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What Is A Cache?

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms, File & Disk Management, I've Always Wanted To Know...

Bonnie from AR writes:

“How do you save an image to the cache? My pc tells me that in order to create an image to a cd is to save it to the cache.  Thanks for your great newsletters.”

Hi, Bonnie.  Thanks for the great question! 

Trust me, this is relevant.  I grew up in Alaska, and one of the things that we learned in school (believe it or not) was how to protect ourselves and our stuff from bears.  I won’t get into anything that we were taught except for one:  the cache.  It was difficult to keep food in a land-based storage space because bears would either get into it or try.  And a lot of the cabins up there are not very large, and the grocery store, instead of being on the corner was an hour-ride airplane ride away, so you had to stock up, especially for winter.  So what you would do is build a cache to store your excess food. 

This is how a cache looks when the owner isn’t getting into it.  The ladder is stored around the house to keep a bear from climbing it. 

The computer cache works in a very similar way.  One form of cache is made on your computer hard drive so that when you don’t have enough space in your RAM for something it will store temporarily on your hard drive instead.  If your hard drive light is constantly flashing, then you’ll probably want to increase your RAM to prevent this, because your hard drive doesn’t retrieve information as quickly as your RAM does.

The kind that you’re talking about is a cache that’s created to temporarily store information before writing to a CD or a DVD, which can only be written once (unless they are RW’s, which I REALLY advice against using).  So what it does when you’re writing files to a CD or DVD, is it will temporarily write the files to the cache, and you’ll usually get a message on your notification bar saying that you have files waiting to be written.

Once your click the balloon and write the files to disk, it’s done.

It won’t protect your files from bears, though.

Hope that this helps! 

~ Randal Schaffer

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4 Responses to “What Is A Cache?”

  1. Jim says:

    Great tip if she had asked “why” you save to cache, but her question was “How” do you save to cache. It could be that she is having a problem or it’s possible that her system is saving to cache but she does mot realize it. So unless there is more to this question than what was posted i don’t think your tip really helped her.

  2. Judy Stewart says:

    I do not think I ever heard of a better way to explain what a cache is. I will always think of your bear story. Thanks!

  3. Randal says:

    Good observation, Jim. Thanks.

    Bonnie, i’m sorry if my article didn’t answer your question. Any time that you choose to write a file to a CD or DVD using Windows explorer, whether you drag and drop to the CD or right click and click “save to CD”, it will create a cache for your files to keep them safe from bears until you write them to the CD.

    Hope that this helps!

    Randal Schaffer

  4. Beverly Williams says:

    Too bad it won’t help with bears, but brings to mind the question: Lately I’ve seen web sites posted with cache in faint type behind it. What does that mean in that case?

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