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How to set HTTP Headers for Cache-Control

Web developers are always finding new ways to speed up the experience for website visitors. There is one not-so-new way to add to the performance that is not quite used to its extent and that’s the Cache-control.

The cache can be controlled from the server-side, from the DNS, reverse proxies, and more. However, today we will be looking at how to do this using the HTTP headers for cache control using HTML.

Pragma, the HTTP/1.0 Implementation

The throwback to the days of HTTP/1.0 that was used was the Pragma directive. Though it is no longer recommended, I have included it here for nostalgic purposes.

<meta http-equiv="pragma" content="no-cache">

If that is no longer recommended and even fails on various HTML validators, what is the correct way to do this?

Cache-Control, the HTTP/1.1 Implementation

With HTML5 and HTTP/1.1, it is recommended that one used the cache-control implementations. With just a couple of changes, you are on your way to properly getting web browsers to cache your web pages.

This is the HTTP/1.1 implementation with cache-control.

<meta http-equiv="Cache-control" content="public">
<meta http-equiv="Cache-control" content="private">
<meta http-equiv="Cache-control" content="no-cache">
<meta http-equiv="Cache-control" content="no-store">

What Else is There to Cache-Control?

As you can see from above, the Cache-control uses meta tags. But like most meta tags, they support more than a single value for any directive and the Cache-control is no exception.

In this case, the allowed values are:

Public: This states that the content may be cached in public shared caches.
Private: This one hints that the content may only be cached in a private cache.
no-Cache: This value hints that the content may not be cached.
no-Store: Used to tell the caches that the content may be cached but not archived.

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There you have it. You should now be equipped enough to effectively use the HTTP headers for Cache-control.

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