Posted By: codyr
Last Updated: Tuesday October 29, 2013
We’re happy to announce we’re now offering CloudFlare’s wonderful Railgun™ service to every user for free (shared web hosting only). You’ll simply need to go to the “CloudFlare” option within your control panel and enable it (more on that in a moment).
Many of you are likely wondering “What the heck is this?”. Well let’s find out!
Railgun™ is CloudFlares’ equivalent to the popular phrase “CACHE ALL THE THINGS”. The idea behind it is even dynamic content (which is usually not cached or partially cached) is actually cacheable with minimal impact to the website or visitors. This is because content on a website still doesn’t change that much in a short span of time:
Railgun works by recognizing that uncacheable web pages do not change very rapidly. For example, during an experiment, the CNN.com homepage HTML was captured once, and then again after 5 minutes and then again after one hour. The page sizes were 92,516, five minutes still 92,516 and one hour later 93,727.
If a website has Railgun™ enabled on their website CloudFlare will see if it has the cached content in their data centers. If found it’ll serve the compressed / cached content to the user directly from one of their data centers closest to the person making the request.
If there is no cached content available on CloudFlare’s end they’ll make a direct HTTP connection to the origin server located in our facility which will pull the content from whichever server you’re hosted on and send a compressed binary chunk to CloudFlare to serve. Here is a (slightly modified, cough) image of how a request works with Railgun:
From there you’ll want to select the Railgun™ listed and turn it “On”. Here is an example of what it would look like:
Once you’ve done that wait about five minutes and your site will be using Railgun™! If you’re unsure if it’s working please contact our support and we’ll verify everything is chugging along properly.
Note: This is currently available in almost every location however not every data center at this time.
The answer to this is simple - give it a try and see if you like it! If you’re already using CloudFlare with us it only takes a few clicks. You can read more on how the technology works from the CloudFlare Railgun page. If you’d like more information please contact our support department and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have.