Tag Archives: CloudFlare Railgun™

CloudFlare Railgun available Free of Charge for our Customers

CloudFlare Railgun™

As a CloudFlare Optimized Partner, we are thrilled to offer the CloudFlare Railgun™ technology to all our customers for free on Video Three and above hosting plans. Railgun is CloudFlare’s latest performance optimization technology that gives you significant improvements in site load times. To activate Railgun,  first enable CloudFlare for your domain on your cpanel, then open a ticket with our customer support to enable Railgun for your site.

Railgun ensures that the connection between our network and the CloudFlare network is as fast as possible. Railgun achieves a 99.6% compression ratio for previously uncacheable web objects by using techniques similar to those used in the compression of high-quality video. The average website can expect a 1.43x performance increase.

When a request is made to a CloudFlare server for a web page that is not in cache CloudFlare makes an HTTP connection to the origin server to request the page. It’s that HTTP connection that Railgun accelerates and secures.

Even highly dynamic websites change slowly

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.

CNN sets the caching on this page to 60 seconds. After one minute, it is necessary to download the entire page again. However, looking inside the page, not much has changed. In fact, the change between versions is on the order of 100s of bytes out of almost 100k.

Experiments at CloudFlare have revealed similar change values across the web. For example, reddit.com changes by about 2.15% over five minutes and 3.16% over an hour. The New York Times home page changes by about 0.6% over five minutes and 3% over an hour. BBC News changes by about 0.4% over five minutes and 2% over an hour.

Although the dynamic web is not cacheable, it is also not changing quickly. That means that from moment to moment there’s only a small change between versions of a page. CloudFlare Railgun uses this fact to achieve very high rates of compression. This is very similar to how video compression looks for changes from frame to frame; Railgun looks for changes on a page from download to download.

Railgun Technology

Railgun consists of two components: the sender and the listener. The sender is installed at every CloudFlare data center around the world. The listener is a software component that Hosting Marketers has installed on our network for customers.

The sender and listener establish a permanent TCP connection that’s secured by TLS. This TCP connection is used for the Railgun protocol. It’s an all binary multiplexing protocol that allows multiple HTTP requests to be run simultaneously and asynchronously across the link. Or in other words, a persistent connection is opened between CloudFlare’s network and ours and eliminates the overhead of TCP.

We have made it simple for our customers to get the benefits of Railgun with one click. For additional information and instructions on how to activate, visit our Railgun Faq’s page.

Railgun FAQs

  1. What is Railgun?

Railgun is a WAN optimization technology that we offer our hosting customers in partnership with a company called CloudFlare.

CloudFlare’s Railgun technology greatly speeds up the delivery of non-cached pages. While CloudFlare automatically caches 65% of the resources needed to make up a page, 35% can’t be cached because the resources are dynamically generated or marked as ‘do not cache’. That 35% is often the initial HTML of the page that must be downloaded first. CloudFlare Railgun speeds this remaining 35%.

  1. What are the benefits of Railgun?

Websites running Railgun show a 143% improvement in HTML load times and a 90% decrease in Time To First Byte (TTFB) responses.

  1. How does Railgun work?

Railgun opens a secure, tunneled connection between the CloudFlare network and your host’s origin server where the connection only sends differences from the last request. This is similar to how video encoding works.

The markup of websites does not change that frequently from one request to the next. Instead of transferring the entire request between CloudFlare and the origin server, Railgun will transfer 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.

  1. What kind of sites can use Railgun?

Any website can benefit from the performance improvements Railgun offers, especially dynamic sites.

  1. What much does Railgun cost?

We have partnered with CloudFlare to make Railgun both easy and affordable. If you purchase Railgun directly through CloudFlare, it costs $200/month. However, we have partnered with CloudFlare and are offering Railgun to our customers for free on Video Three and above hosting plans.

  1. How do I enable Railgun on my site?

First enable CloudFlare for your domain on your cpanel, then open a ticket with our customer support to enable Railgun for your site.

  1. What if I’m having issues enabling Railgun?

If you experience issues when enabling CloudFlare, please open a ticket with customer support.

  1. I’m not a CloudFlare customer, can I still use Railgun?

Yes. As a Hosting Marketers customer you can use Railgun.

  1. I’m seeing an error on my site and I think Railgun is causing it, what should I do?

If you are using Railgun via cPanel, you can turn it off directly from your control panel. Otherwise, log into your CloudFlare account, go to Performance Settings and turn Railgun off from there. Please file a bug report with a detailed description here.

  1. Remind me, what is CloudFlare?

CloudFlare is a third party service that we offer to our hosting customers. CloudFlare provides performance, security and availability to web properties. CloudFlare runs a globally distributed network where they automatically cache static content, filter malicious traffic and help offload big spikes in traffic. On average, a site loads twice as fast, uses 65% fewer server resources and has an additional layer of security.