Microsoft has unveiled a new feature in Edge called Disk Caching. The technology helps to save storage space used by the browser without affecting its performance.
The company has outlined how the compression works. But first, let’s briefly talk about disk caching in browsers.
What is disk caching in Microsoft Edge?
All web browsers store some files associated with websites you visit. The data is stored locally on your hard drive in the form of cookies, media (images) and other data. This also includes some resources that can be reused by the browser, ie it can help the program to load pages faster on subsequent visits because the browser does not have to download them from the Internet from scratch.
This is convenient, but also poses a problem. As the cache grows in size over time, it can take up a lot of space, often taking up several gigabytes of storage. While it may seem insignificant to users with a large-capacity hard drive, it can be a problem for those who have less storage space, such as laptops with a small-capacity SSD. A large disk footprint (caused by the data cache) can also degrade the overall performance of the system. You may have noticed that your computer slows down because the browser uses all available resources.
Deleting the cache will of course help users reclaim space, but will result in a slower browsing experience. Microsoft’s solution for this is Disk Cache Compression. Compressing the data used for the cache prevents the data from taking up a lot of storage space. Microsoft Edge automatically compresses the data as needed, determined by the storage space available for use.
That’s the extent of the explanation given in Microsoft’s article, it’s a shame it doesn’t delve deeper into the technical side of things associated with such an important feature.
According to the announcement, Disk Caching is available in Microsoft Edge 102 and above, on Windows. Edge 102 was released last month and has already been replaced by Edge 103, so you should already have the new feature. But there is a catch. Microsoft says Edge automatically compresses the cache on devices that pass a number of eligibility checks. However, what these requirements are has not been disclosed.
It’s also unclear if the company will extend the feature to the macOS and Linux versions of the browser, but I think it might be Windows exclusive as it uses WOF (WofCompressedData Binaries) to compress the data.