Cache files are useful for speeding up websites you visit often. Still, you’ll never return to most of the websites you visit, so the cache files for these are doing nothing to improve your user experience.
Cookies, on the other hand, contain your information and help websites to deliver its content in the best way possible using localization or your login credentials, among other things. Of course, there are also tracking cookies that are used to deliver tailored advertisements, depending on your browsing habits.
To a certain extent, both cache and cookies can be useful. However, they store data in your device that can make your browser sluggish over time. Therefore, it's essential to clean them out often. But since it depends heavily on your browser usage and your objectives, there is not an exact recommended frequency for clearing them. For example, users who surf the web all day will need to clean their browser's cache and cookies more often than someone who only accesses the internet for an hour or so every day.
Heavy Users vs Regular Users
Heavy users who visit dozens of websites will end up with a lot of meaningless cache and cookie files. For example, while doing research for an article you might visit numerous sites that don't have the information you need. Still, the moment you open them, unnecessary cache and cookie files will be saved on the machine. Therefore, to make sure your browser doesn’t start to slow down, the best approach is to clear both cache and cookies every two weeks or so.
For regular users who spend less time online and always visit the same websites, it's actually counterproductive to clean cache and cookies that often. Nevertheless, it's important to clear the data at least once a month.
Clearing Cache to Solve a Specific Problem
Though cached files help websites operate faster, it's also true that they may create problems. For example, the website may have been updated, but thanks to the cache your browser will try to upload an older version, which may break some parts of the site. If this happens, clearing your cache solves the problem, and is always a good place to start. Without the cached files, the browser will be forced to download the webpage anew.
Clearing Cache and Cookies for Privacy-Focused Users
If you are a privacy advocate and don't want to have your personal information stored, you should clear your cache and cookie files every session. The best way is to always browse in a private session, as most browsers will delete all files automatically as soon as they’re closed. If you want privacy though, it's best to disable cookies altogether and use a VPN to make sure your information is secure.
Using Tools to Help Clearing Cache and Cookies
It's easy to forget about clearing cookies and cache files. Some browsers let you delete browsing files automatically every time you close them, but this may end up being counterproductive – especially when it comes to cache. Therefore, your best option is to use a registry cleaner for Windows or mac optimization software for macOS. These programs let you define how often you want to delete cache files and cookies and will do so without needing additional intervention.