Cache-Control

The Cache-Control HTTP header holds directives (instructions) for caching in both requests and responses. A given directive in a request does not mean the same directive should be in the response.

Header type General header
Forbidden header name no
CORS-safelisted response header yes

Syntax

Caching directives have the following rules to be valid:

  • Case-insensitive, but lowercase is recommended.
  • Multiple directives are comma-separated.
  • Some directives have an optional argument, which can be either a token or a quoted-string. (See spec for definitions)

Cache request directives

Standard Cache-Control directives that can be used by the client in an HTTP request.

Cache-Control: max-age=<seconds>
Cache-Control: max-stale[=<seconds>]
Cache-Control: min-fresh=<seconds>
Cache-Control: no-cache 
Cache-Control: no-store
Cache-Control: no-transform
Cache-Control: only-if-cached

Cache response directives

Standard Cache-Control directives that can be used by the server in an HTTP response.

Cache-Control: must-revalidate
Cache-Control: no-cache
Cache-Control: no-store
Cache-Control: no-transform
Cache-Control: public
Cache-Control: private
Cache-Control: proxy-revalidate
Cache-Control: max-age=<seconds>
Cache-Control: s-maxage=<seconds>

Extension Cache-Control directives

Extension Cache-Control directives are not part of the core HTTP caching standards document. Check the compatibility table for their support; user-agents that don't recognize them should ignore them.

Cache-Control: immutable 
Cache-Control: stale-while-revalidate=<seconds>
Cache-Control: stale-if-error=<seconds>

Directives

Cacheability

A response is normally cached by the browser if:

  • it has a status code of 301, 302, 307, 308, or 410 and
  • Cache-Control does not have no-store, or if proxy, does not have private and
  • Authorization is unset
  • either
    • has a status code of 301, 302, 307, 308, or 410 or
    • has public, max-age or s-maxage in Cache-Control or
    • has Expires set
public
The response may be stored by any cache, even if the response is normally non-cacheable.
private
The response may be stored only by a browser's cache, even if the response is normally non-cacheable. If you mean to not store the response in any cache, use no-store instead. This directive is not effective in preventing caches from storing your response.
no-cache
The response may be stored by any cache, even if the response is normally non-cacheable. However, the stored response MUST always go through validation with the origin server first before using it, therefore, you cannot use no-cache in-conjunction with immutable. If you mean to not store the response in any cache, use no-store instead. This directive is not effective in preventing caches from storing your response.
no-store
The response may not be stored in any cache. Although other directives may be set, this alone is the only directive you need in preventing cached responses on modern browsers. max-age=0 is already implied. Setting must-revalidate does not make sense because in order to go through revalidation you need the response to be stored in a cache, which no-store prevents.

Expiration

max-age=<seconds>
The maximum amount of time a resource is considered fresh. Unlike Expires, this directive is relative to the time of the request.
s-maxage=<seconds>
Overrides max-age or the Expires header, but only for shared caches (e.g., proxies). Ignored by private caches.
max-stale[=<seconds>]
Indicates the client will accept a stale response. An optional value in seconds indicates the upper limit of staleness the client will accept.
min-fresh=<seconds>
Indicates the client wants a response that will still be fresh for at least the specified number of seconds.
stale-while-revalidate=<seconds>
Indicates the client will accept a stale response, while asynchronously checking in the background for a fresh one. The seconds value indicates how long the client will accept a stale response. See "Keeping things fresh with stale-while-revalidate" for more information.
stale-if-error=<seconds>
Indicates the client will accept a stale response if the check for a fresh one fails. The seconds value indicates how long the client will accept the stale response after the initial expiration.

Revalidation and reloading

must-revalidate
Indicates that once a resource becomes stale, caches must not use their stale copy without successful validation on the origin server.
proxy-revalidate
Like must-revalidate, but only for shared caches (e.g., proxies). Ignored by private caches.
immutable
Indicates that the response body will not change over time. The resource, if unexpired, is unchanged on the server and therefore the client should not send a conditional revalidation for it (e.g. If-None-Match or If-Modified-Since) to check for updates, even when the user explicitly refreshes the page. Clients that aren't aware of this extension must ignore them as per the HTTP specification. In Firefox, immutable is only honored on https:// transactions. For more information, see also this blog post.

Other

no-transform
No transformations or conversions should be made to the resource. The Content-Encoding, Content-Range, Content-Type headers must not be modified by a proxy. A non-transparent proxy or browser feature such as Google's Light Mode might, for example, convert between image formats in order to save cache space or to reduce the amount of traffic on a slow link. The no-transform directive disallows this.
only-if-cached
Set by the client to indicate "do not use the network" for the response. The cache should either respond using a stored response, or respond with a 504 status code. Conditional headers such as If-None-Match should not be set. There is no effect if only-if-cached is set by a server as part of a response.

Examples

Preventing caching

To disable caching of a resource, you can send the following response header:

Good:
Cache-Control: no-store
Bad:
Cache-Control: private,no-cache,no-store,max-age=0,must-revalidate,pre-check=0,post-check=0

Caching static assets

For the files in the application that will not change, you can usually add aggressive caching by sending the response header below. This includes static files that are served by the application such as images, CSS files and JavaScript files, for example. In addition, see also the Expires header.

Cache-Control: public, max-age=604800, immutable

Requiring revalidation

Specifying no-cache or max-age=0 indicates that clients can cache a resource and must revalidate each time before using it. This means HTTP request occurs each time, but it can skip downloading HTTP body if the content is valid.

Cache-Control: no-cache
Cache-Control: no-cache, max-age=0
Cache-Control: no-cache, max-age=0, stale-while-revalidate=300

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
RFC 8246: HTTP Immutable Responses IETF RFC
RFC 7234: Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Caching IETF RFC
RFC 5861: HTTP Cache-Control Extensions for Stale Content IETF RFC Initial definition

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
Cache-ControlChrome Full support YesEdge Full support 12Firefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
immutable
Experimental
Chrome No support No
Notes
No support No
Notes
Notes See Chromium bug 611416.
Edge No support 15 — 79Firefox Full support 49IE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari Full support 11WebView Android No support NoChrome Android No support NoFirefox Android No support NoOpera Android No support NoSafari iOS Full support 11Samsung Internet Android No support No
stale-if-error
ExperimentalNon-standard
Chrome No support No
Notes
No support No
Notes
Notes See Chromium bug 348877.
Edge No support No
Notes
No support No
Notes
Notes See Chromium bug 348877.
Firefox No support No
Notes
No support No
Notes
Notes See Bugzilla bug 995651 comment 7.
IE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari No support NoWebView Android No support NoChrome Android No support NoFirefox Android No support NoOpera Android No support NoSafari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android No support No
stale-while-revalidate
ExperimentalNon-standard
Chrome Full support 75Edge Full support 79Firefox Full support 68IE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari No support NoWebView Android Full support 75Chrome Android Full support 75Firefox Android Full support 68Opera Android No support NoSafari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android No support No

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.
Non-standard. Expect poor cross-browser support.
Non-standard. Expect poor cross-browser support.
See implementation notes.
See implementation notes.

See also