brief overview of Local Storage

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joe04
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brief overview of Local Storage

Unread postby joe04 » Wed, 23 Aug 2017, 18:41

"Local Storage" is used here as a generic term for website data stored locally on your computer by the browser. There are several types of this, and the purpose of this post is to briefly explain what each is and how to manage them.

This is a topic that has been a source of much confusion on this forum (e.g. here and here), so I'd like to help clarify it. Afterall, these are important factors in online privacy. (This is by no means a comprehensive guide on privacy; there are plenty of other important factors that are outside the scope of this post.)

Types of Local Storage:

1) Cookies
a) HTTP cookie -- most users are familiar with these, which are usually just called cookies. They're the original means, created in the early web years of the 1990s, of websites storing data such as preferences, login credentials, etc. They can be viewed in Tools->Options->Privacy->Show Cookies. In your profile folder they're stored in the cookies.sqlite database.
b) DOM storage -- this a newer type of cookie with much larger storage capacity. They're known by several other names: Web storage, DOM cookies, and HTML5 cookies. By default you need to use devtools to view these. In your profile folder they're stored in the webappsstore.sqlite database.

I recommend allowing sites to set cookies to prevent any breakage or problems. But that doesn't mean you need to keep them around when you're done.

what I do: use the CookieKeeper extension to manage both types of cookies. It easily allows me to see all of them, preserve the few items I want to keep permanently, and it can be set to automatically delete the rest at the end of each browser session.

for those who don't want to preserve any cookies: set Tools->Options->Privacy->Clear history when Pale Moon closes->Cookies

2) Cache
a) Regular Cache -- this is local storage of images, scripts, fonts, and other resources so that they can be reused on subsequent page loads of a website. The purpose is to improve browser efficiency. The cache is preserved across browser sessions by default, but can be auto-deleted at the end of each session in Tools->Options->Privacy->Clear history when Pale Moon closes->Cache
b) Offline Website Data -- a newer form of cache for "webapps". Also preserved across browser sessions by default, but can be deleted in Tools->Options->Privacy->Clear history when Pale Moon closes->Offline Website Data

You can view your cache by going to about:cache in the address bar. The "disk" category is a) and "appcache" is b).

3) IndexedDB
This is a niche item that very few sites use; they use DOM storage instead. (As I stated here there's only 1 site I've come across in the past 6 months that even uses it, and I've accessed that site hundreds of times without problems because it uses DOM storage as a fallback.) If any sites do use it, you'll see it in the /storage folder of your profile.

what I do: disable it in about:config with dom.indexedDB.enabled = false

joe04
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Re: brief overview of Local Storage

Unread postby joe04 » Wed, 23 Aug 2017, 23:49

Need to follow-up on item 3.
Several months ago I wrote that disabling IndexedDB caused some sites to break. I didn't notice that earlier today and completely forgot that I'd even tried disabling it before. I still can't recall anything about it.
Given this oversight, I spent time at all my regular sites today, plus a number of other sites. I'm glad to report I haven't had any problems with having IndexedDB disabled in about:config, so I'm leaving it disabled. I'll post an update here if I do run into any problems.

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Re: brief overview of Local Storage

Unread postby joe04 » Thu, 21 Sep 2017, 14:16

brief update:

For Item 2a, I recently started using the Greedy Cache extension. It really improves cache behavior, which means the loading of frequently accessed sites can be noticably faster. Read more about it here. (I recommend setting the "Enforce caching of images" option to get the full benefit. And make sure your Pale Moon preference is disabled for deleting cache when the browser exits.)

For Item 3, I haven't had any problems, so IndexedDB remains disabled.

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Re: brief overview of Local Storage

Unread postby joe04 » Tue, 26 Sep 2017, 21:08

another brief update:
Version 27.5 added the ability to delete IndexedDB items upon closing the browser when the Offline Website Data preference is set (piggybacking on 2b above). I haven't tested it and see no need to change my settings, but it's worth noting here.

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Re: brief overview of Local Storage

Unread postby joe04 » Fri, 16 Feb 2018, 18:37

Minor note that v27.7 changed the name of browser "Options" to "Preferences" for Windows (and also moved Preferences to the Tools menu for Linux).

Thus in my first post, all paths starting with "Tools->Options" are now "Tools->Preferences".
Last edited by joe04 on Fri, 16 Feb 2018, 18:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: brief overview of Local Storage

Unread postby joe04 » Fri, 08 Jun 2018, 03:46

MY FINAL UPDATE

I've switched to using Firefox, so I won't be updating this thread. But I want to share one final note.

The info in this thread is still valid, and I use the same overall approach on Firefox 60. The one difference is I no longer disable IndexedDB (Item 3). I verified it's properly cleaned up with the Offline Website Data preference (Item 2b).

(But as I noted 2 posts ago, I never tested it after this change was ported to Pale Moon. Someone else will have to vouch for it.)


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