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Fastly is excited to announce that as of today, we support
stale-if-error. As a company dedicated to building a better Internet, we work hard to identify and support new standards that move the Web forward. Read on for an explanation of how these Cache-Control extensions make the Web faster and more reliable for browsers and CDNs, and check out documentation of these features.
We've all experienced slow websites, especially on mobile devices. Much of this slowdown is due to network delays from fetching the images, scripts, stylesheets, and other resources needed by the page. Caching makes pages load faster by using a previous copy of a response rather than re-fetching it over the network. Resources get cached when you specify a
Cache-Control response header. This example indicates that the response can be served from cache for one week:
For the next week the page is faster because the resource is read from cache, but after 604800 seconds have passed the cache will re-fetch the requested content, causing the page to load slower. This slowdown can be avoided by using
Cache-Control: max-age=604800, stale-while-revalidate=86400
stale-while-revalidate we've told the cache that it can use the current (stale) version for up to one day while it re-fetches the latest version in the background. This achieves both of the goals that we're after: providing users with faster pages and keeping cached resources up-to-date, only now the updates are done in the background without having a negative impact on the user experience.
Re-fetching resources makes pages slower, but response errors result in broken pages which is an even worse user experience. This is where
stale-if-error comes to the rescue. This example tells the cache that if the re-fetch fails within three days of the response becoming stale, then the cached response should be used.
Cache-Control: max-age=604800, stale-while-revalidate=86400, stale-if-error=259200
stale-if-error are a win for browsers and CDNs. The benefits that produce faster and more reliable pages in the browser have the same benefits for the CDN’s cache. By specifying
stale-while-revalidate, users aren't slowed down when a response cached at the CDN needs to be revalidated. If there's an issue at the origin server,
stale-if-error lets users proceed without experiencing broken pages.
Cache-Control:public, max-age=86400, stale-while-revalidate=604800, stale-if-error=604800
stale-if-error are also a proposed industry standard, meaning website owners aren't locked in to vendor-specific solutions.
As these cache extensions get adopted by browsers, users receive an additional performance boost. (Development is currently ongoing in Chrome.) By getting out in front of this emerging standard, Fastly customers can see the benefits today in their CDN and will get the browser benefits without having to do any additional work. This is the beauty of industry standards — they benefit website owners across vendors and levels of the stack. We like that.