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World-Wide Web Cache Consistency

James Gwertzman
Microsoft Corporation

Margo Seltzer
Harvard University


The bandwidth demands of the World Wide Web continue to grow at a hyper-exponential rate. Given this rocketing growth, caching of web objects as a means to reduce network bandwidth consumption is likely to be a necessity in the very near future. Unfortunately, many Web caches do not satisfactorily maintain cache consistency. This paper presents a survey of contem- porary cache consistency mechanisms in use on the Internet today and examines recent research in Web cache consistency. Using trace-driven simulation, we show that a weak cache consistency protocol (the one used in the Alex ftp cache) reduces network bandwidth consumption and server load more than either time-to-live fields or an invalidation protocol and can be tuned to return stale data less than 5% of the time.

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