What is the difference between Cache and Cookie?

Published February 13, 2022

It is common to get notifications on websites about cookies and caches mostly the sites that use them to process personal data. What people fail to understand is the importance of cookies and cache, and the implications they will have on their browsing experience.

What is a cache?

A cache is a software component in computing that collects and preserves data temporarily so to serve future requests of that data faster. The data kept in cache contribute to the website, browser, and application loading faster. There are three types of cache; browser cache, memory cache, and disk cache.

What is a cookie?

Cookies are small files of data made by a web server when a user is browsing certain websites, the user’s web browser stores the data on the device temporarily. Cookie help websites keep track of a user’s activity and visit.

Difference between Cache and cookies

  1. The major contrast between the two is that a cache is used to preserve online page data during a browsing session for the long run purpose, for example when you visit a site the browser may preserve the HTML for future reference on the other hand cookies are employed to preserve user options or choices, for example, the user's interests in browsing websites.

  2. A cache expires manually, the user must delete the device history for it to expire while cookies expire automatically, they will expire themselves for example when the user fails to search them for long they automatically expire.

  3. A cache consumes large amounts of space for example a typical disk cache for one TB hard drive translates to 32MBs while cookies occupy a small amount of space for example a cookie can take approximately three KBs.  

  4. Caches are in two types; proxy cache and browser cache while cookies types are; persistent cookies and transient cookies. For example browser cache is a copy of website data that the user visits. 

  5. Caches store contents like images, javascript, CSS, and HTML pages whereas cookies store contents like temporary tracking data and browsing sessions. For example cache stores animations, GIFs, audio, and video from websites that a user visits, whereas cookies store the login ID, location, and IP address of the user.

  6. A cache doesn’t send the response with request whereas cookies must send responses with requests. For example, a user while browsing, the device using cookies must send responses with a request to make the browsing experience easier.

  7. Cache's website data are moved and stored in browsers only whereas the content in cookies is moved and stored in both browsers and servers. For example, caches follow a single direction; server to browser while cookies in sites follow two routes to storage; from server to browser and back a similar way

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