Boostaler is a browser extension for the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers that is designed to speed up web browsing by extending cache periods. The extension may work with other browsers based on Firefox or Chrome code as well.
Web browsers use a local cache for certain page elements to improve the loading time of web pages. Loading elements from the local hard drive is — usually — faster than loading them from a web server. Sometimes, it may be the only option to access a page, for instance if the web server can’t process requests or other temporary issues.
The Boostaler extension manipulates cache-control headers for requests so that resources are loaded from the cache for a longer period of time; the extension checks if new versions are available to make sure that the most recent version becomes available.
The developer describes the functionality in the following way:
This web-extension will reconfigure the cache-control headers for each of the requests for the page’s resources (such as a CSS-file, images and media-files) allowing a much longer-period of time for each resource to stay in the browser-cache, but still checking to see if the resources is the most recent one available.
The extension changes the values of the Cache-Control header attributes stale-while-revalidate or stale-if-error, or adds them to the page if they don’t exist in the Cache-Control header.
Boostaler increases the local cache time of web resources and that speeds up web browsing.
- Stale-while-revalidate — sets extra time in which content is loaded from cache (stale asset) while it is revalidated asynchronously. The browser uses the cached resource and checks if a new version is available. Improves page load latencies.
- Stale-if-error — defines the extra time in which a cached resources may be used if an error is encountered.
The effectiveness of the extension depends largely on usage and the use of cache-control headers by sites. Resources are loaded from cache for a longer period in best case, especially in situations where the attributes are not set at all or set to a low period.
You can verify that Boostaler is working correctly using the browser’s Developer Tools. In Firefox, you’d press F12 to open the Developer Tools and switch to Network to see what is loaded and from where it is loaded.
In Chrome, you’d press Ctrl-Shift-I, make sure Network is selected. Note that you see the effect on the second time the page or resources from the site are loaded. The resources need to be stored in the cache first before they can be loaded from it.
You should see an increase in cached resources when you reload the page or access other pages on the site that use the same resource, e.g. a logo or CSS style file.
Boostaler is a great, greatly underappreciated browser extension that may improve the loading of resources significantly. Helpful especially on sites that you visit regularly that may use low caching values or set no values at all.
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