Cloudflare Railgun overview


This article covers Cloudflare Railgun and how to enable it for your domain at DreamHost. Cloudflare provides your domain with a suite of technologies that protects and optimizes your website, and Cloudflare Railgun is a specific Cloudflare technology that can be enabled to improve the performance of your site even further.

Railgun improves the performances of the domain by caching content on your website that has traditionally been uncacheable. It does this by tracking changes to website content on the byte level and improving the connection between DreamHost’s servers, Cloudflare’s servers, and the visitor. Sites with slowly-changing dynamic content would benefit the most from Railgun.

Railgun is a special technology that’s offered free of charge to Cloudflare enabled domains. It’s normally only offered by Cloudflare as part of its Business subscription, but Railgun is available to both Basic plans or Cloudflare Plus at DreamHost.

For more detailed information on Cloudflare and how to enable it, please see the Cloudflare article.

How does Railgun work?

Railgun uses alternative compression techniques to dramatically speed up the performance of your site. It proxies traffic through a special protocol that would normally travel between Cloudflare and your web server over HTTP, which speeds up and secures the connection. According to Cloudflare, this achieves a 99.6% compression ratio and on average, a 730% performance increase.

Typically, the markup of websites does not change that frequently from one request to the next. Instead of transferring the entire request between Cloudflare and your environment, Railgun transfers only the changes in markup from one request to the next. This cuts down on bandwidth, transfer time, and overall page load times. Railgun caches these differences in memory to make page processing as fast as possible.

Railgun was made available on DreamHost on January 28th, 2013.

You can read more about how Cloudflare railgun works on Cloudflare's site:

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Article last updated PST.