)A portion of RAM used to speed up access to data on a disk. The RAM can be part of the disk drive itself (sometimes called a hard disk cache or buffer) or it can be general-purpose RAM in the computer that is reserved for use by the disk drive (sometimes called a soft disk cache). Hard disk cachesare more effective, but they are also much more expensive, and therefore smaller. Nearly all modern disk drives include a small amount of internal cache.
A soft disk cache works by storing the most recently accessed data in the RAM cache. When a program needs to access new data, the operating system first checks to see if the data is in the cache before reading it from the disk. Because computers can access data from RAM much faster than from a disk, disk caching can significantly increase performance. Many cache systemsalso attempt to predict what data will be requested next so they can place that data in the cache ahead of time.
Although caching improves performance, there is some risk involved. If the computer crashes (due to a power failure, for example), the system may not have time to copy the cache back to the disk. In this case, whatever changes you made to the data will be lost. Usually, however, the cache system updates the disk frequently so that even if you lose some data, it will not be much. Caches that work in this manner are called write-back caches. Another type of disk cache, called a write-thru cache, removes the risk of losing data because it only caches data for read operations; writeoperations are always sent directly to the disk.
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
Webopedia's student apps roundup will help you to better organize your class schedule and stay on top of assignments and homework. Read More »List of Free Shorten URL Services
A URL shortener is a way to make a long Web address shorter. Try this list of free services. Read More »Top 10 Tech Terms of 2015
The most popular Webopedia definitions of 2015. Read More »
Java is a high-level programming language. This guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of syntax, variables, data types and... Read More »Java Basics, Part 2
This second Study Guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of operators, modifiers and control Structures. Read More »The 7 Layers of the OSI Model
The Open System Interconnection (OSI) model defines a networking framework to implement protocols in seven layers. Use this handy guide to compare... Read More »