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Caching: What is it?

Rebecca Giles -

A website cache is a storage system that prevents our web servers having to process large amounts of information every time someone visits our site.

The main reasons for the cache are to:

  • reduce the load on our web servers
  • increase performance of the website

When a publisher makes an update to a page and sets it live, visitors won’t see these updates straight away. Instead, the site will return the latest stored version of a page or asset until the cache is scheduled to reset, or “clear”, again.

When does the cache clear?

Almost every page has its own cache that is cleared every 24 hours. The exception to this is news, events and landing pages – these clear every hour. If your asset is brand new, the changes will take effect as soon as you set it live.

Let’s say you have a page that cleared at 9am this morning. Its cache is now due to clear itself again at 9am tomorrow –in 24 hours. If you decide to update your content today and it’s approved and set live by 12pm, this means that the latest updates to your content should be live by 9am tomorrow. Therefore, it takes 21 hours for your content to refresh.

The easiest way to tell what time your page is due to clear is to right click on your page and select View Page Source.

Scroll down until you get to the Running Squiz Matrix section. The Page generated information displays the time your page’s cache last cleared.

No cache, no problem

Once you have made your page changes live, you can view the latest version of the page on the live site before its cache has updated.  This is particularly handy if you need someone to view the most recent version sooner rather than later. To do this you just need to type the following at the end of the page url:



Remember, if you are logged into Squiz before the cache has cleared, you will also see the latest version of your content.

Common issues

If you are experiencing trouble and can’t see your updates, some common things to look out for are:

  • Multiple assets used to create content - if you have used multiple assets to create a piece of content or functionality the cache may clear at various times on each asset. For example, a feature widget includes a page asset, a link asset and an image asset, each of which have their own cache. While the link used to create your feature may have cleared, the image or the page content it is linking to may take longer.
  • Staff profiles – Staff profiles are a part of a feed that draws a lot of data from external sources such as HRonline and Research Portfolio Manager (RPM). When information in the staff directory is updated in either of these systems, it is much harder to predict when the content change will take effect.
  • Browsers – Some browsers handle caching differently to others. Sometimes a browser may update its functionality, causing compatibility issues with our current cache clearing systems.

Still not updating?

While a particular page or asset may have cleared within the correct timeframe, at times you may still see the old version. This is because your browser itself may be holding onto old data. If this is the case, try clearing your browser using the following instructions:

If all else fails, or you need something cleared urgently, the Web Services Team can provide further assistance. Just submit a ticket to the Web Support Portal.


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