Caching With Apache's mod_cache On Debian Etch - Page 2

2.2 mod_mem_cache

The mod_mem_cache configuration is located in /etc/apache2/mods-available/mem_cache.conf:

vi /etc/apache2/mods-available/mem_cache.conf   
<IfModule mod_mem_cache.c>
        CacheEnable mem /
        MCacheSize 4096
        MCacheMaxObjectCount 100
        MCacheMinObjectSize 1
        MCacheMaxObjectSize 2048

This is the default configuration - if you like you can modify it. A list of configuration directives for mod_mem_cache is available here:

Now let's enable mod_cache and mod_mem_cache as follows:

a2enmod cache
a2enmod mem_cache

/etc/init.d/apache2 force-reload

That's it already! With mod_mem_cache, you don't have to clean up any cache directories.


3 Testing

Unfortunately mod_cache doesn't provide any logging functionalities which is bad if you want to know if logging is working. Therefore I create a small PHP test file, /var/www/cachetest.php, that sends out HTTP headers that tell mod_cache that it should cache the file for 300 seconds, and that simply prints the timestamp:

vi /var/www/cachetest.php
header("Cache-Control: must-revalidate, max-age=300");
header("Vary: Accept-Encoding");
echo time()."<br>";

Now call that file in a browser - it should display the current time stamp. Then click in the browser's address bar and press ENTER so that the page gets loaded again (don't press F5 or the reload button - this will always fetch a fresh copy from the server instead of the cache!) - if all goes well, you should still see the old, cached timestamp. If you wait 300 seconds, you should get a fresh copy from the server instead of the cache.


4 HTTP Headers

Caching doesn't work out-of-the-box - you must modify your web application so that caching can work (it is possible that your web application already supports caching - please consult the documentation of your application to find out). mod_cache will cache web pages only if the HTTP headers sent out by your web application tell it to do so.

Here are some examples of headers that tell mod_cache not to cache:

  • Expires headers with a date in the past: "Expires: Sun, 19 Nov 1978 05:00:00 GMT"
  • Certain Cache-Control headers: "Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate" or "Cache-Control: must-revalidate, max-age=0"
  • Set-Cookie headers: a page will not be cached if a cookie is set.

So if you want mod_cache to cache your pages, modify your application to not send out such headers.

If you want mod_cache to cache your pages, you can set an Expires header with a date in the future, but the recommended way is to use max-age:

"Cache-Control: must-revalidate, max-age=300"

This tells mod_cache to cache the page for 300 seconds (max-age) - unfortunately mod_cache doesn't know the s-maxage option (see, that's why we must use the max-age option (which also tells your browser to cache - please keep this in mind if you get unexpected results!). If mod_cache knew the s-maxage option, we could use "Cache-Control: must-revalidate, max-age=0, s-maxage=300" which would tell mod_cache, but not the browser, to cache the page.

Of course, this header is useless if you send out one of the non-caching headers (Expires in the past, Set-Cookie, etc.) from above at the same time!

Another very important header for caching is this one:

"Vary: Accept-Encoding"

This makes mod_cache keep two copies of each cached page, one compressed (gzip) and one uncompressed so that it can deliver the right version depending on the capabilities of the user-agent/browser. Some user-agents don't understand gzip compression, so they should get the uncompressed version.

So here's the summary: use the following two headers if you want mod_cache to cache:

"Cache-Control: must-revalidate, max-age=300"
"Vary: Accept-Encoding"

and make sure that no Expires with a date in the past, cookies, etc. are sent.

If your application is written in PHP, you can use PHP's header() function to send out HTTP headers, e.g. like this:

header("Cache-Control: must-revalidate, max-age=300");
header("Vary: Accept-Encoding");

This page is a must-read if you want to learn more about HTTP headers and caching:


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4 Comment(s)

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By: Simon Holywell

If you set the Pragma header to no-cache it will also stop mod_cache from caching your webpage.

By: bl0m5t3r

yes it is possible, i use the following statement in my .htaccess

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
# Turn on Expires and set default to 0
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault A0
# Set up caching on media files for 1 year (forever?)
<FilesMatch "\.(flv|ico|pdf|avi|mov|ppt|doc|mp3|wmv|wav)$">
ExpiresDefault A29030400
Header append Cache-Control "public"

# Set up caching on media files for 6 month
<FilesMatch "\.(gif|jpg|jpeg|png|swf)$">
ExpiresDefault A14515200
Header append Cache-Control "public"
# Set up 1 month caching on commonly updated files
<FilesMatch "\.(xml|txt|html|css|js)$">
ExpiresDefault A2419200
Header append Cache-Control "proxy-revalidate"
# Force no caching for dynamic files
#<FilesMatch "\.(php|cgi|pl|htm)$">
#ExpiresActive Off
#Header set Cache-Control "private, no-cache, no-store, proxy-revalidate, no-transform"
#Header set Pragma "no-cache"

I guess with the above example you can adjust it to every one of your sites.

By: Norio

I have multiple sites on my server.  Some can be cached for 10 minutes, others for 1 minute, others for days at a time.  Is it possible to have a separate configuration for each using .htaccess files or something?

By: raghu

The cachetest.php behaves in the same way though i enable or disable mod_cache