Your web browser will likely store copies of files as you browse the internet. Known as temporary internet files, they will consume space on your computer’s storage drive — just like all other computer files. Being that they aren’t essential to your web browser’s operations, though, you might be wondering what temporary internet files are used.

Temporary Internet Files Defined

Temporary internet files are computer files that web browsers use to load and render web pages. More specifically, they consist of cached web-accessible computer files, such as images, videos and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) files.

The term “temporary internet files” is synonymous with Internet Explorer. Microsoft’s now-retired web browser has a dedicated folder for temporary internet files. The folder is even named “Temporary Internet Files.” But all web browsers create temporary internet files; they just use different terms to describe these files.

Why Web Browsers Create Temporary Internet Files

The purpose of temporary internet files is to increase loading times and performance for web pages. Servers can instruct web browsers to create copies of various computer files. Known as caching, it allows web browsers to load web pages more quickly in subsequent visits.

Web browsers will have to download all of the web page’s files during the initial visit. If they cache some of the web page’s files, however, web browsers won’t have to redownload all of them in subsequent visits. They will already have copies of some of the web page’s files. These cached files are temporary internet files.

Don’t Forget to Delete Your Temporary Internet Files

Whether you use Chrome, Firefox, Edge or any other web browser, you should get into the habit of regularly deleting your temporary internet files. As previously mentioned, they take up storage space. Most web browsers won’t delete temporary internet files automatically. You’ll need to go into your web browser’s settings and select the option to delete website data or cached files.

Some temporary internet files may contain malware. Rather than taking that risk, you should delete all temporary internet files created by your web browser.

Keep in mind that temporary internet files aren’t the same as cookies. Cookies are used for personalization and tracking purposes. Temporary internet files, on the other hand, are used to caching purposes. If you delete your web browser’s cookies, you’ll have to log in to all of your website accounts again. If you only delete your web browser’s temporary internet files, you’ll stay logged in.