Difference Between Cookie & Cache

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Computer caches and cookies both store information on your computer, but computers and websites use each for different things. Computers use browsers and other caches to optimize performance, while websites use cookies as a way to identify and save information about visitors. While there are some potential problems with using them, they're both designed to increase performance and accessibility.

Cookies

  • A cookie is a piece of information that a website sends to your computer. Websites use cookies to identify your computer, which allows the website to store information about you. Websites typically use cookies to save user preferences and to monitor the banner ads that a particular user has seen. This keeps the user from being sent the same banner ad over and over again. All cookies are stored on your hard drive; the specific location of the cookie depends on the browser you use.

Cache

  • Browsers use a cache to temporarily store information from Web pages. When you load a Web page, the information is automatically downloaded to your browser cache. Saving information to the cache means that your computer can access this information from the cache the next time you visit the same Web page. It makes the Web pages you visit most often load faster, and reduces the load on the server that hosts the page.

Differences

  • The key difference between a cache and a cookie is the type of information it stores. Cookies store information about you so that websites can access it. The type of information stored is limited to simple things, such as user preferences, IP addresses and information about the type of websites you visit. A cache stores information that relates directly to the Web pages you visit and includes a larger variety of information types. Browser caches store video, audio, text and images.

Potential Problems

  • The major risk in using cookies and caches is that anyone with access to your computer can look at the information. Cookies can also be used to track your internet habits. Since your browser cache can store many different types of data, it can also take up a lot more space on your hard drive. Modern browsers let you specify the amount of space you want to allocate to the cache. Browsers may also attempt to access a cached version of a Web page when there is a new version of the Web page, which can cause problems with loading the page.

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