Categories: Hosting News

SiteGround SuperCacher Now Running on NGINX with SSL Support!

Since we launched our SuperCacher system back in 2012 it has undergone many changes, but never as big as this one! Although the interface in your cPanel and WordPress/Joomla/Drupal extension looks and feels the same, under the hood we've practically replaced the engine of the service switching from Varnish to NGINX.

Why replace Varnish with NGINX?

We built our SuperCacher on top of Varnish because at the time that was the most flexible and robust solution that could accommodate the diverse needs of the websites we host. It allowed us to provide caching for various different apps and website configurations. Also, since we use Apache as a web server, that was the most clean and stable implementation possible. At that time, we were among the first companies to have a reverse proxy service for our customers with an easy to use interface, and the option to exclude URLs from the cache without having to contact the hosting company.

However, few years later, we've started experiencing some limitations to the configurability of this system. One of the major downsides of Varnish is the inability to cache https requests. Furthermore, the project leaders stated officially there are no plans to add this functionality. Needless to say, with Google announcing that they will rank sites with SSL certificates better and the great growth in E-commerce sites we host, the inability to cache pages over https became an issue. On the other hand, the NGINX technology has great SSL support and offers numerous speed and stability improvements which naturally led us to its adoption.

What’s in there for you?

The switch from Varnish to NGINX brings to you two main benefits:

SSL Support

Until now, our SuperCacher wasn't serving cached content to any https requests. This means that all encrypted pages on your site were 100% dynamic. For example, if you force your SSL certificate to be used on every page of your site, this means that you've practically disabled the SuperCacher. Now, with NGINX we can and do cache those pages (if you have the SuperCacher enabled).

However, there are pages that should not be cached at all - checkout, shopping cart, profile pages, etc. Shopping carts are most vulnerable to such issues because they store a lot more sensible information than a regular news or blog website. That's why we've added rules to our configuration that exclude those pages from the cache. Although we've covered all the popular extensions for online stores, we recommend that you exclude those pages manually from the SuperCacher plugin configuration just as an extra precaution.

To sum up, you can now force your entire site through SSL even if it's not an online store and rest assured that it will be super fast and stable without having to do any reconfiguration to the SuperCacher.

Improved Performance and Stability

To begin with, it's much easier on our end to manage, update and secure an NGINX reverse proxy. The service is even more stable than Varnish and needs less custom coding in order to work great for SiteGround customers. This allows our administrators to easily update and keep the service as secure as possible.

In addition to that, with NGINX we've enabled SPDY for the SuperCacher users. This and the difference in the service architecture itself results in even better performance than the one we've been getting out of Varnish. Practically, this means that some of your sites (it really depends on the particular page) can load even faster.

How did we migrate from Varnish to NGINX?

As usual, we didn't want to interrupt our customers' workflow or cause any downtime whatsoever with the changes we're doing. That is why we've done the switch in a few steps.

First, we launched a new version of the SuperCacher plugin for the supported applications. We gave our customers enough time to update to the new plugin version. Meanwhile, our technical departments were doing final tests of the service.

Once we detected that almost all our customers use the latest SuperCacher application extension, we started switching Varnish with NGINX on our servers. At this point the SSL cache was not enabled yet. We wanted to be 100% sure that everything is working fine before introducing this change. As usual, we didn't push it on all our servers at the same time but gradually increased the number of servers with the new configuration. I am happy to say that we didn't have any major issues during that process and it went as smooth as possible!

Finally, we enabled the caching for SSL pages. Again, no plugin update or any configuration was needed for this - it just works out of the box. So if you have an SSL certificate on your website and the SuperCacher enabled - just sit back and enjoy the improved performance of your website!

Hristo Pandjarov: Enthusiastic about all Open Source applications you can think of, but mostly about WordPress. Add a pinch of love for web design, new technologies, search engine optimisation and you are pretty much there!

View Comments

  • Wow... This is actually messed up. You should have made it MUCH more clear that SSL wasn't working along-side SuperCacher... I had absolutely zero knowledge of this, and shouldn't have to read a documentation to find this out. Don't hide stuff like this, it makes you look bad, SiteGround.

    All this time, I thought my site was being SuperCached, when really it just... Wasn't.

    Anyway, good news. Thanks for informing us. Make sure to inform us of bad news too though - like SSL not working on the old SuperCacher platform, for example.

    • There aren't "old Super Cacher" platforms :) Everybody got the update and we've completely moved from Varnish to NGINX. I am sorry that you feel this way about this, it was never our intention to hide this fact. We've been always clear we're using Varnish for this system and probably just assumed people know it doesn't cache https... Note taken, though, we will do our best to be as clear and detailed as possible for such services.

  • Hi Hristo

    And when will this get out to Cloud server owners ?

    Same with the new stats, when will we get that ?

  • Hello,

    Glad to see it's now working with SSL.

    However, I am having a problem with the dynamic caching. My website is e-commerce and I have a shopping cart on every page. This is being cached and therefore I can't delete products from the cart after being added.

    Is there a fix for this?

    • Depends on the application you're using. For example we've done it for EDD to show dynamic content each time when there is something in the shoping cart. Please, mail me at hristo.p at siteground dot com and I will look into it :)

  • Most of my Joomla! sites use RokBooster plugin from RocketTheme and SSL.

    Are there any known compatibility issues with SuperCacher?

  • Hi Hristo
    Are you able to post some url's on here of websites which are joomla sites which are configured to use the Super Cacher? (or perhaps email me one or two if posting on here is not possible). I would like to see what kind of server response time they have. Thank you

    • Check out pandjarov.com or tallbox.org, two sites made by me. One is without SSL and the second one uses SSL on all pages :)

  • Hi,
    How about the Supercacher for Magento? When can we expect an update there? It's still not available in my cPanel.
    It's been months now that you disabled the old one ... but I'm still waiting for any news on the new one ...
    So I'm a bit frustrated to read about this "good news show" knowing that the old one was suspended without having a replacement.


    • I am afraid I don't have ETA on this at the moment. Will sync with my colleagues working on that project and reply again on Monday!

      • Any updates on this? The old Magento SuperCharger is suspended for months now ... At least give us a status. Or enable the old one again untill the new one is ready!

        • Pleaes contact our support team via the Help Desk to get more information about the available options for Magento.

      • Any news regarding to Magento? As Gert said, you always promised that update for Magento too. Why you don't enable the "old" supercacher anymore? It should not only be a feature for Cloud-plans.

  • Thanks for this info Hristo.
    I was just looking through info on speeding up site.
    I spoke with support...but want to make sure that I have gotten it correct.

    if going with supercacher: enable the 3 options (static.dynamic,etc.)... then do not allow for the google page speed. (this is what I have done for max speed).
    Then obviously if using ssl this is now accommodated for.

    If I have a plugin, need to find out if it is minimizing things (other than simply caching info), then somehow disallow the caching part (so no double caching) (was thinking of using hypercache extended plugin). Otherwise if it is only caching, might as well delete plug in.

    Am I making sense in this thinking?

    p.s. do most caching plug ins not work with ssl certificates?

    • The plugin handles only caching. It will not minify or combine your JS and CSS files. You need additional plugins for that. As to the SSL it was a Varnish limitation which we are not using anymore.

  • With this new change, do you have a set of recommended Cloudflare settings that will work best with the new supercacher?

  • Thanks for this info Hristo. After reading your post and few other articles we were convinced to switch to https. Unfortunately it made out site nearly 50% slower than the https version :(

    As an optimization practice we were looking into OCSP stapling. Is it possible to enable OCSP stapling on the server for our account?

    We have a GrowBig plan. thanks.

    • That's definitelly not a normal behaviour, the https version of the site should be indistinguishably slower than the non-encrypted version. Probably something is not working correctly via https? I will mail you for more details so I can take a look at the site and tell you what's wrong :)