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cache server

Contributor(s): Patrick Lanove

A cache server is a dedicated network server or service acting as a server that saves Web pages or other Internet content locally. By placing previously requested information in temporary storage, or cache, a cache server both speeds up access to data and reduces demand on an enterprise's bandwidth. Cache servers also allow users to access content offline, including rich media files or other documents. A cache server is sometimes called a "cache engine."

A cache server is almost always also a proxy server, which is a server that "represents" users by intercepting their Internet requests and managing them for users. Typically, this is because enterprise resources are being protected by a firewall server. That server allows outgoing requests to go out but screens all incoming traffic. A proxy server helps match incoming messages with outgoing requests. In doing so, it is in a position to also cache the files that are received for later recall by any user. To the user, the proxy and cache servers are invisible; all Internet requests and returned responses appear to be coming from the addressed place on the Internet. (The proxy is not quite invisible; its IP address has to be specified as a configuration option to the browser or other protocol program.)

This was last updated in August 2009

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