How does output caching work in ASP.NET?

Output caching is a powerful technique that increases request/response throughput by caching the content generated from dynamic pages. Output caching is enabled by default, but output from any given response is not cached unless explicit action is taken to make the response cacheable.

To make a response eligible for output caching, it must have a valid expiration/validation policy and public cache visibility. This can be done using either the low-level OutputCache API or the high-level @ OutputCache directive. When output caching is enabled, an output cache entry is created on the first GET request to the page. Subsequent GET or HEAD requests are served from the output cache entry until the cached request expires.

The output cache also supports variations of cached GET or POST name/value pairs.

The output cache respects the expiration and validation policies for pages. If a page is in the output cache and has been marked with an expiration policy that indicates that the page expires 60 minutes from the time it is cached, the page is removed from the output cache after 60 minutes. If another request is received after that time, the page code is executed and the page can be cached again. This type of expiration policy is called absolute expiration – a page is valid until a certain time.

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