Whenever an Internet user browses the web and does anything associated with the Internet, the domain names (website addresses) undergo conversion into IP addresses. The DNS (Domain Name System) cache then stores these, serving as a record of all the IP address-converted domain names.
Much thanks to this cache, web users can access these IP addresses a lot quicker, since the cache remembers the IP rather than looking it up using the domain entered by the user.
A more in-depth look at the DNS cache
Every time an Internet user tries to access a URL, the process creates an HTTP code. This code describes the URL’s status, which means that the visitor either have successfully or unsuccessfully gained accessed to the site.
When the latter happens, the HTTP code will appear as an error message. HTTP error codes come with messages containing description of the problem that occurred. You will find these codes associated with three-digit numbers, such as 404 (the most common).
Over time, and the more websites a user visits, the greater the number of addresses the DNS cache will store. And while clearing it as often as you want does not always do anything bad or good, some situations call for it.
When problems arise due to the DNS cache
As mentioned above, the DNS cache serves as the storage of the IP addresses of the web servers containing the pages a user has accessed. Once a server’s location changes before the DNS cache entry updates, the user will no longer gain access to the site.
In the event that users keep on encountering HTML 404 error codes, it should already signal them to clear their DNS cache. After doing so, the user’s device (whether desktop, laptop, etc.) will query nameservers to look up the new DNS information.
Other reasons to get the DNS cache cleared
Aside from avoiding these annoying HTTP/HTML 4xx error codes, cleaning up the cache can also benefit webmasters when they migrate servers. Although DNS server changes often occur immediately, sometimes, they can take up to 48 hours.
This means users will have no means of accessing the site for up to 2 days. A lot of things can happen within this time frame, and most often than not, they have seriously negative impact on websites.
When your website relies greatly on constant traffic, you should have the cache cleared prior to migration. This way, your visitors can instantly access the correct and new IP address instead of not having any idea as to what happened to your old address.
Keeping things private
Privacy is another key benefit of clearing the DNS cache. Always keep in mind that, regardless of the content of the websites you visit, the DNS cache will save their IP address. In a way, unscrupulous individuals can access the confidential information and data contained in those sites you visited, so clearing the cache will not give the chance to do so.
Avoid and prevent nasty situations such as sensitive data falling into the hands of people with illicit actions in mind: make it a habit to routinely clear your DNS cache.