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How to Change Internet Explorer 7's Disk Cache Size

written by: John Lister•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 10/30/2008

If your internet access is slow or unreliable, the disk cache size could be the problem. We explain how this happens and what to do to put things right.

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    What is the Internet Explorer cache?

    Internet Explorer keeps copies of files from pages you visit regularly to make browsing faster. For example, if you visit BrightHub often, Internet Explorer will likely keep a copy of the site logo on your computer so that it doesn’t need to wait for it to download every time. There is a limit set on how much data to store in this way (the cache size), but you can change the limit manually.

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    Why might I want to change the cache size in IE7?

    Rather than being a set figure, the default cache size is set as a percentage of your total hard disk space. This figure has become outdated because affordable disk sizes have increased rapidly in recent years. Internet Explorer 7 will automatically reduce the cache size to 1024MB (that is, 1GB) if it is larger than that figure, but this is still far too high for most users. If there is too much data stored in the cache, Internet Explorer can start running very slowly or unreliably.

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    How do I change the cache size?

    You will need to go into the Tools section of the Internet Explorer menu, then choose Internet Options, General, and then the Settings button in the Browsing History section. The setting you need to change is listed as “disk space to use". You can choose any figure between 8MB and 1024MB, though Microsoft recommends a figure between 50MB and 250MB. Most people find 50-100MB is a good balance between getting the benefits of a disk cache without affecting performance.

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    Is there any reason to increase the disk size?

    If your cache size is set below 50MB, you’ll probably find it fills up quickly (and thus becomes less effective) these days. That’s because websites today tend to have much larger files as designers cater to visitors with faster connections. If you have a slower broadband connection or are still using a dial-up modem, you’ll usually want a larger disk cache than with a high-speed connection because the cache feature is more useful to you.

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    Menu for changing cache size