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I have a question regarding the latency of seek times for hard drives and size of files . I was at one point considering trying to increase the cache size of my web browser to try and allow for faster load times for my web searches but had a thought that I am not sure how to answer.

If I were to use a very large cache size for my browser as opposed to a smaller size, would that degrade the performance of the system by requiring the browser to seek the cache data? If I were to continue increasing the cache size allowed by the browser, would the performance eventually degrade to a point where simply communicating to a server across a network be faster?

I get the feeling (without fully knowing the implementation of browser caching systems) that if I were to continue increasing the size of the cache the browser could use, it would have to continuously search through an ever larger collection of files to see if it had to fetch the data from the server in question or not - which would take more time as the cache grows. Let's assume that the hard drive in question is not a solid state drive, then for comparison sake, would a solid state drive give considerable performance increase if I were to allow the browser to cache all of its data to the SSD?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Well first of all it would depend when you have requested the files. If the browser's cache is still in the memory you wouldn't have to even look on the disk. If it's on the disk, the random access time for every file individually (seek time) will on average be the same, but it would still be faster than doing a server request (the server itself might need to go look on it's own disk for some files for instance).

Now will an SSD increase the performance, yes it would give you a relatively considerable boost since SSD's have a very low access latency.

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It also depends on the file system. Windows NTFS isn't great about large folders if 8.3 naming is turned on (which I believe is on by default). – user3463 May 4 '12 at 6:34
Is there a source which I could be directed to that would give me the 'gory' details? I tried doing a search on disk-drive performance but I assume I might be better searching for specific file systems for their performance? I am using NTFS by the way – Stephen R May 4 '12 at 13:38
I decided to settle on this as the accepted answer because it answered the big question I had on my mind regarding whether it would be faster to locate cached data on a drive as opposed to fetching it from servers elsewhere. – Stephen R May 9 '12 at 16:54

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