Why Do I Have to Refresh My Browser to See My Updated Website?

By Timothy Smithee

For most Web pages, clicking
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If you are viewing your website and then update a page, the change does not appear in the browser until you refresh the page. This happens because of the way Web pages appear in your browser.

Web Page Servers

Web pages come from Web servers, which are computers configured to store Web pages and send them when there is a page request. The pages may be static text similar to Word documents, programming instructions, or a combination of text and instructions to insert items like local weather. When there is a request from a browser to see a page, the Web server retrieves or creates the page and sends it to the browser.

Sending Web Pages to a Browser

Once the Web page is sent, no further communication occurs between the browser and the server. Large sites like Facebook have more complex server and browser communication, but a typical business website has pages that are sent as one-way data. If a Web page is updated on the server after it has been sent to the browser, the browser will continue to show the old page. Clicking "Refresh" is a new request to view the page, and the latest version of the page is then sent to the browser.

Automatic Refresh Command

It is possible to make Web pages refresh automatically. This can be useful if some content changes frequently, such as the current weather; however, each refresh uses additional server, browser and bandwidth resources. To automatically refresh a Web page, add the code <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="300"> in the <head> section of the Web page. The number in quotes is the number of seconds between refresh requests, in this case five minutes.