Varnish use for purely binary files

Michael S. Fischer michael at
Tue Jan 19 00:16:56 CET 2010

On Jan 18, 2010, at 3:08 PM, Ken Brownfield wrote:

>> 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.

That's why you don't use those webservers as origin servers for that purpose.  But you don't use Varnish for it either.  It's not an origin server anyway.

> 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.

I meant webservers that more than 50%+ of the world uses, which do not include those.  I was assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the implementor would have at least the wisdom/laziness to use a popular general-purpose webserver such as Apache for the purpose of serving static objects from the filesystem.   And that's not even really a stretch as it's the default for most servers.

>  (Though nginx may have an on-disk cache?  And don't get me started on Apache caching. :-)

Doctor, heal thyself before you call me inexperienced.  Using application-level caching for serving objects from the filesystem rarely works, which is the main point of Varnish.  Just because *you* can't get good performance out of Apache doesn't mean it's not worth using.


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