Railgun is CloudFlare’s latest performance optimization technology that gives you significant improvements in site load times. To activate Railgun, log into your CloudFlare control panel and select Railgun “On”. Read on for additional details and instructions:
Railgun ensures that the connection between our network and the CloudFlare network is as fast as possible. Railgun achieves a 99.6% compression ratio for previously uncacheable web objects by using techniques similar to those used in the compression of high-quality video. The average website can expect a 1.43x performance increase.
When a request is made to a CloudFlare server for a web page that is not in cache CloudFlare makes an HTTP connection to the origin server to request the page. It’s that HTTP connection that Railgun accelerates and secures.
Even highly dynamic websites change slowly
Railgun works by recognizing that uncacheable web pages do not change very rapidly. For example, during an experiment, the CNN.com homepage HTML was captured once, and then again after 5 minutes and then again after one hour. The page sizes were 92,516, five minutes still 92,516 and one hour later 93,727.
CNN sets the caching on this page to 60 seconds. After one minute, it is necessary to download the entire page again. However, looking inside the page, not much has changed. In fact, the change between versions is on the order of 100s of bytes out of almost 100k. Here’s a screenshot of one of the binary differences between the CNN home page at five minute intervals. The yellow bytes have changed, the rest have not.
Experiments at CloudFlare have revealed similar change values across the web. For example, reddit.com changes by about 2.15% over five minutes and 3.16% over an hour. The New York Times home page changes by about 0.6% over five minutes and 3% over an hour. BBC News changes by about 0.4% over five minutes and 2% over an hour.
Although the dynamic web is not cacheable, it is also not changing quickly. That means that from moment to moment there’s only a small change between versions of a page. CloudFlare Railgun uses this fact to achieve very high rates of compression. This is very similar to how video compression looks for changes from frame to frame; Railgun looks for changes on a page from download to download.
Railgun consists of two components: the sender and the listener. The sender is installed at every CloudFlare data center around the world. The listener is a software component that Islandhosting has installed on our network for customers.
The sender and listener establish a permanent TCP connection that’s secured by TLS. This TCP connection is used for the Railgun protocol. It’s an all binary multiplexing protocol that allows multiple HTTP requests to be run simultaneously and asynchronously across the link. Or in other words, a persistent connection is opened between CloudFlare’s network and ours and eliminates the overhead of TCP.
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The web site builder makes it incredibly easy to put together a great looking web site in no time. You just choose a template to start with (over 170 available with more on the way), customize it by editing the content and changing the layout, then publish it to your Islandhosting account.
Step 1: Choose a template
Step 2: Edit content and layout
Step 3: Publish your site!
It’s currently a BETA service and is currently only available on one of our cPanel servers (galiano). You can try out the demo, and if you want to use it for your own site we can easily transfer your account to the server that hosts it.
Try it free with our 1MONTHFREE promo code
Let us know what you think!
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Back in 1992 when we first launched Islandnet.com, the world wide web was just starting out and was virtually unheard of outside of academic circles. Our business was mainly in providing dial-up access to things like e-mail, newsgroups, FTP, and Gopher.
As the web emerged we started hosting web pages for customers. We had to design and program most of the software used to manage and maintain web sites ourselves. Years before PHP was conceived of, we even created our own custom programming language for generating and driving web pages called M-Script (still in use by some folks!)
As time went on we continued to use custom control panels that we designed and refined. Our focus shifted more and more towards web design and hosting and away from providing internet access. Today, we don’t provide any internet access at all.
We recently looked at all we’ve done and said to ourselves, “If we could start over now, how would we do it?” So we did. Using industry standard tools and software that are more familiar to folks who have used other web hosting services, we’ve built a completely separate service under the name “Islandhosting”.
Islandhosting runs on different hardware housed in a different data centre. It has faster connections to the rest of the Internet, a faster and simpler infrastructure design, built-in DDoS protection, more products and services to choose from, more resources for clients (like disk space and bandwidth), discounts for annual payment, an affiliate system that pays you cash, and on and on.
But one important thing remains the same. The people. Need help with your e-mail or web site? You can still call and talk to the same people and get the same great service.
778-410-2454 (Victoria), 855-813-6057 (Toll free Can/USA)
PO Box 28123 Westshore RPO, Victoria, BC, V9B 6K8 Canada
PO Box 28123 Westshore RPO, Victoria, BC, V9B 6K8 Canada
- Islandnet.comInternet Service Provider, present
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