What is Content Caching?

Posted on November 11th, 2016

There is various type of performance optimizations. In performance optimizations, content caching is very important and inevitable technique of various optimization techniques.


What is Content Caching?

As the name indicates, in this method, the website content is cached and stored in various servers. When a system accesses the website, the webpages will be provided by a nearby cache server rather than the original server which is remote. It will decrease the loading speed and will result in improved loading speed. It is said that the web content caching isn’t a feature that is a part of a network or part of an application. It is a feature that is between these two, between the network and the application.


Content Cache

A content cache is a software of application that runs inside a webserver. The content cache will have the content of a website application. It gets requests for the website or application and responds to the requests for the application. This is the role of content cache. Now, what is the advantage or benefit of using the content cache? The content cache acts as the original server and the requests are not being sent to the server which reduces server traffic. This will give the original server to new requests that are not handled by content caches, so that the load time of the website or performance of the application is improved. The content cache often stores the responses sent. This is because all the responses will be similar to the older ones. The content cache stores the applications with some conditions. This helps the original server to not receive requests if the content remains unchanged. .Using content cache is recommended if you have a website that will not get changed frequently.


Content Cache Working

1) Suppose a user clicks on a link to a webpage

2) The user’s browser get connected to the nearest cache server automatically. This is done by using “Anycast DNS”. This allows the closest server to respond first.

3) Now the requested file is checked. If the file is present on the caching server, it is then delivered to the user.

4) If the requested file is not on the caching server, then the file is fetched from the original server and then it is delivered to the requested user. This file is then cached for further uses. It can be slower than fetching the data from the original server and responds to the client with data. It will only happen when the requested file is not on the caching server. This case will be rarer, so we can always expect a good loading speed when using content cache.


Benefits of using Content Cache

1) Less Loading Time

The primary benefit of using content cache is the loading time. We all know that the loading time is the key factor in the web industry. Suppose your website is hosted in North America and you are accessing your website from somewhere in the Asia. Even if the server and network perform at their best, the loading time will be hundreds of milliseconds more. So, content cache ensures faster loading time.

2) Customer Satisfaction

The important thing that affects your business is customer satisfaction. You should ensure your customers have full satisfaction. For a website that loads too slow when compared to other websites that offer same services, the chance that customers may leave is larger.

3) Less Cost of Service

Content caching allows you to reduce cost of the services by utilizing less bandwidth.


Enabling Content Cache

If you found your website is needed to be enabled with content cache, the next step is to decide what data should be cached. You should also decide the time frame for caching. For example, you could cache all the media files for 12 hrs. Let’s see how to enable the content caching using Apache modules. Apache comes with many methods that can be used to enable caching frequently accessed contents. In this article, we are going to see 2 methods used. Those are “mod_file_cache” and “mod_cache”.


The “mod_file_cache” module

This is the simple method to enable content caching with Apache. Based on two factors, it caches the content. The two factors are listed below.

1) The content that is frequently requested.

2) The content that changes infrequently.

As the content of these types are cached, this module is useful if you are caching files that will not change for the life of current Apache instance. Please be aware that using this module will cause any subsequent changes not to be applied until the server is restarted. As the name indicates, only normal files can be cached with this module. No dynamically generated content or files generated by special content handlers cannot be cached with this module.


The “mod_cache” module

The mod_cache module provides HTTP-aware caching schemes. This means that the files will be cached according to an instruction specifying how long a page can be considered “fresh”. It performs these operations using either the “mod_mem_cache” module or the “mod_disk_cache” modules. These are more complex caching models when comparing to the caching with “mod_file_cache”.


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