Varnish use for purely binary files

Ken Brownfield kb+varnish at
Tue Jan 19 00:08:08 CET 2010

> I have a hard time believing that any difference in the total response time of a cached static object between Varnish and a general-purpose webserver will be statistically significant, especially considering typical Internet network latency.  If there's any difference it should be well under a millisecond.

I would suggest that you get some real-world experience, or at least do some research in this area.  Like your earlier assertion, this is patently untrue as a general conclusion.

Differences in latency of serving static content can vary widely based on the web server in use, easily tens of milliseconds or more.  There are dozens of web servers out there, some written in interpreted languages, many custom-written for a specific application, many with add-ons and modules and other hijinx that can effect the latency of serving static content.

Additionally, very few of these implement their own managed cache; the rest accidentally rely on filesystem cache which may or may not perform with low or predictable latency, and may not be large enough for a working set.

In the real world, sites run their applications through web servers, and this fact does (and should) guide the decision on the base web server to use, not static file serving.

Thus the primary importance IMHO of software like reverse-Squid and Varnish.  If you're serving pure static content with no need for application logic, then yes, there is little benefit to choosing a two-tier infrastructure when a one-tier out-of-the-box nginx/lighttpd/thttpd will do just fine.  But, if your content does not fit in memory, you're back to reverse-Squid or Varnish.  (Though nginx may have an on-disk cache?  And don't get me started on Apache caching. :-)

> --Michael

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