Different Types of Caching and Their Differences

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In today’s post, we are looking on the different types of caching for different scenarios. Cache, as explained in our previous blog posts, is simply a temporary storage space which allows users to access content more quickly. User experience is thus improved due to faster access speed. For the service providers, a straightforward benefit is that it saves on bandwidth costs. If you have missed out on our past blog posts and wishes to know more about the importance of cache technology, here are the links again – Web Cache: The Need For Speed, The Importance Of Transparent Caching.

It is crucial to know the different caching options available and implement them whenever you can. So let’s dive straight into today’s topic, the major types of caching we are exploring include data caching, web caching, application caching and distributed caching. Here is a brief overview of each and some light on their mutual differences.

Data Caching

Data caching, as the name suggests, is typically related to the database of computer applications or content management solutions (CMS). It improves the performance of applications by enabling faster load time. In normal circumstances, when an application requests data that is stored in the database, it is fetched from the database and delivered to the app. However, the database can process only so many requests at a time. This is where data caching can help. It is best used for caching data that remain unchanged, or is seldom changed in the database. These data will be stored on local memory and served to the user whenever requests are sent in; therefore significantly reducing unnecessary trips back to the database.

Web Caching

Web caching usually has many further subtypes. However, the basic principle holds for all of them – and that is to reduce the time it takes to deliver content from the server to the end user over a network. So web caching acts as a proxy between the user and the content server (origin). When a user sends request for data, his request doesn’t have to be processed by the origin. Instead, web cache directly responds to the request with the relevant data. This reduces traffic load on the server. You can read up more on how web caching works here.

Application Caching

Also known as output caching, application caching is an effective technique associated with websites and CMS. Application caching is different from database caching; the latter caches raw data sets while the former caches raw HTML, for example – parts of a web page. This is useful in trimming down page load time at the user’s end. At the same time, application caching reduces server overhead and ensures a more agile consumption of server’s bandwidth.

Distributed Caching

Distributed caching comprises of a cluster of cache memories which may be distributed over a large geographical area. Distributed caching is primarily used by the big timers such as Google and Facebook who have a global audience and experience high traffic volume. With the help of distributed caching, such companies are able to service user requests without fail, regardless of the user’s geographical location. Thanks to a wide network of caches used in this type of caching, there is virtually an infinite amount of data that can be cached and served when requested by the user.

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