Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Viewing a webpage means downloading it?

  1. Jan 16, 2016 #1
    Hello Forum,

    everytime our browser requests a webpage from a web server to view, the server sends the requested page back to the browser. Does that mean that the page is being downloaded by the browser? I don't think so. We can in fact "save" a webpage and I believe that is when we would be downloading it.

    But aside from saving it, once the browser receives the webpage it must store it somewhere and that takes up space, i.e. memory, correct? But how is that different from downloading the page?
    If in one day we visit 100 webpages, it seems we would be getting a lot of stuff to store on our personal computer...
    thanks for any clarification

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    Yes, your browser downloads the page and it takes space on your computer. If it didn't, how would you be able to see the web page?
    Your computer store web pages in a cache which is usually just a temp directory on your computer. You can set the maximum amount to store and the browser deletes old content as it fills up.
  4. Jan 16, 2016 #3
    It seems you're asking for the correct definition of the term "download". There exist at least two different definitions.
    1. Receiving any kind of data object (e.g. a file) from another computer/device through a network
    2. Receiving a file and storing it locally for later use, i.e. not just as a temporary file to facilitate the streaming of media
    The first definition is preferred by many IT professionals, the second is important in regards to the copyright law to distinguish streaming from downloading.
  5. Jan 16, 2016 #4
    Ok, thanks.

    So the webpages are actually being downloaded into a location on our computer (the temp folder) that fills up and automatically empties itself. If it didn't empty itself it would take so much storage considering how many webpages we view during a day or a month...

    The size of a webpage varies and depends on its content (videos, etc.). What would you say the typical size of a webpage is?
  6. Jan 16, 2016 #5
  7. Jan 17, 2016 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Wow, two megabytes and close to a hundred individual HTTP requests per page! It looks like more than 2/3 of the bytes and more than half of the HTTP requests are for images.
  8. Jan 17, 2016 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yer not livin' if yer browser doesn't have at least 1 Gbyte of web content cache reserved on the hard drive.
  9. Jan 17, 2016 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    @fog37, one of the things that any decent "cleanup" program does is (optionally) clear out the cache and other forms of temporary storage that, as you say, given free reign would grow forever (although as has also been pointed out, there are limiting mechanisms built into the browsers and operating systems).
  10. Jan 17, 2016 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    In the olden days before high-speed internet, when everything was dial up, you used to have to wait for pages to load, and the ones with images were the slowest. Page caching was a way to cut down on load times for frequently viewed pages.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook