Firefox bug: Who deleted my cache?

There’s a major bug in Firefox (allthough I left at “normal” severity, leave it to the maintainers to judge) that’s been around since Version 2.0 (maybe earlier). I’m *pretty* sure that Mozilla (i.e. precursor to Firefox) did not have this bug. It’s been bugging me for years, and I’ve seen lots of people complain about it, but the latest release still hasn’t fixed it, so I went hunting. No bugs found.

Not any more:

Bug 525266: Disk cache is deleted when browser restarts

Summary

When web browsers were invented, people noticed that – shock! horror! – the internet is SLOW.

So, all web browsers (ALL web browsers – IIRC it started with Internet Explorer 3.0, which was so amazingly fast thanks to its cache that everything else had to follow suit – but my memory is vague here, this was 15 years ago!) added a Disk Cache, that would keep a copy of each web page on your hard disk, and try to serve it up from the cache rather than download.

Because it was persisted to disk, this performance boost would survive even if your browser crashed (which they did more often back then – this is in the days before Windows NT, when Windows 95 would crash *a lot*).

Fast-forward to 2009: Firefox has a disk-cache, but it’s 99% useless. You (effectively) can ONLY use the FF cache if you have so little RAM that your webpages fit on the cache but not in RAM. This is extremely unlikely for most people.

Why?

Because someone on the FF team decided that everytime they restart the browser, they will hard-code it to delete your cache. What? Why? And where’s the option to turn it off?

(hint: there isn’t one. Type “about:config” into your address bar to see the complete set of options, and search for cache. Try turning everything to the max – no effect. Check by typing in “about:cache”, which tells you how big your caches are and lets you see what’s in them. After a restart – for any reason, including “the browser crashed, and autorestarted” – FF deletes its own cache. Stupid. Very stupid).

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