What is BF Cache? Exploring the Key Benefits of Using BF Cache for a Better User Experience

The bf cache (back / forward cache) is a web browser optimization that is used to enable instant back and forward navigation. It improves the browsing experience, especially for the user who has a slower network or has a slower device.

bf cache

According to Chrome Usage Data, 1 in 10 navigation on desktop and almost 1 in 5 on mobile are either back or forward. Now, how can you ensure that after navigating back and forward to the web page, they load immediately? That is when the bf cache comes into play! 

Here we will cover the concept of bf cache and the key benefits of using this for a better user experience. 

What is bf cache?

A bf cache (also known as back/forward cache) is a feature that allows the browser to create a snapshot of a visited web page and store it in their in-memory. It is used when the user navigates back or forward between the web page.

Let’s understand it with an example, suppose you have performed a Google search to find some information & clicked on a particular search result to find the some information, but you are not happy with the information & press the back button to go back to the search results, now instead of loading the page again the browser would show saved snapshot.

When a user visits a web page, the browser first downloads and parses the resource files of the content such as HTML files and CSS stylesheets. Then render the webpage content. And finally, JavaScript makes the page interactive.

If the back-forward cache is not enabled for a web page, that means every time the user leaves the page and navigates back to it, the browser will go through the whole process. It will decrease the pagespeed performance of the website.  

Check out: Cache vs Cookie

Which browsers support bf cache?

In web technology, bf cache is not a new concept. Safari (a web browser developed by Apple) added this feature in 2009. 

Now, almost all browsers support the back/forward cache. Here we are mentioning some popular browsers.

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Edge.

The difference between an HTTP Cache and a bf Cache?

  • HTTP cache or disk cache is used to store the static resources of the webpage content such as HTM files and CSS files to avoid the redownloading of these static resources. 
  • Whereas the bf cache is more comprehensive. It stores the snapshot of the entire webpage including JavaScript in the in-memory.

In the HTTP cache, not all static resources are allowed to be cached. As a result, every time the user visits the website, the browser needs to re-download the content. With the help of the bf cache, this issue can be avoided. 

How to check if your website can be served from the bf cache?

There are various ways that you can check if your website can be served from the backforward cache or not. Here we would check this in two most popular ways to check the website.

  • Using Chrome DevTools:

Chrome DevTools allows you to check whether the web page is eligible for the bf cache. To check this you need to follow these 5 steps.

Step 1: Visit the page you want to test in Chrome DebTools.

bf cache step 1

Step 2: Right-click on the page and click on Inspect option or you can press F12.

bf cache step 2

Step 3: click on the Application option.

bf cache step 3

Step 4: Select the Back/forward cache in the Background services sections.

bf cache step 4

Step 5: Click on Test back/forward cache

bf cache step 5

Then DevTools allows you to see the status indicating whether the website can use bf cache. 

  • Using Google PageSpeed Insights: 

Another option is to use Google PageSpeed Insights, to check if the website can be served from the back forward cache or not.

bf cache

If the tested web page cannot be restored from the bf cache, the audit will fail. By clicking on the warning, you can see a drop-down menu with the failure reasons.

View more: Immutable Caching

These failure reasons can be categorized into three parts.

 Actionable indicates you can make changes to the website to support the back-forward cache.

Pending Support shows that the web page isn’t eligible for the bf cache for now. But in the future chrome supports it.

Not Actionable indicates you can’t fix this issue on the webpage. 

The Most common issues that prevent bf cache

At this point, you have a brief idea about the bf cache. The main reason that prevents bf caching are:

  • Using Cache-Control: no-store header in your JavaScript code

The Cache-Control HTTP header holds the instructions for both HTTP requests and HTTP responses. No-store header in cache-control will disable all caches. 

cache control
  •  Using Unload event in JavaScript:

The unload event occurs when users navigate away from the web page such as submitting a form, clicking a link, entering a new URL, etc. 

During the unload event JS code can execute the task before the web page unloads such as saving the data. 

5 Strategies to optimize a web page for bf cache 

Here we are mentioning the best strategies that you can apply to fix the issues that prevent back forward cache.

1. Use cache-control: no-store only for the information-sensitive page 

If the webpage contains some sensitive information and caching is not needed then use cache-control: no-store to prevent it from being eligible for the bf caching.

Code for node js server:

app.use((req,res,next) => 

{

res.setheader(‘Cache-Control’, ‘no-cacche’);

next();

});’

For a wordpress website, you can use plugins like Cache-control, Cache control by Cacholong, LH Add Headers, etc. to optimize a web page for bf cache.

On the other hand, if the content of the web page is not static then also cache-control: max-age() is used.

2. Update sensitive data after bf cache restore to optimize a web page for bf cache

A bf cache should not be used on web pages that contain sensitive data. Especially when a user visits the website from a public computer, the next user should not be able to visit that page by just clicking the back button.

componentDidMount() {
console.log('componentDidMount')
window.addEventListener('pageshow', (event) = {
console.log('PAGE_SHOW');
if (event.persisted) {
console.log('PAGE_SHOW_PERSISTED');
}
});
}

 You can achieve this by using event.persisted after a pageshow event.

See more: Cache Policy for static assets

3. Avoid using the unload event to optimize a web page for bf cache

The most common way to optimize the bf cache is to avoid using the unload event. Instead of using the unload event, you can use the pagehide event in the method like addEventListener() to detect when a webpage is visible or hidden to a current user.

window.addEventListener('click', warnAboutLostChanges);

function bindWarnAboutLostChanges() {
  window.addEventListener(
    'beforeunload',
    function(e) {
      if (shouldWarnYouLogic()) {
        e.preventDefault();
        return "You have unsaved changes!";
      }
    }
  );

  window.removeEventListener('click', warnAboutLostChanges);

}

4. Carefully adding beforeunload listeners to optimize a web page for bf cache

The beforeunload event is used to display a warning dialog box to inform users whether they want to leave the current page. Chrome and Safari will allow beforeunload event but Firefox will flag the webpage as ineligible for back forward cache.

5. Use rel=”noopener”  in your script to optimize a web page for bf cache

The rel=”noopener” attribute is used to prevent the current page from being able to access the window.opener property. Instead of using a window.postMessage(), you should use rel=”noopener”.

noopener

Conclusion 

Here, we cover the key benefits of using bf cache and the strategies to fix it. The benefits of a website serving from the bf cache are to reduce data usage, improve core web vitals, and a better user experience.

To optimize your web page for bf cache by applying the mentioned strategies like Using cache-control: no-store only for the information-sensitive page, Updating sensitive data after bf cache restore, Using rel=”noopener”  in your script, Avoiding using the unload event, Using rel=”noopener”  in your script.

Now, it’s your turn to apply these powerful strategies to your website and make your website more user-friendly. It will also increase the website’s conversion rate.

Cache vs Cookies: Which One Impacts Your Browsing Experience More?

Cache and cookies serve purposes in enhancing websites performance and tailoring user experiences. Cache accelerates page loading times, by storing web content in the browser and on the edge servers. On the other hand, cookies simplify tracking user preferences and interests through the retention of personalized data such as web pages and browsing session specifics.

Cache vs cookie

What is Cache?

A cache is a temporary storage location that is used to store copies of static files like CSS, JavaScript, and images in order to load the website quickly.

Cache

This is a one-way relationship. That indicates the files that are already stored in a cache, don’t go back to the server.

What are Cookies?

Cookies are small files of information that are generated in a web server and put on a user’s computer. Cookies are used to store only text-based data like visit histories, IP addresses, session IDs, and so on.

Cookie

This is a two-way relationship, where a server can read the information from web cookies.

Cache vs Cookies: Why are they used 

Probably you have some idea about the difference between Cache vs Cookies. But, let us cover this topic in more detail for a better understanding of the difference between Cache vs Cookies.

Starting from the beginning, your website has a large number of static resources like CSS, JavaScript, images, videos, and many more that won’t change for a long time. Browser cache is used to store certain static files to speed up your website.

Get more info: Laravel CDN Cache

Two types of caching are mostly used to speed up a webpage.

  • Browser Caching:

A browser caching is used to temporarily store the recently used web pages and data in a web browser. It is used to increase the website’s speed by locally downloading the component of the webpage in the browser cache.

Browser caching
  • Proxy Server Caching: 

A proxy server caching is a technique used by the proxy server to store copies of statics resources like CSS stylesheets, JavaScript files, images, and so on. When a user requests web pages or files, the proxy server provides the cache version instead of fetching it from the original server, which may increase the loading time.

Proxy server cache

Where Cookies are text-based small files that are used to store information that is unique for each visitor. It is also used to identify and track a visitor. Cookies provide a better user experience. 

There are various types of cookies:

  1. Session Cookies:

A session cookie is a simple small-sized text file that a website installs in a user device for use temporarily. session cookies are used to help a website track a user’s session. When users log out of their account or exit the website, Session cookies are automatically deleted.

seassion cookies, cache vs cookies
  1. Persistent Cookies: 

Persistent cookies store information on a user’s device for an extended period, often for days, months, or even years. The data can be preferences, information, sign-on credentials, settings, and so on. Persistent cookie can save time and create a more convenient user experience.

Persistent Cookies
  1. Authentication Cookies: 

Authentication cookies are generated when users log into their accounts via browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and many more. It provides the sensitive information to the correct user. Authentication cookies are necessary for security purposes.

Authentication cookie
  1. Tracking Cookies:

Tracking cookies record user activities and send the record to the associated tracking service. It tracks the user’s online actions and collects data like shopping preferences, location, search history, clicks, etc. 

Tracking cookies

How Cookies Affect User’s Privacy

Cookies are used to collect user’s personal information without any consent. This can hamper your online privacy. Tracking cookies are basically used to track your online activities on any website.

Internet cookies

All pieces of information can be stored in browsing history. There are a few steps that you can use to maintain your privacy.

  • Use the Web Browser’s privacy Mode to clear cookies. 
  • Always delete browsing history or browser cookies to clear browsing data. 
  • Use the virtual private network.

Cache vs Cookies: Impact on Page Load Times/ PageSpeed

Now, you already have an idea of the difference between cache vs cookies. As there is a huge difference between cache vs cookies, so they play different roles on the website.

Using cookie

 PageSpeed is defined as the length of time taken to render all content of the webpage. Google has over 200 estimated SEO tracking signals, among which a few are confirmed, pagespeed is one of the confirmed ranking signals.

Now you can see the impact of the page loading time of cache vs cookies.

  • The Impact of Caching on Web Page Loading Time

Caching plays a crucial role in increasing the web page loading time. When a user visits a web page, usually, the browser fetches the content including HTML, CSS, JavaScript files, and images from the original server. This is a time-consuming process.

The impact of cache page load time

Caching helps you to reduce this web page loading time by storing the statics resources on the user’s device or any proxy server closer to the user’s location. When the user re-visits the webpage, then the browser fetches the content from the cache instead of downloading it from the original server.

However, it’s important to manage the cache to make sure that cache resources do not become stale and that users receive the most updated content.

  • The Impact of Cookies on Web Page Loading Time

Cookies are mainly used to remember browsing information like login information, user preferences, and many more. Cookies also can impact the web page loading time. It stores the session information. This can help to improve the web pageSpeed by reducing the need for frequent server requests.   

Impact of cookie on page load time

However, cookies can harm web performance as well as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings. When the webpage has a large number of cookies or a cookie contains a huge amount of data, it can increase the number of requests and responses. So, loading time will increase. 

Especially when cookies initiate some external server request, as with tracking cookies, the loading speed of web pages will significantly drop. 

How to reduce cookies and optimize web performance

Now, already you know how cookies can negatively impact the website’s pagespeed. To optimize cookies for better performance we need to follow some strategies.

  1. Use Cookie-Free Domains:

You can reduce cookie usage by using cookie-free domains for serving static resources like CSS stylesheets, JavaScript files, images, and so on from local storage. Also, you can use browser caching and Content Delivery Network (CDN) services to improve pagespeed.

cookie free domain
  1. Minimize the Cookie’s Size and Scope:

One way to minimize cookie usage is to reduce the size and scope of the cookie. For example, you can store only essential data, such as Session ID, and authentication token instead of user profiles.

  1. Use HTTP Headers or JavaScript:

Another way you can reduce cookie usage is by using HTTP headers or JavaScript files to send the data to the server instead of using cookies.HTTP headers can be used to transmit information such as content type, authentication, etc.

http headers
  1. Use HTTP Cache:

 HTTP is another way to improve load performance. It reduces unnecessary requests. HTTP requests are first checked in the browser cache whether they match or not. If it matches, then the response can be read from the browser cache. This reduces the network latency.    

http cache

Optimizing the Website’s Performance with Cache

Caching can have a weighty impact on the website performance as well as user satisfaction. To optimize your website, you can use RabbitLoader. It is a CDN cache-based web pageSpeed optimization plugin that can reduce the loading time. 

Sometimes, using multiple plugins can increase the webpage loading time. Because the plugin has its features and code. This code needs to be executed when you are loading a page. Instead of using too many plugins, you can install RabbitLoader.

RabbitLoader,Cache Vs Cookies

5 Benefits of Using RabbitLoader:

  1. Enable premium CDN cache to serve static resources such as CSS, JS, and images.
  2. Reduce the image size with NextGen AVIF/WebP format.
  3. Minify HTML, CSS Stylesheets, and JavaScript files.
  4. Improve the Core Web Vitals (FCP, FID, CLS,LCP,TBT,TTFB,SI,INP).
  5. Enable Lazy Loading.

RabbitLoader is available on different platforms and frameworks, such as WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, PHP, and Laravel. 

  1. WordPress : 

RabbitLoader installation is a pretty straightforward process. You need to just install and activate this from the WordPress plugin page. Then you need to connect your website with RabbitLoader.

RabbitLoader with WordPress

RabbitLoader will help you to optimize images and minify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files. By using the RabbitLoader plugin, you will get the world’s best Content Delivery Network (CDN) with over 300+ locations distributed in 47 countries around the globe.

  1. Shopify: 

By default, CDN is available in the Shopify Store. But if you want to ensure a lightning-fast shopping experience by optimizing your webpage, then you need to install RabbitLoader. RabbitLoader will take care of all store optimizations, from image optimization to lazy loading.

Shopify with rabbitloader
  1. PHP and Laravel:

RabbitLoader can improve PageSpeed Insights for PHP and Laravel websites. It will enable the CDN cache service. Apart from this, it will also optimize the image size and format and enable lazy loading. 

PHP Laravel

Conclusion

Here, we have understood the difference between cache vs cookies and also learned how to optimize a website’s performance and user experience by using these Cookies and Caches. 

Now it’s your turn, install RabbitLoader and speed up the website for better user experience and SEO rankings.