- 4 min read
Introducing: Rocket.net Smart Caching. Taking CloudFlare Enterprise EDGE Caching To The Next Level
Prior to launching Rocket.net, I helped manage one of the largest CDN’s on the market and learned a lot about what it takes behind the scenes. When managing this CDN, I saw a lot of WordPress users struggling to get things integrated properly, and this ultimately led to Rocket.net’s inception.
Now, it’s no secret that we’ve been obsessed with performance and security at Rocket.net. But as I always like to say – we’re not only obsessed with performance, but we’re never satisfied or “done”. Since launching, we’ve seen a lot of our competitors try to mirror our edge first approach. Thanks to our first hand experience, we continue to lead the pack.
Today, I’m excited to share with you the latest improvement industry-leading feature to the Rocket.net Platform: Smart Caching.
What is Smart Caching?
Smart Caching is the ability for us to treat every asset in our cache in a specific way. We’ve always had different cache-control headers for each asset, but now we’ve gone a step further to better identify when and what needs to be purged.
For example, let’s say your site has a latest posts blog on every article/page and you’ve added a new post. Our CDN cache purge plugin would do it’s best to reverse engineer which URL’s needed to be purged, but the truth was it ended up being all of them.
Prior to Smart Caching, our CDN cache purge plugin would attempt to purge all of those pages but would run into limitations on the CDN purge. As a result, it would create an unnecessary amount of work on the WordPress installation. Thee result was that not everything purging properly, so customers would have to purge everything from the cache. This generally worked, but not as well as we’d have liked.
So we got to work, determined to find a better solution. And I’m proud to say that we found it! Now, when making a change to your site that has an affect similar to above, Smart Caching will only purge HTML assets. This means that your CSS, JS, and images all stay nice and warm in the cache.
How does Smart Caching impact your site?
Ultimately, Smart Caching provides a better visitor experience on your website(s). At Rocket.net, we not only put ourselves in the customers chair, but we put ourselves in the visitor’s chair as well (including Google bot).
Here are some of the benefits to our new and improved Smart Caching:
- Improved cache hit ratio due to only purging what’s necessary
- Stability for core web vitals for images, CSS, and JS
- Consistent cache hits on images for Google search, Pinterest, and more
But, there’s also another very big reason we did this. A few weeks ago, you may have seen our post about Automated Image Resizing for WordPress.
One of the downsides to image resizing is that when all assets are purged, the images that Cloudflare worked so hard to resize are also purged. This results in a cache miss, which further results in a poor user experience. With Smart Caching, all of your resized images will now stay in the cache. This reduces the number of image resizing requests needed and provides the best possible user experience.
Let’s take a look at some real world results with Smart Caching. With the help of Cloudflare Polish, we’re able to compress and deliver webp images on the fly when applicable.
However, if the entire cache is purged on your site, it will clear out those optimizations and result in lower scores as seen in this screen shot:
Now, let’s look at the results of doing a cache purge on a site using Smart Caching:
As you can see above, even after purging everything on our demo site, the images continue to pass PageSpeed recommendations on a test performed after a Smart Caching Purge Everything.
This is extremely powerful for large media sites and blogs when it comes to delivering a consistent visitor experience, especially for Googlebot.
How to use Smart Caching
When rolling out new features that effect the Edge at Rocket.net, we’re extremely sensitive on roll outs as we don’t want to disrupt or affect any existing behavior before thorough testing.
While we’ve done extensive internal testing (including some customer testing), Smart Caching is disabled by default. To enable Smart Caching on your website, simply fill out the form at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfOuLitWjujFN4mSGlI9KDsPSJDuZPc_ErvCWP44gBPPoKjMA/viewform?usp=sf_link
Over the next few weeks we will be automatically rolling it out to every site on Rocket.net. Of course if you have any questions, feel free to use our Live Chat feature or open a ticket and one of our staff will be glad to help you.
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