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What is Cloudflare Railgun?

Cloudflare Railgun is a content delivery network (CDN) service that optimizes site performance. Cloudflare provides the ability to load the site from many different servers in the CDN network (118 data centers are scattered around the world) and, depending on the visitor's location, the content of the site is loaded from the nearest server, thus achieving the fastest loading time.

Cloudflare typically caches only the static content of the sites as it exceeds the dynamic content by file size. Cloudflare Railgun enables dynamic content to be cached and to allow the site to be fully optimized and to load as fast as possible.

To do this, special caching mechanisms are used to recognize how often dynamic pages are updated and based on the information they receive, they are building principles that cache the dynamic content over a certain period of time.

These mechanisms are software-driven and are built into two components:

  • Railgun Listener - installed on the server where the site is located, and serves CloudFlare requests using a secure connection with CloudFlare servers, located around the world.
  • Railgun Sender - installed on CloudFlare servers and maintains connection with all Railgun Listeners.

When querying dynamic content sites, static and then dynamic content is cached as the information is transmitted through a secure connection between CloudFlare servers and the server on which the site is located.

The transmitted information consists only of requests for the different parts of the site. Instead of sending the entire page again, only these different parts are transmitted. This ensures caching of dynamic content.

By means of the above mentioned software components, the servers identify the dynamic content and ensure that it is securely delivered to CloudFlare servers and, respectively, to the final visitor as quickly as possible.

Advantages:

  • Caching of dynamic content.
  • Compression of site's content.
  • Reducing the site's loading time.
  • Reducing the load and the requests to the hosting server that the site is configured on.

More information about CloudFlare RailGun can be found on their site https://www.cloudflare.com/website-optimization/railgun/.

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