned out to free some space. It can also be moved to another disk to help with disk space management. Finally it can be moved to another disk, including RAM disks, if that other disk is faster, to help improve the performance of the system.
Clear Web Cache in Internet Explorer
To clear web cache in IE open the settings and chose Internet options. On the General tab under Browsing history select the Delete button. The default options are normally OK. As a minimum Temporary Internet files and website files must be checked. Select Delete and the web cache will be cleared. A message will appear on IE when the process has finished and you can close the Internet Options dialog. It is also worth running a third party cleaner, such as Piriform’s CCleaner (Computer Cleaner), to clear more cache items that cannot be cleared while IE is open.
Move Browser Cache in Internet Explorer
Close all open programs except for IE. Clear the IE cache as above then select the Settings button. In the Web Data Settings box on the Temporary Internet Files tab select Move folder. Select a new location, preferably on a different drive. For example the folder D:\Temp was created using Windows File Explorer, D:\Temp was then selected from the Move folder button so that the new cache location became D:\Temp\Temporary Internet Files. Click OK and accept the message to confirm the move, the PC may need a restart. Read on to see how to clear and move the cache for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
Clear Web Cache in Google Chrome
Open the Chrome settings by clicking the menu icon and selecting Settings from the menu. Go to the bottom of the page and select Show Advanced Settings. With the settings page open close all other tabs. Select Clear browsing data, ensure that at least Clear browsing history, Clear download history and Empty the cache is selected, and that it is from the beginning of time. Click Clear browsing data to empty the web cache then close the Settings tab.
Move Browser Cache in Google Chrome
Moving the Chrome cache is not as easy as IE. There is no setting to change. Instead a new cache directory must be created and the Windows OS redirects the cache to this location with what is called a symbolic link. Create the new cache folder with Windows File Explorer, e.g. D:\Temp\ChromeCache.
Clear the Chrome cache as above and close Chrome. For Chrome the cache is stored in the logged on user’s hidden AppData directory. In File Explorer use the View, or Organise then Folder and search options, menu to turn on the display of Hidden items. Open the logged on user’s folder (from the Desktop or from C:\Users) and go to AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default then delete the Cache folder.
Open a Command Prompt (press the Windows key and X and select Command Prompt in Windows 8, or select it from the Accessories folder in Windows 7, or press the Windows key and R and type cmd and press the Enter key).
Create what is known as a hard symbolic link (symlink) or directory junction using the mklink command, here’s the command for the user John Doe (as a tip use the File Explorer address bar to copy long paths and paste it with the Command Prompt’s menu) :
mklink /J “C:\Users\John Doe\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache” D:\Temp\ChromeCache
Note the use of quote marks for paths that have spaces. Close the Command Prompt window (or type exit and press Enter). Now whenever chrome tries to write to the cache Windows redirects it to the new location. A dummy cache folder will be seen in AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default (the cache folder and the contents are located at the new location but also appear in the old location when viewed in File Explorer because of the symbolic link).
Firefox Web Cache Clearing and Moving
Use the drop down menu in Firefox (or the Tools menu if visible) to open the Options dialog. Click Advanced then the Network tab and then under Cached Web Content click the Clear Now button. Close the options when the delete has finished. It is also worth running a third party cleaner, such as Piriform’s CCleaner, to clear cache items that cannot be cleared while Firefox is open.
To move the Firefox web cache first clear it as described in the previous paragraph. Then access the Firefox advanced configurations by typing about:config into the web address bar. Accept the Firefox warning. Bring up the context menu (usually right-click) anywhere in the displayed list and select New string. For the preference name enter browser.cache.disk.parent_directory, click OK. For the string value enter the location for the cache. For example if it is going to be located in D:\Temp then enter that for the browser.cache.disk.parent_directory string. Close Firefox. When Firefox is next run the cache will be generated under the new location, in this case D:\Temp\Cache.
Opera Web Cache Clearing and Moving
The Opera web browser is now based on the same software as Google Chrome, hence moving the Opera cache is similar to Chrome as shown earlier in the tutorial.
To clear Opera cache use the Opera drop down menu and select History. Close all other open tabs. Click on Clear browsing data (this button is also available via Settings and Privacy & Security). Ensure it is from the beginning of time and that at least Empty the cache is checked. Close Opera. Run a third party cleaner, such as Piriform’s CCleaner, to remove cache files that could not be cleared while Opera was open.
To move the Opera web cache, as for Chrome, start by creating a folder for the new cache, e.g. D:\Temp\OperaCache.
With Opera closed use File Explorer to delete the old cache folder. As for Chrome it is in the hidden AppData directory in the logged on users folder. Go to AppData\Local\Opera Software\Opera Stable and delete the Cache folder.
Open a Command Prompt and create a hard symbolic link (directory junction) using mklink command, here’s an example for user John Doe (note path’s with spaces need to be in quotes):
mklink /J “C:\Users\John Doe\AppData\Local\Opera Software\Opera Stable\Cache” D:\Temp\OperaCache
Close the Command Prompt. When Opera next runs the cache is redirected to the new location.
Clear Web Cache and Moving Browser Cache Summary
The major web browsers of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Opera all provide a settings option to delete the files stored in the web cache. To relocate the web cache IE and Firefox provide enhanced option settings. For Chrome and Opera a Windows symlink (symbolic link) can be used. This tutorial showed how to clean and relocate the web cache for all four browsers.