FAQ: Railgun

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Great News!

CloudFlare now includes Railgun, a service that speeds up websites once thought 'un-cacheable' - for example, with rapidly changing or personalized content.

1. What is Railgun?

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

More specifically:

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. Railgun speeds up this remaining 35%.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. What kind of sites can use Railgun?

Any website can benefit from the performance improvements Railgun offers, especially dynamic sites. As far as (mt) Media Temple hosting is concerned, we're only offering this on our Grid at this time. We hope to expand the offering to our other products in the future.

5. How much does Railgun cost?

(mt) Media Temple has partnered with CloudFlare to make Railgun access easy. If you purchase Railgun directly through CloudFlare, it costs $200/month. However, (mt) Media Temple is offering Railgun to our customers for free!

6. How do I enable Railgun on my site?

If you enabled Cloudflare for your domain prior to 2/26/13, please contact (mt) Media Temple Support so we can add Railgun for you.

If you didn't enable Cloudflare prior to 2/26/13, you'll automatically get Railgun when you enable Cloudflare. Quick, simple set-up via the AccountCenter will have you up and running in about 5 minutes. Step-by-step instructions can be found in the How do I enable CloudFlare? article.

7. What if I'm having issues enabling Railgun?

If you experience issues when enabling Railgun, please open a support request or initiate a support chat via the (mt) AccountCenter.

8. I'm not a CloudFlare customer, can I still use Railgun?

No. You need to be a CloudFlare customer in order to use Railgun.

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

From the (mt) AccountCenter, 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.

10. 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 and uses 65% fewer server resources.