A browser uses the Temporary Internet file to store data for every webpage you visit. Read this article to learn more about these files and how to get rid of them.
What is a Temporary Internet File?
A temporary Internet file is a file that is located on your hard drive that a browser uses to store website data for every webpage or URL address that you visit. When the web server sends the Web page files to the browser, they are stored in a file so that the next time you visit the same Web site the browser takes the data from the temporary Internet file. Loading the Web site in this way from a temporary Internet file is called caching.
With this method, the page quickly displays in the browser instead of having to wait for response from the Web site’s server all over again. Basically, the browser is opening the Web page from your hard drive instead of downloading the files from the internet. Only the new content since your last visit would be downloaded on consecutive visits to a webpage. Not only is it faster to view the content from your temporary Internet files rather than from the Web server, but if your Internet connection is unavailable you can view the cached versions of recently visited Web pages while offline.
Where Are The Files Stored On My Computer?
The name temporary Internet file is actually a bit misleading in that the files are not really temporary. These files will stay on your hard drive until you clear the cache. The storage of temporary Internet files on your hard drive leads to two separate concerns. The first issue being one of privacy. Anyone with access to your computer can go into the Temporary Internet Files folder on your hard drive and see which Web sites you have visited. Looking through a person’s temporary Internet files can tell you a lot about that person. In fact, in cyber forensics one part of the evidence gathering process will include searching a suspected criminal’s temporary Internet files.
Getting Rid of Temporary Internet Files
Another area of concern with the storage of temporary Internet files on your hard drive is that a buildup of data in the temporary Internet file will eventually slow a processor down as it takes up valuable resource space. Fortunately, browsers that use a temporary Internet file also have methods for deleting the file. Here is how you locate and delete your temporary Internet files (or cache) when using Internet Explorer or Firefox on a Windows-based system:
Microsoft Edge (Internet Explorer)
Tools > Settings > Clear browsing Data
From this window you can choose how often newer versions of webpages are stored, and also choose how much disk space you want to allocate to temporary Internet files. This screen will provide options to delete browsing history, cookies and saved data, cached data and files, tabs recently closed and more. You can also manage Edge browser permissions from this menu.
Tools > Options > Privacy & Security > History
In the Settings window you can check the “clear data” button and apply and save changes. This will provide options to clear Cookies and Site data and Cached Web Content. From this section in FireFox you can also clear history, logins and more.
Tools > Settings > More Tools
From the More Tools menu simply select the option to clear browsing data. You can also use the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl + Shift + Del.
In addition to accessing the Temporary Internet files through your browser or by locating the folder on your hard drive where they are stored and deleting the files manually, you can also invest in a third party software to handle the removal of these files from your computer. These tools will help you manage the deletion of your browsing history, temporary Internet files, cache, cookies and more.
Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.
This article was last updated on August 27, 2018