Edge Caching: The Key to Faster Websites



Nobody likes to wait for a webpage to load, not even if it is a good thing from the SEO point of view. Webpages that load slowly will be left behind in the competition.

At WPOven we take website performance and its Speed seriously and always strive to bring our customers the Fastest ever web hosting experience.

Before we begin exploring Edge Caching, first you need to know some basics about Caching and its meaning.

This is why we have already implemented the Edge Caching feature in our Fully Managed web hosting plans that help our clients to get websites 4X blazingly faster.

Compared to other popular web hosting providers like Kinsta and Cloudways, WPOven outshines with an impressive 370ms response time, while Kinsta clocks in at 377ms and Cloudways at 1131ms, leaving the competition behind.

Edge caching is an advanced technology that boosts the performance of applications and speeds up the delivery of content or Data to the end users.

Let’s see how your WordPress site can utilize this technology to improve its performance and speed and enjoy its advantages.


What is Edge?

The Internet is a massive computer or server network that communicates, shares, exchanges, and processes data globally. Here the term “edge” has been introduced to refer to the closest server to the end-user or entry point of this network in which your PC, routers, and smartphones connect.

When you try to access a website, the browser sends a request to the origin server and receives a response that ultimately renders back the browser to display content.

This communication between client and server might sound simple but in reality, this communication can take longer than expected due to latency issues. This can worsen for platforms serving users worldwide with large amounts of data.

To overcome this issue, it led to the development of edge computing. A technology that promises to solve performance limitations by bringing computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed, which is generally the Edge of the network.

In edge computing, the whole data processing takes place locally on devices like smartphones or edge servers, rather than completely depending on data centers or cloud servers.


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What is Cache?

The cache is a high-speed memory layer that mainly stores frequently accessed data. Due to this fact, your device doesn’t have to load the same data again and again every time you need it.

It is a temporary storage system that helps reduce the time it takes to find and retrieve data by storing it in a local place, i.e., your laptop or computer’s memory.

This makes your apps, software, or websites run faster because they can get the information they need from the cache instead of having to fetch it from the origin server, which is generally located far away.


What is Edge Caching?

Edge caching is the combination of both traditional technologies, i.e., Edge computing and Cache, to store data on servers located closer to the end-user. This data can be anything like copies of web content such as images, videos, and web pages.

These servers, generally referred to as edge servers or edge nodes, are deliberately placed in various locations around the globe to minimize the data travel between the user’s device and the server and reduce latency.

What is the Edge Caching Strategy?

  • When a user sends a request for web content from the browser, the content is delivered from the edge server immediately (which is very near to the user), rather than retrieving the web content from the website’s origin server (generally located farther away).
  • In case a page is not already stored in the edge cage, the request goes to the origin server, where it might have been stored locally or it might need to store it again.
  • Once the page is ready, it’s stored in the edge cache on its way back to the browser.
  • Next time if someone requests the same page, it’s fetched from the cache, making it load faster and reducing latency.

The same process is valid for your mobile devices as well.

  • If someone visits your WordPress site from a smartphone or tablet, the page is stored in a mobile cache. Regardless of the device of any device you use, i.e. iPhone or Android.
  • All the requests from these devices are treated just like desktop requests and stored in the cache accordingly.

Edge caching technology is generally used by CDNs or content delivery networks to optimize content delivery and enhance user experience, beneficial for websites with global visitors.


Read: 🚩 What is CDN and How can you activate it on your website?


This technology not only reduces page loading time but also reduces strain on origin servers, hence improving reliability and scalability.


What is the difference between Edge Caching and Browser Caching?

At some point, you might get confused between these two terms, i.e., Edge Caching and Browser Caching. Although they work on the same principle, they both operate at different levels of the network and serve different purposes.

  • Browser Cache:
    • The Browser Cache revolves around storing the resources of webpages such as HTML files, Images, JavaScript, CSS files, etc. on the local storage i.e. user’s computer or smartphone.
    • When a user visits a website for the first time, the browser downloads the resources needed to display the webpage. So, whenever the same user visits the webpage again, the browser does not need to fetch them again instead fetches them from the local storage and hence speeds up page loading time.
    • However, if the user navigates to another page within the same website, the browser checks its cache first. If the resources are found in the cache and haven’t expired, the browser USS the same or else fetches the resources from the origin server.
  • Edge Cache:
    • Edge caching involves storing web page resources in the form of cache at various points of presence (PoPs) in a content delivery network (CDN).
    • CDNs are huge networks of strategically distributed servers across different geographical locations. These servers are placed nearby to end users to reduce latency and boost up the content delivery.
    • When a user requests a webpage, the request may be routed through CDN (If the CDN is installed and has enabled Edge Caching). Just like browsers, the CDN edge servers can also cache frequently accessed resources, such as images, videos, and other static content at these edge locations.
    • These cached contents are intentionally stored on the nearest possible edge servers, which helps in reducing the distance data needs to travel, hence improving page loading time.

In short, the main difference between browser cache and edge cache lies in where the caching occurs and who controls it.

Browser cache stores resources locally on the user’s device, controlled by the browser itself, whereas edge cache stores resources at various points in a CDN’s network, controlled by the CDN provider.


What are the benefits and limitations of Edge Caching?

From Improved speed to Cost efficiency, Edge Caching has numerous Benefits.

Benefits of Edge Caching:

  • Improved Speed: Edge caching significantly reduces latency by delivering content from servers closer to the end-user. This leads to faster loading times and improved user experience.
  • Scalability: Edge caching helps in scaling the delivery of content to a large number of users spread across different geographical locations without overloading the origin server.
  • Reduced Server Load: By serving cached content from edge servers, the load on the origin server is reduced, allowing it to handle other requests more efficiently.
  • Enhanced Reliability: Content delivery from edge servers improves reliability as it reduces the risk of downtime or server failures at the origin server level.
  • Better Security: Edge Cache is generally located on a private network rather than a public one. Hence sensitive data does not travel through unsecured public networks.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Edge caching helps optimize bandwidth usage and reduce data transfer costs, especially for websites with global reach.

Limitations of Edge Caching:

No doubt Edge Caching can improve your network capabilities and Website performance but still it has certain limitations such as:

  • Cache Invalidation: Ensuring that cached content is up-to-date can be challenging. Changes made to the origin server may not immediately reflect in the cached content, leading to potential inconsistencies.
  • Complex Configuration: Setting up and managing edge caching systems can be complex, requiring expertise in configuring caching rules and dealing with cache invalidation issues.
  • Limited capacity:
  • Privacy Concerns: Caching sensitive or personalized content at edge servers raises privacy concerns, especially if the cached content is not properly secured or cleared.
  • Cache Fragmentation: Edge caching may lead to cache fragmentation, where different edge servers store different versions of the same content, complicating cache management and optimization.
  • Dependency on CDN Providers: Edge caching relies on content delivery network (CDN) providers, and any downtime or issues with the CDN infrastructure can affect content delivery and user experience.

Read: 🚩 How to Clear WordPress Cache on Your Website in 2024?


Where and How Edge Caching Has Been Used?

Now that you are familiar with almost everything about Edge caching, from its meaning to its benefits and limitations, it’s time to explore Edge caching usage scenarios.

Edge caching is implemented on different kinds of edge servers, whether it is CDN, Video streaming, IoT devices, etc.

The most common type of Edge Caching servers are:

  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs):
    • Edge caching has been mostly used in CDNs, where edge caching servers are strategically deployed in multiple geographical locations to deliver webpage contents such as images, CSS files, HTML, etc.
    • This reduces latency, improves page load times, and enhances overall user experience.
  • Wireless Edge Servers:
    • These types of edge servers are deployed at the edge of a cellular network to provide better computing and connectivity resources to wireless devices such as mobile phones and laptops.
  • Video Streaming:
    • Edge caching is highly used in video streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video.
    • Popular videos or segments of videos are cached on edge servers to ensure seamless playback and reduce strain on the origin server.
  • Gaming Platforms:
    • Video games are resource-hungry platforms that benefit from caching assets at the edge to enhance the overall gaming experience and reduce bandwidth usage.
  • Software Downloads:
    • Companies use edge caching to speed up software updates or large file downloads, reducing download times and server load.
  • Dynamic Content Caching:
    • Edge caching is not limited to static content; it can also be utilized for dynamically generated content, serving personalized content, or frequently accessed database queries from edge servers.
  • API Responses:
    • Mobile or web applications using APIs can leverage edge caching to reduce response times and improve scalability.
  • IoT (Internet of Things):
    • Edge caching in IoT applications can reduce latency and improve data transfer efficiency between IoT devices and cloud services by caching frequently accessed data or firmware updates at edge devices or gateways.
  • Edge Computing Servers:
    • These servers perform computing tasks at the edge of the network, strategically deployed in the vicinity of end users.

Some common Questions might be revolving around Edge Caching in your mind

Is Edge Caching Free?

Yes, Edge Caching is an integrated component of WPOven, so it is automatically enabled and included in all plans at no extra cost.

Is WordPress Optimization Plugin Still Required?

No, WPOven’s Managed WordPress hosting services include all caching features such as server-level edge caching, local caching, and CDN (powered by Cloudflare), which is fully optimized with WordPress CMS.

Can I turn off Edge Caching?

Yes, you can turn off WPOven server caching for one of your sites, hosted on your WPOven server.
To do this, firstly you need to ensure that the WPBase-Cache plugin is installed and activated on the site.

Next, you need to log in to your site’s ‘wp-admin’ section and navigate to the ‘Settings’->’WPBase’ page.

On this page, you will see the WPBase-cache settings. Here to disable caching for the site, you simply need to uncheck the ‘Enable Varnish Cache‘ checkbox and then press the ‘Save Changes‘ button.

On the other hand, if you have integrated Cloudflare CDN. Login to your Cloudflare account> Visit Dashboard > Turn on Development mode if you wish to temporarily stop serving Cloudflare cached assets.


Summary

No doubt, the internet has revolutionized the digital space, and day by day it has been advancing with new technologies. However, the physical distance between the end user and the central server has always been a challenge because these severely impact the website’s performance and the user experience.

But thanks to Edge caching technology, the content has been moved vicinity to the end user, resulting in fast content delivery and improved page loading times.

WPOven has made Edge caching one of the most essential components of its Managed WordPress hosting service, which also helps to add an extra layer of security and complements Cloudflare CDN integration.

As a result, WPOven can reduce page loading times and boost website performance by 4X, making it a remarkable feature for websites with a global audience.

Edge caching is an integrated feature available for all our customers at no extra cost. If you are looking for complete peace of mind with fully managed WordPress hosting that is affordable, secure, and performance-oriented. WPOven’s web hosting is right here for you.


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