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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I sometimes have trouble obtaining up-to-date information from my stock market website. It will show earlier prices listed for the stocks in which I am interested. How do I stop this from happening?

A. This is a classic case of your browser not being refreshed when you go to a website. Fortunately, the cure is simple and you certainly don't need to be a computer expert to fix it.

When you visit a website, the code which comprises the page you are viewing is sent to you by the website server and is stored in an area of your computer's memory called the cache. If you browse away from the page and then return to it, your browser will often retrieve the code from the cache rather than going out to the server and obtaining a fresh copy of the page.

This is done to "enhance" your browsing experience in that it's much faster to pull the page out of the computer's memory rather than downloading it all over again. Sometimes this behavior is a result of settings on your browser, your Internet Service Provider or an application you might have installed to "speed up your browsing."

In most cases, this behavior doesn't create an issue unless, as in your case, you want to see the current stock prices and not those from 15 minutes ago. The quick-and-dirty cure is to click your browser's Refresh button (it's also referred to as Reload or is marked with two circular arrows). Even easier to use and find is the F5 key. Just hit it and you will force the browser to go out and get a brand new copy of that page from the website server.

This behavior may also persist even if you close the browser or shut the computer off. To completely ensure that your browser always gets the latest version of any webpage, you need to change its settings. Depending on the browser, make sure it always checks for newer versions of stored pages or clears the cache every time it shuts down.

Published: Courier 6/2/13 - Page 3C